Nonfiction November Week 5: New to My TBR

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 Memoirby 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!

97 thoughts on “Nonfiction November Week 5: New to My TBR

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    1. I’m excited that you liked Wild Snail so much too! It really seems to have affected everyone who’s read it. And that you can second Kick and Hitler and the Habsburgs! They both just sound so interesting. Hope you enjoy your 2020 nonfiction too!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. First, you have no need to apologize for not getting around to everyone’s posts. Life happens. The first week, I tried to get around to as many posts as possible; the second, third, and fourth weeks, I just focused on those posts that interested me; and I probably will do the same for this week, just getting to those I feel like I have something to say.

    Second, like you, I don’t know if I had would have been interested in The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating either but for Erin’s description based on her own experience. However, I didn’t add it to my final list, because realistically I just don’t do well with reading nature writing. Like science fiction, I want to read more nature writing, but whenever I try, I fail.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bryan, you’re too kind, thank you! It’s so wonderful to see so many people participating but then there are just too many good posts to visit! Not to mention that life did get in the way.

      Nature writing is such a mixed bag for me. It usually ends up being something I either love completely that feels near-life changing (for me: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Solace of Open Spaces, Underland) or else like you I just don’t connect with it. Her description made that one sound worth a try though. When I read science fiction I had the same issue as you, I wanted to see what other people enjoyed in it but I don’t think I ever read a single science fiction title I liked!


  2. That is quite an impressive addition to your TBR. I hope you will enjoy all of them!

    Also, a big thanks to you and the 4 other hosts for organising this. I’ve only read a fraction of the posts, but still managed to get lots of inspiration (and now another one – Letters from Iceland sounds like my kind of book…). If you repeat it next year, I hope I can participate more.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s a great list and thank you for the shout-out, I hope you mange to find a copy and enjoy it as much as I did (twice!). I have a list coming out tomorrow and will add it to your linky then. I forgot to note down who I got each book idea from – a schoolgirl error I won’t make next year! Thank you for all your hard work, I’ve so enjoyed taking part!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love tracking down used books so I think I’ll find a copy somewhere 🙂 Thanks for introducing it to me! And don’t worry, I did the same the first time I participated but you only make that mistake once and next year keep a draft open to update. Thanks for all your great contributions, Liz!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you to our wonderful five hosts of Non-fiction November. It has been another fabulous year of binge-ing on all things non-fic.

    But every year I forget!
    I spend the first 4 weeks busily adding lots of new & exciting books to my goodreads wishlist, but – each year – I forget to note who recommended them to me. This year I even had my draft posts prepared ahead of time, with the idea of adding the links as I found them into week 5….and I still forgot!
    And now it’s too hard to work it all out.

    So thank you one and all for your great reading suggestions. I’ve added a lot of nature writing books in particular to my reading list. Can’t wait to read some of them 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, I’ve done that before too! You have to make a draft post and just update it with title + link to the post. I spent ages last year trying to track mine down. But really, all that matters is that you got to find some good suggestions and have some fun conversations around nonfiction 🙂 I’m glad you got some great nature writing, I noticed that was a really popular topic this year!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, it is just so much fun to see nonfiction in the spotlight and I love seeing how people interpret and work with different prompts and topics. I just got a copy of Wild Snail Eating too, everyone seems to be giving that one glowing reviews so I’m really enthused about it. Hope you like it too, excited to hear your thoughts on it and glad you had a great month!!!


  5. I need to confess and extend an apology for not following through with the spirit of the prompt! At the beginning of the month, I read through the descriptions too quickly and failed to realize we were supposed to link back to the Blogger who made the rec for our TBR! I can’t recall where I got the recs! I’m sorry and I’ll do better next year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t worry, Carol, I totally forgot and did the same thing the first time 🙂 It helps to keep an open draft post and add to it throughout the month. But no worries, I hope you had fun with it and gots lots of good ideas. Happy we connected too!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A lot of interesting books. I have read The End of Your Life Book Club, which I liked very much. A different approach to reading. I will also add some of your other books; Hitler and the Habsburgs and Bunk. Letters from Iceland and Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant might also be an option. Sounds fascinating. I see you have two Swedish authors on your list; Hans Rosling and Markus Samuelsson. Factfulness is very popular here also. Markus has a couple of restaurants where I live in the south of Sweden. I went to one last week, A Mexican restaurant. It was excellent. Thank you for your tips,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that’s good to know, I didn’t even think about two of these authors being Swedish. How cool that you got to go to one of his restaurants!! I didn’t have the greatest experience with Mexican food in Europe so that’s exciting that it’s a good restaurant, maybe he’s changing something about Mexican cuisine there. Glad I could pass some of these recommendations along, hope you enjoy them! 🙂


  7. Tell Me More is SO good. You’ll laugh and cry, sometimes on the same page! Kick looks really great, too. I missed that one, but am adding it to my own nonfiction TBR list.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed Nonfiction November! It was my first time to participate but hopefully it won’t be my last. Nonfiction is my jam, so I picked up several good titles to add to my tbr list (not that I needed to make it longer!). 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so happy to hear you had fun with it and I hope you’ll participate again too! And glad that you were able to find some good new ones even when the list is already long enough, I felt the same 😉


  9. We do eat so weird when we’re alone! I also find I feed my family differently if just one family member is missing… I don’t know why. I’m intrigued to find out these writer’s weird eating alone quirks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it funny how different it is when you’re alone? That’s also really interesting that you notice a big difference when just one person is missing…there’s definitely a lot of quirks around our eating habits. It seemed like a great topic for a collection!


  10. I’m so glad I was able to recommend a couple of books, especially since your blog is pretty much my favourite place for nonfiction recommendations – I can generally tell from your reviews whether or not a book is for me. Also, Bunk sounds great – it’s not a topic that I know much about either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was so excited about your recommendations, thank you!! And that really means a lot to me that you can tell whether or not something is for you – always what I’m aiming for! I’m happy you can find good recommendations here 🙂


  11. You know in my head I had already commented on your post. Come to find out, that no, I didn’t.
    Thanks for including some of my picks – I still miss Kick. And the Habsburg book made me want to read more about Austrian royals. Especially those poor children who lost both their parents on that day.
    I’ve never actually read anything about the Donner Party and now I’m thinking I need to remedy that. I’m also not usually one for food reading but Snacks sounds fun! The End of You Life Book Club has been on my list for a really long time but I shy away from it all the time because I never seem to be in the right frame of mind to sob willingly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for those recommendations! I just got a copy of the Habsburg book, SO excited for that one. I can definitely recommend The Best Land Under Heaven for a Donner party book, it was an excellent read and really interesting history of that time, and a couple of people have recommended The Indifferent Stars Above. It seems like it takes a more scientific angle to what happened, which I think also sounds really good.

      Ugh, I know, The End of Your Life Book Club sounds really good and gets a lot of high praise but I know I’ll need to be in the right mood and head space for it!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m impressed with how well you’ve kept up with posts and how many review you post, all of the time! It’s been a pretty hectic month for me as well, so I’ve visited other bloggers’ posts less than I’d have liked, but I’ve also done fewer nonfiction reviews than I’d have liked to do this month.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tried my best but then work got insane this month and everything kind of went by in a haze. I did think to prepare some posts in advance because I had too many advance copies that were coming out this month and wanted to make sure I covered them, but everything else pretty much fell by the wayside. I’m sorry you had a hectic month too. I loved your posts, you always have such thoughtful responses to the prompts! And thank you for bringing me on board with the event, it’s been so much fun 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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