Nonfiction November: My Year in Reading Nonfiction

It’s Nonfiction November, a five-week event of discussions on everything related to nonfiction. This week’s prompt, hosted by What’s Nonfiction, is about looking back at our year of reading nonfiction.  What was our favorite read, what did we recommend most often, and which topics were we drawn to? 

I’ve read 15 nonfiction books so far this year.  There’s a lot of overlap across categories but they dealt primarily with racial issues, medical or mental health, psychology, history, and family relationships. For example, I read three books about cooking, but each of those books also dealt with issues like mental health, personal identity, and family.

  • Food and Cooking: Garlic and Sapphires, Crying in H Mart, Eat a Peach
  • Racial Issues: Seven Fallen Feathers, Devil in the Grove, You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey, Caste
  • Medical, Mental Health and Psychology: Sorry I’m Late, Broken, The Body Keeps the Score, Get Well Soon, Eat a Peach, Garlic and Sapphires, In the Dream House
  • Family relationships: Braving It, Crying in H Mart
  • History and True Crime: Catch and Kill, A Woman of No Importance, Seven Fallen Feathers, Devil in the Grove

Without a doubt, the books I’ve recommended the most this year have been the ones dealing with racial issues, like Seven Fallen Feathers, Caste, Devil in the Grove, and You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey.  All four of those books were informative but also devastating (even Lacey, which is written in a comedic tone but describes traumatic and sadly too common incidents).

I also read some fantastic books dealing with psychology and mental health issues.  I loved Jenny Lawson’s Broken – but then I love all her books.  I particularly enjoyed this one on audiobook because Lawson is even better when reading her work. The Body Keeps the Score was a fascinating book about the impact of trauma on the body.  And Crying in H Mart was a powerful memoir about a woman grieving for her mother. 

Catch and Kill is another book I strongly recommend for anyone who wants to learn more about the issue of systemic sexual harassment and assault in the entertainment industry.  Investigative journalist Ronan Farrow tells a powerful story about his role in uncovering the atrocities committed by Harvey Weinstein and others like Matt Lauer and Donald Trump, and how much the entertainment industry looked away and/or covered it up.  I don’t necessarily recommend the audio version (Farrow’s narration was a little distracting), but I strongly recommend the book. 

I hope you enjoy Nonfiction November! Look for nonfiction reviews and posts on topics like fiction/nonfiction pairings, ask the experts, and “stranger than fiction” nonfiction. And please check out some of the other blogs that are posting for this event.

  34 comments for “Nonfiction November: My Year in Reading Nonfiction

  1. November 3, 2021 at 9:37 pm

    We definitely read different types of nonfiction for the most part. However, I read and really enjoyed A Woman of No Importance. Caste is on my TBR list for next year. Isabel Wilkerson is such a marvelous writer and is able to tell the stories that haven’t been told and provide a different understanding of the American experience.

    Enjoy nonfiction November!

    • November 5, 2021 at 6:32 pm

      Caste was incredible, and I agree Isabel Wilkerson is a fantastic storyteller. I loved the way she brought her own experiences to the subject matter.

  2. November 4, 2021 at 5:07 am

    So many of these look outstanding. I’ve seen nearly all recommended on other lists. Caste of course looks like a must-read, and Catch and Kill is intriguing to me although I’m sure not easy to take.

    • November 5, 2021 at 6:35 pm

      I’m pretty sure most of these books came from last year’s Nonfiction November recommendations, except for the new releases anyway. Body Keeps the Score was your recommendation and it was fascinating. I look forward to picking up more recommendations this year!

  3. November 4, 2021 at 8:56 am

    Caste and Devil in the Grove are two must reads for me in 2022, so I’m glad to see you recommend both of them. A Woman of No Importance is also on my list for next year. I see a lot of similarities in our nonfiction reading.

    • November 5, 2021 at 6:36 pm

      Caste and Devil are perfect companion reads, though a very tough subject. I hope you read them and get as much out of them as I did. I look forward to seeing which nonfiction books you recommend!

  4. November 4, 2021 at 9:01 am

    These all sound so good! I also was really impressed by both Caste and A Woman of No Importance. I’ve been reading less true crime lately, but Catch and Kill is one I’d still like to pick up.

    • November 5, 2021 at 6:30 pm

      A Woman of No Importance was an incredible story. There are so many women who have been overlooked by history. I don’t love biographies but made an exception for this one.

  5. November 4, 2021 at 9:52 am

    Crying in H Mart is a book I thought was very well written. I hope to read The Body Keeps Score soon.

    • November 5, 2021 at 6:28 pm

      The Body Keeps Score was fascinating, I hope you like it. A tough subject though. I feel like I’ve learned a lot this year about trauma and mental health.

  6. November 5, 2021 at 8:27 am

    I keep seeing Crying in H Mart and I definitely need to read it. Seven Fallen Feathers also caught my eye. Great list of books!

