I haven't done this week's prompt before now because I didn't really think I had a year in nonfiction, besides Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage by Molly Wizenberg, which I just finished, but then I thought a bit about it. I've not really kept track of my reading properly this year as I stopped using Goodreads, and I'm seriously regretting that now that the End of Year surveys are coming around and I have absolutely no clue what I've read, but looking at my favourite books from this year there is one volume of nonfiction on there, and I remember at least three others, plus a couple which I'm not 100% sure whether they were this year or last year. I think the main problem is that I have a huge problem with finishing nonfiction, particularly parenting books but also other things. I just get easily distracted from nonfiction, I'm not sure why. That said, it's not been the case at all with my first pick for Nonfiction November, Books, Baguettes & Bedbugs: The Left Bank World of Shakespeare & Co. by Jeremy Mercer, which I haven't been able to put down, it's absolutely fascinating!
Anyway, all that said I'm going to try to answer Kim's prompts!
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?My favourite nonfiction read of the year is a tie between Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross, and Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, which is also the nonfiction book I've recommended most. In all honesty I finished it and immediately shoved it into the hands of my unsuspecting sister, who happened to be staying with us at the time. She devoured it and then passed it on to another of our sisters and I only got it back a couple of months ago! It's an awesome book because it's both really like and really unlike Steinbeck's other writing (East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath being all I've read to compare it to so far!). Basically he's kept all the stuff that makes him great and lost all the bits which bore people, and because the book is just him and his dog, Charley, travelling across America in a van it's full of loads of brilliant, beautiful and well-expressed observations and basically designed to make those of us Brits to whom American road-tripping is the pinnacle of all daydreams fall in love with it.
Simplicity Parenting I personally found brilliant because it's had such an impact on the way that I think about parenting. At the time that I read it I was totally overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff we have in our house and the pressure I felt to be constantly doing lots of different activities with my kids all the time to make sure they are learning everything they 'should' be. At first I was sceptical about the idea of taking away most of the toys in the house and scheduling way less of my children's time (my husband was even more so!) but the day after I finished the book I sneakily took about half of the toys out of the toy box and hid them and my son didn't even notice. The next week I halved them again, and again, he didn't notice. Now we have a much smaller collection of things he actually plays with and his attention is way more focused. It's amazing. Such is the power of nonfiction!
As for topics of nonfiction I've not read enough of yet, the list is pretty endless! In terms of what I've read this year, of a grand total of six that I can remember, one was a foodie graphic novel (Relish by Lucy Knisley), one a parenting book (previously mentioned), three memoirs (Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher, Travels with Charley & Delancey) and one a collection of essays (At Large and At Small by Anne Fadiman). I got and returned to the library before I could start it Mary Roach's Packing for Mars, but I still really want to read some Mary Roach as I keep hearing great things! So in terms of what I need to read more of.... science, history (especially anything from outside the UK or even within the UK that's not the Tudors, the Victorians and both world wars), feminism, social justice type things. Basically anything that's not travel, memoirs or a book about books! What recommendations do you have for me?
By participating in Nonfiction November I'm hoping to motivate myself to read more nonfiction (already started!), get some awesome recommendations (also already happening!) and chat with some great bloggers plus organising a fantastic nonfiction book swap :-) Come and sign up if you haven't already, details are here.
From your list, I've got my eye on Wishful Drinking! I've read way too much "nonfiction" though all the case studies I had to read for graduate school earlier this year, so I think I'll stick to memoirs for now!ReplyDelete
I read a lot of memoirs to be honest, I'm trying to branch out with my nonfiction to read some other stuff as well but it's hard because a lot of what appeals to me are memoirs! Wishful Drinking was good though, very funny.Delete
I really like Anne Fadiman but hadn't heard about At Large And At Small--I need to investigate that one!ReplyDelete
I don't have kids, but I can totally see the appeal in Simplicity Parenting (and could see myself potentially leaning that way in the future). I have a post from last year's NFN with some of my favorite modern US History recommendations...I might have to pick your brain on some good Tudor reading!ReplyDelete
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyDelete
I haven't read Travels with Charley and it's obvious that I need to do so! :DReplyDelete
If you do some blog hopping during this event your wish list is sure to grow to epic proportions. Mine sure has, lol.
Even if I never read the book, eliminating some toys would be a very smart move on my part. Not only does my daughter have way more than she could possibly need, I am also two months away from adding a new baby to the house.ReplyDelete
Love Steinbeck! That book doesn't get mentioned enough these days. And I'm so excited about the Shakespeare & Co. book! It's great to hear it's as good as I want it to be.ReplyDelete
I've only read one Mary Roach book, but loved it, so all her other books are on my TBR. As far as recommendations, I love Sarah Vowell. She is kind of travel-ly, but not really. For instance, In Assassination Vacation, she visits a bunch of assassination sites but the book is all about the history. From what I've read of her, she's fun, irreverent, and easy to read.ReplyDelete
BLOGGER ATE MY COMMENT! Oh maaaan. Let me try and remember it.ReplyDelete
1. I've wanted to read Travels With Charley ever since you first recommended it - must get on that...
2. *does another happy dance that you finally read and loved BB+B*
3. I'm reading Relish right now, coincidentally - it's so fun, and it's the perfect foil for my other current reads right now (zombie hell and an in-depth discussion of the Harry Potter fandom).
4. I've read Wishful Drinking and At Large and At Small, and highly recommend Bonk by Mary Roach. I haven't read any more of hers, but I HAVE most of them - not Stiff, which I had out from the library and mistakenly tried to read at mealtimes back when my stomach couldn't quite hack it, haha. I'd like to try it again now I'm not as squeamish about my reading!
5. I'm all signed up for your swap, and VERY much hoping that NFN will encourage me to actually pick up something a tad more in-depth from my bookshelves/library pile instead of constantly reaching for whatever's quickest and easiest. WE CAN DO THIS BEX. :D
*quietly copies comment in case it gets eaten again* Success!
I'm interested in the Steinbeck book - I read East of Eden last year and loved parts of it, but thought there was a lot that could have been cut out (because it was boring). I also had Delancy on my radar, but haven't gotten to it yet. I love reading about food and restaurants and even have a Cooking/Food Recommendations List on my blog.ReplyDelete
I can sometimes get distracted from nonfiction too. Because a lot of straight nonfiction (rather than narrative nonfiction) doesn't have a big pulling thread, it can be easy to set it down at the end of a chapter and then move on. It happens to all of us!ReplyDelete
Thank you for joining Nonfiction November this month!ReplyDelete
OK! The rest of my comment got eaten! I really need to read more John Steinbeck and I am glad to hear you recommend Travels with Charley.ReplyDelete
Blogger seems to keep eating people's comments this week! You should definitely read it, it's a great book! :-)Delete
I read a different Anne Fadiman essay collection and really enjoyed it (Ex Libris) so I should check out the one you read.ReplyDelete
I've been meaning to get to Travels With Charley for a long time - thanks for reminding me about it!ReplyDelete