Year End Review #3: Non-Fiction

I decided to give Non-fiction it’s own review this year because I’ve read 20 titles – the highest number I’ve read in a year, making up fractionally under 15% of books read. This is a trend I hope to continue, for I’m enjoying non-fiction more these days, but as you’ll see below – the areas I gravitate towards are quite well defined in general! The title links will take you to my reviews.

Memoirs & Biographies:

  • Medical –
    • Ground-breaking heart surgeon Stephen Westaby’s Fragile Lives was superb.
    • Paul Kalanithi’s  posthumously-published memoir of becoming a neurosurgeon and then dying of cancer was heart-breaking.
    • This is Going to hurt – Adam Kay’s diaries of his days as a ‘junior doctor’ were hilarious, but asked some serious questions about the NHS.
  • Rock ‘n’ Roll
    • Eminent Hipsters by Donald Fagen was a mixture of memoir and essay. Steely Dan were one of my favourite bands.
    • That Close by Suggs – cheeky and nutty – this book was a joy to read.
    • The Importance of Music to Girls by Lavinia Greenlaw – vignettes of musical memoir growing up in the 1970s
  • Other
    • To War With Whitaker by the Countess of Ranfurly – this was our book group read for ‘Egypt’.
    • The Day That Went Missing by Richard Beard – Shocking, heart-rending. Writing therapy for the author’s soul.
    • Outlandish Knight by Minoo Dinshaw –  the 784 page biography of an historian I’d never heard of, but who lived to 97 and knew everyone was interesting.
    • Unaccompanied Minor by Alexander Newley – The son of Antony Newley and Joan Collins tells about his childhood, featuring many of his own paintings.


The Arts, and Books about Books:

  • The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L Jocker – absolutely fascinating analysis and machine reading.
  • The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler – despite the skew towards male authors, a book to expand your wishlists for sure.
  • Hit Makers by Derek Thompson – songs, TV, film – interesting analysis from both the psychology and business side of things.
  • A Literary History of Science Fiction, ed Roger Luckhurst – Set of essays from the British Library, only just finished, so still mulling this book.


As to which, if any, of these will make my year-end best of list – you’ll have to wait until the 31st!

Have you read much non-fiction this year?

10 thoughts on “Year End Review #3: Non-Fiction

  1. Col says:

    Impressive list. Above all have taken note of that Donald Fagen book as I loved Steely Dan – ‘Peg’ is my favourite song of all time. My non-Fiction choices this year are much less and much narrower than yours!! – just a biog of the footballer Denis Law and ‘Nileism’ a book about my favourite band ‘The Blue Nile’ ( if you’ve never heard them I’d thoroughly recommend!!!!)

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      The Blue Nile – I actually owned a copy of their first album A Walk Across the Rooftops on Linn records – but the CD got badly damaged and I threw it away. It would be a collector’s item if it had survived intact! The Donald Fagen book is excellent.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      It was brilliant. He managed to get the combination of hilarity and the burn-out he suffered just right.

  2. Liz Dexter says:

    I’m on 74 fiction / 64 non-fiction at the moment, reading two non-fiction and two fiction currently, and that’s about normal for me. I’ll probably make my Best Of half and half as I usually do. I haven’t read any of these that you list!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I’m so impressed you read so much non-fiction. I ought to branch out a bit in terms of the scope of nf books I read but I have shelves full of potentially good entertainment and music memoirs still to read and plenty of more psychological fare. I really want to tackle some of these in 2018.

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