This is my third year of taking part in Nonfiction November. Each week has a different theme and is hosted by a different blogger. Week one is to survey your year in non-fiction, prompted by Leann at Shelf Aware.
Last year, just over 25% of my reading was non-fiction at 33 books, my best ever. This year I’ve read far fewer, 18 books up to the end of October. I would have hoped to read more, but think I’ve dived into fiction to get through these strange times instead, as non-fiction always requires more attention to read and I’ve been too distracted.
However, of those I have read, I’ve awarded the full 10/10 to six titles listed below. They include two memoirs, three books of essays, and a book of lit crit. It’s near impossible to pick a favourite from these (bar the Auster interviews which, as he is my favourite author, I found totally fascinating – but a book for fans only). The other five were distinguished by their impassioned writing: be it beautiful or ugly, funny or poetic, they were all written from the heart and that’s the kind of non-fiction I love most.
- The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch – Review
- A Life in Words – Paul Auster in conversation with IB Siegumfeldt – Review
- It gets me home, this curving track by Ian Penman – Review
- Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson – Review
- Mother: A Memoir by Nicholas Royle – Review
- King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes – Shiny Review
If there is a dominant theme to my non-fiction reading this year, it would be The State We’re In in one form or another. From Mark O’Connell’s eschatological Notes From an Apocalypse, to Mike Berners Lee’s encouraging rally cry in There is No Planet B. My reading has also taken in where we are mathematically, astronomically, connectedly and nutritionally.
It’s the latter topic of nutrition that brings me to the book I’ve recommended the most. Spoon-Fed by Tim Spector, (who has been much in the news these days due his COVID work) but whose main other interest is nutrition. His latest book debunks every food myth you can think of – most of which are due to spin by interested parties. He also reinforces his views as in his previous book, The Diet Myth, that exclusion of foods is bad for our gut health and that every person reacts differently to different food types and combinations so diet plans shouldn’t be a one size fits all.
I hope to discover some fascinating books to read looking at everyone’s posts. I have loved increasing my non-fiction reading (most years). I really do feel that publishers are doing a much better job at commissioning more accessible non-fiction books these days. In years gone by, I used to avoid non-fiction shelves and displays, bar the odd biography they were too esoteric and full of history. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case.
See also: Liz’s post on her NF in 2020 here.