Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

This month is Nonfiction November, a celebration of all things nonfiction.  I’ve read some fantastic nonfiction this year and I’m proud of myself for reading more nonfiction than I used to.  I enjoy this event because I get so many good nonfiction recommendations for next year.  

Each week will be a topic hosted by a different blog. This week’s topic is Your Year in Nonfiction, hosted by Julz of Julz Reads.  It’s an overview of our year reading nonfiction, including our favorite reads and topics.

Here are the nonfiction books I’ve read so far this year:

Most of what I read this month were memoirs, although they covered many different topics, from adoption to immigration to cooking. I loved Ruth Reichl’s Save Me the Plums.  Reichl is a great writer and storyteller, and nicely avoids making her book all about herself.  Instead it’s a fascinating inside look at the world of food and magazine publishing.

I read quite a lot of books these days about immigration and race.  Vargas’ Dear America is excellent and one I highly recommend.  And Henrietta Lacks lived up to expectations, as a book that’s not only the history of a black family in America but  a surprisingly accessible book about science, research, and ethics.

One of my favorite nonfiction reads was a non-memoir, The Library Book.  This is a book about the LA Central Library and the fire that consumed it. Really it was about all things library-related, which is why I loved it so much.

I was deeply impacted by Beth Macy’s Dopesick, though I can’t say I loved it because of its difficult subject matter.

A few didn’t work well for me.  I was disappointed in Heart Berries, which I heard raves about.  I just didn’t connect to it.  I also didn’t love We Fed an Island though I certainly appreciate Andres’ good work.

I listened to a number of these as audiobooks, though I generally find I can process nonfiction better if I read it.  With some, I combined audio and reading and that worked well.  I’ve discovered that authors aren’t always great narrators, though I appreciated hearing the stories of Reichl, Vargas, and Uringiyimana in their own voices.  I’m pretty sure Offerman and Mullally would have been much funnier if I’d listened to them, but that was before I was listening to books.

Here’s the nonfiction I’m reading or that’s on my TBR:

  • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
  • Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin
  • There’s Something About Darcy by Gabrielle Malcolm
  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
  • Beneath the Tamarind Tree by Isha Sesay
  • The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective: Secrets and Lies in the Golden Age of Crime by Susannah Stapleton
  • The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge
  • They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
  • Relish by Lucy Knisely
  • Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung

Happy Nonfiction November!  I hope you’ll join in the festivities.  What nonfiction do you recommend?

  20 comments for “Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

  1. November 1, 2019 at 9:32 am

    A non-fiction I’m looking to read this month is Brain on Fire

  2. November 1, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Henrietta Lacks is on my TBR list because I see it referenced in a lot of the medical nonfiction I read. I have to see what all the hype is about. Happy Nonfiction November!

    • November 2, 2019 at 1:55 pm

      I found it a really interesting topic, and one that was very accessible to me even though I know little about cell cloning and medical research. I like that the author really personalizes the story, making it about real people, not just cells (though at time the author herself sounds condescending and maybe intrusive). It sounds like you know more about medical research than I do, so I hope you’ll enjoy it.

  3. November 1, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    I loved The Library Book too, it was by far my favorite book last year. And I was so disappointed in Heart Berries when I read it, I’d also read only glowing reviews and it just did not work for me. So you’re not alone there! I thought Henrietta Lacks lived up to its hype too, that book has really stayed with me.

    Maybe You Should Talk to Someone and Save Me the Plums are both high up on my reading list. All of your TBR list sounds great, so looking forward to your posts!!

    • November 2, 2019 at 1:56 pm

      Thanks for the input. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who didn’t love Heart Berries. I heard so many raves about it.

  4. November 1, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    Henrietta Lacks was a favorite years ago and Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is a recent fave. My daughter has recommended The Library Book and I’m looking forward to Save Me the Plums…. so many books!! From your tbr list, I can also recommend Thinking in Pictures and Relish.

    • November 2, 2019 at 1:58 pm

      I’m glad to hear a thumbs up for Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. I love the idea behind it. Temple Grandin really fascinates me, though I’m not sure which would be the best book of hers to read. Thanks for the recommendations!

  5. November 2, 2019 at 12:47 am

    I’ve never been that fond of audiobooks, but as a new mom I’ve found it so hard to find time to read recently, and I’ve been craving knowledge and ideas outside of the baby world – I’m going to put some of these titles on my library holds list.

    • November 2, 2019 at 1:59 pm

      I started listening to audiobooks so I could get more exercise in. I think if it helps you get some reading time in, go for it! Let me know if you find one you like.

  6. November 2, 2019 at 2:52 am

    The Brain the Changes Itself is one I read about 8 yrs ago AND still regularly recommend it to anyone who will listen!

    • November 2, 2019 at 2:01 pm

      You are probably the blogger that recommended it! I don’t see too many books about brain science but I’m fascinated by it.

  7. November 2, 2019 at 7:15 am

    It looks like you’ve read some really good non-fiction this year. I’m so glad I read your post because it reminded me that I bought Dope Sick after reading your excellent review and then I forgot to add it to my Non-Fiction November TBR. I’m going to try and get to it this month anyway though as it sounds like a really interesting and important book. I’ve read Alexander Hamilton and whilst it’s a long book I read it quite quickly over a couple of weeks as it’s so interesting. I hope you enjoy it and all the other books you pick up this month.

    • November 2, 2019 at 2:03 pm

      Dopesick gave me a much better understanding of addiction and even what’s in my own medicine cabinet, so I do think it’s a tough but important read. I’m really enjoying Hamilton but admit I’m intimidated by it and will probably read it in bits and pieces over a long time. Chernow is really an engaging writer, and Hamilton is an interesting historical figure.

  8. November 2, 2019 at 10:07 pm

    The Adventures of Maud West is on my list for this month too, and I’m going to try and squeeze The Library Book in as well.
    Please stop by to see my Introduction to NonFicNov

  9. November 3, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    Nonfiction can be so rewarding! I never do this monthly challenge because of my October commitment to mysteries means I feel I need to get back on track to finish my yearly reading goals, but reading more nonfiction is always top of to-do list.

    Hope you enjoy Ron Chernow’s Hamilton–I listened to it years ago and thought if marvelous and Hamilton a truly remarkable person.

  10. November 7, 2019 at 10:11 am

    I own Dopestick and really want to read it. Have you read American Overdose? I loved that one.

    • November 8, 2019 at 5:19 pm

      I haven’t heard of that one, thanks for sharing!

  11. November 16, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    I adored The Library Book, too. Glad to hear such good things about Save Me the Plums — it’s on my TBR and your review moved it higher on my list…

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