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 Dikötter. 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 thoughts on “Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

  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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  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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. 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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  9. 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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  10. 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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  11. 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. 😀

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  12. 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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  13. 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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  14. 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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  15. 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 😀

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  16. 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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  17. 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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  18. 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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  19. 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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