Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Non-Fiction November - Week One

Non-Fiction November is hosted by Kim, Katie, Leslie and Rebecca.

I love this chance to focus on my non-fiction reading.

Each week the girls will post a few non-fiction questions for our consideration.

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? 

I was a little disappointed to discover that I had only read 10 non-fiction titles since last Non-Fiction November. Although, in my defence, I do have a few half-finished NF titles by my bed. But then I remembered that I filed biography/memoir differently.
So, in fact, I have read 17 non-fiction titles this past year - a much more respectable (for me) total. 

I've read food books, travelogues, memoirs, history, maths, sociology, Holocaust, health and inspirational titles.

Part of the problem this year is that two memoir/travelogues that I had high hopes for that turned out to be duds (The Most Beautiful Walk in the World and A Motor Flight Through France). It kind of put me off my game. 

However, one of the stand out reads came via J.K Rowlings. Her commencement address - Very Good Lives - was a gem of book. Full of inspiration and sound advice. If you haven't already read it, make time to do so this month. You won't regret it and it will only take you an hour or so to read it!

A close second was another inspirational book this time by Cheryl Strayed. 
Tiny Beautiful Things was full of hard-hitting home-truths. Honest, humane and heart-felt. As you can see, it also brought out the alliteration in me!

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? 

At the moment, the NF title I keep recommending to everyone at work purely on the rave reviews it has received in the local papers, is Magda Szubanski's Reckoning. It sounds like my kind of memoir and I'm hoping to get to it this month.

I also regularly recommend Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty More. It is my (current) favourite cookbook, even though I haven't got past the first recipe - the Tomato and Pomegranate Salad! 
It's divine.

Mr Books has been recommending The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson all year to everyone we know!

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

I would love to read more foodie non-fiction titles. I have quite a few on my TBR pile and it's a topic that fascinates me and obsesses me in equal measure. The two foodie books I did read this past year are reviewed on my other blog, Four Seasons - here.
Some of this month's contenders.

I also want to read more non-fiction written by women. Any suggestions for classic non-fiction by women are welcome below to help me with my Classics Club women's classic literature challenge.

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

Since last year's Non-Fiction November I was invited to write the round-up posts for History, Memoir and Biography on the Australian Women Writers challenge. 
This is obviously an area dear to my heart and one that is easy for me to read and review.

The trick is to read a little more widely and to read outside my comfort zone.

That's where you guys come in!

24 comments:

  1. Ooh I'm off to see if my library has Very Good Lives! Thanks for the rec :-)

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  2. I added Tiny Beautiful Things to my list last November and still haven't gotten to it :(

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  3. Wow. Classic nonfiction by women? That's a tough one! None come to mind, which is a little dreary, isn't it? Perhaps "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson? "I Know why a Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou? "The Feminine Mystique" by Betty Friedan? "The Story of My Life" by Helen Keller? All of these except Keller's were written in the 60's, so it depends on what you consider classic. (The depressing thing is that because the Classics Club arbitrarily mentioned 25 years as a good cut-off, I'm considering anything written before 1990 as classic. EEEK!)

    Also, Laura Ingalls Wilder's books are considered non-fiction, right? And apparently Jane Austen wrote a book called "The History of England" though I've not heard anything about it other than of its existence.

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    1. Hmm. Some came to mind, I guess.

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    2. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, by Harriet Jacobs. My dad thought of that one.

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    3. Thanks for the great start.
      I should have mentioned the few I already knew/read/had - The Silent Spring (tick), Maya Angelou (tick), A Room of One's Own (tick) and Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank (tick).

      But I hadn't thought of some of the feminist literature from the 60's - great idea!
      Thanks

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  4. The only classic nonfiction I can think off right now is Beryl Markham's West With the Night. I read it this summer and loved it. I also recently got Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem. I haven't read it yet though, so I don't know if it's any good, but the subject matter might interest you.

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    1. You know, I've read a LOT of Holocasut literature over the years, but I don't think I've read Hannah Arendt! How did that happen I wonder?

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  5. I really liked Very Good Lives!

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  6. I really need to read Tiny Beautiful Things...everyone keeps raving about it and I haven't jumped on it b/c the whole advice column thing turns me off, but others have said they had that concern and it ended up being unfounded.

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    1. It's so unlike an advice column I've ever come across before, that I didn't even think of it as being an advice column book, id that makes sense!
      It was gut-wrenching, heart-breaking and life-affirming.

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  7. I bought a copy of Very Good Lives when I was in London -- it's a short one, so I should grab it this month. I feel like I could use the inspiration.

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    1. Yes, I read it whilst dinner was cooking one night, during a difficult older teenager living at home moment. It gave me hope :-)

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  8. 17 nonfiction books is great and it sounds like you've been reading broadly too! The Innovators sounded interesting to me when it was published but it had fallen off my radar. It's one I'd like to pick up :)

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    1. Mr Books will be delighted if you do :-)

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  9. The Innovators is the one I kept recommending last year, an amazing book! Here is my post: http://wordsandpeace.com/2015/11/05/nonfiction-november-my-year-2015-in-nonfiction/

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  10. I'm so thrilled to hear your recommendation of J.K. Rowling's book; I'd forgotten about that one and didn't jump to pick it up because I wasn't sure whether I would enjoy it. I love her, as a writer, so I need to check this one out.

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  11. Thanks for letting me know about the Rowling book! For some reason it had slipped past me, but it sounds inspirational and like something I need.

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  12. The Cheryl Strayed looks really interesting and I really enjoyed Wild. Must check it out!

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  13. It definitely depends on your definition of a classic! A few that come to mind: Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua (1987), The Diary of Anne Frank, The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir, A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf, A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft, and Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion. Happy Nonfiction November!

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  14. I haven't dropped by for a while and I need to spend some time moving around on your blog to see what I've missed. I am participating in Nonfiction November, too. I didn't find your week 2 posting but i found this. Don't beat yourself up about not reading enough nonfiction. If you are like me books usually end up landing in our hands and sometime they are fiction and other times non. Enjoy it all!

    My Nonfiction Pairs

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    1. Lovely to see you again Anne. Like you, I've 'rediscovered' lost friends thanks to #nonficnov.

      My 'pairing' goes with my #AusReadingMonth book which I hope to post tomorrow.

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  15. I'm really excited about this reading challenge because I don't read a lot of non-fiction so this helps me get excited and gather a lot of good titles to choose from! Hope you are enjoying reading more non-ficiton as well!

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