This post may include Amazon links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
And so It begins, Nonfiction November, a month dedicated to all things nonfiction. My nonfiction reading accounts for about 15% of the books I’ve read so far this year. That’s not huge, but is way up from only 4% a couple of years ago. Even better, with all the great nonfiction books I’ll discover this month, my overall percent will surely grow.
This week’s topic is “My Year in Nonfiction,” and each of the next few weeks will features a different nonfiction theme. To check out what’s coming up and see more about participation you can visit any of the host sites or simply click HERE. This week I’m linking up with Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, the host for My Year in Nonfiction. Let’s go!
My Favorite Nonfiction Reads of the Year
Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan – Tell Me More was my first exposure to Corrigan and I’m forever a fan. Her writing about twelve “things we say to people we love, including ourselves, that make things better,” was delivered through funny stories, touching moments, and heartbreaking losses. I laughed. I cried. I loved it! It’s great on audio where Corrigan does her own reading. (my review)
From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein – Who gets the job of a lifetime through a Craigslist ad? Beck Dorey-Stein, that’s who. She applied for a nondescript job and ended up spending 5 years working as a White House stenographer under the Obama administration. She shares her adventures traveling back and forth across the world on Air Force one, her love for the thrills, the wild experiences, and her admiration for the President. (my review)
Topics Most Attracted to This Year
MEMOIRS by a long shot! My nonfiction reading has been almost exclusively memoirs this year, and I’m not sure why. I’ve looked for other nonfiction, started some and quit on them. In fact of the 14 nonfiction books I’ve read this year only one has NOT been a memoir. As you just saw, both my favorites were memoirs, but these others also truly captivated me.
American Radical by Tamer Elnoury – I was completely fascinated by this memoir from a Muslim FBI agent working undercover to fight radical Islamic terrorism. (my review)
Educated by Tara Westover – Reading Westover’s memoir was like having a front row seat to a disaster. You knew it was going to be horrible, you sometimes felt awful for watching, but you couldn’t turn away. (my review)
I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell – A memoir recounting the author’s seventeen brushes with death amazed me, and at the same time caused me to look at life a little differently. (my review)
This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Philipps – Celebrity memoirs aren’t often my thing, but I just finished this one and loved it. Philipps’ irreverent take on her own life had me laughing out loud, but also shedding tears. It was one of those books I just couldn’t stay away from. (review coming soon)
Nonfiction Recommended the Most
I actually read Forty Autumns by Nina Willner in the last weeks of 2017, so I think it counts (at least a little) for this year’s Nonfiction November. Forty Autumns is a book I find myself singing the praises of over and over again. Willmer tells the story of her mother who fled East Germany shortly after WWII leaving her family behind. I’ve recommended it to friends, family and pretty much anyone who is a fan of WWII fiction. For those who enjoy reading about WWII it gives a real balance in sharing what life was like for German families left behind in its wake. (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 true crime, like I’ll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara (my review), and historical nonfiction like Code Girls by Liza Mundy (my review), but I’m completely open. So, bring the nonfiction on!
Disclaimer: There Are Amazon Associate links contained in this post.
Sarah's Book Shelves says
Haha – our posts are almost identical (book picks I mean)!
So glad you’ve been recommending Forty Autumns so much!
And I’m sharing some of my true crime favorites on Instagram later this month…I love that genre! But, I’d start with In Cold Blood if you haven’t read that yet.
Unfortunately, I read In Clod Blood years ago. You’re right it was great. I’ll keep my ete out for your true crime list. I started Missoula yesterday.
I’m definitely going to listen to From the Corner of the Oval and now I’m wondering if I’d also like the Busy Phillips one. I wouldn’t have picked that up but you saying you loved it has me interested. I’m also on the hunt for true crime like American Radical & I’ll Be Gone in the Dark! Right now I’m reading In Cold Blood along with my son who’s reading it for class.
Fun to read In Cold Blood with your son. Lots to talk about there. I think you’d enjoy Busy Philipps book if you like Hollywood gossipy stuff. She seems very real.
I’d never heard of Tell Me More, but your review’s convinced me to try to check it out before the end of the month! I do enjoy memoirs on audio, and appreciate the recommendation. I’d also recommend checking out In Cold Blood if you haven’t already. The book’s very engaging and doesn’t feel dated, in spite of its age.
Thanks for stopping by Michael. I agree In Cold Blood was a fabulous true crime book. Sort of the high bar that others need to live up to.
Here are my non-fiction recommendations:
1) River of Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa
2) The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton (Hinton was wrongly charged with two counts of capital murder and spent over two decades on death row. This is his account, but also delves into the injustices of our legal system.)
3) The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life by Lauren Markham (This is about the journey of two brothers who come to America to escape violence in El Salvador. This is totally relevant with today’s immigration issues and political divide).
4) The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy by Anna Clark
5) Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist by Eli Saslow (also incredibly relevant in today’s political climate)
6) A Gift from Darkness: How I Escaped With my Daughter From Boko Haram by Patience Ibrahim
Wow! Rochelle. thank you so much for the recommendations. The Sun Does Shine and The Far Away Brothers especially pique my interest. I’m adding these to my quickly growing nonfiction TBR list.
