My Top 5 Nonfiction Books Read in 2020

This month I’ve been joining Kim and Tanya of for their annual event A Month of Faves, at least for a few topics. Earlier this month, I posted “My End of Year Bookish Plans.” Last week, I posted “These are a few of my favorite moments in 2020“, “These are a few of my favorite things (at home) in 2020,” and “These are a few of my favorite (Christmas) things.” To learn more about the event, visit Kim and Tanya’s introductory post on the event.

Today’s topic is Part 2 of favorite books that began with Part 1 on Monday. While I could have fit them all in one post, I decided to break my favorites into fiction and nonfiction, starting with fiction Monday and nonfiction today. Yesterday, I threw in my own topic not part of a Month of Faves: The Series That Didn’t Stick For Me In 2020, with series either I read the first one or abandoned in the middle of the first or sometimes second one.

Without further ado, here are my top 5 nonfiction books read in 2020 (in the order I read them across the year):

  1. Meditations: A New Translation by Marcus Aurelius as translated by Gregory Hays
  2. A Call To Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  3. Blue Horses: Poems by Mary Oliver
  4. Every Living Thing by James Herriot
  5. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn

If you detect a theme, you are correct, sir (or madam). While I intentionally selected Meditations as my first book of the year, I didn’t intentionally select the theme of meditation for my entire year. However, as the year progressed, perhaps because of the Spring lockdown, it naturally fell that way. It was helped along by an invitation from Deb Nance of the blog, Readerbuzz, and host of the weekly Sunday Salon to an online six-week introductory course for Christian Meditation hosted by a group in Houston, Texas. The group is part of The World Community for Christian Meditation started by followers of the late Benedictine monk John Main.

As for the non-meditation books, not necessarily non-meditative:

  • the speeches of MLK came at just the right time.
  • Every Living Thing is the last in the All Creatures Great and Small series that I have been slowly making my way through over the last few years. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire series, some of which I had read as a teen, but not all of the series.
  • Blue Horses wasn’t the only poetry I read for the year, but for some reason, it just worked for me, maybe because of the title poem below.

Maybe our world will grow kinder eventually. As this year ends, and we enter 2021, at least that is the hope. I don’t know about you, I’m trying to stay positive hard, but it’s not easy. I guess it’s good to remember the words of that great Canadian philosopher Red Green:

What were your favorite nonfiction books read this year?

Nonfiction November: What Makes A Nonfiction Book One of My Favorites

For the past three weeks, I have been joining in with other book bloggers for an event called Nonfiction November. The first week, Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, I looked back at my year in nonfiction. The second week, Nov. 4 to Nov. 8, I paired a nonfiction book with a fiction book. Last week, Nov. 11 to Nov. 15, I shared a list of books on a topic that I’d like to read or “become the expert,” as host for the week Katie from the blog Doing Dewey explained the prompt. This week, Nov. 18 to Nov. 22, I talk about what makes a nonfiction book I’ve read one of my favorites.

Over the last six years, according to my Goodreads numbers, I’ve read 39 nonfiction books. Out of those, 16 were biographies/memoirs, 12 were self-help, and 11 were other kinds of nonfiction, including history and other topics. And out of those 39, I counted 18 as “favorites” with 13 of them being autobiographies/memoirs.

So I guess for me what makes a nonfiction book one of my favorites is if it is someone telling the story of his or her own life. I prefer first person and often humorous books, for example, Yes Please by Amy Poehler or Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. However, I don’t restrict myself to humor, hence Hunger by Roxane Gay and Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I think what I prefer above else is authenticity. If a person sounds authentic, I’m in.

I saw one blogger this week mention that she likes to see notes at the end of the book, with citations and bibliographies. I used to like that, I’ll admit, or books that I knew had a lot of research, for example, Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand, which took seven years of research. I have a coworker at the library where I work, who just self-published a book that she did at least five years of research on. I am impressed when someone puts that much time into not only getting the story, but also getting the story right.

So how about you? What holds your interest in a nonfiction book? Please share in the comments.