Nonfiction November 2019: Week 1 – Your Year in Nonfiction

I enjoyed taking part in Nonfiction November for the first time last year, so I thought I would join in again this year. This event runs for five weeks, with five weekly discussion topics, giving us a chance to highlight and talk about our non-fiction reads. Our hosts for 2019 are Katie of Doing Dewey, Julz of Julz Reads, Rennie of What’s Nonfiction, Sarah of Sarah’s Book Shelves, and Leann of Shelf Aware.

This week’s topic is:

Week 1: (Oct. 28 to Nov. 1) – Your Year in Nonfiction (hosted by Julz of Julz Reads):

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

I have read six non-fiction books so far this year and five of them are history, with the other one being an author’s memoir. These are the topics I’m usually drawn to when it comes to non-fiction; I would like to be more adventurous and try something different, but I always find myself coming back to the same sort of books! Here are the links to my reviews, in the order that I posted them:

When Women Ruled the World by Kara Cooney

Margaret Tudor by Melanie Clegg

The Afterlife of King James IV by Keith J. Coleman

Richard III: Fact and Fiction by Matthew Lewis

Decoding the Bayeux Tapestry by Arthur C. Wright

Rosie: Scenes from a Vanished Life by Rose Tremain

Of these, my favourite was Melanie Clegg’s biography of Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII and wife of James IV. I found all of the other books interesting and entertaining too, apart from When Women Ruled the World, which was supposed to be about the lives of female Egyptian pharaohs but turned out to be more concerned with women in modern politics.

As well as the books above, I have almost finished Bookworm by Lucy Mangan, which I’ve been dipping into over the last few weeks, and am halfway through Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister by Jung Chang.

I also have the following on my TBR:

Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou: A Marriage of Unequals by Amy Licence
Following in the Footsteps of Henry Tudor by Phil Carradice
The Lives of Tudor Women by Elizabeth Norton

And on my Kindle:

The Brothers York by Thomas Penn
Elizabeth Widville, Lady Grey by John Ashdown-Hill

To answer the final question above (What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?), I would be happy if I could read at least some of the books above, but I’m also hoping that visiting other participants’ posts will help me to discover other books that I might enjoy and wouldn’t have otherwise thought of picking up.


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

23 thoughts on “Nonfiction November 2019: Week 1 – Your Year in Nonfiction

  1. jessicabookworm says:

    Helen, I am also taking part in Nonfiction November again this year 🙂 I have found my non-fiction has dropped a bit this year, so hoping to be inspired and re-motivated for the rest of the year and into the next. The best non-fictions I have read this year have been Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley and Searching For Sunday by Rachel Held Evans.

    • Helen says:

      I haven’t read as much non-fiction as I would have liked to this year either, so I’m hoping that taking part in Nonfiction November will encourage me to read more of it. I haven’t read either of your favourites but I do like the sound of the Lucy Worsley book.

  2. cirtnecce says:

    Helen your non fiction reading is exactly like mine – almost everything Historical! 😀 I agree with you that we should try and read something else and try some other genres, but I am like you somehow constantly drawn to History! Oh! Well! Atleast, we are reading, we are enjoying it and we are learning more!

  3. whatmeread says:

    I don’t know if I have any nonfiction scheduled for this month in order to participate, but I thought I’d reply to these questions. The most interesting nonfiction books I’ve read this year were Grant by Ron Chernow, Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, and Educated by Tara Westover. It’s hard to pick a favorite of those, but I’ll pick Grant, which I have not yet reviewed on my site. I have mostly read biographies and memoirs this year. The nonfiction book I have recommended the most this year is Educated.

    • Helen says:

      The good thing about this event is that there’s no requirement to read a certain number of books during the month – you can just join in with some of the weekly discussion posts and look back over the non-fiction you’ve already read.

    • Helen says:

      History and biographies or memoirs are really the only types of non-fiction I usually read – occasionally some historical true crime as well. I keep meaning to branch out and try something different, but never get round to it.

  4. Calmgrove says:

    Impressive, Helen. Myself, I’ve seriously neglected non-fiction this year: of the only six titles I’ve read two were about childhood reading (Katherine Rundell and the Lucy Mangan you’re reading now), one popular study of Frankenstein, another on the madness that is populism, a collection of Greta Thunberg’s speeches, and just one was about history (a rehash of a reviews I’ve done of one of Geoffrey Ashe’s Arthurian titles).

    I feel a little underwhelmed by my achievement, but maybe I could find a study of 19th-century whaling to go with a read of Moby-Dick… Good luck with your own plans though!

    • Helen says:

      Thank you! It sounds as though you’ve still read a good variety of non-fiction books this year, even if you haven’t read as many of them as you would have liked.

  5. Judy Krueger says:

    I read 6 non-fiction books this year, two of them huge chunksters of biographies about Martin Luther King and Lyndon B Johnson. But my two favorites were All You Need Is Love, about the Peace Corps and Sisters in Law, about the first two female justices of the US Supreme Court. Now I am reading Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West, taking it at about 20 pages a week. At 1150 pp, it will take me well into 2020 to finish but I am thrilled to be learning so much about the history of the former Yugoslavia.

    • Helen says:

      Black Lamb and Grey Falcon has been on my TBR for years, but the length has been putting me off. I’m glad you feel you’re learning a lot from it!

    • Helen says:

      Margaret definitely gets less attention than most of the other Tudors, but I found her fascinating to read about. I would highly recommend the Melanie Clegg book!

  6. marietoday says:

    How has your year in non-fiction been? What are the best non-fiction books you’ve read this year?
    Impressive! I struggle with reading non-fiction sometimes, because I feel like I have to “study” every part and it takes me a long time to finish. I am trying to train myself to skim non-fiction a little more and be comfortable with getting the big picture instead of trying to memorize the details. I’ve been working on A People’s History of the United States for a long time and I’ve also read two memoirs this year: H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald and Becoming by Michelle Obama. H is for Hawk was absolutely beautiful to read.

    • Helen says:

      I often find non-fiction a struggle too, which is why I don’t read more of it. I’m glad to hear you found H is for Hawk a beautiful read. I’ve been interested in reading it for a while, but still haven’t got round to it.

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