Thursday, November 5, 2015

Nonfiction November Week 1 - The Year in Nonfiction

So, I've decided to participate in Nonfiction November this year (my first year of blogging). Unlike for many participants, this project is not so much a challenge for me or an attempt to get me reading more nonfiction, as nonfiction is my go-to genre category for comfort reading. Instead, I am giving myself a relaxing month of reading as a counterpoint to some stressful work projects.

The topic for this week's posts is: Your Year in Nonfiction.

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?

I've read a good amount of nonfiction so far this year, although perhaps less than in years past as I've been doing a couple of fiction projects. Out of 85 books read, 43.5 were nonfiction, including 7.5 of my top 10 favorites this year (the .5 is The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, which is fiction with factual footnotes). That's about 51% and while I don't have hard data for other years, it feels a bit lower than usual.

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?  
That would have to be The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union by Serhii Plokhy, which not only sparked a desire to read more of Plokhy's work, but which also had me buying 5+ other Russian history books. It's rare to find a nonfiction book that can be described as a page-turner, especially when the historical outcome is in no doubt, but the sense of menace and uncertainty flows through the book.

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

This is a little cliche since everyone is recommending this book this fall (and deservedly so) but Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Just such an important book, especially at this moment in our country's evolution.

What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven't read enough of yet?

I read a lot of Science, Mathematics and History, as well as Memoirs. I can never get enough of any of these! However, I should read more Travel, Philosophy and Feminist Theory. In the History arena, I would like to read more ancient history. I have a copy of Herodotus' Histories that I will hopefully get to this month. Also, all of those Russian history books!

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

A chance to relax and read some comfort books. I want to take a break from worrying about whether I am keeping up with the current "it-books" and instead focus on reading whatever catches my fancy. 

With that in mind, I am currently reading Take Your Eye Off the Puck: How to Watch Hockey By Knowing Where to Look by Greg Wyshynski. 

It mixes his blogger/podcast style (all the jokes) with insights about how to view the game as more than just "who has the puck." It's fun and I'm liking that his voice translated well into book form.

I am about to start This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress, edited by John Brockman, which is a series of essays from leading scientists about the scientific concept or idea they feel is most holding up advancement in their field. 

What about everyone else? What is the one nonfiction book you are looking forward to the most this month?


  1. Ohh I loved Herotodus. I'm one of those nerdy, geeky types - at school we studied sections of Herodotus for ouor Ancient History class. I was the only one who read the whole thing through - twice!

    I have the Coates book on my wishlist now after seeing it one several posts this week.

  2. I'm really looking forward to the Herodotus as I've heard that the Tom Holland translation is good. The Coates book is horrifying, painful and so so important; glad you are going to pick it up!

  3. I just started Between the World and Me over the weekend. So, so good and so, so sad. I'm really glad to see it being recommended all over the place. Like you said, it's important for our country right now.

  4. Happy to hear nonfiction is your go-to genre. I'd say that is pretty much true for me, too.