Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Nonfiction November Week #1: My Year of Reading Nonfiction

Wow, it's been a long time since I participated in a month-long reading blogfest, but Nonfiction November really appealed to me this year.

Week 1 is hosted by What's Nonfiction? and this week's prompt is to 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 read 19 nonfiction books so far this year, in two broad categories and one very specific one. I've highlighted in green my favorite in each category, although everything except the Charles Dickens' Pictures from Italy was either a 4 or a 5-star read.

Obviously, I love to read history and this was my year for WWII code breaking, in both fiction and non-fiction, and I have a couple more nonfictions in this category on my Nov/Dec short list.

Most recommended: The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson - this is history that I was never taught in grade school, junior high, high school, or college...and it is a shame it has taken me this long to learn what happened in the US during my own lifetime!

I love to read about books and find new titles and interests and rabbit holes that I can lose myself in over the next year. That's why I am participating, why I bother to blog, and why I love chatting with other bloggers.

History, Archeology

  • The Regency Years: During Which Jane Austen Writes, Napoleon Fights, Byron Makes Love, and Britain Becomes Modern, by Robert Morrison
  • The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, by Tom Reiss, Gabriel Stoian (Translator)
  • The Year 1000: What Life Was Like At the Turn of the First Millennium, by Robert Lacey, Danny Danziger
  • Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers Who Helped Win World War II, by Liza Mundy
  • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson
  • Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England, by Thomas Penn
  • Perdita: The Literary, Theatrical, Scandalous Life of Mary Robinson, by Paula Byrne
  • The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction, by Eric Rauchway
  • A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II, by Sonia Purnell
  • Digging for Richard III: The Search for the Lost King, by Mike Pitts
  • Pictures from Italy, by Charles Dickens
  • Christ Stopped at Eboli: The Story of a Year, by Carlo Levi, Frances Frenaye (Translator)
  • La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind, by Beppe Severgnini, Giles Watson (Translator)
Nature, Birding, Memoir
  • Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder: A Memoir, by Julia Zarankin
  • What It's Like to Be a Bird: From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing—What Birds Are Doing, and Why, by David Allen Sibley
  • Birds, Beasts and Relatives, by Gerald Durrell
  • Emily Dickinson's Gardening Life: The Plants and Places That Inspired the Iconic Poet, by Marta McDowell
  • This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism, by Don Lemon
  • My Place at the Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris, by Alexander Lobrano


  1. We definitely have some overlap this year! I couldn't get enough of WWII code breaking either and The Warmth of Other Suns is definitely my most recommended nonfiction title this year. I'm just sorry it took me nearly ten years to read it!

    I added A Woman of No Importance to my tbr list after reading your review a few months ago. Several of the bird books were added, too. Now to read them all...

  2. Ooh, what great categories! I also loved A Woman of No Importance. And I've really enjoyed reading more about birds this past year, but I've not read any of the books on your list,so I'll be adding those to to-read pile :)

  3. I thought The Warmth of Other Suns was excellent, and I've always intended to read Christ Stopped at Eboli. I also like the sound of Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder.

  4. I've been wanting to read Gerald Durrell's books! I have one sitting on my shelf right now. Lol.

    Emily Dickinson's Gardening Life is also going on my list!

  5. I wish I read more non-fiction. I do have a memoir and a biography lined up for Non-Fiction November, but would like to read meatier stuff like you. The Warmth of Other Suns has been on my list since it first came out, for example!

  6. 2020 was my year for Code Breakers - I find the whole idea completely fascinating and grabbed as many books as I could and there are still 50 I haven't had the chance to read.

    I have the Warmth of Other Suns on my shelf for this month and I hope to get to it.

    Enjoy NFN!

  7. So many great titles! I really enjoyed The Black Count a few years ago. Now I need to check all these bird books!
    My post is here

  8. Code Breakers and a Woman of No Importance have both been recommended highly this year. They are on my TBR shelf, I just need to make them more of a priority.

  9. Added Christ Stopped at Eboli to my list!

  10. You read a lot of good nonfiction! You might enjoy The Daughters of Yalta which was one of my favs this past year. Cheers.

    1. I just looked up The Daughters of Yalta on Goodreads and it looks terrific. Thanks for the recommendation

  11. What a great year for reading—and so many of them rated so highly! Thanks for featuring Birds, Beasts, and Relatives. That's definitely going on my list for Week Five.

  12. Christ Stopped at Eboli sounds really interesting, I'd never heard of it!

    If you enjoy birding memoirs you might like Ghostland by Edward Parnell. It's one of those genre-bending books that's memoir, literary history, and birdwatching, a pastime the author and his brother shared.

    I loved My Place at the Table, Code Girls, and A Woman of No Importance.

    1. I just added Ghostland to my tbr list and I am excited to read it. Sounds marvelous. Thanks for the recommendation.