NONFICTION NOVEMBER: My Year in Nonfiction


A month-long celebration of favourite non-fiction reads

Nonfiction November is an annual challenge to read, critique and discuss non-fiction books through the most autumnal of months. The five hosts will each in turn post a different themed discussion prompt every Monday. This week’s topic is introduced by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness. It runs from 29th October – 2nd November.


For many years I read far more non-fiction than novels, but latterly I have devoured a great quantity of fiction, which has balanced the books, so to speak. However, quite unintentionally, 2018 has been all about reading and reviewing newly published titles, and my consumption of non-fiction has fallen considerably (had I participated last year, I could have named any number of excellent 900 pages plus biographies and history books). Nevertheless, there have been some outstanding reads.

Please follow the links to read my thoughts on each title.

What was your favourite non-fiction read of the year?

It is immensely difficult to pick only one book, but the following three I would highly recommend:

In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein by Fiona Sampson

Books for Living by Will Schwalbe

The Beekeeper of Sinjar by Dunya Mikhail

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

In the UK, 2018 marked 100 years since Parliament passed a law allowing the first women to vote. This milestone has been celebrated with the publication of numerous books concerning female suffrage, several of which I have read. The two that stood out for me were:

Sylvia Pankhurst: The Rebellious Suffragette by Shirley Harrison

Suffragette: The Battle for Equality by David Roberts *

* A children’s title with richly detailed artwork bringing to life historical figures from the Suffragette movement.

What non-fiction book have you recommended the most?

Hmmm, this is a tricky one… I don’t believe there has been one book I have singled out for recommendation in 2018 above all others, but I have certainly praised:

Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? 200 birds, 12 months, 1 lapsed birdwatcher by Lev Parikian

In Search of Lost Books: The Forgotten Stories of Eight Mythical Volumes by Giorgio van Straten

The Library of Ice: Readings from a Cold Climate by Nancy Campbell

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

I hope this month to read at least one highly esteemed or classic non-fiction title that has been gathering dust on my shelves. There are several I keep putting off for a rainy day, so Nonfiction November is the perfect excuse to indulge in a factual reading frenzy.



Please join #Dewithon in March 2019 – the big Wales Readathon!

Categories: Readathons / Challenges

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33 replies

  1. “Factual reading frenzy” has got to be the best, most fun way I can think of to describe this event!!!

    I’ve got to get to The Beekeeper of Sinjar, your review of that one made a big impression on me and hearing it’s one of your favorites for the year is high praise. Library of Ice also sounds intriguing! I love that you’ve been reading more about women’s suffrage, what an excellent bit of nonfiction to celebrate at that milestone year. SO many great titles here, and excited that you’re participating!

    • Thank you, Rennie. I’ve enjoyed putting together my first Nonfiction November post. The event has been most cleverly organized – well done to you and the rest of the nonfiction faction (sorry, couldn’t resist)! 😃

      • Ha, nonfiction faction – I love it! 🙂 I can’t take credit for any of the organizing, but I totally agree, they’ve created such a wonderfully fun event!

  2. Very intriguing recommendations, Paula! I don’t think there’s a book you’ve listed that I’m not interested in reading in the upcoming months. I’m not very familiar with the history of female suffrage in the UK, so the Sylvia Pankhurst bio is of special interest to me.

  3. Good luck with the non-fiction month. I’ve signed on to do a SF month, quite the opposite really! 😉

  4. I’m in the middle of a Mary Shelley bio with her mother as well. The double standards of the times are so frustrating to read about now…esp as some of them have only just shifted a little bit these days :-/

    • It’s so true, Brona. It would seem that women have always had to be superhumanly talented (often way out in front of the boys) before their gifts are acknowledged – and not even then in many instances. Things have changed for the better in some countries, but there’s still a long way to go.

  5. Can’t wait to join in! Loved reading your answers! 😊

  6. Oooo, the Mary Shelley biography is going on my list! I just read a YA nonfiction biography of her and loved it, and now I want to read more. Good luck grabbing a nonfiction classic off your shelf this month — there are a lot to choose from I’m sure. Thanks for joining us!

  7. Thanks for highlighting this – it’s the nudge I need to read more non fiction 🙂

  8. I haven’t heard of any of your recommended books, but they all sound like excellent reading. Thanks!

  9. Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear sounds great. I’m adding that to my TBR.

  10. Books for Living was a favorite a few years ago. Hadn’t heard of The Library of Ice: Readings from a Cold Climate before, but it sounds interesting.

  11. Books for Living sounds like it could be quite a great read – I’ll be looking into that one. I hope you achieve your goals this November of nonfiction reading.

  12. I really must join in with this next year – my NF TBR is out of control! The Suffragette children’s book sounds perfect for my nieces – thanks for putting it on my radar 🙂

  13. Re: #NonFicNov TBR dd 21 Nov 2018
    One sure way to get me interested in a book is the title:
    Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? So I think is it about birdwatching …or is there a deeper meaning. So I have to read it to find out! Your suggestion Suffragette (by David Roberts) just jumped out to me. I know NOTHING about the women’s struggle for the vote. It is about time I learned! Thanks so much for you comments….and I’ll be following your reviews!

  14. I’m interested in every book you listed! I actually have Books for Living out of the library right now and I loved the author’s previous book, so I’m particularly excited to pick that up 🙂


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