Nonfiction November 2017: My Nonfiction Year So Far


It’s November and these intrepid bloggers: Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Katie (Doing Dewey), Julie (JulzReads), Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), and Lori (Emerald City Book Review) are back with Nonfiction November2017! And I’m back again to try and participate by reading some nonfiction. Last year, I failed miserably so this year I’m going to set the bar a bit lower—the whole promise less, deliver more kind of thing! The problem is nonfiction makes me think too much, which is already a problem for me. I read to feel and generally, only fiction does that for me. Case in point, out of 145 books so far this year only 43 have been nonfiction. Still, I’m going in optimistic this year!


What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?


I’d have to say Behind the Beautiful Forevers, if only because it left me stunned at how a large portion of the world survives, particularly in India. You can’t call it living. It is brutal and while I may have had some idea, it was very abstract and this made it all too real.


What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

adnan's story

This is a bit of a cheat, but given how little I read, it is one from last year that I still think about: Adnan’s Story. Even more so now because the lack of justice for minorities is becoming more and more apparent in America.


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

Definitely narrative. Virtually everything I’ve read this has been instructive whether it was on clean eating, cannabis, or working out. Very focused on health, so I’d really like to sink into a memoir or biography.


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

I’ll be thrilled if I can read more than two books, which was all I managed last year. I also think the Instagram challenge will be fun so I’m looking forward to that. Last but not least, will be getting more nonfiction book recommendations from other bloggers.


My Picks for Nonfiction November 2017

monday marchI’ve been working very hard at making my bones stronger and adding muscle where I’ve never had any, but I’m actually feeling stiffer and tighter than I ever used to. It may be age, but I’m going to give yoga a shot again. I used to practice regularly and it was marvelous so I’m hopeful. This book was on my list last year, but I never got to it.



There are only two reasons for this choice. One, Anna Quindlen, love her. Two, my book twin, Sarah says I have to read this because I will love it. I’m on it.



This is another recommendation, from a very unusual source- my husband, who reads, at best, two books a year. He really enjoyed it and I love food and cooking so it seems like a natural.



I’ve heard great things from a number of people I trust and I have a copy so it’s a no-brainer. Plus, I’ve learned that while I’m a very strong person I’m no longer very resilent. You need both these days.


Any great nonfiction you think I should try? 

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  1. “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” by Matthew Desmond; “Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution” by Nathaniel Philbrick; “In the Heart of the Sea” by Nathaniel Philbrick; “Bellevue: Three Centuriees of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital” by David Oshinsky; “The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between” by Hisham Matar; “The Lost City of the Monkey God” by Douglas Preston

    • Oh my gosh, good for you! You are a non-fiction maven. I’m being optimistic to think I’ll finish three nf books this month.

  2. I’m so excited that you’re in again this year! I think there’s tons of NF that will get you to feel rather than overthink!

    I still have not read Adnan’s Story. I feel like I listened to Serial so I know it? Am I wrong? Option B was wonderful! I learned a lot. I actually think it could be a perfect book for you right now.

    • I hate to say you’re wrong, but in the case of Adnan’s Story, you are. Serial barely brushed the surface. The book goes so much deeper and is unbelievable. Thanks to the author and the hard work of strangers around the world, on the internet, he is awaiting a retrial. I think you’d find it fascinating and it certainly paints an accurate and frightening picture of just how messed up our judicial system is when it comes to minorities.

  3. I’m the opposite, I read a lot of narrative nonfiction. I always find that when I read instructive non-fiction that I get sleepy … it reminds me of university textbooks! I need to change that, I know, so hopefully this month inspires me! Good luck!

    • Yes!! The only reason I made it through the books I did read is because there were lots of pictures (yes, I’m admitting that).

  4. Behind the Beautiful Forevers was pretty sobering, wasn’t it? I read this a couple of years ago with my book club. We heard the author speak at a nearby university, then had dinner and a discussion afterwards.

    Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is a favorite I know I’ll reread soon. Enjoy!

  5. I tried Behind the Beautiful Forevers a few years ago and it was just so depressing that I never finished. I probably should have toughed it out! I really think you’d like Daring to Drive by Manal Al-Sharif. It’s a wonderful memoir of a Saudi woman and her fight for women’s rights there.

    • I had the same problem with it, Susie, but finally finished it. It never got any better for any of the people in it, which is beyond depressing.

  6. I have one of yours on my list (even though it’s not new): The Book of Joy! I also have some narrative nonfiction planned since, like you, I really want to get to more of that this year. I’m curious about your husband’s suggestion; it looks like a good one!

  7. I feel like I learn a lot from narrative nonfiction, but I don’t read it often enough. I think I’m a slow reader of narrative nonfiction, because I am constantly skipping back to the notes and googling events to help me process it all!
    I did read one early this year, Destiny of the Republic, about the assassination of James Garfield. I enjoyed it very much and learned a lot.

  8. I’ve not read nearly as much non-fiction as you this year, but I felt like I was lacking in upbeat memoirs. I’ve read history, science and more serious memoirs like “Hillbilly Elegy,” so I grabbed Lauren Graham’s book at work today! It should be a nice bit of fluff and fun.

    “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” has been on my to-read list for a long time. I’m glad I read your comments — it may be one need to read in parts and break up with a novel!

    • Good idea-it is difficult in its scope. It’s beyond anything we in America cold even imagine. I actually listened to it. The narrator’s voice is gorgeous.

  9. Wow, I wouldn’t say that’s a low number of non-fiction books! I would love to read that many books–fiction or non-fiction– each year 🙂 There are always so many great books out there, though–no matter how much we read, it always feels like we’re behind and should be getting to other things.

    You saw that I also loved Behind the Beautiful Forevers. It’s definitely depressing, but it was written so well that it made the stories of the people profiled come alive. I still think about it.

    I definitely need to check out the Quindlen book for something a little lighter!

    • Reading is my ‘job’ per se! Also, the best escape I know. You’re right, though, I’m always surprised how many books I missed out on!

  10. Loved Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake! It’s really everything I love about Quindlen. I really do need to read Adnan’s Story; after listening to Serial, that’s a story that I can’t quite let go of.

    • You should read Adnan’s Story- so much has happened even after the book came out. It gives a much clearer picture on how the media works.