Nonfiction November: The Year in Review


My reading stats this year skew heavily towards fiction, as they always do (I'm currently hovering around 18% nonfiction). While I haven't read a great number of non-fiction titles, perhaps the fact that the volume is limited means I'm more selective in my non-fiction selects, because a surprising number of these 18% are stand-out books that I've recommended time and again over the course of the year:


But my favorite of the year so far? The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, a book I haven't yet spent much time discussing because it has taken me the last few months to truly process the powerful story within its pages. Jeffrey Hobbs' biography of Robert Peace, his college roommate, is heartfelt and powerful, well-researched and well-written, and reveals not only a life, as all biographies due, but the context in which that life was lived, which only the best biographies accomplish. I barely scratched the surface of this in my full review, but the story of Peace's short, and indeed tragic, life has stayed with me for month after month.

Interesting, my favorite nonfiction read of the year has not been the one I've recommended the most. That title falls to either Hotel on the Place Vendome, which tells a story of World War I and World War II history through the narrow lens of the Hotel Ritz in Paris, or Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay's amazing and inspiring collection of personal essays on everything from race to sexuality to Scrabble.

Though I've read several memoirs and a few history books this year, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace marked the only true biography in my list--and given how much I loved the biographical approach to learning about a subject (in this case, poverty in America) and a time period, I wish I explored more biographical histories in my nonfiction reading.

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Which brings me to this year's Nonfiction November, kicking off this week (and thanks to Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness for hosting this week!). Because my nonfiction reading has been so low overall, my only goal for the month is to make a concerted effort to read more of the nonfiction on my list.

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My curious mind wants to know, as I dive into Nonfiction November, what your favorite nonfiction reads of the year have been?


3 comments

  1. thetangledwebweweaveNovember 6, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    Bad Feminist was already on my list but I've added The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace and Hotel on the Place Vendome to my (huge and ever expanding) nonfiction wishlist as they both sound fascinating! My favourite of this year has to be Steinbeck's Travels with Charley - beautifully observed and couldn't put it down! If you're interested, I'm hosting a nonfiction swap to tie in with this month :-) http://www.anarmchairbythesea.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/nonfiction-book-swap.html

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  2. Paddle Your Own Canoe and As You Wish are audiobook contenders for my road trip down to Richmond for Thanksgiving.


    My favorite non-fiction reads this year (so far) are Bad Feminist and In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides.

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  3. Thanks for mentioning The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace in this post and your piece on poverty up above. It sounds really good and really important. I'm going to see if I can find it.

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