Nonfiction November: My year in nonfiction


Hooray – the Nonfiction November challenge is back! This was my favourite blogging event of last year – so good that it’s got me back here to my blog after many months away.

The focus for this first week is to review my nonfiction reading this year. I’ll stick with the questions Kim over at Sophisticated Dorkiness has posted.

What was your favourite nonfiction read of 2015?

Do I really have to choose from so many great reads this year? Lingo was brilliant if you’re as fascinated by languages as I am, as was Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking – a brilliant ‘memoir of food, family and longing’. And I’m loving my current read so much too: The Warmth of Other Suns, a book that came onto my radar through last year’s Nonfiction November.

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

I don’t often recommend the books I read because I’ve long recognised that I have quite an eclectic reading style and other people aren’t necessarily into reading the books I choose for myself. But with my vicar’s hat on, I did recommend two seasonal reads this year, and will be recommending them again this time around too: Walking Backwards to Christmas and The Journey.

What is one topic or type of nonfiction that you haven’t read enough of yet?

I always feel I don’t have nearly enough time to read everything I want to read, so I’m pretty selective about what I do make time for. I realise I read nonfiction to read the world, so I particularly love reading memoirs about life written by people who live or lived in places and/or times very different from my own (I read a lot of fiction that fits this description too!). I never quite get around to reading as many straightforward histories or biographies of politicians and other leaders as I would like. Also, I often come across titles that speak to my other interests – especially languages and popular psychology – that never quite make it to the top of any TBR pile I might construct!

What do you hope to get out of nonfiction November?

Just simply to read as much nonfiction as I can fit in. I’ve got several ‘country’ books lined up: Germany: Memories of a Nation by Neil MacGregor, The Discovery of France by Graham Robb and Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: Adventures in Modern Russia by Peter Pomerantsev. I’ve also wanted to read The Underground Girls of Kabul for over a year now and The Secret Classroom has been similarly near the top of my must read soon list.

And I will love reading other people’s posts and adding some of their recommendations to my own impossibly long TBR list. And I’ll be encouraged, just as I was last year, that there are so many people out there who share my love of reading nonfiction.

Writing 101: Day 1 – Why do I write?

I write because I love to write. And I love to write because it helps me make sense of all my thoughts and feelings; it helps me make sense of all the different experiences of life. And, if I’m feeling brave, writing helps me share thoughts, ideas and insights with other people. Writing is also hugely important to me because it helps me work out what I need to say. I’m a really lousy speaker, especially hopeless if I have to think and speak on the spot with no time to prepare beforehand. I’m better if I’ve had time to think about what needs to be said, and I can even speak quite well (so others tell me) if I’ve had time to think it all through in writing before I get up to speak. I also write – journal – to create memories. I take great joy in re-reading things I wrote years ago to relive the experience in detail that would otherwise have been lost inside a head too busy and preoccupied with the many thoughts of today.

The Longest Good Friday

It’s been a while – it was Good Friday (April) when I last blogged. And today it’s All Saints Day (November). It’s been an eventful year, but I’ve come back to the blog as Nonfiction November is just about to begin again, and that was one of my favourite things about blogging last year.

So, watch this space . . .