A November Full of Nonfiction

Over the course of the month, I will participating in Nonfiction November hosted by Kim of Sophisticated Dorkiness, Leslie of Regular Rumination, Katie of Doing Dewey, and Rebecca of I’m Lost In Books sharing recommendations, reviewing nonfiction titles and, of course, reading as much nonfiction as possible.

Thirty-five of the 114 books I read between January 1 and October 31, 2014 were nonfiction titles — a smaller percentage than in years past. I blame the decline on grad school for two reasons — (a) there were no textbooks assigned for any of my courses in the spring semester and (b) the push to finish my thesis meant I read zero books during February and April and only two in March.

I certainly hope to increase the ratio of nonfiction to fiction during November as I have several great titles on my shelf waiting to be read. And, by participating in Nonfiction November, I hope to add even more great titles to my to-read list and the stack of books I pick up on my next trip to the library.


The picture above is slightly deceiving as I read the last three books in the stack — As Texas Goes by Gail Collins, MetaMaus by Art Spiegelman, and The Child Catchers by Kathryn Joyce — towards the end of October. The picture also does not feature Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra and Maya Angelou’s memoir I Know By the Caged Bird Sings, which I finished on audio last month, or my current audiobook, The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the best photo to use but it does give you an idea of the nonfiction books I hope to enjoy during November and shows the breadth in terms of time periods and topics I like my nonfiction to focus on — current politics, ultra-conservative religions, the Holocaust, and cartography. Five of the seven books (including my current audiobook) are written by female authors, which seems to be a common trend in my nonfiction selections. Without even meaning to I tend to shy away from nonfiction written by men.

That said, Thirteen Days in September by Lawrence Wright is easily my favorite nonfiction read of the year with The Child Catchers by Kathryn Joyce coming in a close second. I tend to tailor my nonfiction recommendations based on an individual’s interests, but both books introduced an extraordinary amount of new information to a topic I consider myself to be fairly well-read in and, the later especially, posed new ethical questions to topics I thought my opinions were firm on. Exactly how I like my nonfiction to be.


  1. Pro was my favorite nonfiction from this year…it’s just a fantastic read – can’t wait to see what you think! I’ve been curious about Metamaus, since I haven’t heard too much from actual readers since it came out.


    • I’m about two-thirds of the way through Pro right now and loving it. A very succinct argument.

      I’ll have a review for MetaMaus later in the month, but the 200+ paged interview wasn’t my favorite.


    • Good eye! ‘Call the Nurse’ by Mary J. MacLeod is a memoir of Mary’s (although, she goes by Julia in the book) time serving as a nurse on a Scottish isle. I picked it up solely because the title reminded me of “Call the Midwife”.


  2. What did you think of As Texas Goes? I’ve read and liked other books written by Gail Collins, but wasn’t able to finish this one. I enjoyed it at first, but after awhile I thought she was too biased. I don’t mind a good liberal rant every now and then, but this one was just too much for me.


    • I’ll be posting a full review of Pro later in the month, but I thought it was excellent and recommend it wholeheartedly.

      I finished MetaMaus the other night and can understand why there wasn’t much noise about it after its publication.


  3. Pingback: Nonfiction November Week 1 Wrap Up | TiaMart Blog

    • Yes, especially when it comes to textbooks! Demand drives content, which makes sense but is also a horrifying proposition when you consider who sits on the Texas Board of Education and gets to decide what goes into textbooks.


  4. Lu

    I’m so excited to hear what you think about all of these great books! I’ve heard amazing things about Pro. Thank you for joining us for Nonfiction November!


  5. I also tend to read more nonfiction by women than men, although I really focus on subject more than author usually. Just ends up that way! I’ve heard great things about Pro from another nonfiction november participant and am also hoping to read it soon!


    • I think the topics I’m interested in — the Holocaust, feminism, food politics, British history — tend to attract more female writers than male writers but, like you, I focus more on subject than the author. The only exception would be if I absolutely love an author (Deborah Dwork and Alison Weir come to mind) as I will read their entire catalog regardless of topic. Much like fiction.


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