Nonfiction November 2022 Week 1: Your Year in Nonfiction

I’m excited to participate once again in Nonfiction November, an annual celebration of and by nonfiction book bloggers.

This is my 3rd Nonfiction November and it’s starting to become a highlight of the year for me. I’m looking froward to making new connections with nonfiction bloggers and renewing old ones, sharing some of my favorite books and filling up my TBR with new discoveries from the group. 

Katie @ Doing Dewey is hosting Week 1 – Your Year in Nonfiction:

Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

I’ll start with the topics I’ve been focused on this year, although “focused” might be a little misleading since my interests tend to wander all over the place. That’s because I often read to get a better understanding of what’s going on in the world. And this year especially there’s been a lot going on, most of it pretty grim.

The asterisk beside some of the book titles indicates I read this book based on a recommendation from one of my fellow nonfiction bloggers. Thanks to all of you!

As in previous years, the environment and sustainability have been important topics for me. In the past 12 months I’ve read books about fungi (Entangled Life*), migratory birds (Wintering: A Season with Geese* and A World on the Wing*), trees (Around the World in 80 Trees*), the urgent importance of preserving the world’s largest megaforests (Ever Green), and the hellishly difficult challenges of dealing with climate change (How the World Really Works).

In the history category, I started the year reading The Dawn of Everything, a comprehensive retelling of human history showing how we’ve experimented with, adopted and rejected a wide range of political and social structures, not just the hierarchies we’re familiar with today. The Fabric of Civilization* explores the history of textiles and how they are closely, um, interwoven with the story of civilization itself. The highly acclaimed – and controversial – reframing of American history in The 1619 Project should be required reading for everyone in America despite, or maybe because of, the hysteria it’s caused among red-state politicians. The Economic Weapon is a history of the origins, evolution and uses of economic sanctions. Published one month before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of this year, it’s the hands-down winner of the award for Most Timely Book of the Year.

This year, domestic and international politics, law and justice, and social issues all seemed to blur together. Why We’re Polarized looks at the increasing polarization of American politics. How Rights Went Wrong and Allow Me to Retort both explore how the United States Supreme Court has contributed to that polarization. On Tyranny documents 20 warning signs of the erosion of democracy here in the US and around the world. And for a chilling preview of where we might be heading, Nothing Is True and Everything is Possible* and The Road to Unfreedom look at life in and around Vladimir Putin’s autocratic Russia.

I also reviewed a couple of this year’s decisions by the US Supreme Court: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization where the Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion, and West Virginia v. EPA where the Court severely restricted the government’s ability to fight climate change. I know these aren’t books, and based on their twisted logic it’s not even clear they qualify as nonfiction, but I include them because they’re so significant.

Finally, I read two books on personal development in the last year: Poe for Your Problems* is a whimsical little book that will help you say “nevermore” to your troubles with lessons inspired by the life of Edgar Allan Poe, and The Power of Ritual* is an inspiring guide to creating secular rituals that can help you build more connection and meaning in your life.

I think the book I’d recommend the most is The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder.  It’s a history of key events in Russia, Ukraine, Europe and America during the five-year period from 2011 to 2016. It covers Vladimir Putin engineering his re-election to a third and apparently permanent term as President of Russia in 2012, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine in 2014, and the election of Donald Trump in 2016. It’s so worthwhile because it provides a framework for understanding not just the history of those specific events but also what led up to them, and what’s happening now, today, right in front of us. 

My favorite book of the year has to be Eloquence of the Sardine*. Although it fits into the environment and sustainability theme, it really defies categorization. It’s a collection of stories about life in and around the sea. These stories aren’t fiction, although they include some tall tales. It’s part memoir and part science. It’s an invitation to each of us to reconnect with nature, to listen carefully to the stories it can tell us, and to experience it deeply so that we can tell some stories of our own.

It’s wonderfully written and a delight to read. And goodness knows we could all use a little more delight these days.

Thanks for reading.

