Here it is - Nonfiction November - one of my favourite times in the book blogging year.
Hosted this year by Julie (JulzReads), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Katie (Doing Dewey), and Rennie (What’s Nonfiction) — Nonfiction November is a month-long celebration of everything nonfiction. Each week, there will be a different prompt and a different host looking at different ideas about reading and loving nonfiction.
Week 1: (Oct. 29 to Nov. 2) – Your Year in Nonfiction
(hosted by Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness):
Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions:
What was your favourite nonfiction read of the year?
I haven't read as much non-fiction this year as previously, only 14 titles in fact.
But my favourite book this year has been Richard Lloyd Parry's Ghosts of the Tsunami.
In preparation for a trip to Japan to celebrate my 50th birthday, I read a lot of books set in Japan.
This account of the 2011 tsunami was moving, informative and absorbing from start to finish.
Huge tsunamis recur along the Sendai plain every 800-1000 years, but lesser ones can occur every decade. The most destructive, with 22 000 deaths, was the 1896 Meiji Sanriku Tsunami. Another one in 1933 killed 3000 people. The 1960 tsunami that was result of the largest ever recorded earthquake off the coast of Chile (9.5 magnitude) killed 142.
'Tsunami stones' mark the high water point of previous tsunamis. However the 2011 undersea megathrust earthquake was the biggest to ever hit Japan (9.0-9.1 magnitude). It was also, 'the fourth most powerful in the history of seismology. It knocked the Earth six and half inches off its axis; it moved Japan thirteen feet closer to America. In the tsunami that followed more than 18 000 people were killed. At its peak, the water was 120 feet high.'
The tsunami was not just one big wave like the painting above (or even the design on the front cover of the book) suggests, but a series of pulses, 'washing in and washing out again, weaving over, under and across one another.'
The elderly were more likely to die than the young - 54% of the dead were over 65 years of age.
All but one school in the area got all their children to safety.
Normally I read a lot of memoir and biographies, but somehow I've managed to get through this last year with only a couple to my name. The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman was the stand out, although I also enjoyed Raina Tegemeier's Smile and Sisters. It's a curious thing that the 3 memoirs I read this year were also all graphic novels. One of the things this meme has shown me over the years, is that graphic can be a great way to access non-fiction.
And in case you were wondering, my LEAST favourite non-fiction title this year was David Sedaris' Calypso.
Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?
Travel and Japan featured strongly this year.
What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?
The book I've recommended the most at work this past year is Rosamund Young's reissue of The Secret Life of Cows - a delightful little book full of anecdotes and illustrations about cows.
I also recommend Mark Manson's The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.
I was expecting a light-weight self-help book with lots of swearing, but it's more than that.
TSAONGAF is not only Manson's hard-won journey into becoming an adult, but also Buddhism 101 heavily laced with the F-bomb!
Manson's wraps up Buddhist thoughts about suffering, attachment and letting go ever so sweetly and succinctly in his title. The rest of the book expands on these ideas with humour, clearly articulated anecdotes and catchy phrases.
For all the young women in your life, I highly recommend The Wonder Down Under by Nina Brochmann & Ellen Stokken Dahl. Not, as you might first think, a book about Australia, but a fun, engaging book about women's health.
What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?
My main wish this year is to finally finish several of the half-read non-fiction titles by my bed -
- Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon
- The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things by Paula Byrne
- Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father by John Matteson
- Basho: The Complete Haiku by Matsuo Bashō and Jane Reichhold
- Rusted Off: Why Country Australia Is Fed Up by Gabrielle Chan
Waiting in the wings, I also have Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales.