Nonfiction November: Week I

It's Nonfiction November -- which starts in October to make the weeks come out right -- and this week's post is hosted by Julz Reads.  Head over there to see everybody's posts!  This week's topic is 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?
Themes that cropped up this year have been:

German/Eastern European/Russian history, as usual, with some literature thrown in too.  There is not enough time in my life to read all the history I want to, especially for that area.  I was particularly excited to read Tacitus, followed by A Most Dangerous Book, followed by Black Earth.  And Svetlana Alexievich is always a big deal to me; this year it was Secondhand Time.

Agricola and Germania, by Tacitus
A Most Dangerous Book, by Christopher Krebs
Black Earth: the Holocaust as History and Warning, by Timothy Snyder
Secondhand Time, by Svetlana Alexievich
The Possessed, by Elif Batuman (witty reflections on Russian literature and the people who read it)

Memoirs!  Some really amazing memoirs, often kind of literary in nature.  Also, a biography or two.  I had slightly mixed feelings about the Gorey biography, though it was also excellent in many ways...

Educated, by Tara Westover
Drawn From Memory and Drawn From Life, by E. H. Shepard
The Pendulum, by Julie Lindahl  (a memoir about German history, two of my categories at once)
Stet, by Diana Athill 
Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah 
Wesley the Owl, by Stacey O' Brien
Born to be Posthumous, by Mark Dery 
Such a Strange Lady, by Janet Hitchman
Every Secret Thing, by Patty Hearst

One of my most important books of the year, though, was a new topic for me: Northern Ireland.  Say Nothing gave me a lot to think about.  The same friend who gave me Say Nothing also told me to watch Derry Girls, which I am now hooked on.

Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden Keefe

Oddly, conspiracy theory books took up some space too.  I had a bit of a Jon Ronson kick with THEM, and then I got hold of Voodoo Histories, which was fascinating, and also meant that I've read the Aaronovitch brothers this year entirely accidentally.

Lost at Sea, by Jon Ronson
THEM, by Jon Ronson
Voodoo Histories, by David Aaronovitch

I also read more about...not exactly politics, but how our current political climate happened, and what to do about it.  These were important books to me, and I would recommend them to everyone.

Love Your Enemies, by Arthur C. Brooks
Alienated America, by Timothy P. Carney
How to Think, by Alan Jacobs
Enraged, by Emily Katz Anhalt (about ancient Greece, but completely relevant)

Lastly, we have the RANDOM but resistant to categorization!

Underground, by Will Hunt 
Babel, by Gaston Dorren
Ganga, by Julian Hollick (I want to read more travel books, but they got a bit shoved aside this year)
The Happiness Curve, by Jonathan Rauch

It's been a great nonfiction reading year; I only wish I could have crammed more in!  As for what I'd like to get out of this week...well, my TBR pile doesn't need any help, but who can resist a good-looking title??  I'm always up for more recommendations.


  1. wow, great topics. I definitely want to read at least one by Svetlana Alexievich. See the book I have most often recommended, it's an awesome on, and it does have a great tile as well:

  2. Great mix! So many on here I'd like to visit, especially that last one...The Happiness Curve.

  3. Since I just turned 50, naturually The Happiness Curve appeals to me, but also Alienated America, because I did see another blogger in this event mention it (and mentioned it previously too on her blog).

  4. Very good list! I'm off to see if I can find the Pendulum--WWII is a big nonfiction topic of mine always.

  5. I am a huge fan of Love Your Enemies and Alienated America, both of which helped me understand the current political climate better. I will look for Happiness Curve. It sounds like a book I'd enjoy. Thanks for sharing your favorites.

  6. Born to Posthumous and Say Nothing both sound amazing! And I love Derry Girls lol. I really loved this newest season.

  7. Oof, look at all that good stuff! I should write and schedule some posts for Nonfiction November -- I always forget to do it, and I super do not want to forget this year. It's such a great event!

  8. What a wonderful and varied selection of nonfiction you've read so far this year. I love taking part in Nonfiction November for all the book recommendations too... I come away with a good few years worth of books to get through. Haha! Happy reading this November!

  9. You've read such an interesting variety of books this year! Svetlana Alexievich is an author I've been meaning to read... can you recommend a starting point?

  10. JoAnn, I'd say to start with Chernobyl, if you can handle the difficult subject matter. It's not too long and it's about one central topic, so it's a bit easier.

  11. Good grief! Where do I begin? Love it!

  12. I’ve always found Jon Ronson’s perspective interesting, thanks for sharing such a varied list

    Please stop by to see my Introduction to NonFicNov

  13. Thanks for this post and your AWESOME book reviews. I added Educated, Stet, and Wesley to my TBR.

  14. I love Ronson too and thought his book, So You've Been Publicly Shamed was fantastic.

    Say Nothing looks really interesting and I'll be adding it to my TBR list (not just because of the Derry Girls reference!).

  15. Oh yes, I loved Publicly Shamed! Thanks for stopping by, folks.

  16. I've read two of Svetlana Alexievich's books and I thought they were both incredible, so I'd like to get to Secondhand Time too! And I'm actually reading Say Nothing as we speak. It's fascinating and I'd love to learn more about Northern Ireland, a new-to-me topic as well, so I'll have to check out Derry Girls. Great list!

  17. I've been wanting to read Secondhand Time. You've got a great selection here!


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