Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

I am a huge fan of nonfiction, so am ridiculously excited about Nonfiction November! The event is being hosted by Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), Leslie (Regular Rumination), Katie (Doing Dewey), and Rebecca (I’m Lost In Books). The opening meme is being hosted by Kim – go on over and participate!

While I read a variety of types of books, nonfiction usually makes up between 30-40% by year-end. Right now it’s sitting at around 36% of my reading for the year so far. I’ve read 56 nonfiction books so far this year. Of those: 16 male authors, 44 female authors, 2 with trans or genderqueer authors (some were anthologies which contained multiple authors). 15 were by authors of color, another 9 were international (outside of US or Canada), and 14 included LGBTQ authors and topics.  Without really trying, mainly due to my interest in sociology and social justice, my reading tends to fall to at least 25% non-white authors and GLBTQ authors and topics.

New this year, 8 of the nonfiction titles I read were cookbooks or craftbooks. In the past I’ve not read many of these types of books. (Unsurprisingly, they skewed toward female authors, but white and het- cis- authors.) This has been due to my increased time for cooking and crafting. Another 7 could be classified as memoir – most of which I wasn’t a huge fan of (more on this later this month, I’m sure). Three were graphic novels.

Overall, quite a variety. You can see the full list of what I’ve read here.

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

I am having a hard time trying to pick just one or even just a couple. I want to list over a dozen here… But let me try to at least keep it only to a dozen! Here they are in order read:

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

As has Kim, I’ve recommended The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison many times! I’ve also recommended A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory From a Prairie Landscape by Candace Savage and Israel / Palestine and the Queer International by Sarah Schulman to various friends.

(I cheated by taking these off of my favourites list and moving them here – they are all also very high on my favourite reads of the year list!)

What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?

Hmmm… to be honest, I think I’ve read fairly widely so far this year. I hope I can just continue that trend!

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

I’m mainly excited to see more bloggers talking about nonfiction – it just doesn’t get nearly enough love! I’m also hoping to help ease myself back into blogging with it.

42 thoughts on “Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

    1. amymckie Post author

      I think you would really love both of them – the Nussbaum especially talks about the different ways religious minorities are treated in different cultures. Definitely up your alley Iris!

      Reply
  1. Trish

    I love all of the diversity here! Taking copious notes. My nonfiction shelf seems to be devoted to old white guys, except for memoirs, but I’m glad that my radar is now refocused. I’m not sure why I tend to pay more attention to an author’s race/sex/ethnicity when it comes to fiction but not non-fiction.

    Definitely putting Palestine on my list as I hope to read some nonfiction graphics as part of Reading in Winters Graphic Novel Week at the end of the month.

    Reply
    1. amymckie Post author

      I don’t know that I actively pay attention to race / gender / ethnicity / orientation / etc (at least anymore – I think at one point I did focus on it to diversify originally!) it just seems to happen more I think because of where I’m getting recommendations, the additional readers I’m following and listening to, the topics I’m interested in, and the way they lead you down rabbit holes! You read one great book, it references a few others, you read them, etc etc!!

      I highly recommend Palestine – I hope you like it too!

      Reply
  2. Sarah's Book Shelves

    Came across your blog on the Nonfiction November link-up.
    You’re the second person I’ve seen mention The Empathy Exams as their favorite nonfiction of the year – I’ll have to check that out! And – that’s quite a hefty list of titles!

    Reply
    1. amymckie Post author

      I am a bit of a nonfiction nerd 🙂 The Empathy Exams is just so *interesting*! Such a variety of topics, and the way she discusses different things makes you really think in different ways. I hope you enjoy it!

      Reply
    1. amymckie Post author

      Highly recommend it! It is *so interesting*! And then follow it up with Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others (it is quoted in my favourite essay in The Empathy Exams!).

      Reply
  3. Shannon @ River City Reading

    Love to see a great, diverse list! And I’m excited that The Empathy Exams is on so many loved lists, too, since it’s one I plan to read over the next few weeks. Looking forward to everything else you’ll be sharing this month!

    Reply
  4. Marie

    The nonfiction book I’ve recommended the most has to be Agent Zigzag, by Ben Macintyre, about an Englishman who trained as a spy for Germany, then double-crossed them to spy for England during World War 2. It’s got everything- true crime, intrigue, romance, war, and more. It’s a great, great book.

    Reply
  5. Jenny @ Reading the End

    I’m at about 18% nonfiction for this year, which seems about right for me. Honestly, if I didn’t have a blogging schedule I expect I’d read slightly more nonfiction — though maybe I am just saying that to defend how ridiculously much fiction I tend to read. :p Any case, I am hoping to pick up a ton of awesome recommendations for future nonfiction reads this month!

    Reply
    1. amymckie Post author

      Ahhhh blogging. Ruins everything doesn’t it Jenny 😉 18% is still pretty good though – I know a lot of people who don’t read any!

      Reply
  6. Debi

    LOL–I knew Nonfiction November was going to do a number on my wish list…I just didn’t realize the “damage” was going to come in chunks this big! And even bigger when I click on that oh-so-enticing link to your full list.

