Nonfiction November: My Year in Non-Fiction

Nonfiction November: My Year in Non-Fiction

After an unexpected month and a half without a post, I am back! Life has been a bit crazy (more in my upcoming October In Review post), but it’s now slowing down a bit. But just a bit. And I figured Nonfiction November was a great way to jump back into things. But first:

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Nonfiction November — hosted this year by Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) Julie (JulzReads), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Katie (Doing Dewey), and Rennie (What’s Nonfiction) — is a month-long celebration of everything nonfiction. Each week, there will be a different prompt about reading and loving nonfiction. Kim is hosting Week 1:

Week 1: (Oct. 29 to Nov. 2) – Your Year in Nonfiction: 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?

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?… so far

nonfiction november elephants

Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Dame Daphne Sheldrick. I loved reading about life in Kenya and how she cared for all the animals with her family. Elephants are my favorite animal, so this was both a lovely read, while also being heartbreaking. There is a lot of death, both natural and through poaching, in this memoir. By the time I had finished, I had fostered two orphans at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust rescue, and planning my future visit to meet my babies. This is one of the few physical books that I acquired and kept this year, rather than passing it on once I was finished reading.

Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?

Not really. As you can see from my list below, my non-fic reads have been all over the place, from nature to politics to memoirs to true-crime to feminism to diplomacy and international relations.

I’m Judging You: A Do Better Manual (audiobook) by Luvvie Ajayi
The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying (audiobook) by Nina Riggs
You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero
We Should All Be Feminists (audiobook) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions (audiobook) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Foreign Service: Five Decades on the Frontlines of Diplomacy by James Dobbins
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer (audiobook) by Michelle McNamara
Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Dame Daphne Sheldrick
Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After by Heather Harpham
The Art of War by Sun Tzu (does this really count? *shrugs*)
A Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.
So You Want to Talk About Race (audiobook) by Ijeoma Oluo
Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump by Dan Pfeiffer
War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence (audiobook) by Ronan Farrow
Outside the Wire: Ten Lessons I’ve Learned in Everyday Courage by Jason Kander
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Stephen Brusatte
The Elephant Scientist by Caitlin O’Connell

I used several of these books to check off 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompts!

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? 

nonfiction november i'll be gone in the dark

It’s one of the more popular answers this year, but I tell pretty much everyone to read I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer. It’s fascinating, engaging, and has an intriguing story behind both the story and the author. I am likely going to re-read this sometime next year now that we have the hindsight of knowing the identity of the Golden State Killer and seeing just how much was accurate in McNamara’s theories. Just… don’t read/listen to it right before bed. 

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

I am always looking for books to add to my Goodreads TBR and some new bloggers to my Feedly Queue. It would also be a lie if I said I wasn’t hoping to get my little own corner of the interwebs out there, seeing as this is a pretty new blog.

I am also hoping to knock out a few nonfiction books on my TBR this month. With transatlantic flights, and several train rides while on vacation, this should be a very reachable goal. On deck, I have:

nonfiction november to be read

If You Ask Me: Essential Advice from Eleanor Roosevelt by Eleanor Roosevelt (edited by Mary Jo Binker)/ I am already half way through this book, and planning to finish it up this month.

The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life by Joshua Becker / Another in-progress book I plan to finish this month.

Victoria: The Queen – An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird / With a trip to England this month, and it seems like the perfect time to read another biography about my favorite monarch.

Becoming by Michelle Obama / I miss her, so, so much.

Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomlin / I am currently in the process of selling my condo, and this is one of the few hard copy books I kept on my bookshelf for staging purposes, in the hopes that I would FINALLY read it.

The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony / Another book I kept on my bookshelf while my condo is on the market, although more recently acquired. Whenever I see a book about elephants I haven’t read at the Friends of the Library Bookstore, I grab it.

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch / I recently finished my international relations class, and wrote a paper about human rights violations in Africa. Then Humans of New York did a series on Rwandan survivors. A friend mentioned this book around the same time as the series was going on, so I also grabbed it during a recent trip to the Friends of the Library Bookstore.

Make sure you head over to Kim’s post for Week 1 to see what others are reading for Nonfiction November!

What great non-fiction have you read this year?


  1. Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) October 31, 2018 / 9:03 pm

    What a great year of nonfiction reading! You’ve read some great titles. I loved the Victoria biography on your TBR, I hope you’ll get to read it. Thanks for joining us this month!

    • Melissa November 1, 2018 / 9:07 am

      Thanks, I’ve always really enjoyed nonfiction. I think it’s because I am a naturally nosy person 🙂 I’ve been thinking about maybe listening to the audiobook of the Victoria biography, but I already have an ebook copy… It’s going to be first up after I finish my two in-progress reads.

  2. kelly November 1, 2018 / 7:34 am

    What did you think of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs? I listened to it on audio and was amazing how little I knew about the amount of knowledge gained in the study of dinosaurs since the last time I thought about them (…kindergarten?).

    • Melissa November 1, 2018 / 9:09 am

      I LOVED it. It took me longer to read than most, because of how scientific it is, but the material itself was super interesting. I was particularly fascinated by how certain breeds of dinosaurs ended up in certain places on the planet because of weather, and then how pangea split.

  3. Jade @ Reading with Jade November 3, 2018 / 5:30 am

    You have quite an eclectic mix of nonfiction titles – I read all over the show when it comes to nonfiction also! Good luck with nonfiction November & happy reading!

    • Melissa
      November 5, 2018 / 1:15 pm

      Thanks! There’s just so many great topics out there, that I don’t like to restrict myself.

    • Melissa
      November 5, 2018 / 1:16 pm

      Thank you! I am just waiting to be called up for the Foreign Service. And my blog title accurately reflects my state of mind at least 95% of the time.

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