Tag Archives: Nonfiction November

Nonfiction November – Nov 20-24: Nonfiction Favorites

This week (Nov. 20 to 24), Nonfiction November is hosted by Katie @ Doing Dewey with the topic of Nonfiction Favorites: We’ve talked about how you pick nonfiction books in previous years, but this week I’m excited to talk about what makes a book you’ve read one of your favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone? Let us know what qualities make you add a nonfiction book to your list of favorites.

Is the topic pretty much all that matters?

Definitely not. While there are certain topics that I tend to gravitate towards (basically the subjects I write about here on this blog), I’d like to think that I have a broad range of interests when it comes to nonfiction reading.

Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love?

I think that, with any story, it needs to engage the reader. That’s the most important thing, really. I’m merciless when it comes to DNF books; if I’m not hooked within the first 50 pages (sometimes less) then I have no qualms about abandoning the book. That goes for fiction, nonfiction, whatever.

When I think about preferred writing styles, I’m drawn most to creative nonfiction. I love Creative Nonfiction, the literary journal. Among my writerly bucket list items is to be published in CNF one day.

Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone? Let us know what qualities make you add a nonfiction book to your list of favorites.

So many factors go into whether a particular nonfiction book will be one that catches my eye. It can be anything from the subject matter to the author to the setting. It really varies. You can find some of my nonfiction favorites on my Book Reviews – Nonfiction page.

 

Thanks for sharing this post!
0

Nonfiction November – Nov 13-17: Become the Expert

This week for Nonfiction November, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness  (who happens to be one of my very favorite book blogging friends) invites us to either Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert by either sharing three or more books on a single topic that we have read and can recommend (be the expert), put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that we’ve have been dying to read (ask the expert), or create our own list of books on a topic that we would like to read (become the expert).

As I tend to do, I’ve been way overthinking this.

(Overthinking, now’s that’s something I’m an expert in.)

While I wouldn’t call myself an expert, there are certain subjects I tend to gravitate towards in my nonfiction choices.

Autism.

Politics and current events.

Death.

Feminism.

Mindfulness and spirituality.

Food.

LGBTQ issues.

I could easily and happily recommend three books to you on any of the above topics. (Feel free to ask me in the comments if you need a suggestion.)

But an expert?

Nah.

Since I believe there’s always more to learn about a subject, I’ll go with Door #3.

Become the Expert.

Recently, I’ve been seeking out books about the workings of the brain. I don’t mean a neuroscience textbook; rather, I’m very curious to learn more about memory and how trauma affects our memories. In addition to autism, our family has been impacted by dementia, depression and anxiety, migraines, and PTSD. I’m interested in reading more about all of these. A lot of lifestyle issues — sleep, exercise, food, stress, connection with others — are crucial to our brain health and our overall well-being.

A few books on this topic that I’m interested in reading include:

The Inheritance: A Family on the Front Lines of the Battle Against Alzheimer’s Disease 
by Niki Kapsambelis

Earlier this summer our library hosted Niki for a talk and book-signing. The Inheritance focuses on the DeMoe family. Of the six DeMoe children, five have inherited the genetic mutation that causes early onset Alzheimer’s; the sixth, Karla, has inherited the responsibility for all of them. But rather than give up in the face of such news, the DeMoes have agreed to spend their precious, abbreviated years as part of a worldwide study that could utterly change the landscape of Alzheimer’s research and offers the brightest hope for future treatments—and possibly a cure. Much of this research is happening right here in Pittsburgh.

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams
by Matthew Walker, PhD.

In Pursuit of Memory: The Fight Against Alzheimer’s
by Joseph Jebelli

Memory Rescue: Supercharge Your Brain, Reverse Memory Loss, and Remember What Matters Most
by Daniel G. Amen

How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain
by Lisa Barrett Feldman

Memory’s Last Breath: Field Notes on My Dementia 
by Gerda Saunders

 

Thanks for sharing this post!
0

Nonfiction November – Nov 6-10

I’m participating in Nonfiction November which is being hosted by Julie (JulzReads), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Katie (Doing Dewey), Lory (Emerald City Book Review) and Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness).  Each week, a different host will offer a writing prompt pertaining to nonfiction books and reading.

