Week 1 is hosted by JulzReads. All month long, join our wonderful hosts with weekly prompts for discussing all the Non-Fiction Reads from 2019. Get all the details here. Want to be extra? Join in the Instagram photo challenge! So let’s get started!
My 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?
This year I’ve read 12 non-fiction books which seems like a pretty low percentage overall. I am always picking up non-fiction titles so that would be an interesting calculation to determine how much of my TBR consists of biographies, memoirs, etc. Lucky for you, math is not my thing so let’s look at some of the books I did read!
So far, my three favorites and the ones I have frequently recommended would be:
The End of Your Life Book Club by William Schwalbe | This was such an inspiring story of a son and his dying mother, who form a “book club that brings them together as her life comes to a close. The ones they choose range from classic to popular, from fantastic to spiritual, and we hear their passion for reading and their love for each other in their beautiful, moving and often heartbreaking discussions.
Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark | I was thoroughly impressed by the alternating chapters from these two strong women. They share a lot of dark details about their past along with great advice about life and love. I haven’t listened to their podcasts but didn’t feel that it lessened my enjoyment of their story.
Inheritance by Dani Shapiro | I was fortunate enough to hear the author speak before I had read the book so I had some unique insights going in. Her story of discovering that her father wasn’t her biological father in her late 40s was incredible. Questions of religion, ethics, anonymity, and secrets. The idea that you could spit in a tube and get your DNA results would have been the stuff of science fiction in the 1960s. Did you know that the USA and Canada are the only two countries with NO sperm donor restrictions or registries?!
As far as themes or topics I’m drawn to when choosing non-fiction titles, its no surprise that biographies and memoirs make up 50%. One of the earliest biographies I remember reading was about Helen Keller and Mary Queen of Scots. In addition to the three listed above, I also read:
I am, I am, I am: 17 Brushes With Death by Maggie O’Farrell | Interesting memoir, beautiful writing. I’ve not read any of her fiction yet. Each of the chapters covers a period or event where she had a brush with death. It’s introspective and thoughtful and when you put all the stories together – amazing and astonishing.
Maid by Stephanie Land | I applaud the author and her incredible determination and perseverance in supporting her young daughter. It was a sad story but I wasn’t emotionally connected to Stephanie. I didn’t feel there was any big insight or message. I do wonder where the next twenty years of her life will take her. How will she look back on this time in her life?
Educated by Tara Westover | The educational milestones she accomplished despite the poverty and violence and paranoia of her family were astonishing. She taught herself from old textbooks and when all was said and done, she found her passion and excelled far beyond anyone’s expectations. I think she has shown great courage in writing this candid memoir. She still has a lot of life yet to live and I would be very curious to see how her perceptions change as she gets older.
When I consider the themes of the final six books, I see a mix of nostalgic titles and self-help or inspirational reads.
As You Wish by Cary Elwes | This was the latest behind-the-scenes peek told from the perspective of the Man in Black. The cast couldn’t have known the success and longevity the movie would garner, but they all knew they were part of something magical. I was 14 when The Princess Bride was released and I remember being completely absorbed by the story and of course Westley was so dreamy! I have seen the movie dozens of times, but…I have not read the official William Goldman novel.
Is There Still Sex in the City by Candace Bushnell | I can’t even fathom Carrie Bradshaw as a 60-year-old single woman and yes I know Carrie was a fictional character! Candace writes about her friends and their respective love lives and dating. She takes a look at Tinder and younger men who date older women. She and her friends are dealing with aging parents, moving back home with teenage sons and friends who choose sides in the divorce. I enjoyed this quick read but don’t think anyone under 50 could really relate.
I’ll Be There For You: The One About Friends by Kelsey Miller | I graduated in the early 90s so in 1994 when the show premiered I was already in the working world. From what I can remember it took a few seasons for it to make my radar and I also recall that theme song was hard to avoid! I LOVED the show and I was so happy we got ten seasons. I was rooting for Ross and Rachel and cringing when they put Joey and Rachel together. (Turns out even the actors didn’t like that match up either). I loved Phoebe and Mike but also thought she and the Scientist Guy were perfect. Also, they all hated the monkey. This book was an easy and fast read because a lot of it I was familiar with and because I’m such a fanatic FAN! However…there was a ton of details I didn’t know and having it all laid out chronologically was… perfection.
The Source: The Secrets of the Universe, the Science of the Brain by Tara Swart | The Source was an interesting look at how the brain works and how we have the power to control its functions! Since I already do a lot of journaling, I thought the author did a great job sharing techniques and methods for how to control your thoughts/actions and how to interpret them and make positive changes.
Pleased to Meet Me by Bill Sullivan | This book was both fascinating, entertaining and the chapters made it easy to follow. The author uses science to suggest that our moods, beliefs, tastes, addictions and more – are traits that come from things we can’t control – our genes, DNA and our early environment. They mapped Ozzy Osbourne’s DNA to find out what kind of “death-defying” genes he must have to survive his crazy lifestyle! Turns out he is indeed a genetic mutant.
Slay Like A Mother by Katherine Wintsch | This was a very clever and relevant nonfiction book about not listening to the self-doubt that we tell ourselves as we navigate parenting and life. Lots of funny, relatable stories and references made for an entertaining read. Where was this book ten years ago? My kids are teens now, however, I recognized myself in so many sections.
My goals for the month are to read at least three nonfiction titles and participate each week in the weekly prompts. If time allows, I will join the Instagram challenge!
QOTD: Are you joining in this month? I’d love to see your posts so drop your links below in the comments. How was your Year in Nonfiction? Did we read any of the same ones?
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