Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 3, 2020

2020 Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

It’s time for Nonfiction November, which begins with my ‘Year in Nonfiction’, hosted by Shelf Aware.

These are Leann’s prompts and my responses:

What was your favourite nonfiction read of the year?

While it’s not exactly a favourite, since the topic of women in the French Resistance is hardly entertainment, A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead was the most impressive book that I read.  Meticulously researched, it pays homage to the courage and initiative of a group of women whose sacrifice should never be forgotten.  For a more uplifting choice, I loved reading A Mouthful of Petals, Three Years in an Indian Village by Wendy Scarfe and Allan Scarfe, first published in 1967 but now in a 2020 reissued edition which describes the highs and lows of an idealistic couple who set up an experimental school in India.


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

There’s not really any pattern to my choices, but as always I’ve enjoyed literary biography, and Tripping with Jenny, by Mudrooroo was an interesting window into life on the hippie trail.  Other life stories I really liked include Drawn From Life, the autobiography of the expat Australian artist Stella Bowen; and The Woman Who Sailed the World, by Danielle Clode, which tells the astonishing story of the first woman to circumnavigate the world.


What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

That would be How to Talk About Climate Change, in a way that makes a difference, by Rebecca Huntley.  The title is self-explanatory, but the strategies are well worth knowing, for any issue on which you hope to be persuasive.  But I’ve also ear-bashed everyone about Rivers, the Lifeblood of Australia by Ian Hoskins; and The Innocent Reader by Debra Adelaide.  Both would make great Christmas presents, while Huntley’s book would be a great gift for anyone who cares about climate change, at any time of the year.




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

I like to reflect on my books and reading, and I find the process of choosing answers to the prompts is a good way of revisiting what I’ve read.


  1. Wow, how do you find the time to read so much non-fiction? I usually don’t read hardly any non-fiction, and if I do it is about fiction writers or fiction itself.
    I did read a little Clive James this year, just enough to lower my opinion of him.


    • LOL You and me both re Clive James!
      I mostly read NF at breakfast or lunch, when I’m dining alone or if The Spouse is absorbed in his iPad. It’s usually about a chapter a day.
      But like you, I like fiction best.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great celebration of past nonfiction reads, especially as you discover what has lingered and in the prelude to the festive season. I love a good work of creative nonfiction, I think that genre could be thought of as nonfiction for fiction lovers.


    • Ah yes, the festive season. I usually make the Xmas pudding on Cup Day (it’s a public holiday here, so it’s a family tradition that derives from when I was working). But only some restrictions have been lifted, and since the lockdown still means there’s a barricade that prevents me seeing The Offspring, and there’s no guarantee that it won’t still be in place at Christmas, I haven’t done it, and I’m not going to until I’m sure I’ll have family to share it with.


      • I’d love to read a post about you making the Xmas pudding along with pics and sharing secret ingredients, I was just admiring someone doing that yday, the not looking forward to it grumble, then the pure pleasure it gave and the beautiful looking result. 😉


        • I’ve just emailed you the recipe I’ve been making for over 40 years. The ‘secret’ is to let your hand wobble so that a-hem there is more brandy than the recipe says:)
          Cheers, Lisa

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t remember seeing your review of A Train in Winter but having just back tracked to find it, I can see it’s one I would appreciate.


    • Oh yes, I think you would. There are many stories of the SoE (Foyle’s War, for example) but not many like this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good list. A Train in Winter was amazing. I’m very interested in Mouthful of Pearls–thanks for introducing that one.


  5. As an ex-hydrologist, it’s criminal that I haven’t read Rivers yet (although a tiny part of me wonders if it will be like work!). Plus I have that history of the Yarra to get through first…

    The Adelaide is already on my radar but will add the Moorehead to the list on the strength of your recommendation.


    • You mean Kristin Otto’s Yarra, a Diverting History? That was such an interesting book, even for someone who’s not a hydrologist:)


  6. Sorry I didn’t comment on this at the time, but some great recommendations here, Lisa, including one or two I might be buying as Christmas gifts this year! (If I do you’ll see them in my annual books bought and received for Christmas post!)


    • I feel a bit guilty about NF November… I usually participate in all of it but things have got away from me this year…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Me too… Shhh, but this Monday’s musings is going to be mine, but Australian focused. Best I could do this year!


      • But, oh, remember, we don’t feel guilty! This is not homework!


        • True.
          And there’s still two days of November left…

          Liked by 1 person

  7. […] Lisa (ANZLitLovers), in her My Year in Nonfiction post, mentioned a couple of books that interest me: Danielle Clode’s The woman who sailed the world, […]


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