Non-Fiction November TBR aka I’m Back!

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Hi, hello, it’s me! I’m back. I know, it’s been way too long. Looking back on reviews and posts I wrote in the spring, it feels like it’s been a decade! I’m excited to be back and I will hopefully not fall off the wagon any time soon. Unfortunately, the spring was not the right time in my life to start a book blog: I was apartment hunting and then had to move, and I was also job hunting and then had to start a new job! Sheer exhaustion was my norm, I was busy with getting settled, and I wasn’t reading much. Now that I’ve been at my job and in our place for around 6-7 months, I feel like I’m in a solid head space to write again. And guess what? I’ve definitely been reading this year! Definitely have some reviews forthcoming.

I’m a dedicated non-fiction reader. I might love a good novel, but no one has to put a gun to my head to force me to read non-fiction. Sometimes I even feel like picking up a dry academic work about an obscure topic, or a fascinating memoir, or analysis about current events. Essay anthologies!! Love em. Nevertheless, I decided that participating in Non-Fiction November would boost my reading goals for the year (I’m sorely behind) and get some awesome non-fiction works off my TBR that I’ve just been itching to pick up.

  • Night by Elie Wiesel (my translation c. 2006, Hill & Wang): I’m not sure this book needs any explanation. You may be surprised to find that I was never assigned Wiesel’s work in school or while in college despite my degree in human rights – it’s high time to get to it. Given the state of encroaching Nazism and anti-Semitism in our country and others, it’s a timely (and terrifying) reminder that we still have battles to fight.
  • Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America by Ari Berman (2015, Farrar, Straus and Giroux): It’s! A! Midterm! Year! Yes, the few weeks before Election Day remind me how exhausted I am of political ads and non-stop tweets. Yet I’m thrilled by the sheer excitement and high voter turnout we’ve seen in Texas. Give us the Ballot is Berman’s discussion of voting rights through US history, from increased enfranchisement in the 20th century to modern efforts to limit or overturn the Voting Rights Act. This is essential election reading given the state of our country’s civil and voting rights rollbacks. What better time to pick this up than in November?
  • The History of the Future by Edward McPherson (2017, Coffee House Press): An essay collection I picked up at a local independent bookshop. McPherson writes on the social history of US places, including an essay on Dallas, which is the primary reason I bought this book. It looks intriguing enough that if the rest of it holds my interest, I’ll finish it, but I don’t think I’ll have a problem DNFing if it starts to drag.
  • The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the People’s Temple by Jeff Guinn (2017, Simon & Schuster): You may remember that I featured this book in my first ever post on this blog. I eagerly started it in January, got about 30% in, and put it down fully intending to complete it. Have I? No. Will I? YES. I’m speaking it into existence. I love a good true crime book/podcast/show and I’ve always been fascinated by the psychology surrounding cults and cult indoctrination. This seems to be the definitive biography and social history about Jim Jones and his church-turned-suicidal-cult Peoples Temple. November WILL be my month to finish this!
  • Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion (1968, Farrar, Straus and Giroux): So when putting this TBR together, I did a quick glance and noticed that I did not include a single work by a female author. Highly unusual given that almost three quarters of the books I’ve read this year were written by women. I’ve been wanting to get to some of Didion’s non-fiction after finishing Play It as It Lays and not being as keen on it as I thought I would be. Didion writes on 1960s counterculture and all of its environs. Perhaps essays will suit me better?
  • Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur (1987, Chicago Review Press): I also fully intended on including at least one autobiography or biography in this TBR list. Shakur was a Black Panther who was jailed in 1977 after being convicted of murder. In her own words, she discusses her personal and political life, including being Black in the US, her conviction and relationship with law enforcement, and a political asylum plea in Cuba following an escape from prison. Shakur is a fascinating character and is still wanted by the FBI. Her story should be equal parts enthralling, angering, and inspiring.

Hmm. Perhaps I was not the only one to notice that this TBR seems a little…heavy? Political? I may need a little balance. If I do wind up DNFing any of these or need to swap out something, I’m going to pick up Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half because, yknow, sometimes we just need to laugh. The world is tough y’all. No need to hit myself over the head with it in my reading life.

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Are y’all participating in Non-Fiction November? Do you even like or pick up non-fiction? If so, what do you like? Reading any of these books I discussed? Let me know!

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