I am so excited to be participating in my first Nonfiction November! I’ve been following the reviews on What’s Nonfiction and had so many lovely comments back and forth with Rennie that I figured it about time I commit to joining in for the month, even though it’s a hectic one at the bookstore (and obviously this week has been a particular nail biter) – but what better distraction than to spend a whole month celebrating nonfiction!
Week 1: (November 2-6) – Your Year in Nonfiction (Leann @ Shelf Aware): 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?
What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?
This was a tough one – there are a lot of nonfiction books that I loved this year, as there is every year, of course, but this year in particular has been a great year for nonfiction lovers. Sigh, Gone is the memoir of Phuc Tran, a Vietnamese-American who grew up in the same small town as me in Pennsylvania and who went to the same high school my mother taught at (alas she was not one of his teachers, being out on maternity leave with me, and then my sister, when he would have had her). It’s absolutely brilliantly written, and the image above links to my full review!
A Team of Their Own is probably the best book I’ve read in a long time, but finished it at the end of 2019 so it wasn’t officially this year. The story of the Korean Women’s Ice Hockey team and their journey to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018, it is a stunning and moving story about young women fighting for recognition in a sport they love with a fiery passion that is so often overlooked in Asia.
Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?
I’ve always loved shipwrecks, pirates, and World War II history, but this year I’ve felt a particular pull towards polar exploration. I blame my friend Lenore and her obsession with Antarctica for this one. We read The Stowaway for Nonfiction Book Club last year and we were all disappointed it wasn’t polar exploration heavy enough. My latest polar obsession is Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge’s Philosophy for Polar Explorers which comes out in the US on November 17th.
I also continue to be drawn to chef memoirs, looking for the heir apparent to Anthony Bourdain’s writing. This year I particularly enjoyed David Chang’s Eat a Peach and Aaron Sanchez’s Where I Come From.
What nonfiction book have you recommended most?
This is such a hard one to put my finger on as book recommending is literally my job as a bookseller! However, I think I’ve probably talked the most about Into the Raging Sea because I read it close to the beginning of the year and could talk about it before the pandemic, as well as after! It’s also a book my book club read, so it’s out on display in the store in a couple of places and so I’m more likely to get asked about it since I have a blurb on the shelf for it. Close runners up include Belonging, Solutions and Other Problems, Sigh, Gone, and A Team of Their Own.
What are you hoping to get our of Nonfiction November?
I’m hoping to connect with other nonfiction book lovers, as well as share my love for nonfiction as well! Most booksellers, and even publisher reps, are primarily fiction readers, and I’m one of few book buyers and booksellers in the area to read primarily nonfiction, so it’s been a bit lonely without other booksellers to share my nonfiction love with! I’m also always looking for more books to read, so I’m excited to see what other nonfiction readers are really loving and enjoying!