Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 2, 2018

2018 NonFiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

Well, here we are again in Nonfiction November, hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Julie at Julz Reads, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness and What’s Non Fiction (whose moniker I can’t find on her blog).

In Week 1 (Oct 30 to Nov 3), take a look back at your year of nonfiction:

As for last year, I’m going to list my Year in Nonfiction with Australian books first, and I’m listing essays and VSIs separately because they’re shorter than regular books:

Australian non-fiction

And from elsewhere: 

Journals & Essays

Very Short Introductions series

…and reflect on the following questions – 

What was your favourite nonfiction read of the year?

Once again, I find it too hard to say!  I have really enjoyed the LitCrit books I’ve read in the Very Short Introduction series, and I’ve been very impressed by the new Australian Foreign Affairs Journal which is so relevant and so readable.   Letting Go, how to plan for a good death by Dr Charlie Corke probably doesn’t sound like a fun read, but for those of us getting older, it’s a really a must-read, IMO.  For sheer significance in the worldwide campaign to end the Death Penalty, The Pastor and the Painter by Cindy Wockner is an important book to read, but I think I most enjoyed and learned a lot from 1947 When Now Begins, by Elisabeth Åsbrink, translated by Fiona Graham.

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

Two books about Australian suffragists really interested me this year, : Mary Lee by Denise George and You Daughters of Freedom by Clare Wright (and I’ve just got a copy of the autobiography of another amazing Australian woman, Catherine Helen Spence)

 

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

I think that would be Letting Go. The experience of losing both my parents in their very old age has impacted a lot on my thinking about ageing.

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

It’s a good time to mull over my NF choices for the year.  What I notice is that—despite having plenty on my TBR to choose from—I haven’t read any of my favourite genre: literary biographies.  I think I’ll be redressing that omission next year…

 


Responses

  1. I’ve been trying to decide whether to take part in this. I might do what I did last year and do a sort of wrap up at the end – or just one or two weeks.

    You have of course read far more non-fiction than I have this year.

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    • I like this meme for November because it gives more prominence to NF which I do tend to neglect compared to fiction.
      Am looking forward to the Non Fiction festival later this month: I have tickets for Gillian Triggs, Clare Wright, Michael Atherton, and Anita Heiss:)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a dauntingly impressive list! I don’t think I’ve read enough NF over the year to merit contributing – and I have to read so much of it for work reasons that I feel disinclined to. I’ll look out for other contributions; hope they’re as enjoyable as this one.

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    • Yes, there’s something very different about reading NF for work and just following an idle interest because it appeals to you…

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  3. Lisa, with the amount of NF you read, it’s a wonder that you have time for any fiction!

    That Elisabeth Åsbrink book sounds right up my alley. I love looking at ‘recent’ history [that would be anything during my lifetime ;-)] and especially on how it has influenced the present.

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    • Debbie, it’s an outstanding book, and highly readable too. The translator did a fine job:)

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  4. That’s a lot of good non fiction reading! :)

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  5. Beautiful post, Lisa! I love the titles ‘A Coveted Possession : The Rise and Fall of the Piano in Australia’ and ‘Literary Wonderlands’. I loved your posts on essays and journals on international affairs. They were very insightful. You have read so many VSIs this year! I loved your post in the New Testament VSI. I am reading a Goethe book now. Maybe I should read the Goethe VSI after that. I didn’t read much nonfiction this year, but out of the ones I read, my favourites were ‘Stamnered Songbook : A Mother’s Book of Hours’ by Erwin Mortier (memoir), Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby (football memoir), The Wine Lover’s Daughter by Anne Fadiman (memoir), Summer Before the Dark by Volker Weidermann (an account of a summer spent by Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth and a few other writers, before the start of the Second World War), The Sting of the Wild by Justin O. Schmidt (about stinging insects), Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton and Upstream : Selected Essays by Mary Oliver.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your favourite nonfiction.

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    • Thanks, Vishy: I can tell that you like memoir! It is so good to have you back blogging your books now, I never miss your reviews even if sometimes I only read them in my email and don’t always comment:)

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      • Thank you for your kind words and encouragement, Lisa :)

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  6. All of my non fiction reading for the past year has involved photography and more photography. So probably quite boring to others.