For Week 2 (Nov. 6 to 10), Sarah @ Sarah’s Book Shelves invites us to pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.”

Here are three combinations that come to mind:

In these times, I think there’s no better pairing than What Happened, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s reflections on the 2016 presidential campaign with Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, because I honest-to-God believe that’s where we’re headed. And it terrifies the hell out of me.

The Floating World, set in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, shows the Boisdoré family emotionally adrift from their community and each other. It would pair well with Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, Sheri Fink’s harrowing account of the storm’s impact on patients, families and the medical team at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans in August 2005.

Thirty years after its publication, And the Band Played On by journalist Randy Shilts is still the definitive account about the beginning of the AIDS epidemic and a book everyone should read. So is The Heart’s Invisible Furies, a novel by John Boyne which spans seven decades. I’ve been recommending this to everyone.

Do you have a fiction and nonfiction book pairing to suggest?

Thanks for sharing this post!
0

Nonfiction November – My Year in Nonfiction

In addition to NaBloPoMo (that’s National Blog Posting Month), I’m also participating in Nonfiction November. As the title suggests, it is a month-long celebration of everything nonfiction and is hosted by Julie (JulzReads), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Katie (Doing Dewey), Lory (Emerald City Book Review) and Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), founder of the event and who explains the event’s history here. Each week, a different host will offer a writing prompt pertaining to nonfiction books and reading. Everyone is welcome to join in the fun, connect with other avid readers, and get plenty of great book recommendations to topple your piles and shelves.

For Week 1 (Oct 30 to Nov 3), Julie @ JulzReads asks about our Year in Nonfiction.

Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Favorite Nonfiction Read of the Year

So far, I’ve read a total of 43 books this year and nearly half (21) were nonfiction. Eight of those were on audio. I usually don’t announce my favorites until year’s end or sometime in January, but here are the titles on my shortlist as of today — and it may be close to my definitive list because I won’t be able to choose just one. There are certainly some similarities and common themes, but they are all fantastic in their own right.

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
A collection of powerfully insightful essays written by Coates during each of the eight years of Obama’s presidency.

What Happened, by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Reflections on the 2016 presidential campaign by the woman who should be sitting in the White House right now.

Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities, by Rebecca Solnit
How history shows us that hope is always possible, even in the most difficult times.

Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction, by Derek Thompson
What makes something “go viral” or become wildly popular? It has much more to do with logic, patterns and familiarity than luck.

Big Love: The Power of Loving with a Wide Open Heart, by Scott Stabile
Embracing love and cultivating resilience in the midst of deep hurt, adversity and challenges.

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, by the Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Carlton Adams
Thoughts and reflections from the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu on choosing to be joyful despite life’s struggles and fears.

Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After, by Heather Harpham
A heart-wrenching and inspirational memoir about finding happiness and love through risk.

You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen, by Eric Liu
We all have the ability to be catalysts for change.

Wishful Drinking, by Carrie Fisher
Hilarious memoir about growing up as “Hollywood royalty” and coping with addiction and mental illness.

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death, by Caitlin Doughty
A wry and witty memoir and travelogue about death rituals in the most remote corners of the globe as compared to those in American culture.

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?
I’ve recommended most of the ones above, especially What Happened and Wishful Drinking (a fantastic audiobook, by the way). I just finished We Were Eight Years in Power this week and I think it should be mandatory reading for every American.

What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?
I’d have to say American and world history. Most of my history reading is more biographical, current affairs, and political.  

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?
Book recommendations, connections with other bloggers (both new to me and those already in my feed), and inspiration for several posts.

Looking forward to a great Nonfiction November!

