Monday, October 28, 2019

NONFICTION NOVEMBER: Your Year in Nonfiction

Week 1: (Oct. 28 to Nov. 1) – Your Year in Nonfiction (Julz of Julz Reads): 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?

The Look Back:
So far this year, I've read 25 non-fiction books, and I rate 9 of them at 4.5 stars out of 5 - very good reads. I just remembered! I need to consider NF books read in December of last year that got missed in the November review last year, so let's add 4 more books to the list.

29 Nonfiction books
10 Audiobooks
15 Female authors

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?  lol, I can't pick one, here's 8

Murder at McDonalds - Phonse Jessome
In the early 1990s, a McDonalds in Sydney River, Cape Breton was robbed, and three of the workers were killed. It turned out to be 3 local boys, and the community was shocked, to say the least. I remember this happening, and really enjoyed the account written by the local reporter who was just getting started when this horrific crime happened. 

Bad Blood - John Carryrou

The story of the biggest Silicon Valley scam was unbelievable. Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Therano, is a very compelling figure and after reading this book, you will be looking for more info - there is a podcast, The Dropout to check out. 

Force of Nature: The Frontier Genius of Ernest Rutherford by Richard Reeves
Biography of the New Zealand half of the Bohr-Rutherford model, I really liked the excitement of the physics discoveries happening in the first half of the 20th century. A visit to Rutherford's research room at McGill university is on my list of 'things to see' in Montreal.

Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter by Steven Johnson
Steven Johnson makes my 'best of NF' list once again. Everything Bad wasn't quite as excellent as The Ghost Map, but it was a fascinating, well argued read. 

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
Mary Roach does such a great job of digging into some very interesting aspects of science and putting them together in a dry, amusing way. This one follows the digestive system, and highlights some very obscure research being done. 

Educated by Tara Westover

Was this even real? A view into an aspect of off-grid, anti-government lifestyles in America, Tara Westover has to overcome her family and poverty to get an education.

Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer

When an author has a passion for a topic, it really doesn't matter what the topic is, it will be interesting. Kimmerer is a moss expert, and her appreciation and the connections she makes between moss and many other things, was fascinating. I notice moss so much now on my walks.

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini
I've been watching all the Scientology programs by Leah Remini and Mike Rinder on television so I knew I had to read Remini's memoir, and I was not disappointed. Her rough life in Scientology as a teenager, the Hollywood behind the scenes, and her growing disillusionment with the important people in Scientology, culminating at Tom Cruise's wedding to Katie Holmes in Italy.

Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?
Last year, one of my favourite non-fiction books was I'll Be Gone Before the Dark by Michelle McNamara and it seems to have inspired a good portion of my non-fiction reading  this year as True Crime leads my list of nonfiction reads for the year.

The Dark Heart:  A True Story of Greed, Murder, and an Unlikely Investigator - Joakim Palmkvist (ebook)
The Case of Madeleine Smith - Rick Geary (graphic novel)
The Boy on the Bicycle - Nate Hendley

and crime-related - 
The Library Book by Susan Orleans (based around the LA fire of 1985)
The Threat by Andrew McCabe, (based on the FBI, and threat assessment)
Run Hide Repeat by Pauline Dakin (based on her childhood on the run)

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?
I guess it depends on who you are. My science teacher friends get Gulp, Force of Nature, and Gathering Moss. But I have recommended all the the eight above at various times to various people this year. 

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

I like looking back and remembering some great reads, getting some books reviewed, and then reading other posts and getting a verified list of great books to look for next year!

The List December 2018
147. No One Tells You This - Glynnis MacNicol 
148. The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness - Sy Montgomery (audiobook)
150. Harry's Last Stand - Harry Leslie Smith (ebook)
154. Mission to Pluto: The First Visit to an Ice Dwarf and the Kuiper Belt - Mary Kay Carson

January - November 2019
7. *Bad Blood - John Carryroo 🎧

18. The Library Book - Susan Orlean 🎧
20. Force of Nature: The Frontier Genius of Ernest Rutherford - Richard Reeves

26. Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodson 🎧
27. Murder at McDonald's: The Killers Next Door - Phonse Jessome  (ebook)
28. Run Hide Repeat - Pauline Dakin  

35. The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump - Andrew G McCab🎧

42. The Princess Diarist - Carrie Fisher 🎧
47. Electric Universe: The Shocking True Story of Electricity - David Bodanis

53. Educated - Tara Westover (ebook)
59. District Nurse: My Life as a Nurse in the 1950s - Patricia Jordan

63. The Morningside World of Stuart McLean - Stuart McLean 
65. Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter - Steven Johnson
69.  The Dark Heart: A True Story of Greed, Murder, and an Unlikely Investigator - Joakim Palmkvist (ebook)
73. Antonia and Her Daughters - Marlena De Blasi