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    • Well, maybe a list might be. But a post about it wouldn’t be boring at all. For people like me who know nothing about photography, it would be interesting to find out what there is to know. I mean, what’s in those books, what’s different about this one and that one, that keeps you reading them? I love the photos on your blog… have those books influenced how you take a picture? Which one would be best for a beginner to read, which ones are for specialist interests? and so on!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll think about that for next year. I can do a post or two on a few I own and why I like them . Thanks for the good idea. You’re always full of good ideas.🌷🌷🌷

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  7. Wow, that’s some nonfiction list. I’ve heard good things about Letting Go, but haven’t read it yet, glad you “liked it”, and recommend it.

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    • It’s a hard subject, Louise, but so relevant as we board the treadmill of More and More Tests for the Elderly. (Another good one to read is Wayne Macauley’s wicked satire More Tests!)

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  8. So many great ones here, I don’t know where to start! Australian nonfiction is definitely a blind spot in my reading, I need to go through your list carefully. Letting Go sounds like a tough but important read.

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    • Thanks:) I suspect most people wouldn’t read much of Australian NF unless they were coming here for a visit – a nice reason to start reading it:)

      Liked by 1 person

      • You know what’s funny, I realized after posting this, one of my favorite memoirs of the year involved Australia – Miss Ex-Yugoslavia, have you come across it? The author describes her family’s back and forth immigrating to Australia with the impending war in the Balkans, returning, coming back, always feeling like a fish out of water. It was very funny but also quite serious and moving, and a unique look at the immigrant experience.

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        • Hi, no, I don’t know that one. I see that it’s marketed as “Unpolished Gem (a memoir by a woman born to Chinese immigrants in Australia) with a touch of Stasiland” which is a very highly regarded book about the East German Stasi.
          So that makes it sound like an interesting read, and I’ve reserved a copy at the library – thank you!

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’m so glad to put it on your radar, I hope you like it! I don’t know Unpolished Gem, I’ll have to check that one out, but I really loved Stasiland.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Very impressive! You’ve got so many interesting selections here. Looking forward to reading your responses in future weeks as the rest of the challenge unfolds.

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    • I only did two weeks last year, but will try to do better this time:)

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  10. Great blog! Happy Non-Fiction November. My favorite non-fiction book of the year is called We Can Do It: A Community Takes on the Challenge of School Desegregation by Michael Gengler. It is a really great book that does a great job of giving perspectives on the struggle of desegregating schools back in the 50’s and 60’s in Gainesville, Florida. It is inspiring hearing how a community can come together to overcome the opposition and challenges they faced. I think the author did a good job making it easy to understand the weight of the challenges the community had to face through the personal accounts sourced. The author’s website is http://www.michaelgengler.com and the book has a page as well: http://www.wecandoitbook.com if you want more info!

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    • Hello Leslie, thanks for dropping by.
      Your book sounds wonderful, inspiring in fact, because it’s all about reforms at the local level having an impact beyond their own community. I’ll see if I can find a copy, thank you:)

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  11. I’m gobsmacked by the amount of non fiction you’ve read and the breadth of topics. Do you tend to take notes as you read them?

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    • Yes, mostly I do, though usually nothing that would make sense to anyone but me. If the publisher has sent a press release with the book I scribble all over that, mainly a two-word summary and the page ref for when I write the review – but if it’s a book of complex ideas that I find that rewriting them in my own words helps me to sort out what I understand of it. I do that for complicated fiction too.

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      • I tend to use little post it notes but then often forget whyI marked the page…

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        • I know what you mean. But the thing to remember is that we’re not reading for an exam or to write an essay. My guiding principle with my reviews is that I’m writing for a reader like myself. And so the review needs to focus on the big picture not the micro details. With a NF book, if there’s a point being made on such-and-such a page but by the end of the book I’ve forgotten what it was, then it either hasn’t been very well made or it wasn’t all that important anyway.

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