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My Year in Non-Fiction

A few days ago, a tweet about #NonfictionNovember came across my timeline. I was intrigued, so I clicked through to the linked post- and I found a blog event in which I definitely wanted to participate. I’m not usually one for book blog events, because they are usually reading challenges, and I’m usually too swamped with other things and other reading commitments to participate.

But the topics for this event look not just doable but fun. I love non-fiction, and I think short ebooks really shine in this genre, so I’m in!

The first week’s topic is “Your Year in Non-Fiction.”

I had a pretty good year in non-fiction. I counted, and I reviewed twenty-one non-fiction books. Click over to the handy non-fiction category list if you want to see all of them (and the ones from earlier years). Annorlunda Books (my publishing company) published two of those books, Unspotted and Okay, So Look, and I will exclude them from the answers to the more detailed questions, some of which came from the blog event topic and some of which I invented. Since this is a blog about short ebooks and collections of short writing, I’ll limit my answers to those types of books.

My favorite non-fiction book of the year: This is a very difficult pick. I’m going to call it a tie between The Fort of Young Saplings, by Vanessa Veselka, and Company Eight, by Matthew Pearl.

The non-fiction book I found myself recommending the most: Another difficult pick, mostly because I don’t always remember the recommendations I make. I suspect the book I recommended the most was The Vanishing, by Anu Silfverberg, because I was really intrigued by the ideas it raised about how to care for the aging. Homelands, by Stephen Faris is probably a close second, though, because I think it adds an important moral dimension to our debates about immigration.

The type of non-fiction I haven’t read enough of: I love short ebooks that tell a historical story in an engaging way- like Anselm Audley’s Death Keeps His Court and The Day Democracy Died. I would love to read more books like this.

The quirkiest topic: One of the strengths of the short ebook is that an author can explore a quirky topic that might not support a longer book, but is still really interesting. Mr. Dodge, Mr. Hitchcock, and the French Riviera, by Jean Buchanan, exemplifies this. I was familiar with the Cary Grant movie To Catch a Thief, but did not realize it had a basis in actual events.

My favorite science book: There aren’t nearly enough short ebooks on science topics, if you ask me, but I did read some good ones this year. My favorite was Rabbits with Horns and Other Astounding Viruses, by Carl Zimmer.

My favorite memoir: Short ebooks are also great for memoirs. Sometimes, you don’t have an entire long book worth of material in your life, but you still have something interesting to say. Gut Instincts, by Heather Abel, is a great example of this.

It feels like I’ve listed all twenty-one of the non-fiction books I reviewed this year, but I haven’t. There are still more great short non-fiction books (and collections of short non-fiction writing) in this year’s archives. I only post about books I like here, so if it is on the list, I liked it and would recommend it it. I’m always looking for more short ebooks to read, so feel free to suggest more short non-fiction in the comments.

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Comments

Parasite Rex is one of my favorite nonfiction books, so I'm definitely going to have to check out Rabbits with Horns! Thank you for joining us for Nonfiction November :)

Para emprender con algún aportación y no ser tal el Capitán Araya...
les puedo contar lo que ha sido mi experiencia y la de una persona muy cercana a mí:
Hoy en día nos atendemos con mi marido en la Cln con el doctor Balmaceda, y lo q comenzó por una dictamen de bajo conteo espermático
terminó en un problema tb de baja resolución ovárica a los medicamentos (FSH
bueno, estradiol bueno y buena cantidad de folículos antrales),
lo cual hace q me aspiren no más de 8 huevitos y queden finalmente mucho pocos
embrioncitos para transferir (1 ó 2)... así q luego de
2 intentos de Icsi fallidos.

I love your suggestion about short ebooks for nonfiction. Awhile ago I was picking up these $.99 and $1.99 novella-length ebooks on particular topics, a lot published by The Atlantic, I think. Anne Pachett did an essay on writing and there were quite a few others. I really enjoyed them, but got out of the habit of reading them. Thanks for the reminder!

I actually haven't read any of your favorite or most recommended books, so I'll have to check them out! As always this event grows my to-read list so much. Thanks for joining us! :)

I'm delighted to be joining you! Thanks for welcoming me. Kim- I've read the Ann Patchett book on writing (or at least I've read AN Ann Pattchett book on writing. The one I read was called Getaway Car, and I liked it. Quotes from it show up in my Friday quotes quite a bit. The Atavist is another great source for non-fiction short ebooks.

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