Nonfiction November – New to my TBR

I think this is my favorite prompt of the entire month!

Nonfiction-November-2018It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book.

This was my first year doing Ask the Expert and I’m glad I did – I got so many amazing recommendations from that post alone!  So here’s a bunch of nonfiction by authors from marginalized groups that does not directly relate to their identity:

Here are a couple of other reads that you lovely people put on my radar:

How are you guys doing, here at the end of the month?  Have you read as much nonfiction as you had hoped?  …are you sick of it yet? 😉

Nonfiction November – Reads Like Fiction

Rennie at What’s Nonfiction brings us this week’s prompt:

Nonfiction-November-2018Nonfiction books often get praised for how they stack up to fiction. Does it matter to you whether nonfiction reads like a novel? If it does, what gives it that fiction-like feeling? Does it depend on the topic, the writing, the use of certain literary elements and techniques? What are your favorite nonfiction recommendations that read like fiction? And if your nonfiction picks could never be mistaken for novels, what do you love about the differences?

I do love a nonfiction book that reads like an exciting novel!  It isn’t a requirement, though.

Some genres lend themselves to an exciting, novel-like treatment. True crime comes to mind, as well as history books about a specific event.  Characters are introduced, a plot is set into motion, and descriptive writing keeps us interested and engaged. One of my favorite books in this vein is Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy. I listened to it on audio and was riveted, finishing the book in a few days.

I don’t require it though. Essay collections by their nature rarely read like fiction, nor books that recommend books like The Novel Cure.  And nerd that I am I sometimes dive into straight up textbooks – Foundations of Clinical Psychiatry, I’m looking at you! As much as I enjoy fiction-y nonfiction, it doesn’t work well in all cases.

Narrative nonfiction gets a lot of love so I want to ask you guys – what’s a favorite nonfiction book that doesn’t read like fiction?

Nonfiction November – Ask the Expert

This is one of my favorite prompts and I’m so glad to see it come back. It has a ton of choice:


Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

This year I’m going to ask you guys for some help!

I love finding and reading books by authors from marginalized groups. This includes people of color, LGBTIA+ folx, those who practice a non-Christian religion, those with disabilities, and more. Most often these diverse authors are called to write about issues and experiences relating to their identity – a black person discussing racism, someone with a chronic disease examining the health care system, or an LGBTQIA+ person writing about marriage equality.

I want to be clear – this is awesome. We need the voices of those affected by all kinds of issues to write books about them. I’m totally here for it.

However, diverse people have been pigeonholed into this role.

That’s not cool. So I want to know – what are your favorite nonfiction books by diverse authors where the subject is not related to their identity? Here are a few to start us off:

The Checklist Manifesto (or anything else) by Atul Gawande

Medical nonfiction written by a man of color.

Columbine by Dave Cullen

A deep, riveting account of the Columbine shooting, written by a gay man.

The Clothing of Books by Jhumpa Lahiri

An examination of book design by a woman of color.

I’d like to add to this list – give me your suggestions!

Nonfiction November – Pair ‘Em Up!

Nonfiction-November-2018It’s week two already, holy cow! My month has gotten off to an academic start – I chose three books with a more serious bent, which may not have been the best choice!  I’m still making progress though, so that’s good.

This week’s prompt is to come up with a fiction/non-fiction book pairing.  This year I’m going with a pairing that I haven’t read yet but am excited to get to, especially if I can get my husband to buddy read the fiction book with me. So let’s get ready to dive into the exciting world of… dictionaries!

The Great Passage by Shion Miura, translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter

33291314Inspired as a boy by the multiple meanings to be found for a single word in the dictionary, Kohei Araki is devoted to the notion that a dictionary is a boat to carry us across the sea of words. He discovers a kindred spirit in Mitsuya Majime—a young, disheveled square peg with a penchant for collecting antiquarian books and a background in linguistics.

Led by his new mentor Majime is tasked with a career-defining accomplishment: completing The Great Passage, a comprehensive 2,900-page tome of the Japanese language. On his journey, Majime discovers friendship, romance, and an incredible dedication to his work, inspired by the bond that connects us all: words.

