Hello nonfiction fans! One of my favorite seasons has arrived — time to look back on our nonfiction reading from the past year and start loading up the TBR based on others’ suggestions. This week’s post linkup is hosted by What’s Nonfiction.
I was surprised to discover how many nonfiction books I’ve read in the past twelve months. It’s getting close to half of my total reading, which I find quite amazing considering I used to consider myself almost solely a fiction reader.
This year, I read a lot of memoirs and biographies, a good number of books about spirituality, and a scattering of other topics. This included some acclaimed titles from recent years that I do highly recommend: Hidden Valley Road, When Breath Becomes Air, The Library Book, Prairie Fires, and Reading Lolita in Tehran. But in this post, I’d especially like to highlight a few that might not be so well known.
Act One by Moss Hart was a reread for me, but I was struck all over again by this wonderful American story of dramatic self-transformation, and I hope it will find more readers.
Planet of the Blind by Stephen Kuusisto was a vividly poetic depiction of a life lived in partial darkness, and of the inner journey that brought him light.
From The Moralist by Patricia O’Toole I learned much about a president whose hidden inner weaknesses and moral failings still resonate in our culture today, helping me to understand where we are now.
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan is simply literary candy for Austen lovers, a work of popular criticism that is both academically respectable and compulsively readable.
Here’s the rest of what I read in nonfiction this year (you can find more notes and reviews on my Goodreads shelf if so inclined). How has your year in nonfiction been? What do you recommend?
(*=read in November and December, added to this list after NFN)
Biography and Memoir
- P.G. Wodehouse in his Own Words by Barry Day
- Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L’Engle in Many Voices, edited by Leonard Marcus
- Beyond the Miracle Worker by Kim Neilsen
- Dance to the Piper by Agnes de Mille
- Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh by Leslie Brody
- Swinging on the Garden Gate by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew
- Missed Translations: Meeting the Immigrant Parents Who Raised Me by Sopan Deb
- The Incomparable Rex by Patrick Garland
- Myself When Young by Daphne Du Maurier
- Year of the Fat Knight by Antony Sher
- Year of the Mad King by Antony Sher
- The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne
- Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper
- See No Stranger by Valarie Kaur*
Spirituality and Religion
- Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault
- The Heart of Centering Prayer by Cynthia Bourgeault
- The Wounded Healer by Henri J.M. Nouwen
- Tao te Ching by Lao Tzu, translated by Ursula K. Le Guin
- The Meaning of Mary Magdalene by Cynthia Bourgeault
- The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
- Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer by Richard Rohr
- The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr
- Open Mind, Open Heart by Thomas Keating
- Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
- Invitation to Love by Thomas Keating
- Unlocking Your Self-Healing Potential by Josef Ulrich
- Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hahn
- Sources of Religious Worship by Bastiaan Baan*
Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis*
History / Travel
- The Year of Lear by James Shapiro
- Swiss Watching by Diccon Bewes
- A Libertarian Walks into a Bear by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling*
- The Invisible Gorilla by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons
- What Happened To You? by Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey
- The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce D. Perry and Maja Szalavitz
- Born For Love by Bruce D. Perry and Maja Szalavitz
- It Didn’t Start With You by Mark Wolynn
- In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Maté*
- The Gift by Edith Eger*