Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

Hooray, it’s Nonfiction November! This is a yearly event that a lot of us look forward to.

The topic this week is Your Year in Nonfiction, hosted by Leann of Shelf Aware: 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?

I made it a goal this year to read more nonfiction, and I did. I discovered many amazing books and learned so much.

Aside from memoirs, which are always a pull because I love to read people’s stories, I’ve been attracted to medical topics, books about trauma and recovery, and books about people with neurological or sensory differences. The standout was probably An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks. I’ll definitely be seeking out more of his books.

I have recommended The Body Keeps the Score to many people, and I will continue to do so because I think it is such an important book. We need to change our thinking about lots of things, and trauma is one thing that severely clouds our thinking. This book shows it is possible to find a way through, using the wisdom of the body to help.

Here is a list of the nonfiction books I’ve read since last November:

  • Daring to Drive by Manal al-Sharif – Memoir, activism
  • Ce n’est pas toi que j’attendais by Fabien Toulmé – Graphic memoir
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (plus her other memoirs)
  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah – Memoir
  • The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk – Science (trauma and recovery)
  • The World I Live In by Helen Keller – Essays
  • I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong – Science (microbiology)
  • Good Morning Monster by Catherine Gildiner – Psychology (patient stories)
  • Inferno by Catherine Cho – Memoir of a psychosis
  • Home and Home Work by Julie Andrews – Memoir
  • My Invented Country by Isabel Allende – Memoir
  • The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu – Spirituality
  • In Pursuit of Disobedient Women by Dionne Searcey – Memoir, reporting
  • Rudolf Steiner and Swedenborg by Gary Lachman – Biography
  • An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks – Science (neurological case studies)
  • Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic by Michael McCreary – Memoir
  • Haben by Haben Grima – Memoir
  • Lingo by Gaston Dorren – Language
  • For the Benefit of Those Who See by Rosemary Mahoney – Memoir, experiences with the blind
  • Toucher la vie by Thich Nhat Hanh – Spirituality
  • Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L.Trump – family biography, psychology

What do I hope to get out of Nonfiction November? It’s always so interesting to see what others have been reading and to get ideas for my own nonfiction reading for next year. And I hope that others might be inspired by some of what I have to share too.

There is so much to learn and to discover in our world, and this event helps to keep me grounded in that activity when so much is flying out of control. We can always strive to keep our perspective, to see clearly, understand, and put together the disparate pieces of our experience. That’s what I’m trying to do, anyway.

What does Nonfiction November hold for you?

30 thoughts on “Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

  1. What a great list! It sounds like you’ve read some incredible books this year. I read Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic this year and really enjoyed it – it really gave me a whole new perspective on autism.


  2. You have several interesting titles here! I added Inferno and Good Morning Monster to my TBR. Some of the others sound way too challenging to my tired little brain right now. LOL


  3. It seems like a lot of folks have been drawn to medical type nonfiction this year! A way to control the things we can’t control maybe. I’m definitely going to look into that book on trauma. I think you’re absolutely right that we don’t know enough about trauma and what it does to our bodies.


    1. Yeah, it’s hard to know how to cope with all that is coming down. There are scientists, researchers and doctors who can help us get a grip on some areas, thankfully.


  4. A great list – I totally forgot the year would be from last November and missed some out of mine. I loved An Anthropologist on Mars and I can recommend Temple Grandin’s book. too. And I have also read Lingo. I feel I have Born a Crime on my Kindle somewhere. A good eclectic list, anyway! Happy November Nonfictioning!


    1. I read Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin a couple of years ago and that was also interesting. Born a Crime is amazing. Once you do start it you won’t be able to stop!


    1. Oh, you will LOVE it! I hope you’ll read it soon, it’s a wonderful antidote to all the current nonsense. I mean, her life was not easy, but look what she made out of it.


  5. You’ve read some really interesting books this year – the book about trauma looks particularly interesting. I’ve never read Oliver Sacks either. I read The Brain That Heals Itself, which was fascinating.


  6. Well done on achieving your personal goal to read more non-fiction, Lory and what a lot you have read! 📚📚📚 It is great to hear that non-fiction reading has helped keep you grounded, focused and giving you perspective on what has been a crazy year. Similarly, that is why I have read a lot of Christian and theology based non-fiction books this year, although i have missed my history reading. I am intrigued by The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu, so I will have to look this up.


  7. For the first time I am taking part in Non-Fiction November and loving it. I have never really been drawn to non-fiction unless it was travel related but this month I have read several different books of a wide variety of topics.

    My favourite so far has to be Failosophy by Elizabeth Day, it has rrally made me reflect on what events in my past have affected my current self. Well worth a read if you haven’t yet.


  8. An Anthropologist On Mars sounds fascinating. I’ve found myself more drawn to medical topics this year too, strangely. And I’ve actually never read Sacks, which seems unacceptable! Maybe that’s a good one to start. I’ve heard so many good things about The Body Keeps the Score too, I don’t know why I keep shying away from reading it. Maybe it just seems like it’ll be tough to sit with and think about.

    Daring to Drive and Born a Crime were both so excellent! I already added I Contain Multitudes from your suggestion. You had a great nonfiction year so far!


    1. WordPress is eating my comments. I’m going to try one more time! Yes, those were two great reads and I did have a wonderful year. Looking forward to more in 2021. I really hope you read Oliver Sacks soon, his books are outstanding.


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