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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel | Thoughts

   Published : 2021   ||    Format : print   ||    Location : Colombia ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆   What was it about the country that kept everyone hostage to its fantasy? The previous month, on its own soil, an American man went to his job at a plant and gunned down fourteen coworkers, and last spring alone there were four different school shootings. A nation at war with itself, yet people still spoke of it as some kind of paradise.. Thoughts : Infinite Country follows two characters - young Talia, who at the beginning of this book, escapes a girl’s reform school in North Colombia so that she can make her previously booked flight to the US. Before she can do that, she needs to travel many miles to reach her father and get her ticket to the rest of her family. As we follow Talia’s treacherous journey south, we learn about how she ended up in the reform school in the first place and why half her family resides in the US. Infinite Country tells the story of her family through the other protagonist, El

This Year in Nonfiction | Nonfiction November

November means Nonfiction November! It's one of the few blogging events I follow every year and join if I can. Every year by the end of November, both my TBR and Feedly have exploded and this year is likely going to be no different. I probably don't read as many nonfiction books as I would like to but I find that I've enjoyed almost every nonfiction book I read. For this week, Shelf Aware is hosting the event and here's the prompt - 

Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions -

* What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?
* Do you have a particular topic you've been attracted to more this year?
* What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?
* What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

By current count, I've read almost 20 books this year that fall into the nonfiction category. They've been a mix of graphic memoirs, essay collections, and historical nonfiction. Over the years, I find that I look for graphic memoirs a lot more than any other category. Something about seeing history and life through colorful illustrated pages makes things pop out way more that plain text. Yet another category of books I at least browse a lot, if not actually finish, is self-improvement. I'm constantly on the lookout for productivity and improvement techniques that I often pick a title, read couple of chapters maybe more, look for the gist of the book, and then be done.

I want to talk about two nonfiction books I've loved from this year. They're both, unsurprisingly, graphic memoirs, and very readable ones too. 

Most Recommended Nonfiction Read of the Year

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui is the author's account of her parents' upbringing and eventual escape from Vietnam during the years of and leading to the Vietnam War. As if the subject wasn't hard enough to read about, the author's parents and their relationships are also irrevocably impacted by their experiences in Vietnam. Like most people, I do find it difficult to read war memoirs - they typically show the worst of humans and also their most vulnerable states. But they also show them at their strongest and most resilient. The Best We Could Do does a great job of demonstrating all that. What I loved most about it though was that we end the book in the same time and phase as where it started but this time with so much more understanding of Thi and her family.

Favorite Nonfiction Read of the Year

One of my favorite books (and also series) from this year is John Lewis' March trilogy. I've been writing my review for months and have finally decided that it may never happen. It's not an easy book (or rather books) to review. It is a must-read, period. There really is no need to say more. This book is even more relevant during this US Election year. The March trilogy spans from Lewis' initiation into the Civil Rights movement, all the way up to the various marches in Alabama. Lewis uses the 2008 Presidential Inauguration as the anchoring event in this book - a moment decades in the making and which is a moment of huge celebration after years of fighting for human rights for African Americans. However, reading this book in 2020, after four years of President Trump and Black Lives Matter protests, I was struck by how much has still not changed. We still see the same fight for human rights, civil rights, and equality continuing to this day. 

Now it's your turn - what's your favorite nonfiction read of this year?