Skip to main content

My Year in Nonfiction | Nonfiction November



This is my second time (sort of) participating in this event. Last year, I did the Intro post but life and baby changed my plans right after. (Fun fact: I totally forgot that I even did the Intro post last year so after drafting this up, I did a quick search through my blog and was pleasantly surprised to find that old post. Interestingly, a lot of my answers are the same, though some have changed.)

When I started blogging, nonfiction wasn't even a reading option for me. Other than graphic memoirs and very few engaging narrative nonfiction titles, I had been staying away from this genre. Over time, I added a few more nonfiction titles to my read list but it wasn't until three years ago, when I added audiobooks to my reading that I "read" a lot of nonfiction. Although I started off listening to narrative fiction, I have since added several non-storied nonfiction to the list as well.


What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?
This would be a tie between Ten Days in a Mad-House and The Emperor of All Maladies. Both very different kinds of books too. Ten Days in a Mad-House is more of a memoir, has a very conversational tone, a very controversial subject, and is short. The Emperor of all Maladies is more of a textbook, is not at all conversational, is about a disease, and is huge (21 hours on audio or 571 pages). To me, they represent the two ends of my interest. I enjoy listening to conversational or narrative nonfiction but find textbook-kind nonfiction books very challenging, in that I struggle to keep my attention on the book, no matter how familiar or interesting I find the topic.



What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?
This is where I confess that I don't recommend nonfiction as often as I would like. They don't occupy the same WOW space in my brain. Also, I process fiction and nonfiction differently. I tend to view fiction as something to enjoy and hence recommend. While, nonfiction offers me an opportunity to learn new things and hence only recommend if we are talking about one of those "things". However, there are two books that regularly show up in this space whenever I talk about any nonfiction title. Both, interestingly, are by the same author - Jon Krakauer. His Into Thin Air and Missoula are among my top favorites.



What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?
I always intend to read more subject-focused books, like The Emperor of all Maladies, but as I wrote above, I find it hard to last through those books. I find that reading nonfiction as ebooks helps greatly in that respect. I don't get bothered by the (usually) tiny font and tight line spacing. I also don't see the size of the book. Plus reading on my phone means I am more willing to read in bite-sizes.


What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?
As always, recommendations and maybe new blogs to follow! My TBR and Feedly both exploded last year. I am sure this year will be no different.

Check back at Katie's blog to see more Nonfiction November posts.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Hell-Heaven by Jhumpa Lahiri (Short Fiction Review)

I first read Jhumpa Lahiri years ago, when her Interpreter of Maladies was making a huge buzz. At the time, I didn't catch any of the buzz, but for some reason, when I saw the book on the shelf at the store I was browsing in, I felt it just might be a decent read. Funnily, I read the entire short story collection without complaining about it, but for some reason, I cannot read any collection anymore without agonizing over its disjoint nature.

I did enjoy Interpreter of Maladies, but I did get bothered by the thread of loneliness and infidelity and distrust that laced through the stories. For that reason, I have been reluctant to read Unaccustomed Earth. However, when I came across Hell-Heaven at the NewYorker - a free short story from her book, I decided to go ahead and read it. I can't resist the pull of stories set in India or featuring Indian characters, and it is that same aspect that hooked me throughout this story.


In Hell-Heaven, the narrator contemplates the relations…

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Maybe that’s what religion is, hurling yourself off a cliff and trusting that something bigger will take care of you and carry you to the right place.
Bernadette Fox has a reputation. While her husband and her daughter Bee love her, there's barely anyone else who share the sentiment. Her neighbor Audrey loves to gossip mean things about her with her close friend, Soo-Lin. The other parents of kids at Bee's school look down on Bernadette because she doesn't involve herself in school affairs. Bernadette herself goes out of her way to avoid company.

And then one day, Bee comes home with an excellent report card and asks for her reward - a family trip to Antarctica. The very plan throws Bernadette into a panic but she has no other option. She hires a virtual assistant, based out of India to take care of all her demands, including getting prescriptions at her local pharmacy, doing her online shopping and taking care of some of the logistics of her trip. (It is ridiculous! Bern…

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (Short Fiction review)

With the Hunger Games hype that engulfed us last week, it was hard to avoid all the discussion of similar works that existed. Of the many titles that I came across, two stood out particularly - a short story called The Lottery and a Japanese novel (and movie) called Battle Royale (which I'm reading right now and just cannot put down). The novel will be fodder for another post, so for now, I just want to rave about the awesomeness that was The Lottery.

In contemporary America, villagers across the country are gathering on the 27th of June (and some a day earlier) for an annual event called the Lottery. Children, women, men, all come to the main square of their village or town, where the lottery master keeps a black box full of paper chips. One of these chips is marked has a special mark on it to identify the winner (the person who draws that chip). Not everyone draws however, but only the head of the family. Husbands are viewed as the head of their families/households, and if the …