Nonfiction November: 2016 So Far

Nonfiction November is an event encouraging us to dive into some real-life reads this month! This week, we’re writing about 2016 in nonfiction (so far).


So far in 2016, I’ve read seven nonfiction books – three of them in May alone!


These seven reads are ordered by how much I’d recommend them.

  1. And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts
    Hands down, this is the best nonfiction I’ve read all year. It recounts the AIDS epidemic of the 1970s and ’80s – a time too recent and a subject too “controversial” to be taught in history classes. I learned a great deal about science, culture, and public policy, but Shilts makes this tome (it does clock in at over 600 pages!) read like a page-turning novel. Highly recommended.
  2. This Is Where You Belong, by Melody Warnick
    A great read for when you’ve just moved to a new place, this book is similar to works by Laura Vanderkam and Gretchen Rubin. It’s full of practical tips about getting to know and getting to love where you live (even if you’ve lived there for quite some time). It sparked some interesting conversations at my book club!
  3. Thirty Million Words, by Dana Suskind
    I didn’t rate this book too highly on Goodreads, largely because I read an article that covered most of the highlights, so I felt as though the longer version dragged. But this subject – frequently talking to children, even before they can talk themselves – is so important, that if I gave out parenting advice (ha!) I’d recommend this all the time. Recommended for people thinking about becoming parents or people interested in language.
  4. Assassination Vacation, by Sarah Vowell
    Sarah Vowell reminds me a bit of Bill Bryson – she puts her own humorous spin on a subject, but always manages to help you walk away smarter for having read her work. In this work, she journeys to locations associated with the United States’ first three presidential assassinations (Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley). However, between traveling and splitting time between the three men, it felt choppy at times.
  5. Garlic and Sapphires, by Ruth Reichl
    Ruth Reichl was once the food critic for the New York Times – a job that required her to don disguises while eating at restaurants to keep management and waitstaff in the dark. I enjoyed it, but if you’re looking for food memoirs, I’d recommend Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle or Julia Child’s My Life in France. A+ title though.
  6. The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean
    I have a couple of orchids in my office at work and it was fun to learn more about them. However, orchids are really only half the book – the titular orchid thief (who stole endangered species from public land) was the other half, and he’s not nearly as interesting.
  7. The Confidence Effect, by Grace Killelea
    This book is supposed to give advice to career women, but I don’t feel like I learned anything. There’s plenty of books out there with the same themes, so I’d check out something else instead.

5 thoughts on “Nonfiction November: 2016 So Far

  1. And The Band Played On is one of my all-time favorite nonfiction titles… so, so good. I’ve been wanting to read Sarah Vowell for a while now, but don’t really know where to start. I can never get enough foodie nonfiction, and Garlic and Sapphires sounds like a book I’d like. Loved My Life in France, and thought Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was very good, too.


  2. I loved Assassination Vacation! If you’re in the mood for more of that type of thing, try Dead Presidents by Brady Carlson. Another presidential history geek tours around, looking at offbeat sites related to presidents after they’ve departed this sphere. Smart & a little snarky. In the good way.


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