There are so many good reading challenges around on Twitter and Instagram, but often I only realise when they are nearly over! Perhaps it is lucky that we are only one week into Nonfiction November – which I discovered via JulzReads – and so hopefully these reflections are not too late.
My favourite nonfiction read this year was The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich, which I reviewed in September:
Alexievich’s work is a truly unique portrait of a time and place that had remained undiscovered for too long. I cannot recall another account of the war that puts the reader so firmly in the place of the people who fought and brings to life not only their actions but their thoughts, concerns, their desire to live and to see the Victory as The Unwomanly Face of War does. They come across as both extraordinary and ordinary at the same time, young girls like you or I are or were, who came together to perform superhuman tasks and drive a great evil out of their land – if not completely out of the world. We may need to call on such courage again.
It is the kind of book that you want to buy copies of for people, so you can talk about it with them. Even having read quite a few accounts of different experiences during the Second World War, there was so much here to discover, to see familiar events from a different perspective and learn about aspects that I should have known more about but which seem to have been missed in History lessons.
If you haven’t read The Unwomanly Face of War yet, what are you waiting for? It is the perfect read for any month, but especially during Nonfiction November.
Throughout the rest of the month, I hope to share more reviews of great nonfiction books and discover more titles to add to my ever-growing ‘to be read’ list.
Here are some more unmissable nonfiction reviews from the ten million hardbacks archive:
- If you watched the recent TV series about Chernobyl, Svetlana Alexievich’s Chernobyl Prayer is a must-read
- There’s a General Election underway in the UK right now, so perhaps it is the perfect time to read The Candidate by Alex Nunns
- Emma Larkin visits key locations to discover the effect the country had on his writing in Finding George Orwell in Burma
- Grace Jones sang that she would never write her memoirs. Lucky for us she lied…
- Too many unread emails getting you down? Turn to Letters of Note for inspiration in putting pen to paper instead
- Ellin Stein’s That’s Not Funny That’s Sick is a heck of a tale – featuring the team of comedy writers who went from Harvard Lampoon to National Lampoon to Saturday Night Live and conquering Hollywood
- The ‘Hungry Thirties’ in Liverpool, told through the letters and previously unpublished writings of George Garrett – a contemporary of Orwell’s – in Ten Years on the Parish
- The Summing Up by W. Somerset Maugham is the ultimate bookish autobiography and not to be missed
- Mick Wall’s biography of Lou Reed considers his musical legacy with an unflinching gaze
- The path from tribal childhood to Cambridge is hauntingly recounted in From the Land of Green Ghosts
That is a wide variety of topics, eras and countries, so I hope you find something to enjoy! What are you planning to read this Nonfiction November? Let me know in the comments and have a happy Nonfiction November.