    • November 5, 2021 at 6:38 pm

      Seven Fallen Feathers was an incredible read, and the audiobook was very good. It’s such a sad story though.

  7. November 5, 2021 at 9:18 am

    Good luck with Nonfiction November! I can’t wait to read Broken. It’s one of my most-anticipated books for this year. The library waitlist is so long!

    • November 5, 2021 at 6:40 pm

      Jenny Lawson is the best! I’ve loved all her books, and I loved hearing her narrate. With each of her books, she’s gotten better at talking about difficult, emotional subjects in her own unique way.

  8. November 5, 2021 at 2:27 pm

    Some great books there, although fortunately I’ve seen yours or others’ reviews of the ones that catch my eye already so am not adding anything to my wishlist QUITE yet. I did a fair bit of social injustice / race and nature this past year.

    • November 5, 2021 at 6:41 pm

      Thanks Liz, and good luck keeping your TBR list manageable! I’m hopeless at that. Do you have any recommendations on books about social injustice?

      • November 7, 2021 at 4:02 am

        Oh, so man. I’d say David Olusoga’s Black and British, Shon Faye’s The Transgender Issue, Sathnam Sanghera’s Empireland, Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené’s – Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, Akala’s Natives, Afua Hirsch’s Brit(ish) just for starters. Lots on my blog as I try to drip feed them through. Some of these include the intersection between race and class or gender and class as well.

  9. Florence @ Miscellany Pages
    November 5, 2021 at 6:17 pm

    Thank you for sharing these books – I’m also trying to read more nonfiction this year and I’m always looking for recommendations! Caste is on my reading list so I’m glad to hear you found it insightful. I hadn’t heard of the other books you’ve read that tackle racial injustice so I’ll definitely be checking them out 📚❤️ X x x

    • November 5, 2021 at 6:26 pm

      I’m glad you found this post helpful! You’ll find great recommendations from the other blogs hosting Nonfiction November. Most of the books I read this year came from their suggestions. Caste is incredible, though a very tough read. Thanks for visiting my blog!

  10. WendyW
    November 5, 2021 at 11:29 pm

    I’m inspired to read more non fiction! great post.

  11. November 6, 2021 at 10:27 am

    My sister recommended The Body Keeps Score but I just can’t bring myself to read anything too heavy lately. I am struggling to find my joy and so I seek it out in my books! I will read it eventually though, everyone says it is amazing.

    Enjoy NFN!

    • November 7, 2021 at 10:45 am

      Body Keeps the Score is a tough read, and it took me a long time to work through because some of the stories were so difficult, but there are hopeful ones as well. I totally understand about not reading too heavy right now. I keep my TV watching pretty light and romances are my “comfort reads”.

  12. November 6, 2021 at 8:45 pm

    I have heard a lot bout Caste, and A Woman of No Importance, but have yet to read them.
    My post is here https://wordsandpeace.com/2021/11/05/nonfiction-november-my-year-2021-in-nonfiction/

  13. November 7, 2021 at 3:03 am

    Not being American I’ve read little in relation to subject of US racial relations. Both Broken and Woman of No Importance are on my shelves which I hope to get to sooner rather than later

  14. November 7, 2021 at 6:55 pm

    Crying in H Mart is on my wish list and I even had an ambition of reading it in November (not sure it will happen – too much going on). I’ve also heard good things about Jenny Lawson, especially Furiously Happy.

  15. November 8, 2021 at 2:58 am

    Wow! You have read a lot of non-fiction this year! I read only four books and looking for more recommendations. I have heard great things about The Body keeps score, will look into it next.

  16. November 17, 2021 at 8:43 pm

    I’ve seen Crying in H Mart on several lists so far this month and I’m realizing I really need to get around to reading it. It looks like you’ve had an amazing year for nonfiction reading!

  17. November 24, 2021 at 9:17 am

    You’ve had quite the varied year of nonfiction reads! I haven’t gotten to Garlic and Sapphires despite loving others of her memoirs…I think I read a review of it that didn’t sound so appealing, but seeing you categorize it as covering mental health and psychology makes me want to give it a try.

    I really enjoyed The Body Keeps the Score this year, I’m so glad to have finally tackled that one and great to see you recommend it!

    • November 24, 2021 at 5:48 pm

      I did find it a little less interesting than Save Me the Plums – but the idea of putting on different costumes and then seeing how it affects your personality and how you’re treated was pretty fascinating! Which other memoirs of hers have you enjoyed?

      • November 24, 2021 at 6:21 pm

        That does sound entertaining and probably educational! I just like her writing voice too and she’s a fun storyteller. I’m adding to it to my list!

        I loved Tender at the Bone, about her childhood/adolescence and beginnings in cooking and relationship with her troubled mother. It’s outstanding. I’ve read Comfort Me With Apples, which focused on her time living in a hippie commune in California and then an affair she had coinciding with a trip to Paris (I’m consolidating, but those were the main points) and was less enamored with it. It had its moments but didn’t have anything standout and magical like the other two.

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