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34 Responses to Nonfiction November 2022 Week 1: Your Year in Nonfiction

  1. I’m happy to see Nonfiction November roll back around too. And particularly glad to read your recommendations! I’m adding The 1619 Project to my list right now…as well as Eloquence of the Sardine. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. heather says:

    I’m interested in quite a few of these of these and all of them are new to me. I’m off to explore!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These are some great recommendations – I enjoy books about nature and our world.
    Eloquence of the Sardine is such a fun title, I’m intrigued!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for sharing your list. I can’t believe I haven’t heard of nonfiction November before.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congrats on a great year of reading nonfiction, and thank you for the rec’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love all the environment books on your list this year. Adding Eloquence of the Sardine to my wishlist – thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Melissa F. says:

    Nice to “meet” you via Nonfiction November! We have similar reading interests. I really liked Why We’re Polarized (I’m a big fan of Ezra’s) and several others you mentioned are on my want-to-read list.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Liz Dexter says:

    I love Nonfiction November and I really like your choices – I read a lot around nature books too, as well as social justice as normal and travel writing this last year. Enjoy the Month!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a great collection of books! Eloquence of the Sardine has been on my TBR pile for way longer than I care to admit, so it’s good to hear you really enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Awesome list! I have several in your first category on my TBR.
    And I also read one book that touched the theme of environment:

    Nonfiction November: My Year 2022 in Nonfiction

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve added a bunch of titles to my TBR list from your post, so thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ooo the book Entangled Life sounds right up my alley!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I actually have your review of Ever Green open in a tab to read right now. It’s one I also read this year, so I’ve been wanting to get back to it when I have some time to really think about it. All your other books on the environment sound good too, especially World on the Wing, which has been on my to-read list since at least last year’s nonfiction November. The Power of Ritual was one I really enjoyed too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: NonFiction November – Week 1 – ThoughtsnLifeBlog

  15. It makes me so very happy to hear that Eloquence of the Sardine was a favorite for you this year – I loved that book so much! You’re so right, it does bring some much-needed delight.

    I tried and gave up on The Road to Unfreedom a few years ago but maybe I’ll give it another go. How the World Really Works sounds completely fascinating too, especially as it sounds like it gets at the nuance of the situation, where most of what you hear on climate change is always pretty extreme one way or another.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Harry Katz says:

      Thanks so much for recommending Eloquence of the Sardine! I hope you give the other two a try but it’s possible I got so much out of The Road to Unfreedom because I haven’t read nearly as much as you about Russia and Eastern Europe.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thrilled I could be the one to recommend it to you! Timothy Snyder definitely is an expert in that area so I want to learn more from him, but I think as I already told you I was annoyed about oversimplified comparisons he made between NYC and Vienna. I completely agree with him on what’s wrong in NYC transit/hospitals and what Vienna does right, but the reality of the situation is far more complex than what he made it and a comparison between cities with such different physical and population sizes feels unhelpful. It put me in a bad mood so I quit early on that one, but that probably wasn’t fair of me!

        Like

  16. Great variety of titles you have here. THE DAWN OF EVERYTHING sounds like a fascinating read, but probably not one that I’d be able to make it through! THE POWER OF RITUAL was one that intrigued me when it first came out. I heard mixed things, though, so I haven’t picked it up. Maybe I’ll still give it a look some time.

    I only read five nonfiction titles this year. Hope to up that next year! https://fallingletters.ca/2022/11/my-year-in-nonfiction-nonfiction-november.html

    Liked by 1 person

    • Harry Katz says:

      Thanks! Yeah, The Dawn of Everything wasn’t an easy read, and I skimmed through some sections of it, but it offered a new take on human history that I did find interesting. And there were some parts of The Power of Ritual that didn’t work for me, but overall I still thought it was really worthwhile. I hope you give it a try sometime.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Molly says:

    Poe For Your Problems and The Power of Ritual were two of my favorite books from last year! I have added both How Rights Went Wrong and Allow Me To Retort to my TBR. I should probably add all your legal books but these two really caught my eye. Enjoy NFN!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Harry Katz says:

      I think you originally recommended those two last year, so many thanks!

      I hope you get the chance to read one or both of the books about the Constitution. They give a good look at how the US Supreme Court works which is really important these days.

      Like

  18. Pingback: NonFiction November 2022 Week 5: – Superfluous Reading

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