Jade @ Reading with Jade says
I think memoirs make for great nonfiction reading as we all have our own story (granted, some more interesting than others), and it is in our nature to be curious (nosy – either or) about lives different to our own, and even those similar to our own, curious as to the approach another may take in certain situations. At least that’s my take on it.
Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves) spoke about the Kelly Corrigan book; now that you’ve mentioned it too, I’ll definitely have to take a look.
Happy reading in the month of November.
Jade, Tell Me More is SO good. I think you’d enjoy it.
I just finished Dopesick, which was eye-opening but the book jumped around, making it hard to follow, especially the second half.
On tap: Bad Blood, Small Fry, Leadership in Turbulent Times and Bad Blood.
These will double my non-fiction reading for the year, but I’m looking forward to all of them.
I tried a sample of Dopesick, but just felt like it would be too depressing. Let me know how the nonfiction books on your list workout. I’m on the alert for good nonfiction.
I had never heard of Forty Autumns before, sounds good. My post is here: https://wordsandpeace.com/2018/10/29/nonfiction-november-my-year-2018-in-nonfiction/
I Am I Am I Am was a fascinating memoir wasn’t it? Loved how she revealed stuff about her life via her 17 brushes with death. I normally read a lot of memoir too, but this year I’ve found myself reading more travel books.
Travel books are fun. Did you read At Home in the World? It’s a mom writing about the trip around the world that she and her husband took with their 3 (maybe 4?) kids.
From the Corner of the Oval is on my TBR for this month! I tend to read a lot of memoirs, too, or rather, listen to them on audio.
Oh! It’s SO good!
Eva @ The Paperback Princess says
So many votes for Educated and From the Corner of the Oval Office! One I’ve read, the other is definitely on my list!
I’ve been super curious about Busy’s memoir so I’m glad to hear what you think about it. Not all celebrity memoirs are created equal – some of them have no business writing them.
Forty Autumns was so good!! It really affected me when I read it.
Busy Philipps seemed very real to me. And I loved her reading on the audiobook. Give her a try!
Lisa of Hopewell says
Forty Autumns sounds really good. Great list!
Thanks for mentioning Forty Autumns I really want to get to it — hopefully the audio version. I also want to get to The Corner of the Oval which I’ve been on the list for forever. You’ve read some great nonfiction this past year, way to go!
Oh, Susan! I think you would love Forty Autumns. It made me think about a whole group of WWII survivors that I’d never really even considered.
Kazen @ Always Doing says
I haven’t heard of American Radical and it sounds so good! And to think he’s still working for the FBI, doing these sort of missions. If your TBR is anything like mine it has grown threefold – huzzah for Nonfiction November! 🙂
American Radical was so good. I listened to it, but think it would be equally good in print. And, yes…my nonfiction TBR list has blown up!
Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) says
Your two favorites of the year are two that I have loved as well! Corrigan’s book was a beautiful punch to the heart, and From the Corner of the Oval was such a charming delight.
I think I’ve actually read fewer memoirs this year than normal, which is odd because I do love them a lot. I’ll be looking for recommendations in that area, for sure. Thanks for joining us!
Thanks for hosting, Kim. In the last couple of years I’ve come to love Nonfiction November. It’s perfect for this time of year when publishing is slowing down and our lives are getting crazy busy!
Forty Autumns sounds excellent–I’ll have to check it out when I’m ready for another WWII read (I’m reading We Were the Lucky Ones right now, so it may be a while). And I definitely need to get to From the Corner of the Oval. So many people have loved it.
Forty Autumns might actually pair nicely with WWTLO since it covers a family left behind AFTER the war. You’ll love From the Corner of the Oval.
I’ve seen ‘Tell Me More’ and ‘Forty Autumns’ recommended in several posts this week. Will definitely consider adding these to my TBR.
JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing says
I added From the Corner of the Oval to my wish list after seeing your review… maybe I’ll even get to it this month. Forty Autumns if my favorite nonfiction this year, and I read it on your recommendation – thanks!!
That’s so nice to hear, JoAnn. I’m so glad you liked Forty Autumns that much. From the Corner of the Oval was a fun fast read full of both angst and hope.
Debbie Rodgers @Exurbanis says
I’m seeing Educated and From the Corner of the Oval all over Nonfiction November. I’d better sit up and pay attention to them!
I forgot how much I wanted to read American Radical! Why oh why can’t I put more books on hold at once. I think I have to move Forty Autumns up my list to get to as well.
I sympathize. My nonfiction TBR list is getting out of control, too.
I put American Radical on hold right away and picked it up this weekend! Super excited to start it soon!
Katie @ Doing Dewey says
I’ve not read either of your favorites, but I’d like too! I’ve heard a lot of good things about them. I really enjoyed Forty Autumns too and I’d highly recommend Bad Blood if you’re looking for more true crime 🙂