79. Tear Down This Wall: A City, A President, and a Speech That Ended the Cold War - Romesh Ratnesar 🎧
81. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach 🎧
82. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States - Sarah Vowell 

87. Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 🎧
90. Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers - Deborah Heiligman 🎧 
91. Death to All Sacred Cows - Beau Fraser 🎧

94. The Case of Madeleine Smith - Rick Geary
95. Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology - Leah Remini
100. Gathering Moss - Robin Wall Kimmerer

116. Talking to Strangers - Malcolm Gladwell   🎧


  1. Recently, I was depressed about the state of book blogging, but through this event, I'm seeing book blogging is still thriving especially among those who have been around a while like yourself. Sadly, I have forgotten about you and many other book bloggers, but I'm becoming reacquainted and glad I am.

    As for what books that probably will make my TBR, the top one is The Dark Heart since I already have on ebook (a Kindle deal, I think) and it sounded interesting. Did you like it?

    1. Bryan, I did like Dark Heart, but it could have been edited a bit. It was a free Kindle book during World Book Week, so that must be how we both have it. Glad to hear you are enjoying blogging a bit more.

  2. You read a lot of good nonfiction last year. I've written down Gulp, Educated, and Gathering Moss from your list. Thank you for sharing these.

    1. I have gotten better at picking my NF, so I tend to like it more. This Nonfiction November helps a lot as it gives books that people have already said are good. That's where I heard of Gathering Moss, last year.

  3. I am always amazed at how much you read with such a full and busy life you lead. So impressed.

    1. Nan, audiobooks are taking over my reading. And I started taking long walks this summer, always with an audiobook. I'm reading less and less physical books.

  4. Oh, and I love those little headphones and Canadian flags!

  5. Wow you read so many!! And I can't believe there is a book about moss - I am super excited about that! I actually really love moss as weird as that sounds. I am definitely reading that one. :) Thanks for sharing!

    1. Crackercrumblife - And the author loves moss! and is a real expert. I didn't know I would like moss as much as I did, but her enthusiasm comes through.

  6. I see our library has Troublemaker as an audiobook. I think I may try that. I love her as an actress and am interested in her story. Thanks for the recommendation!

    1. Stacie - I imagine the audiobook would be excellent! Hearing the author read it would be so great, especially an actress - they know how to perform already!

  7. I have Gathering Moss at home. I need to get into it. I suspect it will open up a whole new fascinating world.

    1. Heather - Looking for moss has changed my walks, for sure. And it is everywhere!

  8. The Mary Roach one sounds fascinating! Happy Reading!

    1. Jaymi - You can't go wrong with Mary Roach. I've loved her Stiff and Packing for Mars.

  9. Yes - when a writer is passionate about what they are writing, you are bound to get drawn in regardless as it makes you want to learn.

    You've read some interesting titles so far this year.

    Happy reading this November!

  10. Lots of great nonfiction here! I *still* need to listen to Bad Blood. Mary Roach's books are usually winners for me, too... thanks for reminding me about Gulp.

    1. JoAnn - I got the Bad Blood title last year during Nonfiction November. It was so good! I listened to it too, and was flabberghasted at the audacity of the scheme.

  11. I’m adding three from your list to mine.
    The Soul of an Octopus was my favourite non fiction read of last year.
    Please stop by to see my Introduction to NonFicNov

    1. Shelleyrae - The Soul of an Octopus wasn't my favourite, but I learned about octopus. Thanks for stopping by!

  12. I am not a big nonfiction person but I read The Library Book in July and applied to part-time library school in August! I will complete my first semester in a month. I don't think it is wholly due to the book but I certainly started thinking about libraries in a different way while listening to it.

    1. CLM - A really good fiction library read is The Incident Report by Martha Baillie. Also, Dewey the Library Cat is a great NF read. I guess there are lots of library books!

  13. Bad Blood is my favorite nonfiction I've read in a long time! It was such an engaging read and as someone who works in biotech in Silicon Valley it was fun that it was a story so close to home. I also recommend Mary Roach a lot :)

    1. DoingDewey - Oh, working in Biotech would add a whole other layer to the story. Bad Blood is an easy book to recommend to anyone. So good!

  14. I should put bad blood on my shelf. Educated already is. �� Great selection!


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