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  • Writer's pictureTerrie

A recap of the nonfiction read so far this year: memoirs to self help

In honor of Nonfiction November, and to satisfy my own curiosity, I took a look back at the nonfiction I've read so far this year. In January I set a mental goal to read more nonfiction - and I've accomplished that!

Pinterest image for 12 nonfiction books read in 2019

My average number of nonfiction reads usually runs 2-4 books a year. I've read 12 so far this year and some have been real winners! It encourages me to continue this trajectory for next year. Do you struggle with "forcing" yourself to pick up a nonfiction, only to find it dry or boring or too technical? I've got some good recommendations for you here.

I started the year off with a bang, reading one of Reese's book club recommendations, The Library Book (4.5 of 5 stars) by Susan Orlean. It's an excellent, meticulously researched book about the devastating library fire in L.A. that ruined thousands of books.

I read a few memoirs, another unusual turn for me:

Amarillo Slim by Amarillo Slim Preston (3.5 of 5) - a Christmas gift and surprisingly entertaining by the famous gambler

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl (4 of 5 stars)- memoir by the food critic for the NY Times

Educated by Tara Westover (4 of 5 stars)- a difficult story to read of surviving and soaring past physical and emotional familial abuse

Becoming by Michelle Obama (4 of 5 stars)- her autobiography

Other nonfiction includes:

Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman (3 of 5 stars) -recommended by Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy, it's a very intellectual collection of essays musing about Fadiman's love of books and reading.

I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel (3.5 of 5 stars) - another series of essays about the joys of reading by the incomparable Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy.

The Innocent Man by John Grisham (4 of 5) - the account of a man falsely imprisoned for years in OK prison.

5th Avenue 5a.m. by Sam Wasson (3.5 of 5) - the story of Audrey Hepburn, her marriage and the making of Breakfast of Tiffany's.

Notes From a Blue Bike: How to Live Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider (4 of 5) - tips on how to make intentional choices about everything from food to use of free time.

My least favorite nonfiction reads this year are:

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim deFede (2.5 of 5 stars) - a tiny town in Newfoundland takes in planes that can't land in the U.S. on 9/11.

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida (2.5 of 5 stars) - written by a 13 year old boy with autism describing his feelings and challenges.


Additionally, I did read three art/painting books feeding my creative side, but not counted in this total because they really aren't of general interest.

Tell me in the comments how you feel about reading nonfiction - do you have a particular sub-genre you enjoy? Do you love a good memoir or a fabulous self-help book? What would you recommend to someone wanting to widen their nonfiction reading?

Welcome to Bookshelf Journeys.

It's my goal to provide real reviews of the books I read without totally rehashing every plot. I'll never spoil a story by giving away a plot twist! Hopefully you'll find one or two of interest and will discover a new book or author to add to YOUR TBR list.  Take a moment to explore, read a couple reviews, and let me know what you think.


For your convenience, I use #hashtags in the reviews and when you click on one, you'll find more books with that theme. Hopefully you'll find it a helpful way to navigate the site and find books you'll enjoy. I've also recently added tags that will show up at the end of each review that serve the same purpose.

The review ratings are based on a 5 star  (1/2 stars sometimes) system with a 3 being an average read for me. I hope you find that helpful. Knowing, of course, that all opinions are just that - my opinion!  Let me know if you agree or disagree - I'd love to hear from you.

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