Week 1: (Nov. 2 to Nov. 6) – Your Year in Nonfiction (Leann of Shelf Aware)
- Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favourite 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?
Well, what a year it has been since last we last talked about Non-Fiction together.
I will NOT use the word unprecedented, but it has certainly been weird and unusual!
My reading year, was obviously, disrupted by Covid. I had a period of time where I found it hard to concentrate properly, where I sought out comfort reads and known authors.
My working life had a non-Covid related hiccup early in the year, but mostly, I have worked right through bushfires, floods and now, a pandemic. Making animated book recommendations whilst wearing a mask has become a new skill to add to my CV!
My favourite non-fiction reads for 2020 can be divided into pre-Covid and Covid.
Fathoms wins hands down as my Covid pick, while A Month in Siena was the pick of the Pre-Covid stack. Whales and art appreciation; nature and beauty; environment and history; what’s not to love. And they both have really orange covers!
The environment has been my main reading theme this year.
I started The Cloudspotter’s Guide in desperation during our summer bushfires. After months of smoky skies, I was hanging out for a sight of blue skies and white fluffy clouds. Fathoms jumped out at me because of the whales. After slow reading Moby-Dick last year, whales will now always call my name.
I am also part-way through Vesper Flights, a collection of lovely essays about birds and nature by Helen MacDonald, and the very beautifully produced Phosphorescence by Julia Baird.
Social issues also felt important to me this year.
From books about lockdown and Covid, to Black Lives Matters and human nature.
Normally I read a lot of biography/memoir, but this year only three titles fit that bill. I’m part way through a fourth by Gabrielle Carey about Elizabeth Von Armin called Only Happiness Here. And I’ve just started a fifth by Raynor Winn called The Salt Path, which combines memoir with nature.
History also took a back seat this year, although I’m almost finished The Golden Maze (about Prague) by Richard Fidler and I’ve just started A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara Tuchman. Judging by it’s size and tiny print, I may still be talking about this one for NonFicNov 2021!
My Covid Non-Fiction:
- Intimations: Six Essays (Covid/lockdown related essays by Zadie Smith)
- The Fire This Time (a brilliant collection of BLM essays & poems)
- Humankind: A Hopeful History (easy to read AND hopeful!)
- Truganini (the tragic story of the ‘last’ Aboriginal woman in Tasmania)
- Fathoms: The World in a Whale (a writers response to the distressing sight of whales beaching themselves on her local beach in Australia)
My Pre-Covid Non-Fiction:
- The Cloudspotter’s Guide (if you’ve ever wondered what that cloud above you is called, wonder no more!)
- 7 Steps to Get Your Child Reading (a great guide for parents to get excited about reading with their kids with Australian links)
- 488 Rules For Life (an Australian comedienne’s take on how best to live our lives!!)
- Talking to My Daughter About the Economy (I thought a bit of dad-splaining would help me understand the economy, but it didn’t)
- Sand Talk (an Indigenous perspective on how to make sense of this world we live in)
- A Month in Siena (a glorious, thoughtful month in the life of Matar as he ponders art from the Sienese school and his father’s death)
- Ten Doors Down (a touching memoir about adoption)
- The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt (a disappointing graphic novel version of one of my favourite all-time non-fiction titles, The Invention of Nature)
My aim for this year’s NonFicNov is to finish the several half read books by my bed and review them! As many of them are also Australian titles, I will be able to combine them with my very own AusReading Month, also running throughout November.