Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Nonfiction November Week 1: My Year in Nonfiction


Nonfiction November is here at last! This annual event has become a personal favorite. What's not to love about a whole month of bookish topics, and even a readalong, devoted entirely to nonfiction? Event details can be found here. Our hosts this year are:

Katie at Doing Dewey
Lory at Emerald City Book Review
Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves
Rachel at Hibernator’s Library
Julz at Julz Reads


MY YEAR IN NONFICTION

Reading nonfiction is a fairly recent development in my reading life. I grew up reading fiction, and continued through college and career. It was an escape from the demands of young children and family life. There were years when I read only one of two nonfiction titles, and probably years when I read none at all. In the late 90s, my book club began choosing nonfiction occasionally, and things began to change. Slowly. I discovered that sometimes nonfiction read like a novel... but it would be years before I would come across the term 'narrative nonfiction'. My reading and enjoyment of nonfiction has really taken off over the past five or six years. This year it accounts for nearly one third of my reading - a personal record.

The subject matter has been varied this year, to say the least - from the atomic bombjoy-sparking organization, and campus rape, to a foodie friendship memoir, the '86 Mets, and developing a cure for CML - but I returned most frequently to social justice and the law.

Regular readers of this blog are aware of my love for audiobooks, especially when it comes to nonfiction. I must be an auditory learner, as I seem to retain more when I listen. My nonfiction reading has been evenly divided between formats -  print, audio, and print/audio combinations.  Whenever I listen, I try to get a print copy, too, so I don't miss out on photographs, charts or graphics, and maps.


THE FAVORITES




When Breath Becomes Air  by Paul Kalanathi
The Philadelphia Chromosome  by Jessica Wapner 
Just Mercy  by Bryan Stevenson

These three books stand out as clear favorites. I absolutely loved The Philadelphia Chromosome. It included so much that interests me -  cancer/gene research, new drug development, clinical trials, and personal stories. That probably sounds dull to most people, but it was written in a way that kept me riveted... listening well into the night. Unfortunately, it's not a book I recommend frequently.

When Breath Becomes Air has been my most recommended nonfiction title this year, but always with the warning to keep a box of tissues nearby! I finished Just Mercy a couple of weeks ago. That is my most recommended title now, and will continue to be for some time.

Finally, as a public service announcement:
 If you know any fans of the late 1980s Mets, please tell them about Kings of Queens: Life Beyond Baseball with the '86 Mets by Erik Sherman! I thoroughly enjoyed listening, but can't think of anyone (other than my brother-in-law) who might be interested.


My hopes for Nonfiction November are simple... I want to hear about all the books! And read them before next year ;-)

Visit Doing Dewey for links to more My Year in Nonfiction posts.

Yesterday's Post: Nonfiction for Your Book Club

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38 comments:

  1. I love finding nonfiction books through this event. I've never joined in but maybe I will in 2017.

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    1. Vicki - I hope you do! This is a great event :)

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  2. I love nonfiction too -- some of my favorite reads from book groups have been nonfiction. I'm hoping to read three or four books this month. I've just started Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky and it's very good so far.

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    1. Karen K. - I'm hoping to read 3 or 4 books this month, too, but that might be hard with the Thanksgiving holiday... maybe I'll choose shorter books;-) Will look forward to your thoughts on Salt. I've had that in my hands at the bookstore and library several times.

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  3. I haven't read any of your favorites. My wish list just grew.

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    1. Kathy - The danger of Nonfiction November ;-)

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  4. I'm actually not a baseball fan at all, but Kings of Queens sounds great to me!

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    1. Katherine - I'm not nearly as much of a fan as I was back then (less time to watch the games, I suppose), but still loved Kings of Queens.

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  5. When Breath Becomes Air was one of my favorites this year too! And - I think it takes a little time/trial and error before finding the niches of nonfiction that work for you...b/c there are so many different types that feel so different from each other.

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    1. Sarah - I used to think all nonfiction was dry and boring, but blogging has opened my eyes to so many different types of nonfiction! I never even knew lighter nonfiction existed... and it's become my best slump-busting tool.

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  6. I have been more interested in medical nonfiction lately so I am definitely looking forward to reading The Philadelphia Chromosome. Somehow, it missed my radar.

