Nonfiction November: Week 1 – Your Year in Nonfiction

Today is the first day of 2018’s Nonfiction November, hosted by Kim of Sophisticated Dorkiness, Rennie of What’s Nonfiction, Katie of Doing Dewey, Julz of JulzReads and Sarah of Sarah’s Bookshelves. I’ve never taken part in this event before as I don’t tend to read nonfiction very often, but it has occurred to me that maybe that is precisely why I should be joining in – so that I can look back at the nonfiction I’ve already read, focus on the nonfiction I would like to be reading in the future, and hopefully pick up some good recommendations from other bloggers along the way.

This week’s topic is:

Week 1: (Oct. 29 to Nov. 2) – Your Year in Nonfiction

Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite 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 is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Here are all of the nonfiction books I have read so far this year (there aren’t many):

The Oaken Heart by Margery Allingham
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara W Tuchman
Golden Lads by Daphne du Maurier
Murder by the Book by Claire Harman
A Tudor Christmas by Alison Weir
Henry VII by Gladys Temperley

I will be posting my reviews of the last three books during November.

Of these, the book I enjoyed the most was The Oaken Heart, Margery Allingham’s memoir of life in her small English village during the Second World War. However, A Distant Mirror was a fascinating read and I found that I was learning a huge amount from it. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the 14th century.

As usual, the topic I’ve been attracted to this year has been history. I’ve read some wartime history, some medieval history, a biography of Francis and Anthony Bacon, a book about a true historical crime, a book on Tudor Christmas traditions and a biography of Henry VII! Therefore my answer to the question “What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?” has to be anything other than history!

I’m hoping that participating in Nonfiction November will inspire me to read more nonfiction and will point me in the direction of some books I might enjoy.


How has your year in nonfiction been? What are the best nonfiction books you’ve read this year?

44 thoughts on “Nonfiction November: Week 1 – Your Year in Nonfiction

  1. whatmeread says:

    The only one of these I’ve read is A Distant Mirror, but at the time as a young adult I couldn’t get through it. I have a lot better capacity for nonfiction now, though, so I should try it again.

  2. Lark says:

    I’m not officially signing up for this, but I have decided to only check out and read nonfiction books in November. I have a whole pile I’ve been meaning to read all year and I’m finally going to get around to them. 😀

  3. Carmen says:

    Typically I read one–maybe two, if I’m bold–nonfiction per year. This year I read Calypso, a collection of autobiographical essays, by David Sedaris.

    • Helen says:

      I don’t usually read autobiographical essays but maybe I should try some. I need to start reading some other types of nonfiction apart from history!

  4. buriedinprint says:

    What a beautiful cover on this edition of Tuchman’s classic. The copy that I had was so ’90s. And not 1390s either! 🙂

    I’m participating but, like you, my fiction-reading is clearly in the lead. Still, just keeping the event in mind throughout the year did, on occasion, pull me into non-fiction when I could have, more easily and comfortably, fallen in yet another bout of fiction.

    • Helen says:

      It was a last-minute decision for me to take part in Nonfiction November, but maybe next year I will plan ahead and be better prepared. And yes, I love the Tuchman cover too. It somehow looks both modern and historical at the same time.

  5. Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) says:

    I definitely think you’ll find some great recommendations from hopping around to the other posts during the month — I always do! History is kind of my blind spot in nonfiction, I tend to go for contemporary books or memoirs, but the ones you’ve mentioned sound interesting. Thanks for joining us!

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I’m already finding some intriguing books to add to my TBR! I love historical fiction so I like reading historical nonfiction to add to my knowledge, but I do want to make an effort to read more contemporary nonfiction and memoirs.

    • Helen says:

      I’ve enjoyed watching other bloggers take part in Nonfiction November in the past, so I thought it was time I joined in myself! A Distant Mirror is great – the fourteenth century was a fascinating period of history.

  6. Angela says:

    I read a lot of historical fiction, so sometimes I tend I gravitate towards the same topics in nonfiction. The Tudor dynasty is one I can’t get enough of, in fiction and nonfiction!

    • Helen says:

      I would like to read more nonfiction, but I suppose numbers aren’t too important as long as we’re enjoying our reading. I haven’t heard of Just Mercy so will have to investigate. 🙂

  7. April Munday says:

    I also read mainly historical non-fiction, but the best, because it was the most eye-opening, so far this year is Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. It has made me understand why sleep is important and that I (and everyone else) need more of it,

    • Helen says:

      I do like to move out of my comfort zone of historical fiction and non-fiction now and then, so maybe I should try Why We Sleep. It sounds like an interesting book.

  8. Brona says:

    Welcome to non-fiction Nov!
    I can guarantee that your tbr list will explode by the end of this month! I’ve learnt to have my goodreads page open as I read these posts, so that I can add books straight onto my ‘to be read’ list….which is just what happened to Distant Mirror 🙂

  9. Michael says:

    Earlier in the year I took a class focusing on women writers of the 14th and 15th centuries, and A Distant Mirror seems like it’d be a good read, with a lot of interesting historical background. The period is so fascinating. Thanks for the rec!

    • Helen says:

      For a long time, I was mainly interested in the Victorian period, but I gradually found myself reading more and more from earlier centuries. Really, though, I’m interested in any type of history!

  10. jessicabookworm says:

    Helen, I always manage to miss the beginning of Non-Fiction November! However my non-fiction reading is going well this year – I read a lot of history and Christian literature and memoirs for my church’s book club. My favourites have been Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi The Hairy Dieters (5) Go Veggie by Si King & Dave Myers and God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew.

  11. The Paperback Princess says:

    How was the Claire Harman book? I really enjoyed her Charlotte Bronte biography. Have you read The Invention of Murder by Judith Flanders? All about the Victorians and their fascination with murder and how that led to the way we view true crime today. I have a feeling you’d really like it.

    • Helen says:

      The Claire Harman book was interesting. My review should be up soon. I’ve never read any of her others, but I love Charlotte Bronte so I would like to read that biography. I haven’t read The Invention of Murder either…another one to add to my TBR! 🙂

  12. Judy Krueger says:

    It was interesting to look back at my nonfiction reading so far this year. Three biographies, four memoirs and 3 political/sociological books. All had USA settings. None older than the 20th century. Three were read for reading groups. I certainly learned a lot!

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