Sunday Coffee – A Nod to Nonfiction November

I don’t read enough nonfiction each year to participate in Nonfiction November, but I always think of November as nonfiction month* in my head, probably because I’ve spent so many years watching other bloggers participate. Most years, I try to read something nonfiction during the month. This year, I’m going to do something a little different. Beyond reading something nonfiction in November, I’m going to answer the weekly prompts – all in one post, and a little late for some, early for others.

Week 1: Your Year in Nonfiction
Since I began blogging in 2008, nonfiction has consistently** sat around 10% of my reading each year. This year has been no different, with six of my 54 books being nonfiction. Sadly, of those six books, I only enjoyed three, and one that I didn’t enjoy actually made me furious enough to rant publicly. Of the three I enjoyed, Kid Gloves was the best. Lucy Knisley is just an amazing writer. Note: These numbers and thoughts reflect nonfiction reads only up to the end of October, when Nonfiction November began.

Week 2: Book Pairing
I’ll admit that I’m really not good at pairing books. Also, I tend to pair nonfiction with more nonfiction, heh. But I thought perhaps that my favorite nonfiction pre-November, Kid Gloves, might pair nicely with my favorite fiction of the year so far, What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. Kid Gloves deals with pregnancy, infertility, and miscarriage. What Alice Forgot has a secondary storyline that is nearly as important as the first, also dealing with pregnancy, infertility, and miscarriage. Both give a lot of good information and explore an emotional minefield that many people tend to ignore or hush up.

Week 3: Be the Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert
I would never consider myself an expert on a particular topic, but there’s one nonfiction area that I know better than other areas. Back in 2011, I began reading tons about nutrition and health (with a dash of fitness on the side). I’ve read roughly three dozen books since then ranging from food history to weight loss memoirs, from running manuals to treatises on eating disorders. Three dozen may not sound like much, but considering that I read 5-10 nonfiction books per year, that’s quite a bit over eight years. A few favorites have included The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson, Wine Isn’t Rocket Science by Ophelie Neiman, Around the World in 80 Diets by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio, and Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley. I would love to hear what other folks recommend in this category!

Week 4: Nonfiction Favorites
Generally, unless nonfiction is done in graphic novel format (like with Lucy Knisley), I tend to approach it via audio. I don’t find nonfiction to be as engaging as fiction, and in print form, I tend to abandon books more frequently. However, this means that nonfiction has to jump two hurdles to make it onto my radar. Not only does it have to be written in a way that I like, but the audio narrator has to be bearable. As for the writing, I tend to be turned off by far-distance perspectives (like history books that describe big-picture movements rather than what a situation was like from the view of the people living through it), gimmicky or commercial-sounding prose, biased viewpoints, or straight-out recitation of facts. I read on a broad variety of topics, and can be hooked by nearly any subject as long as it’s written in a way that engages me (and read aloud in a way that doesn’t turn me off!).

Week 5: New to my TBR
Um…none. To be fair, I’m pretty picky about nonfiction and tend to read it in bursts, when I’m interested in specific subjects. So, can you help me add to my nonfiction TBR? Because I’ve been craving running-related nonfiction lately. Not how-to books or personal memoirs, or books about running insane ultramarathon distances. That seems to be all I can find, though, because I just don’t know enough about how to look properly. Thoughts or suggestions?

Well, that’s it for me. I only read one book for Nonfiction November, and I plan to finish another book I’ve been reading slowly throughout the whole year. And hey, that’ll be over my normal 10% thus far!

Since this upcoming week is Thanksgiving, I’m going to take the week to be with family. I’ll see y’all next Sunday, and hope you have a lovely week!

*Well, I think of November as nonfiction month AND as NaNoWriMo month, but as I haven’t participated in NaNo since 2015, that has fallen a little bit aside in my head.

**Except for 2015, which bizarrely shot up to 27% nonfiction.

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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3 Responses to Sunday Coffee – A Nod to Nonfiction November

  1. I was surprised among the participants how many of us hadn’t read that much nonficiton and when I mean not that much, I do mean as low as you. Me? I’ve read 11 or 12 so far, which is higher than normal. But I still decided to participate. Glad you’re participating too…even if you’re not. 🙂

    I think you’re going to be hard pressed to find any running-related nonfiction that isn’t how-to or personal memoir, at least in some way. In my late 30s and early 40s, I read a lot of running-related books. The highlight for me were ones written by the late George Sheehan. I think why I liked them is because he also incorporated philosophy into his books. It wasn’t exactly a memoir or a how-to, but did have those, of course. I think for all writers on running, it comes out of their own experience to some degreee…and how they did it.

    As for running movies, we just watched Brittany Runs a Marathon, which was a memoir of sorts, based on a true story, but it was more than that. Very much worth the watch. My wife and I both enjoyed it.


    • Amanda says:

      I’d thought about that Brittany movie but worried there would be sections involving people either working too hard and throwing up because of it, or drinking too hard and same. I don’t like vomit scenes in movies and tend to avoid movies if there’s even a hint that there might be something like that in them.

      Recently, I saw a documentary called Fat to Finish Line, which is about a group of folks running the Ragnar relay who had all lost weight through running. They’d found each other through blogging and races, and decided to do this huge relay together. One of them is a blogger I know, which is how I knew about the documentary, and that’s kind of exactly what I’m looking for, either in book or documentary format. I know it’s unlikely I’ll find much, though.


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