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?

The illusion of planned reading

Clockwise from bottom left are snapshots from each day of the weekend Saturday until this morning, with Memorial Day in the middle. 1.) Saturday: Plans to read The Lord God Made Them All. 2.) Sunday: Reading Sunday Salon posts. 3.) Monday (center):Memorial Day parade in our town. 4.) Tuesday: Wine, cheese and crackers 5.) Wednesday: Halfway through A Man Lay Dead.

This also could be subtitled “Looking Back At My 2019 Memorial Day Weekend.” This post was partially inspired by Sarah Sammis’s post “The illusion of organized reading” on her blog Puss Reboots.

Two weeks ago, I wrote this here on the blog: “I think now that I’m going to continue reading Herriot’s series that ends with The Lord God Made Them All and Every Living Thing, starting this coming long Memorial Day Weekend…” I even intended to follow through with that as I put the photo above in my Instagram Stories. However, that didn’t happen. In fact, I hardly read at all and when I did, I picked up a series that my friend John recommended: the Inspector Alleyn series by Ngaio Marsh.

Specifically, he recommended one he had just read: Night at the Vulcan, which he said was especially good. I went to Overdrive (via the Libby app) on the Free Library of Philadelphia website and found it, which John had told me was later in the series. While I checked it out, I also checked out the first one in the series too: A Man Lay Dead. I usually am a stickler for reading series in order, one might even say obsessive. But this time around, I’m only going to read this first one and then skip to No. 16 in the series with Night at the Vulcan (GASP!) even though FLP has the first 18 in the series.

I am about halfway through the first one and am enjoying it so far. I will get back to the Herriot series, but it probably won’t be until next month, maybe even after my birthday weekend (again GASP!). All this to show you that sometimes what I present here and what I actually do are different. But it still turned out okay, even if it wasn’t what I had planned.

How was your Memorial Day Weekend? Any reading? Family time? Burgers, hot dogs, the like?

All Things Wise and Wonderful

I am writing this from here:

When I finally finish All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot today, it will be my 11th book of the year. I started the series last January and have continued to make my way through it slowly while reading a few other books. I had a couple of other books I had planned to read during my “birthday month,” which starts June 1. I am turning 50 on June 9 and while in previous years, I had celebrated my birthday for a weekend, then a week, then a month, I think this year at half a century, the month-long celebration is, or at least might be, well deserved. However, I think now that I’m going to continue reading Herriot’s series that ends with The Lord God Made Them All and Every Living Thing, starting this coming long Memorial Day Weekend for me and continuing throughout June and probably July.

Next Sunday, I’ll do my “normal” Pushing Forward Back post to wrap up the end of the month and look ahead to the next month. In addition to continuing through the Herriot series during my birthday month, I also have planned a wine trip with my wife and am going to have a giveaway here on the blog (more details to come on my birthday). Stay tuned. In the meantime, if you missed my last post, visit it here: What We’re Watching Wednesday | The Short Season Shows, Part 1, if you’d like. I’ll leave you with a little chill music from Guido, my chill friend from the Netherlands, what I listened to as I wrote this post:

What about you? Any big plans for the coming weekend for those of you in the States who have off Memorial Day? Any big plans for you regardless of where you are for the summer (or the winter, depending on the hemisphere you’re reading this from)? Any good books included in those plans?

This post is part of The Sunday Salon. Visit Readerbuzz or go to the group’s Facebook page to find out more information about the group or to join.

Pushing Forward Back April/May 2019

The books I read for April 2019, the special breakfasts I had, the “stuff” we got rid of during our town’s Spring Cleanup Week, the movie we watched (Bumblebee) that was a pleasant surprise in a franchise we despise.

April started out with car and doctors’ appointments back-to-back for both me and my wife and then her 49th birthday the first Saturday. We didn’t go to my usual breakfast place for brunch in a neighboring town, but went to a restaurant in our town, with my parents, sister, nephew, and niece surprising my wife there. The food was very good and the company too. Later in the day, we got together with neighbors to play 500 Rummy, with my wife appropriately winning in her first ever win with the neighbors, who are hardcore cardplayers.

Then the month went a little haywire for the next two weeks as I was, and still am, dealing with a badly bruised left knee. After some miscommunication (some admittedly caused by me) and bad customer service experiences at our local health center, I am getting the knee addressed. An X-ray was negative for broken bones, I was given a two week dose of prednisone, and this past week I had an initial assessment at physical therapy. Based on that evaluation, minor injury and probably not anything torn, I was given exercises to do at home and then check in with my primary in six weeks unless it gets worse before then.

The third weekend was a long weekend for me as I took Good Friday off, ostensibly to go to a Good Friday service, but in reality I didn’t. I stayed home and finished Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor, which I had been reading for Lent, and started All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot that I plan on finishing this weekend. Then last Saturday, my plan was to continue my impromptu Easter Triduum Readathon, but I didn’t read at all as the weather, which was supposed to be rainy all or most of the day, took a turn to being nice.

I literally got out of town, went to breakfast at my aforementioned usual breakfast place in a neighboring town, happened upon an Earth Day event in the town’s park, and then came home to put mulch on the side of a driveway we share with a neighbor, much of my energy thanks to the prednisone I was taking. Also thanks to the energy, I ended the month doing a little extra cleaning around the house, including organizing a book shelf.

Books I want to read or reread over the next few months.

May begins with our buying a new lawnmower and then my first mow of the season, which I usually dread, but might dread (and hate) less (slightly less) than normal now with the new mower. Winter is finally over and spring is here – at least in reality. In fake world, winter is still going until at least mid-May with the final season of Game of Thrones, which we are watching and enjoying so far.

Otherwise mid-May should be uneventful for us, leaving me time to adjusting new daily routines that I’ve been attempting to develop in light of my wife and I “giving up” Facebook in March. Since last fall when I started using a CPAP machine, my daily routines already have been changing. Thanks to actually getting rest, I usually now get up earlier than I did, meaning I have more time to do more things than I did before. Those things include reading and walking, especially as my knee improves.

May ends with a three-day holiday weekend, and even though I work on the Tuesday after it, the library where I work is closed that day for staff to work on a few projects we couldn’t otherwise. So basically it will be a four-day break from patrons, which although their presence obviously means job security, it is nice for an introvert like myself to be able to have a chance to breathe without all the extra people…

…bringing me back to my One Word for 2019:

How was your month of April? Read any good books, seen any good movies and/or TV shows, listened to any good music? What was the highlight of your month? What are you looking forward to in May? Share in the comments.

This post is part of The Sunday Salon, that was created in 2007 to spark conversations about books and book-ish things. It now can be found each weekend at the blog Readerbuzz, where you also can post a link to your blog.