It’s here! In case you haven’t noticed, I’m so excited to be participating in Nonfiction November this year.
The primary goal of Nonfiction November is to get you to read more nonfiction than you normally do! If you never read nonfiction, you can totally participate by just picking up one nonfiction book. And if you’re looking for some recommendations, you can check out my posts here and here detailing some of my favorite nonfiction reads.
I know the hosts are planning to exclusively read nonfiction this month, but I personally don’t like reading just fiction or nonfiction, so I won’t commit to doing that. I was initially thinking I’d boost the number of nonfiction books I read this month from my usual two or three, but what I decided to do instead is tackle one of the big biographies that’s hanging out on my shelves…
FDR by Jean Edward Smith
As the title suggests, FDR is a biography of our 32nd president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR is a popular choice for biographers, but this particular book is frequently listed as the most objective, comprehensive, and clearly written. Smith is frequently lauded as one of today’s leading biographers, so I don’t think you can go wrong by picking this book up if you’re interested in learning more about FDR.
I actually bought this when I visited FDR’s home at Hyde Park, and even though I’m eager to read it, I’ve been putting it off because of its size (it’s technically 858 pages, though it’s only 636 without the citations). So I’m going to use Nonfiction November as a motivator to dive in! Plus I find myself with a bunch of massive biographies all of a sudden, and I really should start working my way through them. I’m especially interested in picking this up because I recently read the first volume in Blanch Wiesen Cook’s biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, and I came away not liking FDR very much. I’d like to read something that’s perhaps written more in his favor before I continue with Cook’s second volume.
Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano
I know FDR is going to be a commitment, but I’ve been meaning to pick up this book for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge (two tasks to go!) and held off so I could read it during Nonfiction November. It’s not too long, so I’m hopeful I can squeeze it in.
Open Veins of Latin America is essentially a look at the exploitation of Latin America by Europe and the United States. From cacao to gold to oil to rubber to coffee, the book traces how colonialists profited from Latin America at the expense of locals. Latin America is a region I know embarrassingly little about, so I’m looking forward to start correcting that with this book. One caveat, though, is that this book was published in 1971. I wouldn’t normally read something quite so dated, but I’ve seen a lot of more recent references to it and it sounds like something that is still relevant, though by no means a definitive text.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamperini, an Army Air Force lieutenant during World War II whose bomber crashed into the Atlantic. Zamperini spent 47 days drifting on a raft, followed by two and a half years in the brutal Japanese prisoner of war camps. “Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit,” according to the blurb.
I hadn’t planned to pick this book up for a while, but I enjoyed Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand so much that I wanted to read more by her. I’ve actually been listening to this book on audio since it’s narrated by Edward Herrmann, the actor who plays Richard Gilmore, and I’ve been enjoying both the story and Herrmann’s narration. It’s a pretty long audiobook, so I’m not sure I’ll finish it this month, but I look forward to continuing it for Nonfiction November. Oh, and I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’d like to after I finish the book!
I feel like it’ll be quite the accomplishment if I can make my way through FDR and Open Veins of Latin America, so I think that’s probably all I should commit to for Nonfiction November. If, by some miracle, I manage to work my way through these and still have the time and motivation for more, I do have a number of other options on my shelves.
Redefining Realness by Janet Mock is a pretty short read and one I’ve been interested in for a while. I like reading memoirs to learn about lives that are different from my own, and Mock’s memoir about her experience as transgender definitely fits the bill. Plus I’ve heard amazing things.
Madam President by William Elliott Hazelgrove is one of the books that’s been sitting on my shelves for the longest, so I’d really like to read that soon. It’s about Woodrow Wilson’s wife and how she essentially acted as president when Wilson fell ill while in office.
I’ve also been wanting to read City of Thorns by Ben Rawlence for a long time, and I should really get to it soon since I included it in my 5-Star TBR Predictions post. It’s about life in a refugee camp in Somalia, and I think it will be a really important read.
Then there’s Hunger by Roxane Gay. I’ve spoken a fair amount on my blog about how much I love Bad Feminist, so I’m eager to continue reading Gay’s works. But Hunger is a memoir about Gay’s experience with her weight and its connection to when she was sexually assaulted as a child, and I’m not sure I’m mentally prepared to read it just yet.
So yeah, I’ve got lots of books to keep me busy this month during Nonfiction November! Plus I have to read Going Dark by Monica McCarty for my book club next month. And I kind of want to read Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie so I can go see the movie with my sister-in-law at Thanksgiving. And I’d like to wrap up my Book Riot Read Harder challenge with Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst.
As if that weren’t enough, I’d also like to participate in the ComtemporaryAThon from November 13 to 19 (check out my latest book news post for more details). AND they just announced the next Tome Topple Readathon, which will take place from November 17 to November 30. I really want to participate in all the readathons, but we’ll see. Though FDR does conveniently work for Tome Topple, so that’s definitely happening! Even though it’s probably unrealistic, I do have TBRs put together for both readathons. I’m not sure if I’ll post them on my blog, but I’ll definitely put them up on my social media, so keep an eye out for that!
Alright, I’m cutting myself off before I add more books to my TBR. Are you participating in Nonfiction November? Let me know your favorite nonfiction book in the comments!