nonfiction november: your year in nonfiction

This year I’ll be participating in Nonfiction November, a month-long challenge to read, write about, and discuss as much nonfiction as possible, with a themed discussion prompt posted at the start of each week.


This year the challenge is hosted by Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), Julie (JulzReads), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Katie (Doing Dewey), Rennie (What’s Nonfiction). The prompt for Week 1 (Oct. 29 to Nov. 2) is Your Year in Nonfiction, and is hosted by Kim.

While I have not intentionally focused on nonfiction this year, I have read a great deal of it. Earlier in the year I read the essays of James Baldwin and Susan Sontag, along with other older writers’ work, but I began to focus on contemporary nonfiction books around the start of spring. I’ve enjoyed almost everything I’ve read this year!

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

My favorite nonfiction read of the year definitely is Leslie Jamison’s The Recovering. Jamison’s exploration of addiction is fascinating, as is her discussion of Alcoholics Anonymous and other treatment programs. My respect for this book has only increased with time, and I’m planning on kicking off Nonfiction November with The Empathy Exams.

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

Not at all! My tastes have been all over the place. I didn’t read for pleasure much at all during college, so this year I explored lots of different genres, from cultural history to memoir.

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

Since finishing it, I have recommended Roxane Gay’s Hunger the most to my friends who read. Gay writes so thoughtfully about her past and her body in her memoir.

I’ve also recommended the essays of Rebecca Solnit: I recently finished Call Them By Their True Names, which I enjoyed, and Hope in the Dark, which I loved. Solnit writes intelligently but accessibly, and manages to lucidly discuss complex issues in her popular essay collections. Next year I’m hoping to read more of her long form work.

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

I’m hoping to eliminate my current pile of nonfiction books ahead of an anticipated move at the start of next year, while also coming across great nonfiction recommendations for the fall and winter months. More than that, though, I’m looking forward to discussing nonfiction titles with other bloggers!

Are you planning on participating in Nonfiction November, or have you recently read any nonfiction that you enjoyed? What are some of your favorite nonfiction books?

28 thoughts on “nonfiction november: your year in nonfiction

  1. I recommended Hunger seemingly nonstop after reading it last year. What an incredible book and I love Roxane Gay’s writing so much. She’s a treasure.

    I haven’t read anything of Leslie Jamison’s yet but have been considering those two titles – good to hear you recommend The Recovering so highly!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Roxane Gay’s writing really is incredible: it’s rare coming across a writer who’s an expert at both fiction and nonfiction.

      If you ever have the chance to check out Jamison’s books, I’d start with The Empathy Exams! It’s not as big of a time commitment as The Recovering, and the topics are much more varied.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve heard so many good things about Roxane Gay’s works as well as Rebecca Solnit’s. Looking forward to hearing more about the nonfiction books you’ll read this month!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They’re both great writers! They also publish a lot of things online, so some of their work is fairly accessible. Thanks so much for commenting: looking forward to following your nonfiction updates as well!


  3. I adore every single thing I have read of Roxane Gay. Hunger is incredible!
    I preordered the paperback edition for the Jamison book and I cannot wait to get it. I am so glad you enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved The Empathy Exams so much when I read it the year it came out! It’s such a great book. I have her newest on my TBR, but I haven’t made the time to read it yet. I have a couple of Rebecca Solnit titles on my pile too, she’s so smart and great. Thanks for joining us this year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The writing in The Empathy Exams just feels so fresh and engaging! Hope you have the chance to check out Jamison’s latest soon: it’s more ambitious and not as consistently great, but it really shines at its best. Thanks for reading!


  5. It’s great that you’ve been able to read more of what you WANT to read recently. That is always so much nicer. Lots of books I’ve not heard of here, but will definitely be checking out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true! It’s so much easier finishing books you’ve picked out than ones that have been assigned to you. Looking forward to following your updates this month!


    1. Thanks, Jade! I definitely want to check out more of Roxane Gay’s fiction down the road. I’ve only read her collection Ayiti, but I liked it a lot.


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