November 4, 2014

Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction



Week 1 of Nonfiction November asks us to take a look back at our year of nonfiction and to reflect on the following questions:

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

I'm never a fan of choosing a favorite but one book that I haven't stopped thinking about since I read it back in February is The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan. I thought I knew quite a bit about the Dust Bowl. I was wrong. The author combined history with personal narratives to craft an exceptional book that was heartbreaking and incredibly informative.


What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? 

This question made me realize that I don't recommend nearly enough nonfiction to my family and friends. I'm trying to figure out why. Am I afraid that people won't be interested in books unless they are fiction? I think I could be underestimating people and I'm going to start being a bit more of an evangelist for my favorite nonfiction reads.

I'll start now by saying that you MUST read Mao's Great Famine by Frank Dik├Âtter. That book nearly broke my soul. Read it. Please.

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

I'd like to read more nonfiction about science. For instance, I've been hearing about the wonderfully accessible works by Mary Roach forever but haven't gotten around to actually reading any of them. 

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

I've read less nonfiction this year than most and I'm hoping that this event will give me the impetus to sneak a few more in before the end of 2014. I'm really excited to see the book blogging community talking about nonfiction books and I'm looking forward to adding more titles to my impossibly long wish list. 

Here's to Nonfiction November. Let's go learn some stuff!

58 comments:

  1. Since I loved The Worst Hard Time too, I think I should really listen to your recommendation. I'd never heard of Mao's Great Famine, but it sounds like something I'd enjoy. *fingers crossed that library has it*

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    1. Wasn't that just a great book? I learned so much! That's the best thing about nonfiction, if you ask me :D I hope you have luck finding the Mao book. It's excellent!

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  2. I've yet to read a Mary Roach book as well, though she gets recommended so much! The Worst Hard Time and Mao's Great Famine both sound really great. Am adding to my own impossibly long want to read list :)

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    1. What are we waiting for?? Sheesh. ;)

      I have a feeling that this event is going to be very detrimental to my want to read list, lol.

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  3. You know, I don't recommend non-fiction very often, either. Except for Tiny Beautiful, which I tell people about all the time.

    You are going to looooove Mary Roach when you finally read her!

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    1. Oh gosh, Tiny Beautiful Things. I've recommended that baby a number of times as well! :D But yes, we need to recommend nonfiction more often! Why don't we??? Weird.

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  4. I have got to read The Worst Hard Time. Thank you for the recommendations. I think I'm going to sign up for Nonfiction November. Sounds fun. I've read much less nonfiction this year due to reading epic poetry. I think I prefer nonfiction. :)

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    1. I think you'd really like it, Heidi :D I hope you do sign up, nonfiction deserves more love!

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  5. I loved Mary Roach's Gulp -- so funny! The footnotes, in particular, were hilarious.

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    1. See?? Everyone just loves her stuff and I'm over here not reading any like a big dope, lol.

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  6. The Worst Hard Time sounds excellent. I've been looking for a good book on the Dust Bowl. And, yes to Mary Roach. Stiff really changed the way I look at my eventual corpse. ;)

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    1. It's the only Dust Bowl book I've ever read, admittedly, but I can't imagine a better one :D

      It's official. I'm putting every Roach book on my Christmas list, lol.

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  7. Oh, I have a copy of The Worst Hard Time and STILL need to get to it. Soon!

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    1. Yes! Yes you do! You won't regret it :D

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  8. I listened to The Worst hard Time on my daily commute and loved it--there was more than one day when I sat in my garage waiting to hear the end of a particular section! Great pairing for Grapes of Wrath, too.

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    1. That's a great point. I've always meant to re-read Grapes of Wrath. Hmmm... ;)

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  9. I've been hearing so much about Mary Roach and Tiny Beautiful Things lately, I think I'd better read them soon! Happy reading!

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    1. I can definitely speak for Tiny Beautiful Things, it's a treasure :D

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  10. Yes! I loved Stiff by Mary Roach and look forward to listen to Gulp. I just started one called The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements. How's that for a title? I'm not very far into it, but it's interesting so far. I love the way that he talks about chemistry and makes it almost romantic. LOL!

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    1. What in the world kind of title is that? ;) I'm going to have to look it up, sounds crazy. Romantic chemistry, who knew?

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  11. You should definitely read Mary Roach. She is awesome!

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  12. The Worst Hard Time sounds compelling!

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  13. YES The Worst Hard Times is amazing!!! So so good! Mary Roach is great and writes about all these crazy things that you would never even believe were actually real! Two of my favorites by her are Stiff and Packing for Space- they both blew my mind!

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    1. I've only heard wonderful things about all of Roach's books and it's nearly embarrassing to me that I haven't read anything of hers. Yikes!

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  14. The Worst Hard Time is on my TBR pile, and I will check out Mao's Great Famine. I recently listened to "An Edible History of Humanity" by Tom Standage, which talked about the famine. Now I don't have to go look for a book that looks at this time in history more closely.

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    1. Mao's Great Famine was incredible. I didn't realize how insanely awful it was during that time until I read this book. I really cannot recommend it highly enough.

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  15. I really enjoyed The Worst Hard Time as well. I’m currently listening and loving every minute of The Innovators by Isaacson. Just finished the amazing 1oo Places in France Every Woman Should Go, awesome travel essays, literary style not your usual tour guide, and not just for women!! so far 16/85 books read this year are nonfiction. my favorite is probably going to be the 100 Places. Though I also loved a lot France on the Brink

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    1. I didn't do an actual count of how many nonfiction books I've read this year. I should do that! It sounds like you've enjoyed quite a few, that's great :D

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  16. I love reading about the Dust Bowl and just finished an audiobook called Children of the Dust Bowl. I'll have to add The Worst Hard Time to my list.

