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It’s that time of year when we celebrate nonfiction! For five weeks the hosts of Nonfiction November offer up a variety of different topics to shine some light on all the great nonfiction out there. This week’s host is Julie at Julz Reads, and the topic is “My Year in Nonfiction.” You can add your own nonfiction offerings by linking up on her site.
Before I get to this week’s specific questions, I want to share a few stats about my nonfiction reading this year. As of this writing, I’ve finished 97 books this year and 16 of those have been nonfiction, which is 16.5% of my reading. That’s up a tiny bit from last year, but way up from where I was a couple years ago (barely 10%). I think 15-18% is the sweet spot for me when it comes to nonfiction. Fiction will always be my first love, but I’ve come to crave great nonfiction reading, as well. So, let’s take a look at my year.
My Favorite Nonfiction Book of the Year
This wasn’t even a difficult call for me. I’ve had lots of nonfiction that I gave an A- grade to this year, but only two books that I gave a solid A, and of those The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett M. Graff was by far my favorite. I know this book moved a lot of people and I keep asking myself, why? For me I think it’s because of the personal connection. Not that I was there or knew anyone who was lost, but that like everyone else, I was a witness to that horrible day, and after 18 years, I was ready to learn more. (my review)
Topic Most Attracted to This Year
Memoirs continue to be where I go to most often with nonfiction. Nine of my 16 books were memoirs and of those I have a few favorites.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller – I just listened to this book and have yet to review it, but loved hearing Miller tell her story of surviving her assault on the Stanford campus, the ensuing court battle, her assailant’s sentencing, and the aftermath. I highly recommend this story of a woman finding her voice. (review coming on Thursday)
Nanaville by Anna Quindlen – It’s Anna Quindlen! Her wit and wisdom shined just as brightly as you might expect in this little book about her love of being a grandparent. For anyone who is a grandparent, there was so much to relate to, but even for those not there, Quindlen’s triumphs and errors made for great reading. (my review)
Maid by Stephanie Land – I was also touched by this memoir from a single mom who struggled for years to make a life for herself and her young daughter working as a house cleaner. At times I was frustrated by her missteps, but that is reality for so many and I appreciated that she never lost sight of her dreams. (my review)
Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur – I liked Brodeur’s memoir very much, but it also hit a little close to home for me, so I found it difficult to have a completely clear perspective on it. Still, that says a lot about the author’s writing which I found to be wonderful. The story itself almost felt like the perfect script for a movie! (my review)
Nonfiction Recommended the Most
The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett Graff – Even though I just listened to this in September, I started recommending it to everyone after only the first couple hours! I liked it so much, I bought my own copy in print.
Forty Autumns by Nina Willner – Though this book is from a couple years ago, I still find myself recommending it anytime someone is looking for nonfiction, and especially if they’ve got any interest in history. This is the second year in a row, I’ve put Forty Autumns down as a response to this Nonfiction November query. (my review)
What I Hope to Get Out of Nonfiction November
That’s easy: lots and lots and lots of nonfiction book recommendations. I’m especially going to be keeping an eye out for investigative journalism like Bad Blood by John Carreyrou (my review) and She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey (review coming on Thursday). I read both this year and found I really enjoyed learning about the development of big news stories. Other than that, I’ll be looking for rave reviews about most any type of nonfiction!
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Sarah's Book Shelves says
Hooray for Only Plane! And Wild Game! And Forty Autumns!
Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf says
Memoirs are my nonfiction jam, too. 😊 I’ve been interested in The Only Plane in the Sky, but I’m kind of nervous to pick it up, too.
I was nervous, too, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. there were so many kind moments that those were more what overwhelmed me.
Eva @ The Paperback Princess says
Forty Autumns is still going strong – I loved that book. I haven’t recommended it as much recently, but I should!
Are you planning on reading Ronan Farrow’s new book? That seems to be the hot nonfiction book of the season. I’m so curious but I also can’t decide if I’m ready to take that on…
Did you listen to The Dropout podcast about Elizabeth Holmes? Listening to her (or seeing her in the HBO documentary) is wild!
I actually plan on listening to Catch and Kill after i finish my current audiobook. It seems like the perfect companion to She Said and even Know My Name.
The same day I finished Bad Blood, I watched the HBO documentary. It was great to put faces to all the names. She was really something!
Deb Nance at Readerbuzz says
Thanks for sharing your favorites. I’ve added both Forty Autumns and The Only Plane in the Sky to my wishlist.
Great, I hope you enjoy both.
Erin @ Cracker Crumb Life says
Maid and Know My Name both sound amazing! Thank you for sharing with us!
Thanks for stopping by.
Bryan G. Robinson says
Since yours is the second time I’ve seen The Only Plane in the Sky, I feel that I would be remiss if I didn’t add it to my TBR so I have!
It was incredible. Very much worth reading.
You made me curious so I had to go check my stats – only about 9% nonfiction! I bought a copy of The Only Plane in the Sky because I didn’t want to wait for the library hold to come in!
Can’t wait to hear what you think of The Only Plane in the Sky.
JoAnn @ Gulfside Musing says
I’m hoping to read The Only Plane in the Sky this month… at the top of the library hold list now. Forty Autumns was my favorite nonfiction title last year and one the I still frequently recommend.
Love the name change. So fitting for your new circumstances. You’ll be moved by Only Plane.
The Day the World Came to Town is the story of all the planes that were diverted to the small town of Gander Newfoundland on 9/11. It is also very good. I haven’t read One Plane but everyone is recommending it. They would be good companion books for each other.
I remember hearing about The Day the World Came to Town, but honestly had forgotten all about it. Thank you so much for reminding me. I’m adding it to my nonfiction TBR list.
Allison @ My Novel Life says
I haven’t read any of the books on your list and they all sound great. I’ll just put them all on my TBR 😉
Those darn lists never stop growing, do they?
Great post! I’m excited about this month because I want to expand my nonfiction game. Look forward to reading your posts each week!
Thanks, Monica. Hopefully you’ll find some great new nonfiction reads.
Jade @ Reading with Jade says
I’m here for ALL the book recommendations this November – I’ve already stared a document for them! I hope you find some recommendations for the topics you are searching for, and have a wonderful time reading this November!
We have similar taste! Plane was my favorite too and I’m really looking forward to Know My Name, after seeing your brief review over on IG.
Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out says
I do want to read Know My Name and Maud
Please stop by to see my Introduction to NonFicNov
Julie @ JulzReads says
I see we both agree Forty Autumns was FANTASTIC! Glad to see you participating again this year…
I’ve heard Bad Blood is fantastic! I want to read it. 😁
Katie @ Doing Dewey says
Ooh, I love the graphics you put together for this post! I’d definitely like to read The Only Plane in the Sky, perhaps paired with Mitchel Zuckoff’s 9/11 history, which I also want to read. Maid sounds fascinating as well.
I also really enjoyed Forty Autumns and Bad Blood is one that I read last year and am still recommending all the time. I’m not sure if I’m up to reading She Said – it’s such a heavy topic! – but I would love to read more investigative journalism and seeing you mention it with Bad Blood makes me more inclined to take a chance on it 🙂
She Said was really interesting because so much of it was about how hard it was to get the women to go on the record and how long Weinstein had been able to keep coverage of his exploits out of the news.
I really like doing graphics, so if next year you want me to take a stab at it for Nonfiction November, I’d enjoy seeing what i could put together.
Katie @ Doing Dewey says
Thanks! I’ll have to check with all the co-hosts, but we might just take you up on that 🙂