Monday 2 November 2015

Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

Nonfiction November is upon us! In case you didn't see my previous post, Nonfiction November is a month dedicated to all things nonfiction hosted by Kim, Leslie, Katie and Becca and each week has a different topic. In case you're interested I'm also organising a very low stress, simple nonfiction book swap which you can sign up for until November 8th. All the details are here.

My Year in Nonfiction

So far this year I've finished 64 books, of which 12 have been nonfiction meaning I'm only a little behind my target of one in four. I am about to finish I Am Malala though, and this month will help as with the exception of Moby Dick I will be reading all nonfiction! It's been a pretty brilliant year nonfiction wise really, and I'm also planning some posts on my favourite ever nonfiction to give you all some more titles for you TBRs, but to kick us off here's what I've read this year!

  • The Winter of Our Disconnect by Susan Maushart (received for the Nonfiction Book Swap 2014)
  • The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel (a recommendation from Nonfiction November 2014)
  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
  • Blankets by Craig Thompson
  • The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison (a recommendation from and received for the Nonfiction Swap)
  • The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
  • Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
  • The Artful Parent by Jean Van't Hul
  • The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo
  • It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario 
  • Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
As mentioned I'm about to finish I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb, which is the readalong book for Nonfiction November. I'm also part way through Happiness by Matthieu Ricard, Monkeys with Typewriters by Scarlett Thomas and a reread of The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell. 

My favourite nonfiction read of the year has to be It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario which was actually recommended by Kim and I'm so glad I picked it up. Addario is a photojournalist who has worked in a lot of warzones and this book is just so incredible. It's a very difficult read as you can imagine - Addario has worked in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya among many others, and the things she has witnessed are often incredibly tough but I found it extremely interesting to see things from a perspective that the media doesn't often encourage. Looking at things from the point of view of the people who are seen as the aggressors of wars isn't something we're encouraged to do but I think it's important and this book was just so beautifully written. 

Nonfiction book I've recommended most is probably The Winter of Our Disconnect by Susan Maushart. I loved this book every bit as much as I'd hoped I would. Susan Maushart got rid of all the screens in her house for a three month period, during which time she also had three teenagers in the house. The book is often very funny but the results of 'the experiment' were really eye opening. 

One type of nonfiction I've not read enough of 

I read a lot of memoirs but not very much history. I'm planning to change that this month, with One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson and Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth both on my horizon. I also have Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell and The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson on my shelves and several other history books on my wishlist, so we'll see what I get around to!

What I'm hoping to get out of Nonfiction November

Discovering some amazing nonfiction titles and generally getting a chance to indulge my inner geek and do lots of learning through reading some awesome books! I'm also excited to discover some great new blogs, so if we've not chatted before please say hi and I'll come and check out your blog!

First up, once I finish I Am Malala is going to be Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Cant' Stop Talking. What are you reading?

* all links are affiliate. If you purchase via them I will earn a small commission and be very grateful. 


  1. I love a lot of the books you are planning on reading - Quiet, One Summer, Devil in the White City. I'm in the middle of It's What I Do.

  2. Ohh, you have some great history picks to boost that category! Even though I love reading history nonfiction, it always seems like there's so much more to get to.

  3. I saw It's What I Do at the library when I went to go pick up a few things and I passed it up. I'm definitely regretting that now, so I need to run back this afternoon and see if it's still on the shelves! Thanks for joining us for Nonfiction November!

  4. Devil in the White City is one of my favorites! Like you, I don't tend to read a lot of historical nonfiction. I should remedy that but for some reason it really intimidates me!

    I just remembered that I have The Happiness Project on paper and audio--I should aim to get to it this month!

  5. Oh my gosh - kudos to you for tackling Moby Dick! I loved The Devil in the White City - it's one of my nonfiction all-time favorites! And - I'm listening to One Summer on audio right now, but am having trouble with it...then again, I usually have trouble with audiobooks :(

  6. Aeiiiii...Moby Dick (shudder) although I did like Ahab's Naser. Malala is great...the movie they made...not so much. Larson is fantastic, and ANYTHING Kingsolver writes.......

  7. I'm reading Quiet right now, and will start I am Malala later in the month.

  8. Quiet is a wonderful book that validates the experience of all us introverts.

    I've just started a book on the Great Barrier Reef which combines my interest in geography/environmental issues and history/memoir.

    I remember hearing Susan Maushart talking about her book when it first came it - it sounds very intriguing.

  9. I just read a hilarious essay about having to read Moby-Dick at The Nervous Breakdown the other day... I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts, once you finish the book! Personally, though I have an English Literature degree, I've never read it... and never plan to! (Here's the link to the article I mentioned:

  10. What a great list, Bex! I love, love, love Devil in the White City; I hope you enjoy that one, too. I'd really like to read The Astronaut Wives' Club; thanks for the reminder! I also enjoy Gretchen Rubin; I've not read her newest release, but I'm sure I'll get to it, one of these days. Thanks so much for assisting with this event; looking forward to participating for the first time this year!

  11. I have an ebook copy of It's What I Do, but I haven't picked it up yet, because it seems like the sort of book that would be better experienced as a physical copy. I really enjoyed Quiet and I'm hoping you will too :)

  12. Yes! It's What I Do is so great! I'm glad you liked it -- I always worry a bit when I gush about a book that it won't quite live up :)

  13. While I didn't read much non-fiction this year (only 5 books) You reminded me that i do have in my TBR pile---The Astronaut Wives Club and One Summer! I'm pulling them out and setting them on top for this month.

  14. I started Quiet when it first came out, but I had to return the book before I was able to get very far. I should probably check it out again now that the reserve list has been whittled down. I also read and loved The Astronaut Wives Club.

  15. Call The Midwife was an incredible but difficult read and many parts of it made me break down and sob. Worth reading, though!

    Quiet was a very good read too.

    I've added your recommendations to my TBR list- thanks!

  16. I'm really hoping to make time for both of those Rubin books; I've grown kind of addicted to her podcast and highly recommend it if you enjoyed the books.

  17. I've been wanting to read Blankets for years. I've requested my library obtain it, but as yet no luck. I wanted to read I Am Malala with everyone but couldn't get my hands on it, either. I'm trying hard not to buy books since money's tight. It's hard!