I tried this one in Japanese but, ironically, I had to look up a few too many words for it to be enjoyable. 😅 I now have the English translation and look forward to reading it that way.  Afterwards I plan to dig into:

Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper

30781490While most of us might take dictionaries for granted, the process of writing them is in fact as lively and dynamic as language itself. With sharp wit and irreverence, Kory Stamper cracks open the complex, obsessive world of lexicography–from the agonizing decisions about what and how to define, to the knotty questions of usage in an ever-changing language. She explains why small words are the most difficult to define, how it can take nine months to define a single word, and how our biases about language and pronunciation can have tremendous social influence. Throughout, Stamper brings to life the hallowed halls (and highly idiosyncratic cubicles) of Merriam-Webster, a world inhabited by quirky, erudite individuals who quietly shape the way we communicate.

The only bad thing about this pairing is I can’t think of a third book to follow it up with!

What kind of start has your Nonfiction November gotten off to? Any standout reads so far?

Nonfiction November – Your Year in Nonfiction

Nonfiction-November-2018And we’re off!  The prompt this first week concentrates on our last year of nonfiction reading.  In 2018 23% of the books I’ve finished are nonfiction. I have an unofficial goal of one third nonfiction so I’m a bit behind, but that’s what this readathon is for!  Without any further ado let’s jump into the questions:

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

6452798It’s a hard choice, but I’ll have to go with Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser. The history of nuclear weapons, already harrowing, is interleaved with a narrative retelling of a Titan II missile accident.  The storytelling and pacing are right on and I was riveted throughout the 20 hour audiobook.  With all the nuclear accidents and near misses the world should be blown up several times over by now!

Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?

I did a bit of a Serial Killer Summer™ so I read a bunch of nonfiction in that vein, including Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI by Robert K. Ressler and Tom Shachtman, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara, and Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by Alice Bolin.

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

33931697That has to be Invisible: How Young Women with Serious Health Issues Navigate Work, Relationships, and the Pressure to Seem Just Fine by Michele Lent Hirsch. It’s intersectional as all get out and touches on many topical issues but boils down to navigating the world as a person of color, lgbtqia+ folx, someone with a chronic or invisible illness, and combinations thereof.  The book is own voices for lgbtqia+ and chronic/invisible illness and all the more impactful for it.

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

This is my second year so I know how much fun is waiting for me this time!  I’m looking forward to talking and becoming friends with all sorts of people while reading all.the.nonfiction!  I’m also thrilled to be participating via my channel on YouTube for the first time.

Here’s to an amazing November!

Nonfiction November – A Pile of Possibilities

Nonfiction-November-2018So many books, so little time!  I’ve amassed quite a list of nonfiction I want to read over the past year and this is the perfect time to get to it.  The term “TBR” stresses me out (obligation! gah!) so let’s call this a Pile of Possiblities (PoP?) instead:

Recent Medical Nonfiction

Somebody I Used to Know: A Memoir by Wendy Mitchell
You Can Stop Humming Now: A Doctor’s Stories of Life, Death and in Between by Damiela Lamas
The Fears of the Rich, the Needs of the Poor: My Years at the CDC by William H. Foege
Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright

Diverse Nonfiction

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq by Dunya Mikhail, trans. Max Weiss
To My Trans Sisters by Charlie Craggs
Letters to a Young Muslim by Omar Saif Ghobash

Backlist Nonfiction

Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback by George Plimpton
Oranges by John McPhee
Hiroshima Diary: The Journal of a Japanese Physician by Michihiko Hachiya, trans. Warner Wells
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Have you read any of these?  Let me know if there’s something I should prioritize!

Nonfiction November is back!

I’ve been anticipating fall for many reasons, not least of which is Nonfiction November! It may just be my favorite event of the book blogging year.


This year it’s being hosted by Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Julie (JulzReads), Katie (Doing Dewey), and Rennie (What’s Nonfiction).  One thing I love about Nonfiction November is that there are no strict challenges outside of celebrating the awesomeness of nonfiction.

Some devote the entire month to the genre, but I know I’ll be sneaking some romance in there somewhere! I’m going to aim to read as much nonfic as possible while doing the weekly prompts and chatting it up with friends new and old.

Look out for a TBR next week leading up to the first prompt on October 29th.  Who’s going to be joining me? 🙂

Nonfiction November Wrap-up

NonfictionNovember-e1506979820517It’s kind of hard to believe but Nonfiction November is wrapping up!  Thanks to the organizers – Julie (JulzReads), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Katie (Doing Dewey), Lory (Emerald City Book Review) and Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) – for putting on such a wonderful event.  I’ve had an excellent time reading as well as meeting fellow bloggers, and I’m looking forward to following everyone’s reading, both fiction and non, in the new year!

