Nonfiction November: My year in nonfiction

Hooray, Nonfiction November is back! A mostly new team of hosts has taken on the blogging event that many of us look forward to all year. This week’s topic is hosted by Heather of Based on a True Story.

Week 1 (10/30-11/3) Your Year in Nonfiction: Celebrate your year of nonfiction. What books have you read? What were your favorites? Have you had a favorite topic? Is there a topic you want to read about more?  What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

My reading does tend to fall into a few favorite topics. This year, rather than exhaustively listing all my nonfiction reading, I thought I’d pick out my highlights from the year in each category. Links are to my blog post or StoryGraph review.

Psychology and self-help: No Bad Parts

A concise introduction to Internal Family Systems therapy, which has intrigued me since I first read about it in The Body Keeps the Score.

Brain Science: Dopamine Nation, Your Survival Instinct Is Killing You

Although I found both flawed for various reasons, these also included some fascinating and important information. Readjusting the relationship between our brains, minds and bodies could provide the answer to many of our modern dilemmas, and the current research is throwing up some surprising, counter-intuitive discoveries we would do well to heed.

Trauma/therapy memoir: Run Towards the Danger, Welcome to My Country, Nervous

Three beautifully written, harrowing, but ultimately hopeful memoirs by women who have endured tremendous physical and mental pain.

Reading the Theatre: Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers

A theatrical memoir like no other, from a talented woman who was born Broadway royalty (as the daughter of Richard Rodgers), but is not afraid to expose the dirt behind the glitz. Jesse Green, her amaneusis, did a fantastic job of capturing her voice.

Spirituality: The Return of the Prodigal Son

I can’t get enough of Henri Nouwen’s compassionate, heartful approach to spirituality. This, a consideration of Rembrandt’s painting and the parable of the Prodigal Son, might be his masterwork.

Spiritual memoirs: Poet Warrior, the Salt Path, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Three more amazing memoirs that I have chosen for my Spiritual Memoir challenge.

History: Forget the Alamo, Killers of the Flower Moon

Disturbing corners of American history are explored here, uncovering the injustice, racism, and lies that lurk beneath many of our cherished legends.

Literary Biography: Terry Pratchett

Rob Wilkins, Pratchett’s assistant, delivers a biography worthy of its subject — no easy task when he’s one of the most popular authors on the planet and a comic genius — that is also a moving account of their personal relationship.

Some disappointments this year: Autobiography of a Yogi; The Woman They Could Not Silence; The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me

Topics I’d like to read more about include science and non-US history. Recommendations welcome.

This month I’m looking forward to learning lots, sharing the nonfiction love, and adding more books to the TBR!

What have been your nonfiction highlights this year?

Join the Enchanted Circle

The Enchanted Circle newsletter offers subscriber-only content about my writing and reading life. You'll also receive a separate monthly blog post summary (unsubscribe any time). And I'll send a free gift!

Unsubscribe anytime.

29 thoughts on “Nonfiction November: My year in nonfiction

  1. An impressive haul, Lory, and I’ve an eye on the Pratchett bio. Myself, I’ve been very remiss about reading nonfic this year, only three titles – an art book on Arthur Rackham, Arthur Koestler’s The Roots of Coincidence and a study about literary werewolves. A poor effort! Thankfully I’ve got at least one lined up for Nonfic Nov. 🙂

    1. I confess to finding nonfiction increasingly compelling these days! I might even be able to understand those people who say they only read nonfiction. At any rate, the Pratchett bio is well worth the read when you get to it, this November or any other time.

  2. I must admit I don’t read much Pysch/self-help, trauma/memoir or spirituality…but is is lovely to see the books that impressed you. Literary biography and history on the contrary …I’d love to read a three of the books you mentioned. Theatre: I read the biography of Mick Nichols: A Life. This give the reader great insights into his life, and his directing career (theatre and films). I highly recommend it! History? I just finished a current history “The Palestine Laboratory”. As you said a book where “lies that lurk beneath”..what many of us read in the newspapers are exposed. It is a book for one interested in the HIGH-TEC methods of control and separation of populations. Thanks for you favorite NF books list.

    1. Thanks for the Mike Nichols rec, I’ve heard of that but I’ll make more of an effort to check it out now. The Palestine Laboratory sounds intriguing too.

    1. It was, although definitely focused on Pratchett the writer — I felt much of his personal life was tactfully left alone, in deference to his surviving wife and daughter. But his writer’s life was fascinating enough.

  3. That Practchett bio looks very good, and Dopamine Instinct seems interesting as well–somewhere in all the noise and information overload we do seem to be losing connect with ourselves.
    Re science or at least history of science, I found Richrad Holmes’ The Age of Wonder wonderful; Laura Snyder’s Philosophical Breakfast Club picks up almost from the point Holmes leaves of; on popular maths, Simon Singh’s volumes were great reads–Fermat’s Last Theorem

      1. The Philosopher’s Breakfast Club if you haven’t read it is great; I also enjoyed Dava Sobel’s Longitude and Galileo’s Daughter–to a slightly lesser extent her A More Perfect Heaven

    1. It had some very interesting information though some rather serious flaws as well. There is so much to learn in this area and I am sure more books will be coming.

  4. I’ve just discovered Henri Nouwen, and I welcome recommendations about other books of his to pick up. I will look for The Return of the Prodigal Son.

    No Bad Parts sounds promising, too. I’m adding both of these to my list for the end of the month.

    1. I’ve read Spiritual Direction (put together by students after his death), Life of the Beloved, and With Open Hands. it’s all wonderful.

  5. Ahh, how did I forgot about Nonfiction November until now! Thanks for sharing this recap. I’ve been out of the blogging loop for most of the year, so I appreciate seeing your nonfiction highlights. I’d like to check out those two titles about brain science. I feel like I’ve been struggling with my own ‘brain science’ more than usual this year.

  6. I’ve had The Return of the Prodigal Son on my TBR list for so long. Glad to see you liked it; maybe one day I’ll work my way to it. Autobiography of a Yogi was a challenge for me too, but it did give me a wider perspective of what a Yogi even is, so I’m glad I read it.

    1. I was very glad I read it too, it’s also an important document in spiritual history. However, I would definitely like some other perspectives on yogic practices as I was not left with a very good impression.

Comments are closed.