Nonfiction November – My Year in Non-Fiction

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.

17 thoughts on “Nonfiction November – My Year in Non-Fiction

  1. Liz Dexter says:

    An interesting list and I love how everyone’s are so different! I’m running at just under half nonfiction this year which is around where it usually is.

  2. A Life in Books says:

    I must lay my hands on a copy of Spoon-fed. The Diet Myth made me think carefully about what I eat, and change a few things as a result – i.e. incorporate some feremented foods into my diet. His work is very convincing and now, of course, he’s one of the drivers of the Covid Symptom app which I find incredibly useful.

  3. Lory says:

    As I said somewhere else, I think we’re living in a golden age of popular (or accessible, as you put it) non-fiction. There are so many interesting books out there and though sometimes the writing is just okay, quite often it’s outstanding. I was never a nonfiction reader but that has changed in the past seven years of blogging!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Exactly. In fact, I suspect I have higher standards for non-fiction than fiction, so to read half a dozen outstanding books by my scoring is amazing. I hope I can fit at least a few more in before the end of the year.

  4. mkowalewski says:

    For a long time all I read was non fiction. Right now i’m reading Following Atticus – it’s about the guy that owned the Undertoad newspaper in Newburyport, MA and his mini schnauzer, Atticus and their quest to hike the 48 4000 footers in NH. I think that I will also commit to non fiction november!

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