As far as my own reading goes I’m happy where I ended up – ten books in November (an improvement over a slumpy September and October) and fully half were nonfiction.  That’s better than my usual 30-ish percent.

Here are the five books I started and completed:


Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh
The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich (review once I give it as a gift)
Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life by Jessica Nutik Zitter
Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot (review closer to its February 2018 release)
Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande (my last finish, review soon)

If you were mean and made me pick a favorite I’d probably go with Extreme Measures, but Heart Berries made me think the most.  I thought I would be tired of nonfiction by now, but I went to the library and ended up getting four more nonfiction books:


That’s three books on interpreting (notetaking, vocab memorization, and “reprocessing”) as well as a book called Newspaper University.  The author is in his 90s so I’m hoping he works some historical perspective into his discussion of journalism.

Okay, now it’s my turn to be mean – what was your favorite nonfiction read this November?

Nonfiction November – New to My TBR

NonfictionNovember-e1506979820517I can’t believe the month is almost over!  Nonfiction November has been my first blogging event of this scale and I’m having a wonderful time.  I’ve met a ton of wonderful people, and heaven knows they’ve recommended some wonderful books.  Here are a few that have made it onto my To Be Read list:

32311672Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life by Jessica Nutik Zitter, MD
Recommended by Running ‘n’ Reading (her review is thisaway)

A look at end of life care from the perspective of an ICU doctor who also became certified in palliative care.  She describes a “End-of-Life Conveyor Belt” and how receiving more care (ventilator, surgically placed feeding tube, etc.) makes it harder to die outside of a hospital, on your own terms. This book is so perfect for me I’ve already read it and loved it!  Review forthcoming.

34127677The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich
Recommended by What’s Nonfiction? (her review is thataway)

Ehrlich went to Wyoming on assignment and ended up staying once her work was done.  She writes about how the  myth of the American West stands up to the reality, working on a ranch and the people you’ll find there, and what makes it the perfect place for her.  I’ve already read this one, too, and in fact I’ll be giving it as a Christmas gift!  I don’t want to tip off the recipient so the review will be a little delayed.  Until then know that it’s awesome and worth your time.

23214337Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime
by Val McDermid
Recommended by Words and Peace

I think I’ll like this because I liked Working Stiff – how forensic types figure out how someone died or who committed a crime.  It looks like the author has written a bunch of crime novels and did a lot of research, so it’s sure to be an engrossing read.

How is everyone faring?  Sick of nonfiction yet?  😉

Nonfiction November – Nonfiction Favorites

Here’s our prompt for this week:

NonfictionNovember-e1506979820517Let us know what qualities make you add a nonfiction book to your list of favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone?

To suss out my proclivities I’m going over my favorite nonfiction reads over the past few years.  I haven’t found a magic bullet but there are some factors that will propel a book up my list of favorites.

Amazing Writing

22253729A nonfiction book doesn’t need to leave literary style behind!  It can be as elevated David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster or as grounded as Nina MacLaughlin’s Hammer Head, but great sentence level writing will get me every time.

Getting My Study On

605663I love reading to learn and some books have blown my mind wide open.  There’s Whipping Girl, an own voices take on transwomen and femininity, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes about the business of death in the United States, and Tears We Cannot Stop, an African American minister’s sermon to white America.

Primary Source Documents

27507970That may not sound exciting, but stick with me!  Documents from their time, often with analysis or historical background, can be transporting.  Charleston Syllabus pulls together everything from slave’s first person accounts to Constitution of the Confederate States to give an overview of the history of black people in America and how we arrived at our current state of affairs.  War Diaries is the personal journal of Astrid Lindgren, the author of Pippi Longstocking, which she wrote during World War II.

…and Fire

351219It doesn’t make sense considering how terrified I am of flames, but I am drawn to books about fire.  It can be a well-known historical fire (Triangle: The Fire that Changed America), a fire lost to time (The Circus Fire), about what it’s like to watch for fires (Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout) or fight them (The Fire Inside).

Do we match up on any of these likes?  What makes a nonfiction read a favorite for you?