    Reply
    1. amymckie Post author

      I would apologize Debi, but I’m not actually sorry 🙂 And I have to say, your list of 50 nonfiction books you want to read was terrible for my wish list too – in the best possible way!

      Reply
  7. Jess - A Book Hoarder

    So I definitely think I am going to have to read The Empathy Exams after all this recommending that is going on….wait…yep, just requested it from the library. When am I going to have time to read all these amazing books? Meh…sleep is overrated.

    Reply
    1. amymckie Post author

      Sleep definitely is overrated Jess 😉 I really hope you enjoy The Empathy Exams as much as the rest of us!

      Reply
    1. amymckie Post author

      Sometimes cheating is the only way to make it work right? 😉 It really is great Kim – and focuses some on mid-Western US as well as Canada. Definitely recommend it!

      Reply
  8. Trisha

    I think nonfiction suffers from the unfair stigma of non-narrative, non-evocative, textbook like crapola they make you read as “nonfiction” in schools. Or at least that’s what they used to teach; maybe things are different now. Anyway, I too am glad we are talking about nonfiction this month! And your list up there had me adding to my to-read list at a frantic pace.

    Reply
    1. amymckie Post author

      That’s a great point Trisha, and probably does explain much of it. I was lucky in that we always had a lot of nonfiction around the house because Dad read a lot of it (Mom too, but she also read fiction). Made it seem normal to read it!

      Reply
    1. amymckie Post author

      Thanks Jennifer 🙂 You definitely do need to put The Empathy Exams on your list – I hope you have by now! heh

      Reply
    1. amymckie Post author

      Hi C.J. – I haven’t read nearly enough Canadian nonfiction to be honest. A Geography of Blood is Canadian (and incredible!). Miriam Toews has a nonfiction (Swing Low), Brian Vallee has written some powerful books on violence against women in Canada, Karlene Faith has written a great look at incarceration of women in Canada, Margaret MacMillan has some great history works. Also great are the CBC Massey Lectures, they are collected essays, one published on a different topic by a different author each year. Oh, and one I read this year was Manufacturing Guilt: Wrongful Convictions in Canada by Dawn and Barrie Anderson. A few places to start!

      Reply
  9. Sharlene

    Ok your dozen is full of books I’ve not heard of! I think I’m so not in tune with what’s happening in the nonfiction world. That has to change!!

    Seems like Empathy Exams is a must-read. I’m off to put a hold on it at the library.

    Reply
    1. amymckie Post author

      Hmmm… I’m not sure if you’re necessarily out of tune with the nonfiction work Sharlene. I tend to read books that are less well-known and popular. I’m not sure there has been much buzz about these titles – although there *should* be!! 🙂

      Reply
  10. Jay

    Hello! I’ve read a little Susan Sontag, but just her fiction. The “A Geography of Blood” book sounds tantalizing, as does the Palestine book. I focus a lot of my blog on short stories, and there’s allegedly a new anthology out named “Gaza Stories” or something like that. Maybe not non-fiction, but certainly about a part of the world I want to to learn more about.

    Your non-fiction reading volume is impressive! 🙂

    Reply
    1. amymckie Post author

      I am definitely going to have to look up more by Sontag Jay – any particular work of fiction you would recommend? Gaza Stories sounds really interesting as well!

      Reply
  11. Leila @ Readers' Oasis

    I think you’ve read quite an impressive amount of nonfiction this year! You have highlighted some very intriguing titles on your list of favorites. I’m interested in Pearl Cleage’s book. And yes, I’ll have to check out The Empathy Exams.

    Reply
  12. Melissa

    I’ve been seeing The Empathy Exams a lot…I think that’s a sign. 😉

    Palestine, Playing the Whore, Regarding the Pain of Others, and Do Muslim Women Need Saving? are all going on my list right now. (Loved Against Equality, btw!)

    Reply
  13. Pingback: Nonfiction November Week 1 Wrap Up

  14. trav

    What a wonderfully wide and diverse list. You made some great rec’s over in another comment on my site, so thank you for those. I’m intrigued by the Nussbaum book as well. It seems that it would inform on so many things we see in the news every day.

    Reply
  15. Lu

    Everyone has such great things to say about The Empathy Exams. I really should read it! I actually haven’t read anything on your list, so the TBR list just grows and grows. Thank you for joining us for Nonfiction November!!! I can’t wait to get your recommendations for the rest of the month.

    Reply
  16. Ann@Booksonthetable

    What a great list — I’ve added quite a few to my ever-growing TBR. I too am a huge nonfiction fan — and like so many of the commenters, a fan of The Empathy Exams. If you’re interested in social justice, I highly recommend Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson — excellent! I’m glad to have discovered your blog.

    Reply
  17. Christina

    Okay, I must check out Israel / Palestine and the Queer International. I read a lot about Israel/Palestine but I’ve never read about it from the queer perspective. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Reply
  18. Pingback: Nonfiction November Week 1 Wrap Up | TiaMart Blog

  19. Pingback: Library Loot: Jan 7 – 13 | Iris on Books

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *