Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 7, 2017

Non-fiction November Week #2

Kate at Books are my Favourite and Best is ahead of me,  in the five weeks of activities for Non-fiction November but I’ll have a go at Week Two.

Week 2: (Nov 7 – 11) Choosing Nonfiction: What are you looking for when you pick up a nonfiction book? Do you have a particular topic you’re attracted to? Do you have a particular writing style that works best? When you look at a nonfiction book, does the title or cover influence you? If so, share a title or cover which you find striking.

I tend to gravitate towards history and politics in my choice of NF, as you can see from this year’s booklist, of which 1947, when now begins; The Art of Time Travel and Return to Moscow are my standout recommendations:

It might sound morbid, but because of personal circumstances and the proposed Voluntary Assisted Dying bill in Victoria, I’ve also taken an interest in issues around death and dying.  (Not grief, I am so over reading about grief!) So I’ve read two very different views of what might lie ahead:

I’m also interested in literary criticism, but I’m highly selective.  (Or you could say middlebrow).  I do not want to read university text books or opaque theorising.  That’s why I like the Oxford Very Short Introductions series:

I usually like anything to do with art:

I like literary biographies too, but surprisingly, I haven’t read a single one this year, not unless you count Looking for Rose Paterson: How Family Life Nurtured Banjo the Poet, by Jennifer Gall.

I think that NF covers influence me more than they do for fiction.  They tend not to fall into cliché as so many fiction covers do.  (Indie publishers are exempt from that last generalisation.  They know they need to do better, and they do).

These NF covers are ones that demanded my attention at the library:

2017’s Nonfiction November is hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Lory at Emerald City Book Review, Julie at Julz Reads, and Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness.


  1. I was fascinated by your review – early this year – of the Oxford Introduction to Italian literature, which I’d love to read. I’ve just returned from two months travel in Italy and mostly succeeded in reading Italian authors only – in English translation. I was enthralled by Sciascia’s debut novel The Day of the Owl, by all the novels I could get hold of in English by Erri de Luca (only three, unfortunately, but he’s a new firm favourite author), and fascinated by Dacia Maraini who has published far more than Ferrante (memoir, novels, short story collections, essays, plays and poetry). The common thread to all was the far greater degree to which Italian literature tackles political issues – without being didactic – when compared with Australian literature.


    • Thank you Annette, for adding these authors to my wishlists – I’ve never heard of them (though I should check Stu’s blog at Winston’s Dad before saying that!)
      #Musing: Early Australian novels were very political, but these days … well maybe the landscape reflects the bland nature of Australian politics?


  2. I’m not a big fan of non fiction except about books and writers, and early Australian women. Though I did recently read a history of the campaigns leading up to Waterloo, why, I’m not sure, but it was interesting. Politics I read every day on line but as a radical have no interest in books by middle of the road journalists. Just to be contrary, I did read Margot Kingston on Pauline Hanson.


  3. I must try to do this one – but these “Months” always make me anxious about what I HAVE to do to join, to acknowledge, to properly contribute. It always seems too much so I tend not to do them. But this one does sound interesting. having followed your blog pretty much from the start, I don’t think you’ve said anything here that surprised me, but I’ve enjoyed seeing you set it all out in one place!! If I do get to do this one, we’ll cross-over a bit, but I don’t think the covers affect me any more or less than for fiction.


    • I’m quite hopeless at most ‘months’ too. I’m reading a book now that I had set aside for WIT(women in translation) month and then forgot I had it. But this one interested me because (like most of us who blog, I think?) I am more interested in fiction and tend to be haphazard with my NF choices: gathering them together like this enabled me to reflect a bit. I really was surprised not to have read any literary bios this year!


      • Yes I’m a bit the same re NF though I seem to have read a few this year. I’ll try to do the week you’ve just done tonight, because it will be interesting to see what comes out in the wash!


        • This is where the way I obsessively categorise things comes in handy. All I had to do was to search my NF category, and then copy the links that came up in the search, up to the beginning of the year.


          • Oh yes, haha. Fortunately I categorise to the level that will make that pretty easy.


  4. That cover for the book-burning book is striking indeed. I would’ve picked that up too!


    • And it’s a beaut book. There’s some of what you expect, but also other bits that I knew little about.


  5. You put me to shame with all this NF reading. I think I managed one this year. It’s not through lack of interest but I just don’t feel its relaxing to read NF just before going to sleep which is when I do most of my reading.


    • I don’t read it at bedtime either, you’re right, NF is rarely the right kind of book to relax with.
      So over breakfast is when I read NF. Which is why I used to read more NF when I was working, because I had a proper routine. sitting down for a healthy breakfast in the early morning with a book to start my day off right. But these days I am more likely to pick up last night’s book again and continue reading it in bed so the NFs get read less often.


  6. Even though I grizzle about grief-lit (we have lamented many times how prolific it is), I can’t help but be drawn to it… Most recently I bought Georgia Blain’s The Museum of Words, which certainly fits into the death/dying genre as opposed to grief.

    Like you, I’m watching the Assisted Dying Bill with interest. Without going into detail, I volunteer with a palliative care organisation which certainly demonstrates why this Bill is important (and long overdue).


    • Yes indeed. I feel very strongly about it. There is nothing I fear more than the medical profession interfering with my right to die in the manner and time of my choosing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know plenty of Victorians aren’t fans of Andrews but they can’t deny that he’s getting shit done! (And stuff that will last and be remembered). He doesn’t seem all that afraid of opposing opinions either… Can’t help but think some progress will be made!


        • Yes, Andrew’s has (contrary to my expectations) earned the title of Australia’s most progressive premier. If he can get that legislation through the Upper House, he’ll have a place in history.


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