    Looking forward to all the nonfiction recommendations this month!

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    1. Athira - I cannot recommend the audio of The Philadelphia Chromosome highly enough! There were parts of it that made my brain hurt (some terms I haven't thought about in decades!), but the sections about drug trials and getting the drug to market were fascinating.

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  7. I just have to get to When Breath Becomes Air! Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Debbie - When Breath Becomes Air is excellent, both in print and audio. Just keep the kleenex handy!

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  8. I'm a huge METS fan an will never forget where I was when they won the World Series 1969! They were the brunt of jokes in Johnny Carson's monologue for years: they never finished higher than ninth place (next-to-last). Now they were the champs! I will read Kings of Queens! Just Mercy and The Philly Chromo are on my list....but not ready for the kleenex box yet, WBBA. Great blogpost!

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    1. ipsofactodotme - I hope you enjoy Kings of Queens! I haven't kept up with that '86 crew, so it was such a pleasure to listen to this book. Their lives have varied so widely, it's almost scary!

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  9. Well, since you gave me such a great recommendation last year, I just put your books on my wish list. LOL

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  10. I am a huge baseball fan. I woke up this morning with an empty feeling because I don't know what to do with myself until March. But as a die-hard Red Sox fan I don't think Kings of Queens will appeal to me, haha!

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    1. Joyce - No, Red Sox fans are definitely not the target audience here;-)

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  11. I admire you for reading nonfiction...I just can't do it!

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    1. Patty - It's an acquired taste ;-)

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  12. Ooh, 'The Philadelphia Chromosome' looks super interesting. I'm loving all the awesome recs from these week 1 posts, but I'm afraid that my TBR list might collapse under the strain....

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    1. looloolooweez - Oh, I know that feeling. My TBR is a lot bigger than it was this time last week. The Philadelphia Chromosome is absolutely fantastic if the technical parts don't put you off.

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  13. I'm hoping to share my thoughts on my nonfiction reading in the coming weeks. I need to sit down and compose a few posts, responding to these prompts. I do so love nonfiction!

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    1. Les - I'll be looking forward to your post!

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  14. Just Mercy looks like a great book. I'm adding to my wish list. Thanks!

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    1. Nick - Just Mercy is excellent! It made me angry, it made me cry, and best of all, it made me think.

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  15. You've got three really good books there! I love Just Mercy, I really want to read Philadelphia Chromosome, and I'm seeing When Breath Becomes Air everywhere.

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    1. Rachel - They are all excellent. I wish I could recommend The Philadelphia Chromosome to more people, but don't know many who would be interested. When Breath Become Air is wonderful, but so sad...

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  16. I've slowly started adding non-fiction titles to my reading. I have read some wonderful books in recent years but I still don't naturally gravitate to that aisle in the bookstore or library.

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    1. Iliana - I don't gravitate to nonfiction area of the library or bookstores either. Usually just check the new books section of the library and special displays at the bookstore... serious browsing is always in the fiction section! Still,I'm glad to add more nonfiction to my diet.

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  17. I completely agree about audio nonfiction! It's the best way for me to get through it, but I don't commute anymore and have not gotten used to sitting and listening to a book.

    Adding When Breath to my TBR!

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    1. Catherine - I don't spend nearly as much time in the car these days, either, so have had to get creative in finding ways to preserve my audio time.

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  18. I, too, have begun reading nonfiction rather recently. I've always wanted to read more of it, but find it hard when I'm in school to concentrate on even more nonfiction when I got home. I only just finished my many, many years of school, so....

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    1. Rachel - I didn't read any nonfiction when I was in school either... fiction for escape was all I could handle at that time.

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  19. I really enjoyed The Philadelphia Chromosome too! For all that I love nonfiction, I struggle with nonfiction audiobooks. I typically listen while I'm doing something else and non-memoir nonfiction can be hard for me to focus on well enough to not get lost.

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    1. Doing Dewey - Thank you again for bringing The Philadelphia Chromosome to my attention during 2015's Nonfiction November... such an en excellent book. Over the past few years, I've come to the conclusion that I must be an audio learner, and that must be why nonfiction on audio works so well for me.

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