NonFiction November Week 1

Nonfiction November Week 1: Your Year in NonFiction

Week 1: (November 1-5) – Your Year in Nonfiction with Rennie at What’s Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?  


What an absolutely random assortment of books, am I right? But, when I look back through my stack what I see the most is that I was reaching out for connection. As we continued through the heavier stages of the Pandemic I missed the connection of human beings and books were there for me. I spent time with so many wonderful people this year through their books and stories that the loneliness just faded through to the background. And, when my reading failed me mid-year (back to back slumps!!) The Power of Ritual helped me find it again.


All four of the NonFiction graphic novels I read were amazing. I am loving how many more NonFiction books are being presented in this format. The Black Panther Party, When Stars are Scattered, and The Disability Experience were all amazing. I also managed to keep indoor plants alive longer thanks to Growing Food.

As mentioned, The Power of Ritual really helped me see that I needed to create a system for things and people that mattered to me and repeat them. This was a larger endeavor than my previous Habit obsession and worth it. This book helped me celebrate who and what was important to me and brought reading back into my everyday life.

You can see too that I was struggling to sink into books and stories as reflected by the short-story style of many of my NonFiction reads. Is It Just Me by Miranda Hart was hilarious allowed me to dip in and out for humorous anecdotes. Similarly, Songteller was a journey through Dolly Parton’s life through her music. I cannot recommend it enough. Even if you aren’t a Dolly Parton fan (this is unfathomable to me), as a woman she is a master class is holding your own. 50 Inventions that Shaped the Modern Economy is Tim Hartford and all his books are a wonder. This one was especially useful when I was struggling to read for longer periods of time as I could read one invention and move on with my day.

You Look Like a Thing and I Love You taught me that AI is a lot farther from controlling my world than I feared and American Contagion focused my understanding of how the law responds to pandemics. Both made me feel better. Weirdly.

The holiday books I read last year were a trio of fun but, as you can see, the season got to me and I had to add Mindfulness for the Frazzled into the mix. Hah! Our stacks can be a true revelation on our mindset of the time can’t they?

The only real low-points in my NonFiction reading this year were Mend it, Wear it, Love it, Talking to Strangers, and Breath. Mend it, Wear it, Love it is a book about fashion sustainability. When the shops were all closed here, and even afterwards when I didn’t want to shop with people, I started thinking about where my clothes were made and the impact on the people who made them as well as environmental sustainability. I want to be more sustainable and ethical in my choices. Sadly, this book was about how to patch your clothes in ways that would make me look….unkempt is the nicest way I can put it.

Talking to Strangers and Breath were the final straw in my pseudo-science reading. Both books proffer theories and then dig up facts to prove their thesis. There is probably a lot of actual science in both but I am tired of listening to people’s opinions formatted to sound like irrefutable facts. I am trying to read more books by experts in their field rather than people who are researching the topic as they go along.

Make it Stick though, oh, I loved this book. I despise when I read something interesting and wonderful and I can’t talk about it because I can’t remember what I read. Make it Stick has dramatically changed the way I approach my reading and learning.

If you only read one self help book this year, let it be Poe for Your Problems. This sarcastic nugget of a book is part biography and part commentary on how we can use Poe’s success to format our own life strategies. The first couple of chapters are a little uneven but don’t quit, it is too much fun.


Every year I am in awe of the other participants in NonFiction November. More than anything I would love to pick a topic and stick with it but, I must follow my joy with reading. My biggest goal will be to stack my TBR for next year!

Tell me, please! How was your NonFiction reading this year?


29 thoughts on “NonFiction November Week 1

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    1. I picked the Trauma Cleaner up because of the title! It was billed as a look into the people who clean up after hoarders and tragic accidents but it was much more about the woman herself, a transgender survivor of immeasurable childhood trauma. It was fascinating but I wanted to hear more about the cleaning than the trauma. My full review is if you are interested!


  1. “I am trying to read more books by experts in their field rather than people who are researching the topic as they go along” love this and sums up beautifully my concerns with Pale Rider (I hope publish my post in a day or two).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I like it when people have done all the research for me on a topic & put it all together. I don’t expect these books to be by an ‘expert’, a dedicated enthusiast can still do a good job. The trick is for the author to also know this!! And not to make claims above & beyond.


  2. Ughhh I felt the same about Talking to Strangers. Gladwell is a master at cherry picking to make his theories work and I just hate it because he’s so ultra mega popular even among non-readery types and it’s like, please just no. And sometimes he’s just downright wrong, I don’t think anyone even fact checks him anymore!

    I’m sorry to hear Breath didn’t out so good either…I really enjoyed another of that author’s books last year, Deep – about freediving and human interactions with the ocean at its various depth levels. It was really interesting and fun to read. But maybe something more science-heavy wasn’t the right way for him. I agree with you that it’s important to read this kind of science from people who are actually experts in their field and well versed in comparing conflicting information and analyzing it, as well as evaluating sources, which I think casual researchers are less adept at.

    You won’t have that issue with Paul Offit – definitely give his books a try!

    You already know how much I love A Woman of No Importance, and your review of Songteller convinced me I need to get that one! Not being a Dolly fan is similarly unfathomable to me.

    I think I missed your review of Poe for Your Problems and I really need that in my life. Did you read The Anna Karenina Fix? It sounds like a similar structure – the author looks at classic Russian authors and humorously interprets what we can learn from their lives and their world views. It was surprisingly hilarious and one of those books that just made me happy, even while learning about some gloomy Russians and gloomy literature! You might like it. Adding the Poe one to my list, thank you!!


    1. You didn’t miss my review – I didn’t get it up yet. I seem to only have the energy to read and be social or read and review but not all three. I keep trying! I have added The Anna Karenina Fix to my TBR – thanks for the recommendation!

      Malcolm Gladwell is gross. I agree, I don’t even think people are fact checking him and it makes me insane. I have to wonder if I would have enjoyed Breath more if I hadn’t read it on the heels of Gladwell’s Strangers…. But also, for Breath, it might have been the audiobook. The author narrates it himself and I think that was a mistake.

      I cannot wait to see what everyone else is reading this month! NonFiction November is the BEST.


  3. A great selection, and I love an eclectic list! Life’s too short to concentrate on only one topic! I have read Malala’s book (have you read her dad’s one, too, that was excellent) and Ruby Wax’s (didn’t much like it) out of those. I love Nonfiction November and love getting all the recommendations through the month. And thank you for following my blog – I’ve added yours to my Feedly reader.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I felt she was actually quite distasteful at times with the way she referred to people living with mental illnesses, which was a shame given her topic! My review is here: (oh, and I just re-read the review and I REALLY didn’t like it! I hope you enjoy Malala’s dad’s book and look forward to hearing what you think of it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am impressed by the variety in your nonfiction reading! Ugh, pseudo-science is the worst, it really annoys me, when there is too much subjectivity or bias in books, which are meant to be factual.


  5. I absolutely love what your wrote about turning to books during the pandemic. I hadn’t really considered it in that way before now, but books were such an easy connection to others during all of this—they’ve certainly helped immensely!

    And it certainly looks like you had some amazing company this year. The Truth About Santa looks so interesting. I love the idea of a science spin on the holiday.


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