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Nonfiction November and Me

Posted by Sherry on 11/7/2014 in General, Nonfiction |

OK, so Nonfiction November is a celebration of nonfiction during the month of November. Unfortunately, I’m busy during November reading pretty much the opposite of adult nonfiction: speculative fiction for middle grade readers. Well, not unfortunately, because I’m excited to be a judge for the Cybils, but unfortunately as far as nonfiction goes. I will be celebrating nonfiction with a post or two, and I really enjoyed adding more nonfiction to my totally unmanageable TBR list by visiting everyone else who is participating. However, I won’t be actually reading much nonfiction until January.

Anyway, the writing prompt for this week 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? 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?

According to my list at Goodreads, I have read 169 books in 2014. Of those the following 16 have been nonfiction:

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi.
Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter Sieruta.
Everybody Paints! The Lives and Art of the Wyeth Family by Susan Goldman Rubin.
The Story of D-Day by Bruce Bliven, Jr.
Against All Odds by Jim Stier.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson.
D-Day: The Invasion of Normandy, 1944 by Rick Atkinson.
Horrors of History: Ocean of Fire: The Burning of Columbia, 1865 by T. Neill Anderson.
Blue Marble by Don Nardo.
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin.
The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller.
The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel.
The Last Lion 2: Winston Spencer Churchill Alone, 1932-40 by William R. Manchester.
House Dreams by Hugh Howard.
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.
Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal by Ben MacIntyre.

By that listing, I’m reading about 10% nonfiction. My favorite book by far of those sixteen was the biographical book about Churchill, The Last Lion 2: Winston Spencer Churchill Alone, 1932-40 by William R. Manchester. There are a few historical people who fascinate me: Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, the apostle Paul, Corrie Ten Boom, Adoniram Judson, Charles Dickens, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Not all of these people are my heroes, but they are people who lived fascinating and colorful lives. I would love to read more about any of them.

My TBR list at Goodreads has over 200 nonfiction titles on it. (I told you it was unmanageable.) I’m seriously considering reading only nonfiction in 2015, or only nonfiction during the first six months of 2015. Why should I or why should I not try this experiment? I wonder what it would mean for my reading life to read only nonfiction. What is the best nonfiction book you can recommend?

6 Comments

  • Becky says:

    Have you read Mission at Nuremberg by Tim Townsend? I’d definitely recommend it if you haven’t read it already! I also would recommend Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff. (He’s also got another book set during World War II called Lost in Shangri-La.) I found Agatha Christie’s Autobiography to be quite absorbing!!!

  • Annie Kate says:

    This year I’ve read mostly nonfiction. I had enough fiction in my own life, I suppose, as well as many reasons for reading my style of non-fiction, which, from the list below, is mostly about how to live better. As a project, reading only nonfiction could be disappointing but as a passion it is wonderful. It has been an passion for me this year.

    Perhaps your style of nonfiction, which is mostly about history, would leave one gasping for air if it is not interspersed with other reading.

    The top nonfiction this year, so far, include Surprising Habits of Highly Happy Marriages, The Stories We Tell, Crazy Busy, Mastermind, Truth Matters, and Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. These I’ve all reviewed on my blog, so if you’re curious about any of them you can hop over there.

    Last night I finished The Big Fat Surprise and I’m working on How to Stop Worrying and Start Living and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I have also not yet reviewed The Slight Edge and The Wahl Protocol.

  • bookmammal says:

    I’ve read several titles from your list–Wild Things, Boys In The Boat, and Book Whisperer. If you enjoyed that last one, the author has a new book out called Reading In The Wild which is also very good.
    I like your comment about the subjects of biographies–that they don’t need to be heroes for a reader to want to learn more about them. I completely agree–for example, I’ve devoured Robert Caro’s first 4 volumes of his biographical series on Lyndon Johnson. I don’t necessarily admire LBJ, but I think that he’s a fascinating (and ultimately a tragic) person.

  • It’s exciting you are reading books for the Cybils — good luck! I sometimes think about only reading nonfiction for an extended length of time, but it never seems to work for me. I think I need balance in my reading life to really feel like reading, so when I go too far in one direction for too long I get into a slump. I will be curious how that experiment goes for you, if you decide to do that!

  • Leslie says:

    More people reading The Boys in the Boat! I definitely need to read that one. I don’t know if I could read just nonfiction for that length of time. I do like focusing on it for one month, but after that I’m always very excited to go back to fiction! I would like to read it more consistently throughout the year, though!

  • Amy Reads says:

    Wow what a varied list of reading! While I absolutely love nonfiction, I’m not sure I could read *only* nonfiction for 6 months to a year, I think I need a bit of variety and sometimes some lighter titles in between! Good luck and happy reading. Judging the Cybils sounds great.

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