Nonfiction November Week 1: My Year in Nonfiction

This week’s #NonFicNov prompt is hosted by Rennie at What’s Nonfiction, and it’s a very good place to start. My year in nonfiction has been pretty good, with a third of the books I’ve read qualifying. I’ve struggled with various reading slumps (or more realistically, stress and depression) in 2021, and sometimes I can convince myself that reading something “real” is more… worthwhile? Grounding? The juicier the better, and I read a few doozies this year. Let’s check out Rennie’s prompts!

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

Pardon me for copping out with a top three, but each book was quite different in subject and tone and I can’t choose!

  • In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado: Telling the story of an abusive relationship, and the story of all relationships, which are mostly stories we tell ourselves. With a twist ending!
  • The Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Ditlevsen: Telling the story of childhood trauma and adult addiction, in a world that’s mostly alien to me, but creating a few blazing, recognizable moments I will never forget.
  • Nishga by Jordan Abel: Telling the story of residential schools and the intergenerational trauma they wreak on people and families, through classic literature, poetry, photography, art, court records, transcripts, and more. At once intimate and vulnerable; and sweeping in ambition and scope.

Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?

Here are topics I read about more than once this year:

  • Royalty: I read The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn by Eric Ives, and The Last Royal Rebel by Anna Keay.
  • Technology: I read The Twittering Machine by Richard Seymour, A World Without Email by Cal Newport, and An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang.
  • Memoirs of relationship breakdown: I read In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, and I Got the Dog by Amanda Boyden.

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

In the sense that I recommended it once, and the person actually read it, and we had a video chat about it? In the Dream House. Two sisters agree that it’s riveting, original, and if you’ve ever been in any kind of abusive relationship, you will feel the shock of recognition.

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

I tend to focus on fiction in my reviews and posts, but I’ve always read about 25% or more nonfiction. So I hope to correct a pretty big blind spot in my blogging this year. As far as reading goes, I hope to get a final push towards becoming a true Franzen completist – I’ve read all six novels, but have a couple of essays in Farther Away, plus his translations in The Kraus Project, to go.

26 comments

  1. whatsnonfiction

    The Copenhagen Trilogy is going on my list immediately! That sounds so interesting. I feel like I’ve seen the cover before but I don’t think I’d heard of the book. Thanks so much for the introduction to it! And I love how varied your nonfiction reading is! You really had an interesting selection this year.

    I’ve been through the stress- and depression-induced reading slumps, including this past year, and they just suck. I hope it’s all getting better and manageable for you! Today in my group therapy meeting we were talking about how depression makes it seem like better days are never going to come again, but they always do. It was a nice little reminder that I know I need to keep more readily in mind 🙂

  2. louloureads

    I have never heard of any of these (clearly I haven’t been keeping sufficiently up-to-date with nonfiction releases), so I’m excited to keep an eye out for them! So glad you are participating – this is always one of my favourite events of the year.

    • lauratfrey

      My reading is often driven by what’s available at the library! That Facebook one was on hold for quite a while. I think this even will become a regular thing for me.

  3. annelogan17

    I have been so curious about In the Dream House – every review I’ve read of it just raves about it. Nishga also interests me – it was a shame his book had to be delayed b/c of Covid, but I hope the delayed release date helped it get more attention 🙂

    • lauratfrey

      Yes, I happened to preorder Nishga in 2019 so it was a long time coming! Worth the wait though, I think it’s a must read. I was skeptical of In the Dream House due to the hype, but it lived up to it.

  4. Katie | Doing Dewey ❤️ (@DoingDewey)

    Haha, I’ve just committed to always giving a top three for this prompt. Picking one favorite read is just too hard!

    I’ve seen a couple of recommendations for In the Dream House already this year and I’d like to read it, but it’ll definitely have to wait until I’m up for tackling a book about a difficult topic.

    The books you’ve read on technology all sound fascinating, especially the one on Facebook. Facebook has come to have such a huge influence on our lives that I feel a certain responsibility to read more about it.

    • lauratfrey

      I think it’s a must read for Canadians in particular, but anyone interested in reconciliation and residential schools, or if you just like a pretty out-there mix of genres.

  5. Liz Dexter

    I’m so glad everyone is doing a multiple top read list as I had to, too. A great varied selection and I’ll be interested in seeing your nonfiction reviewing going forward. I think I’m the same in depressions, etc: i either want FACTS or very very very light novels! Happy reading November!

  6. silverbuttonbooks

    I want to check out An Ugly Truth because Facebook makes me insane. I had back to back reading slumps this year – it felt like reading had ghosted me and I just couldn’t find it anywhere. The Power of Ritual (for whatever reason) helped me break out of it. I hope you find that book that breaks through it for you.

    • lauratfrey

      I’ve heard a lot about the book and I am skeptical (often am for hyped books) but willing to be proven wrong! I am going back to habit tracking, bullet journalling, etc after some time of just “winging it”, so I might be in the right frame of mind.

    • lauratfrey

      PS I just read your bio and I’m laughing… I am Irish and Catholic enough to understand. My mom is “Mary” but anyone who calls her “Mary” is definitely a telemarketer or outsider of some kind 🙂

  7. stargazer

    Being Danish, I guess it’s embarrassing that I haven’t read The Copenhagen Trilogy. I do like Tove Ditlevsen, though. New technology isn’t always progress, but A World Without Email seriously sounds like some sort of dystopia. Amazing how much we have come to depend on electronic communication!

  8. Naomi

    I’d like to read all of your top 3! I’ve been reading a lot more nonfiction lately because of audiobooks, but I find it limiting. I wish there were as many audio choices as ebooks. But I’ve still read a bunch from my NF to-read list… The most recent one being Conversations with Canadians (which turned out to be very timely).

  9. Christopher | Plucked from the Stacks

    As someone who has also struggled through several reading slumps this year, I can completely understand the want to find something a little meatier … or at least something that makes it all feel worthwhile! It looks like found quite a few amazing books to get you through, though.

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