Clio is a very good friend of mine who is a historian and loves reading (you should check out Clio’s Board Games, it’s BRILLIANT and the latest post is about women’s enfranchisement and it’s *chef’s kiss*). So obviously I was going to explore this, and Clio kindly agreed to write a recommendation post for Non-Fiction November! I’ve just posted my amateur recs if you want to check them out. Now, I give the word to my esteemed guest!
Sometimes, when you read or watch something exciting, it sends an additional shiver down your spine to see that little note “Based on a true story”. That’s what I love about reading non-fiction – all of it is a true story! Now, you only have to find those true stories that are exciting in the first place. And that’s where this post comes in. Based on my reading record of roughly two thirds non-fiction to one third fiction, here are some books which are insightful, relevant, and at the same time, riveting. For the most complex characters and most captivating plots, I encourage you to read history – but there are gems found to be elsewhere in non-fiction as well.
I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Milk Fed is the story of a young Jewish woman who goes through an emotional detox from her mother and meets a woman at a local yoghurt place. She has internalized fatphobia and a severe eating disorder, controlling every minute or her life so as not to get fat. Serious trigger warnings here for eating disorder, self-harm, toxic family relationships and homophobia. I loved the writing in this book, Melissa Broder’s sharp, dry and sarcastic tone makes anything she writes a delight to read. However, I found this book quite uninspired at times and the ending left me thinking – that’s it? Perhaps I’m seriously burned-out from the Disaster Woman trope (as I’ve mentioned a few times), but watching things unfold made me cringe so hard. I just found myself not really wanting to pick this up very often, but at least it was a quick read, and it’s definitely a bold story.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Categories: Fantasy, Sci-Fi
First Publication Date: January 26, 2016
I had a bit of a mixed experience with All the Birds in the Sky, namely that I loved the world building, thought the whimsical touches really worked for it and the humor was on-point, I even loved some of the characters, but also found myself skimming through the book a lot and I did not care for the ending. This is an adult novel that felt very often to me like middle grade, with its on-the-nose themes, which I did not really enjoy. A lot happens in this 300-page novel, making it feel much longer and be quite an immersive read, so if the writing style works for you, I think this will be a very interesting read!
I can’t believe it’s November. Less than two months and this year is over. So weird. I picked up a few nonfic reads this week, FINALLY. I have read more nonfic than usual this year, but I’ve been craving more lately and I’m glad to get some off my list. The weather is quite awful and everything is closed now due to light lockdown, so I had plenty of opportunity to read this week.
From Netgalley and Edelweiss I received:
I’m a bit nervous because I saw mixed reviews for The Sanatorium and also because the translator of Permafrost is the same as for Eartheater, which had a writing style I did not like (and might have been the translation’s fault). We will see! I’m excited to finally read Ali Smith, though. And The Animals in That Country is giving me I Hold a Wolf by the Ears and Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead vibes.
November has just started and a lot of us realize at this point we’ve been reading lots of fiction all year and would like to catch up with something different. I particularly enjoy Non-Fiction November because it makes me realize all the books that have been on my radar sometimes for years but I haven’t picked up because I’m normally more focused on recent fiction releases, plus it’s a great opportunity to hype amazing books I haven’t recommended often enough.
I realize that since I read so much more fiction than nonfic, most of the books below are no news to most of you, but I’m hoping something will spark your interest – I’ve separated the books by theme and offered a few different options on each, depending on what you like to read. I’m hoping on future recommendation posts to add some books on feminism and more biographies. Let me know in the comments your favorite recent nonfic read!
First I’m selecting here some books that I can only describe as “history but make it thrilling“, starting with The Endurance by Caroline Alexander, telling the story of Shackleton’s disastrous/heroic Antarctic expedition during WWI times. It’s full of photos, which I really enjoy. Next we have one of my favorite topics to read about, Space Race by Deborah Cadbury. It has everything: space, geniuses, political drama, things exploding. I don’t love von Braun’s charecterization here, but it’s still a great book! And last, one of the best books I’ve read in my life: Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe tells a true story of murder in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. It’s intriguing, intense and so humane, a very good introduction for those who don’t know much about the conflict.
I also loved The Calculus Wars by Jason Bardi several years ago and I’m looking forward to reading a biography of von Braun (which I’m hoping is a more sober portrait).
When No One is Watching is Alyssa Cole’s first thriller, telling the story of Sydney, a young woman who grew up in Brooklyn and now watches her neighborhood change at an unsettling pace and Theo, her new neighbor who is having relationship problems. Both are keeping secrets from others, and when Sydney starts suspecting something darker is at play when her neighbors keep disappearing, she and Theo will try to uncover the truth. This is more a romantic suspense plus contemporary than a thriller in my opinion, even though the story flows quickly and the level of tension goes through the roof by the second half, it does spend a long time developing Sydney and Theo’s relationship and explaining gentrification, its history and effects on Black neighborhoods. This was a fascinating read, and it definitely delivers on the Get Out vibes. I am not a fan of romantic suspenses/thrillers, but this really worked! It goes into very dark territory (that I will not list so as not to spoil the story) but also mundane, daily horror and violence which adds an eerie quality to the story. This is an illuminating, dark and unflinching book but also hopeful and full of love. You can feel on the pages how much love was poured into this story, which is ultimately about community and taking care of each other, and also preserving history while maintaining a critical eye. I’m impressed!
Usually I do my monthly wrap up and next month’s TBR in one post together, but the last wrap up (which went live yesterday!) had two months instead of one, so the post turned out very long and I didn’t want to make it even longer.
I’m participating on Non-Fiction Novemberand picking up a bunch of Non-Fics that have been on my TBR for a while. I am personally calling this No Excuses November and I will try and read at least 3 ARCs and reduce my TBR (it’s at 175 now and I am aiming to end up under 170). Last month I also started Faust, but I am not trying to finish it this month and therefore it’s not included in this TBR!
I’m doing a September and October Wrap Up because I was on vacation during the end of September, so I didn’t write a wrap up back then. So it will be a monstrous list, but that’s for 2 months, and for a few weeks I was on vacation plus a few days when I got sick leave, so… please don’t be scared. I normally would read far less and actually have a life (when there’s no pandemic, at least). It also helped that my husband and I did a reading sprint and got several books read in a day.
My September and October planned TBRs were as follows (in bold are the books I actually read):
The Fire Starters by Jean Carson
The Mercies by Kiran Millwoood Hargrave
Luster by Raven Leilani
A Falência por Júlia Lopes de Almeida
Burning Roses by S. L. Huang
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
The Harpy by Megan Hunter
Milk Fed by Melissa Broder (started)
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
Daughter from the Dark by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Places in the Darkness by Chris Brookmyre
Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan le Fanu
The Three-Body Problem by Cinxin Liu
Penumbra por André Vianco (dnf)
O Vilarejo por Raphael Montes
I deviated (a lot) from my planned TBR and read also: