Nonfiction November: A Reading List

November is truly and fully upon us on the East Coast (translation: we've reset our clocks and it is chilly out there), and with it comes Nonfiction November. I've never gotten my act together to participate in this event before, but I'm looking forward to it this year--especially because November tends to be a slower month for me in terms of review obligations (there aren't many books with December pub dates).

So, though I'm sure I'll deviate from this list, some books I'm considering for Nonfiction November. With kudos to Shannon for providing a) an amazing list of non-fiction by women, which plumped up my TBR list considerably, and b) a guide to scanning Edelweiss for non-fiction titles, which helped me discover new titles without getting bogged down in academia.

The Working Poor, by David Shipler: I changed careers this summer, leaving the world of ad men behind in favor of a position with a small charitable foundation, where I oversee our grants process. It's the first time I've ever been able to say, hands down, "I love my job," and this book is evidence of that: it's technically work research, but I'm actually enjoying it.

Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown: This is another that technically falls in the category of could-be-for-work, but after hearing so many other bloggers loving on it, I figured I should see for myself how great it is.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, by Karen Abbot: This book (which sounds fascinating in its own right, especially for those history lovers among us) sparked an interesting discussion about women writing non-fiction. It was on my list to read before that, and now it's even higher up. Plus, girl power + Civil War history + spies = probably awesome, right?

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed: I will just keep putting this on every reading challenge list it possibly fits on and eventually I'll pick it up... my only hesitation has been fear of disappointment, because I have so much love for Tiny Beautiful Things that I don't want to accidentally knock Strayed off of the pedestal on which I've placed her.

The Restless Sleep, by Stacy Horn: One I'd never even heard of until I saw that Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness (one of the hosts of Nonfiction November) is hosting a readalong of this one in honor of th month-long challenge. A deep dive into the cold-case squad in New York City.

What We See When We Read, by Peter Mendelsund: With promises to explore how our minds process what we read, how could I not fall in book love?

We Should All be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngoza Adichie: One of the books in the new Vintage Shorts series, this is a sleight book but one that's been chilling on my e-reader since its publication this summer. I think the title just about says it all, right?

Against Football, by Stephen Almond: In years past, I've gotten more and more into football as I learned to understand the rules and the calls and the art of the gameplay. But recently, I've become totally disillusioned with the sport, between the possibilities of long-term brain injury players face every day, the horrors of abuse seen in the NFL, and the way the "machine" around the sport handles every controversy that arises. So Stephen Almond's book against that very sport, subtitled "A Reluctant Manifesto," seems liked timely reading for one fan on the fence.


What nonfiction are you excited for?


  1. I know exactly what you mean with Wild...I put it off for the same reason. I'm glad I ended up reading it, even though I liked not loved, since I think it gives some insight to the opinions in Tiny Beautiful Things.

  2. So many great books! I spent some time on the 'puter this morning moving nonfiction ebooks over to my reader. Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy is definitely on my list. And The Working Poor looks so interesting.

  3. I need to do the same with my e-reader, but I always get so frustrated by the process that I put it off for ages...

    I'm about a third of the way through Working Poor, and it is just extremely interesting. It's a lot of facts and figures that reaffirm what you could probably imagine to be true, but it really drives home how hard people can work and still find themselves with no safety net. Scary, but important.

  4. I hadn't thought of the insights it would lend to TBT, but I like that approach. I've just elevated her to such a crazy level as a writer that I don't want to burst my own bubble.

  5. I feel the same way about football right now. It's just so hard to love the game on the field when there are so many outside issues with the NFL and the football machine. I want to get to Against Football soon.

  6. Emma @ Words And PeaceNovember 3, 2014 at 12:10 AM

    Just read what is probably my favorite nonfiction of the year: 100 Places Every Woman Should Go: brilliant travel essays: And am listening to the Innovators, by Walter Isaacson, excellent so far:

  7. 100 Places Every Woman Should Go sounds like something I need in my hands immediately... thanks for sharing! I hadn't heard of it before!

  8. I've heard some mixed thing about the book itself, but am hoping that because it is so timely for my personal feelings (and it sounds like yours are similar), it will hit the spot.

  9. I'll check out We Should All Be Feminists.

  10. I'm glad you love your new job! I'm hoping my next job will be with a non-profit, and I've been thinking about pursuing grant writing. I'd love to talk to you about it sometime if you have time!

    Wild is so good! I don't think it will knock Strayed off her pedestal. She does some really foolish things in this book, but her writing is just as lovely and wise.

    I started reading Liar, Temptress, Solider, Spy a while back but set it aside; the narrative switches between the four women really frequently, and it made their stories kind of hard to follow. But I'm going to pick it back up this month; their stories are so fascinating that I really do want to finish reading them. And I must read We Should All Be Feminists!

  11. It is so weirdly refreshing to find myself in a job I love... when we were coming back from Europe I had this strange realization that I was actually excited to get back to work, which was definitely a first. I'd be more than happy to talk to you about grantwriting whenever you like--just shoot me an email! kerry.a.mchugh AT gmail DOT com. I took a few online classes on grantwriting and just got back from a grantmaking conference, so I'm inundated in grants everything at the moment.

    Good to hear that about Wild, too. Thinking that may be my airplane read this weekend when we go to visit the in-laws!

  12. I can't wait to get to this one.

  13. Your comments about Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy were new to me! I must have missed the controversy and am now really intrigued. As I was browsing my nonfiction shelf at home, I start to realize just how white and male my nonfiction choices have been over the years. The books written by females (or people of color) all tend to be memoirs rather than more historical fiction. I'm glad to have realized my shortcoming!

    I also have We Should All Be Feminists on my ereader. I should have included it on my list! I started to read it shortly after I read Bad Feminist and loved the beginning.


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