Friday, December 23, 2016

Best of 2016: Nonfiction

nonfiction, review, book review
I read 15 nonfiction titles this year. A little low, right? But, there were some good ones in the mix. Here are my top 5 in alphabetical order by author: 

Alison Bechdel, review, nonfiction
Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
This graphic memoir is the story of a mother-dauther relationship, layered under the story of therapy and psychoanalysis around that relationship, layered under literary and psychoanalytic theory. It's super meta and super smart. I mean, it's Bechdel. This is the follow-up to Fun Home, which I devoured. Are You My Mother? is a harder read - harder, as in intellectually demanding of the reader - but no less rewarding.

Review, Daniel James Brown, nonfiction
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
I came to love narrative nonfiction later as a reader - it's really been in just the last few years, since I read Unbrokenthat I've been drawn to this kind of story. I blurbed Brown's book in the Best of Audiobooks post earlier this week. I'll just add here that people who like underdog stories, sports stories, or even wholesome and heartwarming love stories might like this book.

Rivka Galchen, review, nonfiction
Little Labors by Rivka Galchen

I have notes on this lovely and thought-provoking little book (it's only 130 pages) ready to write a review for Literary Quicksand. Spoiler alert: It'll be a rave. Modeled after Sei Shonagon's The Pillow Book, a Japanese work written around the year 1000, Little Labors is "not a novel and not a diary and not poems and not advice, but it has qualities of each." The primary subjects are mothering, children, art, and literature - and the curious way in which you sink into motherhood, both loving it and held uncomfortably captive by it.

Mindy Kaling, review, nonfiction
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Last spring, my sister Mary read this when we went on a trip to Chicago. She kept laughing out loud while I was trying to fall asleep. "Hurry up and finish that," I told her. "Give it to me!" I went back and forth about including Kaling's book in my Top 5 because I read other, more "serious" titles I could choose instead.  But, I laughed my head off while reading this book. If I'm being honest, I didn't like those other books as much as this one. Mindy is super funny and a really good writer. I love the inside Hollywood anecdotes, and I want to be Mindy's friend. Top 5.

Patti Smith, review, nonfiction
Just Kids by Patti Smith
I became obsessed with this book this year. I've written about it a million (four) times already on this blog. I blurbed it in the audiobooks post, too. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but it just seems like Patti Smith has a really strong sense of herself. Her feelings are her feelings. Her art is her art. I really admire her, and I loved this recent piece in the New Yorker by her. I'm going to read her next book, M Train, in 2017 for sure.

Here are the other titles I read this year with little blurbs. The little blurbs are a nice addition for Book Lists 2016, I think.  Links go to the Literary Quicksand reviews I wrote.
  • Write Time by Kenneth Atchity - A definitive, yet gentle guide to completion and publication.
  • The Taliban Shuffle by Kim Barker - Alternately appalling and amusing.
  • The Gifts of Imperfection by BrenĂ© Brown - The excellent TED talk on vulnerability suffices.
  • The Big Thing by Phyllis Korkki - A charming, quirky, and helpful menu of motivational strategies.
  • American Ghost by Hannah Nordhaus - Loved the ghost story; endured the history and geneology.
  • The Year of Yes by Shona Rhimes - Like the sentiment, not sure about the style.
  • Still Writing by Dani Shapiro - An affecting but somewhat gloomy portrait of the writer's life
  • Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell - Cool sentences and word choices. I'm not into history enough to love it.
For teachers:
  • Notice & Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst - Effective lessons for engaging students in reading
  • Understanding Independent School Parents by Michael Thompson and Allison Fox Mazzola

Next Up: Favorite 5 Childrens and YA coming on Monday!

1 comment:

LH said...

I love that you read so much and I love that you share these reviews and recaps.
Thanks, Kace!