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.