My Own Personal Nonfiction November

This month there are several events around the Internet called Nonfiction November. In the past I have even participated in one with a group of book bloggers. It is led by Rennie at the blog What’s Nonfiction. To find out more about that event, click on the hyperlink. However, that is not what I am doing. Instead, as the title of this post says, I am doing My Own Personal Nonfiction November.

To wit, this year I have only read four nonfiction books, but I want to read more. So, this month I have picked three nonfiction books to try to get through before the end of the month. I found all of them while shelf reading at the library where I work. Shelf reading, for those who might not know, means “reading the spines of the items on the shelf and rearranging any materials that are out of order.” It’s not always a fun job, especially when the call numbers in a Dewey decimal system get long, but it can be rewarding when you find books that interest you. 

The list is as follows: 

  • Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with The Myth of the Lost Cause by Ty Seidule, Professor Emeritus of History at West Point 
  • Tombstone: The Earp Brothers, Doc Holiday, And the Vendetta Raid from Hell by Tom Clavin  
  • The Flying Tigers: The Untold Story of the American Pilots Who Waged the Secret War Against Japan by Sam Kleiner. 

The first two were published last year; the third, in 2018.  

While I’m not usually one to quote from a summary on a book jacket, in the case of Robert E. Lee and Me, I will make an exception, because it’s what drew me. This is the second paragraph of the summary: 

In a unique blend of history and reflection, Seidule deconstructs the truth about the Confederacy—that its undisputed primary goal was the subjugation and enslavement of Black Americans—and directly challenges the idea of honoring those who labored to preserve that system and committed treason in their failed attempt to achieve it. Through the arc of Seidule’s own life, as well as the culture that formed him, he seeks a path to understanding why the facts of the Civil War have remained buried beneath layers of myth and even outright lies—and how they embody a cultural gulf that separates millions of Americans to this day. 

Back in college, I took a class on Reconstruction with one of the central themes being that the Civil War was about slavery, period. The main book used for the course, which I highly recommend, is A Short History of Reconstruction 1863-1877 by Eric Foner. It is an abridged version of Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution. So, Seidule’s book will be like extra credit reading for me for that class almost 30 years ago. 

In the case of Tombstone, I’ve always had an interest in “The Gunfight at the OK Corral” and with The Flying Tigers, I grew up watching the TV show Baa Baa Black Sheep, about U.S. Marine Corps aviator Greg “Pappy” Boyington and his Black Sheep Squadron. He also was a member of the Flying Tigers. I’ve also always wanted to see the movie Tombstone and never have. Now maybe after reading the book, I will watch it with maybe a better understanding of the real event. 

So, do you read nonfiction? If you do, what is one of your favorites from this year or any other year, for that matter? If you don’t, why not?

16 thoughts on “My Own Personal Nonfiction November

  1. I don’t usually do non-fiction November because I don’t read a lot of non-fiction but this month I am reading Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour about his experiences as a Christian Palestinian at the time Israel was established as a nation. I hope to finish it this week. I’m half reading it, half listening. Enjoy non-fiction November.


  2. I’m not officially doing any Nonfiction November events, but I did notice that a few of my November ARCs are nonfiction. Check out what I read at Girl Who Reads.


  3. Oh shelf reading. Such a joy. That was a job we had our student TAs do when I was a librarian. All three look like they could be interesting so I look forward to seeing what you think of them.


  4. Shelf reading would be my dream job. LOL I remember the moment I learned the Dewey Decimal system! Third grade, an elementary school in Tempe, AZ. I only went there for half the year so I don’t remember the name of the school. We were taken to the school library and asked to play a Dewey Decimal game, winning candy for getting the numbers right.

    I think it’s cool that you’re doing your own personal NonFictionNovember.


  5. Robert E. Lee and Me sounds fascinating! A friend recommended it to me about 6 months ago. She moved from upstate NY to NC and read it with her new book club. I understand they had a really good discussion.

    Nonfiction usually makes up between a third and half of my reading. A favorite this year was The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. It’s about 10 years old now… so glad I finally got around to it.


  6. I will be posting about Nonfiction November tomorrow, but here is a list of books I might read next month:

    What’s So Special About Dickens? by Michael Rosen

    The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs by Tristan Gooley

    Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott

    Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch

    Spying on the South: An Odyssey Across the American Divide by Tony Horwitz

    7 1/2 Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett

    She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity by Carl Zimmer

    The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death by John Kelly

    On Animals by Susan Orlean

    Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need by David Platt

    All three of yours sound potentially good to me. Let’s see what you think.


  7. I do read nonfiction regularly. One that I read recently and really liked was Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty – a 14 year old boy with Autism chronicles a year in his life including things he sees in nature, how he processes the world and times spent with his family. It was beautifully written.

    Last year my favorite nonfiction read was God’s Hotel by Victoria Sweet – Victoria is a doctor who spent some time working at Laguna Honda, our country’s last almshouse. A fascinating read about slow medicine.

    Good luck on your own personal Nonfiction November!


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