Non-Fiction November is now over, can you believe it? It’s been a wildly productive month in terms of reading (not so much in other areas, oops), so decided to put together all my reviews for NonFicNov reads, in case someone is looking for inspiration.
Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron
Categories: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Mental Health
First Publication Date: September 4, 1990
In Darkness Visible, William Styron (author of Sophie’s Choice) recounts his experience with falling to severe depression and nearly dying by suicide, to being hospitalized and eventually recovering. It’s a bit over 80 pages long, and I found it incredibly powerful. He writes so clearly and beautifully about it – it’s nearly impossible to talk about depression without metaphors and imagery, and sometimes Styron described things so perfectly in line with how my own experience was a few years ago that I had to pause to get over the eerie feeling I had from seeing my own words and feelings on paper written by someone I’ve never met. I enjoyed this, and especially how he makes an effort to de-stigmatize hospitalization and mental illness in general. A very worthy read.
The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition by Caroline Alexander
Categories: Non-Fiction, Adventure, History
First Publication Date: November 3, 1998
The Endurance’s adventures in the Antarctic is a famous story that somehow I knew next to nothing about. Shackleton and his crew went to the Antarctic right as WWI was starting looking for adventure and making history – they never get to really fulfill the mission they set out for, but their failure was epic and they became famous anyway. I shook my head a bunch of times at some of their decisions and I’m surprised they survived at all. Also the photos were really interesting!
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Categories: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Racism, Social Issues
First Publication Date: 14 July 2015
This was an incredible read. Ta-Nehisi Coates writes to his son about his life as a Black man in the US, growing up with violence and little hope of having a future, with no University. It’s a bleak, honest and beautifully written account of lack of faith in the US treating Black people without racism and its violence, trying to prepare his son and also acknowledging that they have different expectations out of life. It’s a touching and sensitive work and an absolutely incredible book.
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
Categories: Memoir, Humor
First Publication Date: October 18th 2016
Carrie Fisher shares her memories of her times during filming Star Wars and becoming suddenly famous, her brief affair with Harrison Ford, her addiction. It’s a mix of funny and emotional, and it includes a chapter of her diaries, read by Billie Lourd. I personally liked Wishful Drinking a lot more, and I did not like the focus on the Carrie and Harrison relationship (which I somehow did not know about) and realizing this happened when she was 19 and he was nearly in his mid-30s was a bit weird. Otherwise, it was really nice to listen to her and oh my god, her diaries are quite something.
Evil Has a Name: The Untold Story of the Golden State Killer Investigation by Paul Holes, Jim Clemente, Peter McDonell
Categories: True Crime
First Publication Date: November 15, 2018
I picked this up because I read I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara and it was an incredible read, and since she died before the case was closed, I thought picking up this audiobook (by one of the investigators of the case back then) would provide another angle to the story and insight into how the investigation went and how he got caught.
So Sad Today by Melissa Broder
Categories: Personal Essays
First Publication Date: March 15, 2016
So Sad Today is a collection of essays about Melissa Broder’s personal life experiences and it is written in such an incredible way (everything she writes is just so sharp, interesting and unique) and a mix of funny, dark and outright disturbing (to my vanilla self) at times. This resonated a lot with the main character in Milk Fed, and made me look at the novel with new eyes.
The Collapse by Maria Elise Sarotte
First Publication Date: 7 Oct. 2014
The Collapse tells what truly happened leading to the opening of the Berlin Wall on November 3, 1989, a truly memorable day whose history has been muddied to give credit to those who felt they deserve but who did not contribute to the chaotic and unplanned event that would shake the world. I truly enjoyed this account of how people and misunderstandings, not politics or negotiations, led to such a remarkable event. This is WILD and I kept giggling to myself. This is truly one of the best history books I’ve read lately and reminded me of Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe, in terms of dramatic storytelling, and its character-focused approach.