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    1. Oooh, I haven't heard of that one! I'll definitely have to look it up :D

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  17. I have such a hard time picking nonfiction for some reason. Both The Worst Hard Time and Mao's Great Famine sound quite compelling, though difficult reads (going on the TBR).

    (Btw, I had one science book on my list of reads this year if you missed that one! It read more like sci-fi to me though given it was about space and the environment. I've never heard of Mary Roach and will go check her out.)

    Enjoy your month! :)

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    1. Neither of them are easy reads, that's for sure. They'll both break your heart. I don't know what it is but I really enjoy books that make me uncomfortable in that way. I like being shaken up and taught a thing or two. :D

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  18. What?!? You haven't read Mary Roach?!?!?!? I may be biased, but she is awesome. You should start with Stiff. Soon. ;-)

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    1. I know!! Can you believe it?? I feel like I've been under a rock for the last decade!

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  19. Oh I have the Timothy Egan book about Edward Curtis on my TBR pile - you've just made me hungrier to get into it...and added another book to my wishlist *sigh!*

    I've also heard great things about Mary Roach's approach to scientific topics...if only I had more days in the week to read all these wonderful books.

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    1. I had to go look that one up. Ohhhh my gosh, that sounds RIGHT up my alley. There grows my wish list ;)

      There needs to be an 8th day, just for reading! :D

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  20. That's two more for my wish list... thanks! :-)

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    1. Ha ha ha ha! ;) I shouldn't laugh but I hope to do to all of you what you are all doing to me! (Say that 5 times fast, lol)

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  21. I haven't read anything by Mary Roach yet either, although I've been hearing about her work for a long time. My book club just read Stiff last month, but I was traveling for work and will have to get around to reading it later on my own. If you wanted to read it together this month, I'd be down for that :)

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    1. I couldn't take it anymore. I requested Stiff from my library today :D I don't know where it'll end up fitting in this month but I'll keep in touch with you about it!

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  22. I sometimes have the same anxiety about recommending nonfiction. I worry people won't like it, even though so much of the nonfiction I love could be really interesting to other people too. It's something I want to pay more attention to as well.

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    1. I feel like a nonfiction snob, in a way. Like, "Oh you wouldn't like this, it's NONFICTION" <~~Said in a snooty voice, lol.

      It's either that or I feel like I'm the only nerd in the universe who wants to read and learn from nonfiction. I *know* that's not true so I need to get over it :D

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  23. I'd like to read Mao's Famine at some point - I only hope I can stomach it. :-) this year, I read "Mao's Last Dancer" an autobiography of Li Cunxin, a Chinese ballet star who defected tothe U.S., and got a taste of how brutalcnditions were in China under Chairman Mao.

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    1. I bet it was your blog where I recently heard of Mao's Last Dancer. It sounds very interesting to me. Brutal...that's a great word for it. My mouth was hanging open in near disbelief as I read about what happened there during that time. Awful.

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  24. These November Nonfiction posts are making my TBR list explode! I haven't read Mao's Last Dancer, but the author turned his autobiography into a very good picture book of his life story called Dancing to Freedom--really a gorgeous book. I've been wanting to learn more about this time period so will look for Mao's Great Famine. Thanks!

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    1. I don't think you can go wrong with Mao's Great Famine. It's an eye-opener, that's for sure.

      My wish list has exploded as well! It's crazy, lol.

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  25. I'm going to have to check out The Worst Hard Time--I'm planning a reread of The Grapes of Wrath next year and I think that would be a good companion read to it.

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    1. That's a great idea! It's a remarkable book :D

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  26. Mary Roach is one of those authors I'd like to have over for dinner. Maybe sit her down next to Bill Bryson and just listen to them chat over beer. "Mao's Great Famine" sounds intense. Thank you for mentioning that one. I know so little about that side of the world.

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    1. Lol, love that idea. There are a bunch of authors I'd love to set loose in a room together ;)

      I highly recommend Mao's Great Famine. HIGHLY.

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  27. I love Mary Roach. I read her book about the history and study of sex, and it was fantastic. I've been meaning to read more of her stuff, but I just haven't made it there yet. In the same vein, I love Sarah Vowell.

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    1. I just got the email from my library saying that my hold of Stiff has arrived :D I'msuper excited to pick it up! Now I'm off to look up Sarah Vowell...

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  28. Mao's Great Famine is definitely going on my to-read list - thanks for the recommendation! I also haven't read a Mary Roach book, but it will happen eventually, haha. And as to recommending nonfiction to friends and family, I'm lucky in that my parents also really enjoy nonfiction and most of my friends are willing to give it a try. You might be surprised by how many people are willing to try nonfiction though when they see how much YOU enjoy them. :)

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    1. I'm glad to hear that it's going on your list. It's an amazing, but difficult, read.

      I've decided to stop being such a scaredy cat about recommending nonfiction! :D

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  29. I've read less nonfiction than most years this year, too, so I'm glad November is finally here! Though honestly I've spent more time reading these great posts and adding to my TBR than reading nonfiction. No regrets about that, though! The Worst Hard Time sounds like just the kind of book I'd be interested in reading. I'm especially interested in reading more history books. Thank you for the recommendation and thank you for joining in Nonfiction November this month!

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    1. Ha, I've been doing the same. My wish list is out of control! I can almost guarantee you'll enjoy The Worst Hard Time, it's just so goooood!

      Thank YOU for hosting! This is such a great event :D

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