“Non-fiction, and in particular the literary memoir, the stylised recollection of personal experience, is often as much about character and story and emotion as fiction is.” -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Since my little baby blog is new to the interwebs, I thought it would be fun to participate in a blogging event! My first ever– eep. If you are interested in participating in the Nonfiction November event, see the announcement here at JulzReads.
Now, I have been very candid with you all about my feelings toward nonfiction. I feel that it is great for learning, sometimes great for humor, but not as enticing as the fiction genre, and I often struggle to fully commit to nonfiction reads. Ironically, when I did my own writing in college all I could manage to effectively write was nonfiction. It is what it is.
I digress. Because I haven’t always enjoyed nonfiction, my yearly reads do tend to reflect that. Last year, I read 33 nonfiction books out of a total 130 books. Don’t worry, I did a quick calculation– that’s 25%. Not awful, since I profess to dislike nonfiction. This year is another case. I have read 89 books in 2019! I take pride in this, as it was a year of many life changes–not the most stable environment for reading time. Only 11 (I’m not kidding, this is preposterous) of those books have been nonfiction! I will highlight here the ones that I enjoyed the most; truth be told, I really did love some of these!
2019: FAVORITE NONFICTION READS
Introverted Mom, Jamie C. Martin: What a gem. I love this book so much! You can read a full review here, but this book is one best read by a very specific type of person. It’s all about motherhood, and introversion (those are the “duh” points), but also literature, Christianity, human relationships. I just think this was the perfect read at a really crucial time in my life. It’s hard learning how to be a mother, even harder when you are introverted and have difficulty spending all of your time with another person (even if that person is less than a year old and knows formal language other than “mama”). It was both encouraging and gave me something to look forward in my journey as a parent.
Things My Son Needs to Know About the World, Fredrik Backman: I know that you’re tired of hearing me talk about Fredrik Backman, but I just don’t think I will. I love him far too much. This was an absolute delight. It was probably particularly enjoyable because I am in the stage of life that Backman was when writing much of the book; we are currently fully enveloped in the late nights, pregnancy, diapers and baby food stage of life. My husband listened to this while harvesting this summer, and he said that he was laughing so hard in the tractor that he was concerned someone might drive down the road and question his sanity. So much fun, so relatable.
Garlic and Sapphires, Ruth Reichl: If you read nonfiction and don’t know who Ruth Reichl is, I’m shocked. She’s the best. I also love to read about food– eating is one of my great passions (I’m sure I’m the only one 😉) and she writes about food with such character. Honestly, her story sounds like a fictional novel’s premise: restaurant critic for the New York Times decides to adopt a few disguises and personas for her visits so that she may have a genuine experience at each restaurant she chooses to review. I mean, it’s a great idea for fiction, and an even better story in reality! In addition, Reichl decides to up-end the entire tradition of food reviews by selecting restaurants that are new and exciting, featuring diverse menus and food options. It took me a bit to read (because that’s just how nonfiction goes for me), but I was happy that I did.
Inheritance, Dani Shapiro: This is my very favorite type of nonfiction; it’s both exciting and reflective. Shapiro writes in this memoir about discovering through an at-home DNA test that the father who raised her was not her biological father. As a result of this discovery, she goes on to reflect on faith, family, and identity through the lens of what she now understands to be true. I do particularly like nonfiction that explores faith; I find that the personal exploration of faith is the most relatable for me. When I am in a particularly introspective mood, it’s faith that I always come back to, and I love reading about the existence of other people’s faith. How is their experience like mine? And if I don’t want to be reading about faith, then I want to be reading about family. Honestly, there’s nothing like the relationship you have with your family, and I’m fascinated by what these connections look like. Shapiro does a brilliant thing looking at both of these aspects of the human existence. It’s beautiful, really.
Inspired, Rachel Held Evans: It’s painful to even write about this book. I felt that I learned so much from it, and I have to accept the harsh reality that no more works will be coming from Rachel Held Evans, as she tragically and unexpectedly passed away earlier this year. I come from a very Baptist background– pastor’s daughter, associational leaders’ kid, church camp counselor, etc. It was refreshing to read about Christ from a totally different perspective, freeing. So many valid ways of looking at scripture, at understanding how the Bible’s relevance is lasting and true. If you are a person of faith, I think this is one you should read. And anything else she wrote. And praise God that you were able to read her words.
The above books were rewarding reading experiences, but even more so, they reminded me that just because something isn’t in my preferred genre doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy and learn from it. Take this post as a challenge to pursue the things that you think you don’t like. You might be surprised by the outcome!
Until next time, happy reading!