Non-fiction November?

As regular readers of Hoggletstock know, I can get pretty excited about a book challenge. Being an adult, I also love the fact that I can drop out of said challenge whenever I feel like it. But the other night, I was lazing about in my library poking about in my non-fiction section. So many things I never make time for because fiction is much more my bag. And then I thought, why not? Let’s give it a go. I can always drop out whenever I feel like it.

I tried to pull books that were varied enough to capture my mood at any given time. And I also tried to make sure that I had enough on the pile that aren’t too academic. (Although, I must say, almost none of my non-fiction collection could be classified as academic.) So this is what I came up with.

Here’s the whole stack. Have you read any of them? Any favorites? I have more I can pick from still on the shelves, but thought it would be fun to come up with a reading list for the month.
I doubt Dewey Decimal would put all these in the same area, but I’m roughly calling them the pastoral group.
A subtitle worth showing.
I’m not sure if this is going to be science or history. Maybe both.
Here is my literary group. Author focused on the bottom, books on books toward the top. After reading a bio of May Sarton where the author trashed her for 400 pages, I’m going to follow Nancy Pearl’s advice and never read bios of authors I love. I’m breaking that with the Trollope, but surely Glendinning can’t say too much about Anthony that will cause discomfort?
Also a subtitle worth seeing.
And how could I not show you this from the front of the Ambler autobiography.
My music stack is pretty small. I’ve already started The Ninth, its about the Beethoven and the world in 1824. The oral history of Charles Ives is the one I am most looking forward to. I know his music well, and I know he sold insurance for a living, but I don’t know much else.
This, along with the CIA book, is meant to slake my thirst if I get in a mood for Helen MacInnes or Ward Just.
Some illustrations will help break things up a bit.
Science and History? I listened to about 50% of a great recording of the Bryson several years ago. Might be time to actually start from the beginning and finish it. During lockdown I went through a bit of a archaeology/history phase that I’d like to continue. And then the stuff at the very top should be a little less serious.

We’ll see how all of this goes. I think I’ve chosen enough that I consider truly fun reads, so I shouldn’t find it too problematic. But the second something is expected of me (even by myself) I tend to rebel.

18 thoughts on “Non-fiction November?

  1. hiljoy October 19, 2021 / 8:03 am

    I remember really enjoying Mary McCarthy’s “How I Grew,” although I was rather young and unworldly when I read it, and when she referred, mockingly, to the acronym “CYA,” I thought it meant something like “Catholic Youth Association.” Here is why re-reading is such an education and such an abashment. Anyway, I’ll bet the Tim Parks is a quick fun read.


  2. Jenny Colvin October 19, 2021 / 9:08 am

    I very recently picked up Life in the Garden from a Better world books shopping spree!


  3. whatsnonfiction October 19, 2021 / 9:20 am

    What a selection! I liked The Only Street in Paris and Calvin Trillin is always great.


  4. julie1774 October 19, 2021 / 9:44 am

    I enjoyed Parallel Lives by Phyllis Rose, about authors and their partners. I would encourage the Ned Rorem- Knowing When to Stop. I have sung both vocal solo and choral music by him- he is one of my favorites. I met him years ago- a formidable musician and a character.. And you can’t lose with the Trollope bio.


  5. Karen K. October 19, 2021 / 11:45 am

    I also own Period Piece and the Trollope biography! Now you’ve inspired me to make up a little Nonfiction November list. I love planning reading themes for myself and never finishing them, so why not?


  6. Grier October 19, 2021 / 3:44 pm

    I’m also a fan of Penelope Lively’s nonfiction. I have The Outermost House and have started it a couple of times but found it a slog. It could be just me. I enjoyed the Benson family bio and Portrait of a Marriage. The Fisher bio looks good!


  7. Jacquie October 19, 2021 / 3:54 pm

    I would start today with The Outermost House


  8. Simon T October 19, 2021 / 5:41 pm

    The only one I’ve read is the very enjoyable Period Piece. The one I am most intrigued by is the Dorothy Canfield Fisher. I look forward to hearing more about your non-fiction journey.


  9. Gail October 19, 2021 / 8:34 pm

    I never read non-fiction…except for when I do..and then I really enjoy it. I never seek it out.
    Looking forward to hearing about your challenge.


  10. dfarabee October 19, 2021 / 9:23 pm

    Of these I’ve only read the Nigel Nicolson Portrait of a Marriage –and found it engrossing. Good luck with your challenge. It looks like a fantastic tour.


  11. Audrey Driscoll October 19, 2021 / 9:43 pm

    The only one in the stack I’ve read is The Outermost House. It’s one I regularly re-read, along with his Herbs and the Earth.


  12. Michelle Ann October 20, 2021 / 10:04 am

    I started reading Bede with trepidation, but found it really interesting – the only history of Britain actually written in the 700’s, and in short chapters. Yes, there is a lot of this bishop succeeded that bishop, and miracles, but also glimpses of everyday life – like the villagers who got tired of having a spot in the main road where a saint died being turned into a giant crater from being dug up by pilgrims, so conveniently decided he’d died in a nearby field! Bede comes across as a good man and a conscientious scholar. It’s like a little bit of time travel.


  13. Claire (The Captive Reader) October 24, 2021 / 10:31 am

    Such a great stack! It includes some of my favourites: Life in the Garden, Period Piece, The Only Street in Paris and the excellent Trollope biography.


  14. quinn quinn October 24, 2021 / 11:31 pm

    Been on a Lively fiction jag, she is subtly amazing. And Greene on Capri will have u booking your next flight there. Greene and Hazzard, can’t miss.
    Read Mark Doty bk on Whitman this year and highly recommend it from several angles.
    As always, a wonderful list and can’t wait to hear how it goes….thanks for posting


  15. Denise Costello November 6, 2021 / 9:45 am

    I’ve read How I Grew. I tend to enjoy all of Mary McCarthy’s work. Also, I really loved The Only Street in Paris. Next time in Paris I will visit rue des Martyrs. I have her next book about the Seine but have not read it yet. Cheers, Denise


  16. Cal Gough January 15, 2022 / 4:11 pm

    Just discovering this blogpost today. Of the books in your photos that I’ve read (Parallel Lives, Italian Ways, Knowing When to Stop, Library: An Unquiet History, The Outermost House, and Life in the Garden), only the Penelope Lively book (that last one mentioned) disappointed me.


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