 


Thanks for sharing this post!
0

Nonfiction November: Nontraditional Nonfiction

Nonfiction-November-2015

During this third week (!) of Nonfiction November, our writing prompt focuses on “the nontraditional side of reading nonfiction.” This week’s host, Becca from I’m Lost in Books, elaborates:

Nonfiction comes in many forms There are the traditional hardcover or paperback print books, of course, but then you also have e-books, audiobooks, illustrated and graphic nonfiction, oversized folios, miniatures, internet publishing, nonfiction short stories, and enhanced books (book itself includes artifacts, audio, historical documents, images, etc.) So many choices! Do you find yourself drawn to or away from nontraditional nonfiction? Do you enjoy some nontraditional formats, but not others? Perhaps you have recommendations for readers who want to dive into nontraditional formats. We want to hear all about it this week!

I will admit that I often don’t think much about the various formats of the nonfiction genre (and fiction, for that matter).  When it comes to reading material, my approach isn’t always based on the packaging, per se, but rather the content inside.

Podcasts are the first nontraditional nonfiction format that immediately came to my mind. I’ve recently become a podcast fan and have written several posts about specific shows and episodes that I’ve found to be especially compelling.  I enjoy podcasts that feature personal stories — Death, Sex, and Money; Strangers; The Moth; and — before it was cancelled — The Longest Shortest Time. The storytelling is excellent and almost all of my favorite podcasts could be categorized as nonfiction in some way.

I also need to give a plug for Creative Nonfiction, the literary magazine. If you’re a fan of this genre — and especially if you write creative nonfiction — you need to be reading this publication. From the description on the CNF website: “Every issue is packed with new, long-form essays that blend style with substance; writing that pushes the traditional boundaries of the genre; notes on craft; micro-essays; conversations with writers and editors; insights and commentary from CNF editor Lee Gutkind; and more. Simply put, CNF demonstrates the depth and versatility of the genre it has helped define for more than 20 years.” I love that it has a global audience and is published right here in Pittsburgh.

Audiobooks seem to be the “nontraditional” form of nonfiction that most Nonfiction November participants mentioned. As my friend Trish from Love, Laughter and A Touch of Insanity wrote, I prefer to listen to nonfiction on audio. I’m not quite sure why that’s the case; regardless of whether a book is fiction or nonfiction, I like to have a print copy handy so I can refer to anything I may have missed.

If you need ideas for nonfiction reads, my nonfiction book reviews can be found here.

Thanks for sharing this post!
0

Nonfiction November: Book Pairings

Nonfiction-November-2015

I’m participating in Nonfiction November, which is a month-long celebration dedicated to highlighting nonfiction books. Each week, the hosts of this event provide us with a blogging prompt. Leslie (Regular Rumination) is our host for Week 2 and our topic is book pairings:

Book Pairing: This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be an “if you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.

These two books immediately came to mind:

None of the AboveWhatever ...Love Is Love

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio and Whatever … Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves by Maria Bello each will be going on my list of best books I’ve read this year.

In None of the Above, debut novelist I.W. Gregorio (who is also a mother and surgeon) gives her readers a story that explores identity and acceptance. It’s told through the perspective of  18 year old Kristin who has just learned she was born intersex. (A definition, from I.W. Gregorio’s intersex resource page on her website: a biological condition in which people are born with bodies that don’t fit neatly into our understanding of what is male or female, whether it be because of their chromosomal sex, or because of their internal or external genitalia.)

The novel focuses heavily on Kristin’s emotional conflict. While processing the stigma associated with being intersex and others’ insensitivity, she struggles with identifying herself by the sum of her parts – no uterus, a short vagina, internal gonads – and finding the strength within to move forward with the support of caring people in her life and those qualities that shape who she is as a person.

