Nonfiction November: A Look Back at My Year in Nonfiction

This coming month, starting early today, I’m participating in Nonfiction November (for more information on the event and hosts, click on the image at right). Week 1: (Oct. 28 to Nov. 1) – Your Year in Nonfiction : 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?

I will be honest that I wasn’t sure I was going to participate in this, but earlier this month, I did see former host Kim of the blog Sophisticated Dorkiness mention the event on her Instagram feed and it got me thinking about it. Then a few other bloggers I follow mentioned it too, and now I’m feeling the blogger pressure. PLUS more importantly, I want to participate because this year I’ve read more nonfiction than in other years. I’m also hoping to read at least one nonfiction book a week in November, although I’ll be happy if I read only a few.

Altogether this year, out of the 28 books I’ve read total, 11 of them are nonfiction or 39 percent. Here are the 11, in order of when I read them:

  1. The Library Book by Susan Orlean
  2. Shale Play: Poems and Photographs from the Fracking Fields by Julia Kasdorf and Steven Rubin
  3. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
  4. All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot
  5. Calypso by David Sedaris
  6. Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Taylor Brown
  7. All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot
  8. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport
  9. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
  10. Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
  11. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

The Library Book was my first read of the year and was a great way to begin the year. I’ve been reading the Herriot series over the last couple of years and have the next two, The Lord God Made Them All and Every Living Thing, to read in the next couple of months, maybe into next year. Travels with Charley was a reread. Almost all were excellent, with four in particular standing out among the rest: The Library Book, Born a Crime, Hunger, and Born to Run. The best, by a slight margin, was Born to Run, perhaps because I had been gifted the book as part of a book blogger gift exchange a couple of years ago and never gotten to read it.

As you can tell, I don’t have one single topic to which I’m attracted. However, among my “to-be-reads” are more than a dozen books on race in America. I have collected them, mostly from Kindle deals, over the last year, year and a half. I have yet to get to them, because I’ll be honest (again) that I’m having a hard time reading political nonfiction right now with our current political climate. Unfortunately, like many Americans, it makes me frustrated to the point of disengagement. I know I will get to these books, but I think it’s going to be slowly, rather than all at once, in one large binge-read.

I’m also reading one nonfiction book right now: Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises by Lesley M.M. Blume. I started it during this past Saturday’s Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon during which I also re-read The Sun Also Rises. I’m not sure what else I’ll be reading for nonfiction during November with my next several planned books being fiction, but that always could change, depending on my mood.

Whether or not you’re participating or not in Nonfiction November, I’ll leave you with the same questions as this first week of the event: 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?

67 thoughts on “Nonfiction November: A Look Back at My Year in Nonfiction

  1. I really loved The Library Book too! I could tell how much the author loved libraries and all of her tangents were fascinating to me. I think any reading you do for the event or even just doing the discussion posts is great. All of us who help host intend it to be fun and laid back 🙂

  2. I was surprised how much I enjoyed Born a Crime. I love watching Trevor Noah on The Daily Show and didn’t realize his background was so difficult. Bruce Springsteen’s book surprised me too! I’m not necessarily a fan but I am now. I read Hunger and then read another of Roxane Gay’s book after that; loved them both.

    Barbara Taylor Brown is one my favorite authors. I’ll read whatever she writes. I’m adding The Library Book to my list now. Great list, Bryan!

  3. I think Educated by Tara Westover was my favorite nonfiction read of the year (I tend to like memoirs). I was actually holding The Library Book in my hands at the bookstore the other day, but I ended up putting it back. Maybe I’ll go back for it!

  4. I have been reading James Herriott books too! Did you know that PBS is doing a Masterpiece series on his books next year? I will be watching that! His books are interesting and very funny!

  5. Great list! As you know The Library Book also made my list. Loved Travels with Charley! I’ve heard great things about Born A Crime and I must read it! Been itching to read Leaving Church for a while.
    Happy reading!

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