Nonfiction November: Week I

Hello, Nonfiction November!  I'm already late, because I was thinking November, and it started at the beginning of the week...anyway, Julie at Julzreads is hosting this week and she says:

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? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

At first I thought I hadn't read that much non-fiction, but looking back, I had some great books!   It's very difficult to pick just one; several of them seem to me to be very important books that everybody should read.  So I'll pick Voices From Chernobyl as the top title, though not because it was fun to read.  I'd also like to give a shout-out to Last Things, because it's an excellent and heart-wrenching graphic memoir.

I'm not sure I've really recommended a lot of non-fiction to people this year, besides giving positive reviews and sometimes tagging a book with my "books everyone should read" tag.  

I have not read enough history.  I have so much history on my shelf right now, and I haven't been getting to it as quickly as I want to!  I love reading history, but my choppy reading style does not lend itself well to large, heavy books.  (I don't do a lot of sitting and reading.)  My history TBR is currently Russia-heavy but there are plenty of other topics too: the Cold War, Anglo-Saxons, France, classical Greece....

I just like trading titles with everybody, I guess!  I like to read non-fiction, and I'm always up for more (although my groaning bookshelves are probably none too happy).

Here are my non-fiction titles for 2017 so far:

The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia, by Bill Gammage.  Amazing.
The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking, by Brendan I. Koerner.  Gripping, and jaw-dropping to those of us who didn't live through it.
Germania: In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History, by Simon Winder.  A lot of fun.
The Man Who Saved Britain: A Personal Journey Into the Disturbing World of James Bond, ibid.  Not so much fun, but wow did I learn things.
Last Things, by Marissa Moss.  ALS memoir.
Reflections: On the Magic of Writing, by Diana Wynne Jones.  Wonderful, as ever.
Excellent Sheep, by William Deresiewicz.  Eh, it was OK.
All Natural, by Nathanael Johnson.  Pretty fun, and learned some good stuff.
Where Nothing is Long Ago: Memories of a Mormon Childhood, by Virginia Sorenson.  Lovely.
How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids, by Jancee Dunn.  Not all relevant, but some good stuff.
The Power of Glamour, by Virginia Postrel.  Wow, a great read!
The Histories, by Herodotus.  I feel so accomplished. :)
Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, by Paul Bloom.  Interesting!
At the Pulpit, ed. Reeder and Holbrook.  Women's history, my favorite.
Uncle Boris in the Yukon, by Daniel Pinkwater.  My kind of dog book.  
The Durrells of Corfu, by Michael Haag.  Pretty interesting.
The Burning Point, by Tracy McKay.   Wow.  Amazing memoir.  
To Destroy You is No Loss, by Teeda Butt Mam.  Cambodian memoir.
Stolen Words, by Mark Glickman.  Oh wow, stolen Jewish libraries!
On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder.  A very short must-read.
Blue Remembered Hills, by Rosemary Sutcliff.  Lovely.
The Treasure of the City of Ladies, by Christine de Pisan.  A favorite!
The Young Ardizzone, by Edward Ardizzone.  Really lovely.
Voices From Chernobyl, by Svetlana Alexievich.  Horrifying and necessary.
A Deadly Wandering, by Matt Richtel.  Don't text and drive, people.
Bad News, by Anjam Sundaram.  Rwanda: more of a mess than we'd like to think.


  1. I loved The Skies Belong To Us. Glad you also got to read it.
    Here's a link to my review:

  2. Yeah, it was a great read! Thanks for stopping by :)

    (Also, what happened to my line breaks?? Gotta fix that.)

  3. Huh, the Bond title actually interests me a bit because after watching a Bond film with my husband (Goldfinger) that we both found silly and dull, I got curious about the books -- were they any different and any better? I posted a question on the Folio Society forum and started a flame-fest of Bond haters and Bond defenders. I did read one book (Casino Royale) which contained the infamous line that making love to his current amour would be like raping her every time...and this was a prelude to his PROPOSING MARRIAGE TO HER. Anyway, I'm unlikely to become a fan but I am interested in the popular culture phenomenon Bond represents.

  4. Oh BLERG, that's horrible. I too have only read one book, and it was "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." You can read my (rather bemused) review here:

    So yeah, definitely not a Bond fan, but as you say, the popular cultural phenomenon IS interesting. I mean, what on earth made this rather grody fellow so enduringly popular??

  5. That's what I'd like to know, especially since from the one example I read the writing is pretty bad too. I've seen theories that it was a response to postwar austerity - people liked imagining themselves in an Aston Martin, guzzling martinis and washing their hair with expensive shampoos (I loved that quote!) However, that doesn't really account for the rape and torture parts. I suppose there's a bit of sadism in more people than would like to admit it.


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