This is a perfect complement to actress and activist Maria Bello’s memoir, Whatever … Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves. With a refreshing writing style that is personal, approachable and oftentimes funny, Ms. Bello shares quite a bit about her relationships with significant people in her life. While most names she shares are those who have been strong influences in her life, this is not your typical celebrity name-dropping, reality-television-esqe tome. That’s not Ms. Bello’s agenda here. Instead, she offers a chance for reflection about how one’s life experiences define the labels we place on people, especially ourselves.

To peel back the typical labels, Ms. Bello goes beyond the bedroom to explore the deeper questions of self: Am I a feminist? A humanitarian? A good enough mother? A writer?

(The answers are yes, yes, yes and hell to the yes.)

Visit Regular Rumination to discover more Nonfiction November book pairings!

 

Thanks for sharing this post!
0

Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

Nonfiction-November-2015

Nonfiction November is underway and once again, I’m participating in this blogging project hosted by Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), Leslie (RegularRumination), Katie (Doing Dewey) and Rebecca (I’m Lost In Books).  For the month of November, our reading focus will be nonfiction books (or at least more of them than usual) accompanied by writing prompts about this genre.

It has taken me this entire first week of Nonfiction November to actually write this post. For real. It’s not like this is a particularly difficult post, but rather more likely that real life has gotten in the way of blogging (again).

Anyway, our writing prompt for Week One (November 2-6) focused on our nonfiction reading this year and our plans for this month.

Your Year in Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

To date, I’ve read 14 nonfiction books this year.

Letters to a Young PoetUnder MagnoliaWhatever ...Love Is LoveSalt Sugar FatDon't Let's Go to the Dogs TonightLeaving Before the Rains CameWe Should All Be FeministsWildMen Explain Things to MeBelief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, MaybeTrue Stories, Well ToldThe Little SparkThe UnspeakableBig Magic

Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainier Marie Rilke
Under Magnolia, by Frances Mayes
Whatever: Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves, by Maria Bello
Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, by Michael Moss
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, by Alexandra Fuller
Leaving Before the Rains Come, by Alexandra Fuller
We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail, by Cheryl Strayed
Men Explain Things to Me, by Rebecca Solnit
Belief is Its Own Sort of Truth, Maybe, by Lori Jakiela
True Stories, Well Told: From the First 20 Years of Creative Nonfiction Magazine, edited by Lee Gutkind and Hattie Fletcher
The Little Spark: 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity, by Carrie Bloomston
The Unspeakable, by Meghan Daum
Big Magic: Creative Living Through Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert

(How pathetic is it that I’ve only reviewed two of these? Quite a few are in drafts. Guess I’d better get those finished at some point.) I find nonfiction to be harder to recommend to people than fiction, because it is so tied to the reader’s specific interests.  At the same time, when people ask me for a book suggestion, I like recommending nonfiction because they might not have considered seeking it out on their own. Fiction sometimes seems to get more attention; unless it is written by or about a celebrity, or something scandalous, nonfiction can be almost forgotten.

Of the 14 nonfiction books I’ve read this year, the ones I’ve been recommending most often have been Whatever: Love is Love, Belief is Its Own Sort of Truth, Maybe; and Big Magic. All three will likely be among my best books of 2015. (Won’t be long now until those lists start circulating!)

The WitchesJoining them will likely be Stacy Schiff’s new book, The Witches: Salem, 1692.  I’m only on page 33, but so far this gripping account of “our national nightmare, the uncooked, overripe tabloid episode, the dystopian chapter in our past” is very well written — despite a tendency toward the dramatic, but that can be forgiven.

As for what I’m hoping to get out of this month, I’d like to read a few more nonfiction books.  In addition to The Witches, I’d like to start NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman. I would also like to finish more than a few recent issues of The New Yorker that I haven’t gotten to yet since I consider those articles to count for Nonfiction November too.

Want to see what other Nonfiction November participants are recommending and reading this month?  Over at Sophisticated Dorkiness, Kim has a post with all the books that people have said they’ve recommended most as well as a link to all of the first week’s posts.  

Thanks for sharing this post!
0