Best Non-Fiction

If you follow along here, you might notice that most of my reading is fictional. That said, 2019 has seen me reading more non-fiction than I ever have before. In fact, looking at the numbers, I’ve almost doubled the amount of non-fiction compared to 2018. Part of this is because of my Writers’ Fest Challenge, which saw me read a number of books I might not have picked up on my own. Some of them even made it to today’s post.

Honourable Mention:

Dissident Doctor by Michael C. Klein

I found this book fascinating but I also recognize that not every reader will enjoy it in the same way. Klein is smart and informed but what I liked about this book was primarily because I’m interested in birth and how we go about being born. This isn’t a topic I would have read about before having my birth experience so I wouldn’t recommend this book willy-nilly though Klein’s own history as written in the book is also quite interesting.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Another doctor though Kalanithi’s writing is far more beautiful. He’s practical but poetic and as he tells his own story and faces his own impending death he writes with such power and poise. It’s hard to read but wonderfully done.

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Speaking of hard to read. Miller is a talented writer and I look forward to seeing more from her in the future. I also think she’s extraordinarily brave and I hope many, many men in particular read her book.

Furious Hours by Casey Cep

I did not expect to enjoy this book so much but Cep packed it full of information and kept it fascinating at every turn of the page. There is so much in this book and yet it never felt overwhelming. Cep brought Harper Lee alive in a way I hadn’t seen her before but also fleshed out the lesser known people of the story in a terrific manner. I highly recommend this one.

And the Winner Is….

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground – Alicia Elliott

I probably would have awarded this first place in Monday’s category of Canadian books except I knew I was saving it for today. It’s Canadian, yes, but the problems Elliott explores of poverty and racism and social injustice are not uniquely Canadian (even if we have our own unique ways of dealing with them). This book will make you uncomfortable and that’s why you should read it.

10 thoughts on “Best Non-Fiction”

  1. I tried to listen to the audiobook for When Breath Becomes Air once and I only made it 20 minutes – it was just too harrowing for me to consume in that format. I am really interested in revisiting it in print one day, though. A Mind Spread out on the Ground sounds amazing, thank you for putting so much Canlit on my radar lately! To no one’s surprise my favorite nonfiction book of the year was Say Nothing, but I also loved Know My Name, In the Dream House, Rough Magic, Walk Through Walls, Mother Winter and Constellations by Sinead Gleeson (annoyingly long shortlist there but this was such a good nonfiction year for me!)

    1. I could definitely see how audio format would make the book way more intense. A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is excellent. It’s Canadian in focus but I think a lot is relevant for a US audience too.

  2. Ooh, I hadn’t heard of A Mind Spread Out on the Ground but it sounds excellent and important! I also have three of your honorable mentions on my TBR, one of which (Know My Name) I suspect might end up being my top nonfiction of the year (it’s on deck as my next read). Runners up for me would be Tell Me How it Ends and Ask Me About My Uterus. I just started getting into nonfiction this year, but I’m already really loving it!

    1. Excellent and important are great descriptors for this one. It’s focus is Canada but I think there’s a lot that is relevant to the US as well. I read a lot more nonfiction this year than I usually do and there was so many great reads amongst them.

    1. It’s not exactly an easy read but it didn’t take long to read. If anything, the only thing that will slow you down is needing to take a mental break.

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