Nonfiction November – My Year In Nonfiction

Great Migration Mural
by Courtney Greene McDonald via Flickr

Looking at Kim’s nonfiction blogging challenge over at Sophisticated Dorkiness made me think back on the nonfiction works that I’ve read this year. I’m supposed to pick a favorite, but I’m really stuck between two books – The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, and Redefining Realness by Janet Mock.

Both involve memoirs of black Americans, and both are great examples of narrative nonfiction. Wilkerson’s work though is an examination of a whole set of lives throughout the Great Migration, when countless blacks traveled from the South to the North in the mid-20th century to start new lives. Mock’s book is a deeply self-reflective story about her journey from being born into a male body and growing up into the woman that she knew she always was, amidst a set of challenges stemming from her race and class. Both book are superb stories, and I really couldn’t pick a favorite.

While I read those two works of nonfiction and several others, I do wish that I’d gotten through even more nonfiction books. This was certainly a year heavy in fiction for me (but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing). I’m particularly interested in expressive memoirs, like Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah by Patricia Smith, a work of memoir-poetry that I read earlier this year, as well as branching out into more stories by non-black women of color. Next year I might even pick out ahead of time the nonfiction books I want to read.


    1. Thanks for hosting! Yes, I loved the way that Isabel Wilkerson writes in The Warmth of Other Suns, and I think you’re right about the fiction reading vs. nonfiction – most years I read more of one than another, but it usually swings back and forth.

  1. I LOVED The Warmth of Other Suns–it almost read like a novel. I couldn’t decide which “character” I was most interested in–they were all fascinating in their own way.

    1. It really did feel like a novel! I’m not sure how she was able to write like that. I think I found the Western story most interesting, but I’m a little biased since I live in California πŸ™‚

  2. The Warmth of Other Suns is on my pile to read – I think I originally set it aside because it was a bit heavy to lug around. I hope to finish it this month. Redefining Realness is on my hold list at the library and I am VERY IMPATIENT for it. Mock is such an amazing woman and I expect the book will be amazing.

    1. That’s true, it is on the larger side – but definitely worth it. And I hadn’t heard too much about Mock’s book before I read it, the first chapters took me a minute to get into, but after that it’s definitely one of those life stories that blows you away.

  3. The Warmth of Other Suns was beyond excellent and I’m so glad you’ve mentioned it. I learned so much from that book.

    I’d really like to read Janet Mock’s book. I’m glad you’ve mentioned that one too because now it’s going on my wish list πŸ˜€

    Have a great NonFicNov!

  4. I’m sad to say that I haven’t heard of either of these books but they both sound moving. I’m loving this week and learning about all different types of nonfiction.

  5. Thanks for the memoir recommendations. I have one for you, Black Girl Dreaming, which I reviewed today on my blog. Like you, I tend to read more fiction than nonfiction. Nice new blog design too!

    On the post below, my daughter read The House on Mango Street in English for school and loved it.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, I’ve heard great things about Black Girl Dreaming – I’ll have to check out your review. And I appreciate the kind thoughts on my blog design!

    1. I’m so jealous! I’d love to see Janet Mock speak. Fingers crossed that I can catch her in the Bay Area sometime πŸ™‚

  6. I have Warmth of Other Suns on my shelf and I hope to get to it soon. Thank you for reminding me and thank you for participating in Nonfiction November this month!

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