This is it: already the final week of Nonfiction November! Did you find lots of new recommendations for your reading list? Tell me about them!
Week 5: (Nov. 25 to 30) – New to My TBR – Rennie (that’s me!) @ What’s Nonfiction (that’s here!): It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book!
Superlative: The Biology of Extremes, by Matthew LaPlante (Anjana @ Superfluous Reading) Anjana says she and her husband have been discussing this examination of biological outliers nonstop. I’m so curious about a study of nature’s “oddballs,” who seemingly have a lot to tell us, per the description: “The oldest tree is giving us insights into climate change. The loudest whale is offering clues about the impact of solar storms…researchers are coming to see great value in studying plants and animals that exist on the outermost edges of the bell curve.”
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elisabeth Tova Bailey (Erin @ Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs) Erin told an incredibly moving story about where she was in her life when this book found her and what it meant to her. I love when that happens — when something finds you exactly when you need it, and I’m not sure I would’ve been as interested if not for the way she describes it and how it eased a tough time. It’s about the author contracting a mysterious illness that leaves her bedridden and the snail she keeps on her windowsill that helps her focus and meditate on something else, while making a connection to nature.
The Little Girl on the Ice Floe, by Adelaide Bon (Volatile Rune) A memoir involving being raped as a child isn’t something I’m exactly eager to crack open, but it’s translated nonfiction by a woman, which we know is sadly a rarity, so I tend to find even the tougher topics more worth exploring in this tiny genre. It focuses on the lingering effects of trauma as well as the experience of Bon’s rapist finally being brought to justice, and I’ve read other memoirs around this topic, or at least around the complicated feelings of their being identified, and these kind of stories can be profound and positively transcendent.
Hitler and the Habsburgs: The Führer’s Vendetta Against the Austrian Royals, by James McMurtry Longo (Eva @ The Paperback Princess) – Did you know that Hitler had personal beef with the Habsburgs? I did not! I’ve read so much history from that period that I kind of can’t believe I didn’t know. So I’m immediately curious, and Eva says this isn’t an overly long read. I love a quick, focused history so I’m super excited for this.
The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party, by Daniel James Brown (Cupcakes and Machetes) – I loved another book about the Donner Party, but one does seem like enough. But Cupcakes and Machetes said this was her favorite nonfiction of the year, and mentioned that it covers the scientific reasons behind why the body reacts as it does in extreme situations, which convinced me I need this one in my life too.
Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone, by Jenni Ferrari-Adler (Louloureads) – Loulou recommended this essay collection of writers on what they cook when they’re alone. My forever favorite Laurie Colwin is here, among others. I already know Colwin’s story about the weirdness of what we eat when alone and it’s amazing (and it’s the eggplant one!) but this is a bizarrely fascinating topic and I can’t wait to see how others approach it. I thought a recent collection of writers on their comfort foods was stellar so I’m really in the mood for this.
Kick: The True Story of JFK’s Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth, by Paula Byrne (Eva @ The Paperback Princess) – A super-fun guilty pleasure read was Jackie, Janet & Lee, which made me aware of how almost unbelievably messed up but compelling Kennedy lives were. Eva says this short biography of Kick Kennedy reads like a novel and that Kick is a character you’ll like spending time with, so I’m sold.
Moonlight on Linoleum: A Daughter’s Memoir, by Terry Helwig (Kristin @ Kristin Kraves Books) – Kristin likened this memoir, “about a woman’s hopeful life despite the sad results of her mother’s choices,” to The Glass Castle, one of my all-time favorites, so this automatically is a must-read.
Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News, by Kevin Young (Christopher @ Plucked from the Stacks) – Christopher has some excellent debunking book recommendations! It addresses cultural and literary debunkings, which is intriguing and not something I’ve read much about elsewhere. He says it also leads you to lots of other interesting topics, always a plus!
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, by Hans Rosling (Molly @ Silver Button Books) – This book on global trends, perception, and the state of the world written by a public health expert sounds perfect for my goal of reading more around combating myths and misinformation.
Letters from Iceland, by W.H. Auden and Louis MacNeice (Liz @ Adventures in Reading, Running and Working from Home) – I had no idea W.H. Auden traveled around Iceland in 1936 with another poet, Louis MacNeice, commissioned to write a travel book. Liz’s description as “a mix of reportage, poetry and prose with lots of misery and laughs” sold me immediately.
How to Eat Better: Simple Science to Supercharge Your Nutrition, by James Wong (louloureads) – Loulou heard of this from the author’s Twitter, where as a botanist and science writer he debunks pseudoscience and food fads, one of my favorite topics covered in Expert Week. This sounds so useful, and I like anything that helps a layperson assess and apply science.
Snacks: A Canadian Food History, by Janis Thiessen (Molly @ Silver Button Books) – I mentioned in my review of Toast how much I love international snack foods, so I felt my heart skip a beat when Molly wrote a truly stellar review of this (seriously, her write-up is an informative, thoughtful, nostalgic read deserving of your time). It sounds like Snacks covers a lot around the economics and politics (!) of snack foods, as well as one of my favorite subjects: that there’s a place for every food, even the ones unhelpfully deemed “unhealthy” and demonized (read The Angry Chef for more about this).
The Dark Side of the Mind: True Stories from My Life as a Forensic Psychologist, by Kerry Daynes (Hayley @ Rather Too Fond of Books) – A forensic psychologist’s career stories, from a prison placement through work in psychiatric hospitals and vulnerable women’s homes. This is one of those endlessly fascinating topics and Hayley says it reads like fiction, which is an irresistible descriptor for me.
Tell Me More: Stories about the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say, by Kelly Corrigan (Carol @ Reading Ladies) – I’d heard of this but it fell off my radar at some point, so I was glad when Carol named it as a favorite. These memoir essays sound like a gentle, helpful read on “the phrases that make love and connection possible.”
The End of Your Life Book Club, by Will Schwalbe (Jaymi @ Orange County Readers) This story of a man and his mother reading together throughout her illness sounded too wrenching but Jaymi made such a convincing case for it that my mind’s changed. And like the best memoirs, it also sounds like it covers much more than the immediate topic would indicate.
Yes, Chef, by Marcus Samuelsson (Colorful Book Reviews) – This wasn’t strictly a Nonfiction November recommendation, but I added it this month so it counts! This memoir about Samuelsson’s background and obstacles on his way to becoming a chef, including the prejudices he faced as a black man, sounded like it hit so many important topics and handled them perfectly. I’d heard of this in comparison to Notes from a Young Black Chef but this excellent review sealed it for me.
On a personal note: I have to apologize for being less active in getting around to everyone’s posts. My workload exploded this month and it was hard to find the time for pretty much everything, really. I’m still going to try to get through more posts even after the event’s done, though. And I’ve had so much fun talking nonfiction and seeing more of it around, so thanks to everyone who’s been participating!
What books did you discover this Nonfiction November? Click on the Mister Linky below to add the link to your post and browse the others!