Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

I’m participating in Nonfiction November, one of my favorite annual blogging events. The first week’s topic is hosted by Doing Dewey, and I’m already a little behind. 

Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

This year so far I’ve read 19 nonfiction books, which is a little bit of an increase over last year, though I still read far more fiction than nonfiction.  One area I’ve been concentrating on is books about nature and the environment.  In that area, I read Diary of a Young Naturalist, How to Give Up Plastic, The Puma Years, and my favorite of the group, Jane Goodall’s The Story of Hope.

Goodall and McAnulty’s books are also memoirs about people addressing difficult challenges, a common theme across my reading. One of my favorites in this category was Inheritance by Dani Shapiro.  This was a fascinating and moving book about a woman who discovers from a DNA test that she is not her father’s biological daughter. This leads to an exploration about faith, identity, and reproductive science and policy. The underlying question is what makes someone family, and how much do you want to know about where you come from? 

Another favorite in this category was Judith Heumann’s Being Heumann.  Heumann’s memoir is also a history of disability rights activism leading to the groundbreaking Americans With Disabilities Act. I know she has inspired so many people, and I hope her memoir will inspire even more people to fight for their own rights and what they believe in. 

A third favorite in this category was Gabrielle Union’s We’re Going to Need More Wine.  This memoir covers a lot of issues with humor and honesty, ranging from the funny, to the famous (Heath Ledger and Prince), to the devastating (sexual assault and cancer).

In addition to Inheritance, the book I recommended most this year was Quiet by Susan Cain.  This book, an exploration of what it means to be introverted and extroverted, was so relevant for me that I recommended it to many of my co-workers and I use it as a manager to consider the differences in how people work. I particularly appreciated Cain’s insights on how introverts can push outside their comfort zone when it’s important.  I’ve always had trouble reconciling the fact that I deeply need solitude, quiet, and order, and yet I love jobs where I’m talking to people on a regular basis. Additionally, I’m not a parent but I know that people have started talking about how introverts can best parent children who are extroverts, and vice versa, and I think Cain’s work has contributed to that important conversation.

What am I hoping to get out of Nonfiction November?  I’ve been reading a lot more nonfiction in the last few years, and this event always helps me find great new titles to read. Some of the books I’ve discovered in previous years were The Body Keeps the Score (about the impact of trauma on the brain), Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow (about the investigation of Harvey Weinstein), Get Well Soon (a humorous historical look at contagious diseases), and Diary of a Young Naturalist (a nature memoir written by a 15 year old with autism).  I also appreciate the prompts that get us thinking about nonfiction in new ways – which nonfiction books pair great with fiction? Which tell stories that are stranger than fiction?  And which have deeply affected the way we think about the world?

Thanks to our hosts of this year’s Nonfiction November. What was a favorite nonfiction book you read this year?

  25 comments for “Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

  1. November 6, 2022 at 10:44 am

    reading more non fiction was definitely one of my goals this year. i clearly failed 😭😂 but your post is so motivating, i might just look up a few in these two remaining months.

    • November 6, 2022 at 6:43 pm

      Sorry to hear you didn’t meet your goals, but I hope you find lots of good nonfiction recommendations to inspire you!

      • November 6, 2022 at 9:21 pm

        thank you! ahh i do remember but i find it hard to find non fictions that actually interests me hehe. do you maybe have any recommendations for newbies?

  2. November 6, 2022 at 10:57 am

    Quiet is one of my all-time favorites, so glad to see you’ve enjoyed and been recommending it as well!

    • November 6, 2022 at 6:51 pm

      Thanks, I found it so relevant to my daily life. We tend to have these very limiting ideas about what extroverts and introverts are, and it was nice to read a more nuanced and research-based analysis.

      • November 6, 2022 at 7:49 pm

        I agree completely. It helped me in my daily life a lot. Kind of unexpectedly so!

  3. November 6, 2022 at 11:07 am

    A nice selection here, I couldn’t come up with one favourite myself! I love nature and social justice books as well as memoirs. A special category for me is memoirs I’ve worked on as a transcriber then read when they’ve become books!

    • November 6, 2022 at 6:45 pm

      Working as a transcriber must be interesting! What are some of the memoirs you’ve worked on? Any nature/social justice recommendations?

      • November 7, 2022 at 10:10 am

        I’m not allowed to talk about most of them, but I’ve worked on all of Nimsdai Purja’s books and Goldie’s most recent autobiography. Lots of NDAs as I hear everything before it’s written up, goes through the lawyers, etc.! Re nature and social justice recs, I did a Be the Expert on social justice last Nov and still rate all of these plus if you visit my blog a) I have categories for various types of social justice, b) my first NonFic Nov post has a good few, and c) my end of year post always has a decent list including those areas (didn’t want to post too many links in one comment in case the spam filter filtered it!).

  4. November 6, 2022 at 12:20 pm

    I want to read more science and nature books next year. I gave The Book of Hope to my son for his birthday, but I haven’t read it yet. Diary of a Young naturalist is going on my list for sure.

    • November 6, 2022 at 6:49 pm

      I think I like nature/travel books more than the social activism ones I read this year – books like The Salt Path or Wild that involve journeys. I need to read the sequel to The Salt Path.

      • November 7, 2022 at 1:36 am

        I’ve been wanting to read The Salt Path. It’s been checked out from the library (I try not to do too many holds because otherwise they all come in at once and I get overwhelmed) but maybe I’ll see if it’s available now. Thanks for reminding me.

  5. November 6, 2022 at 2:15 pm

    A varied collection, several of which sound appealing. I already have the Will McCallum on my wishlist but am now adding Inheritance

    • November 6, 2022 at 6:41 pm

      McCallum’s book is practical but I didn’t love it – he spends a lot of time on convincing companies to be more environmental, which I appreciate but it wasn’t what I was looking for. He also addresses things like effective speaking and letter writing. Inheritance was a fantastic book, if you pick it up I hope you’ll like it as much as I did.

  6. November 6, 2022 at 4:37 pm

    Such a great challenge! I really enjoyed Quiet and look forward to reading her recent book Bittersweet. Best of luck with your nonfiction reading!

    • November 6, 2022 at 6:52 pm

      Thanks, I’m glad you liked Quiet. I’m looking forward to reading her new one as well.

  7. Karen
    November 7, 2022 at 10:06 am

    I need to go back and see what I loved, I know I enjoyed The Yellow Envelope and Life From Scratch and also I thought Selma Blair’s memoir was very good. You know me, I’m a HUGE lover of non-fiction.

    • November 7, 2022 at 7:00 pm

      Life from Scratch was great! Thanks for recommending that one. Selma Blair’s book sounds like one I’d like.

  8. November 13, 2022 at 5:19 pm

    Diary of a Young Naturalist sounds compelling. I love books about nature, too.

    • November 13, 2022 at 8:53 pm

      Thanks for commenting Deb! Naturalist is a slow read, but I really enjoyed it, especially as read by the author on audiobook. It’s nice to read about a teen’s experience from their own perspective, particularly a teen who is on the spectrum. It made me look at the nature around me a bit differently.

  9. November 19, 2022 at 4:39 pm

    I have been trying to give up plastic slowly but surely so I am hoping How To Give Up Plastic can get me all the way there once and for all. Enjoy your NFN!

  10. November 21, 2022 at 4:04 pm

    I started to read Quiet and got side tracked. Will need to restart it.

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