Non-Fiction November!

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Non-Fiction November is hosted by Kim at her blog “Sophisticated Dorkiness,” and I learned of it via Katherine’s excellent blog “The Writerly Reader.” I always beat myself up about not including enough non-fiction in my reading, so maybe participating in this meme will help with my focus. For the first week, this is our directive:

“Your Year in Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?”

And here are my responses. 🙂

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

Probably Richard Storr’s “The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science” I’ve been trying to write a blog post about is one for six months and each time I keep going off on some related tangent. There was just so much fascinating material in this book, and though I didn’t quite trust the author’s own ‘scientific cred’ I learned for the first time about a lot of (apparently common) belief systems that are really out there. Maybe the most interesting parts to me were the physiological reasons often behind why we act and think the way we do. For the goodreads.com summary of this book click here https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18114379-the-unpersuadables

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What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

I honestly don’t get too many requests from non-fiction readers for reading suggestions. One book I’ve recommended to several friends is Bill Polian’s “The Game Plan.” Polian was the President of the Indianapolis Colts for almost fifteen years and as a fanatical (yes, really) fan of that team I’ve been recommending to my fellow crazies that they read this account of how Polian built several championship teams including my Colts. The Buffalo Bills are his other main success story.

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What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?

Probably history or science. I’ve been solicited to review a couple books on our economic future because of a post I wrote some time back about the book “The End of Growth” by Richard Heinberg It was a book about a subject so sobering I’m not sure I want to explore it any further, though. :-). For history, I’ve been chewing on a book about the history of The Ottoman Empire (“Osman’s Dream”) for quite some time now. I just can’t seem to make a sustained effort to stick with it.

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What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Just to meet some new book bloggers and to learn about some more great non-fiction books (that will probably also fall victim to my inveterate procrastination)

That’s me. What non-fiction treasures have you encountered in your 2014 reading?

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30 Comments

  1. jenvolk5 said,

    November 5, 2014 at 8:41 am

    I have the opposite problem – too much non-fiction and not enough fiction!

    Like

    • Jay said,

      November 5, 2014 at 9:05 am

      Ha! Well, if we pooled our resources, we would make two well-rounded readers! 🙂

      Like

  2. Paula Cappa said,

    November 5, 2014 at 8:54 am

    I read nonfiction from time to time. “Proust Was a Neuroscientist” by Jonah Lehrer was really an experience. He writes about art and science: Walt Whitman, George Eliot, Proust, Cezanne, Stravinsky, Gertrude Stein and Virginia Woolf and their creativity and successes. Very rich, indeed!

    Like

    • Jay said,

      November 5, 2014 at 9:09 am

      That sounds great! Making a note of it. 🙂

      Like

  3. amymckie said,

    November 5, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Hmmm I don’t think I’ve read any science books this year, which is a bit strange! And even history wise, I haven’t gone very far back with my reading this year either. The graphic nonfiction work Palestine by Joe Sacco was really beautifully done and interesting, in terms of history.

    Like

    • Jay said,

      November 6, 2014 at 8:16 am

      Carl Sagan has always been one of my favorite science authors, though some of his books are getting a bit dated now. His “The Demon Haunted World” may be my favorite. Also, someone else mentions current author in a different comment here. I loved his book, “The Disappearing Spoon (&cetera)” great stories about the elements and periodic table (doesn’t sound exciting but it was great!)

      Thanks for visiting!

      Like

  4. November 5, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Ooh, The Unpersuadables sounds like it would be right up my alley. I’m almost trying to understand those that feel differently than I do.

    Historical nonfiction is probably my favorite type. That’s the kind of nonfiction that I really adore and read the most of. I’d like to read more in the science genre.

    Have a great NonFicNov!

    Like

    • Jay said,

      November 6, 2014 at 8:21 am

      Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks for the visit,and I hope you end up giving The Unpersuadables a try. Non Fiction November has inspired me to finally post a “review” about it here on my blog. The book covers so many different topics its been hard to figure out which I want to highlight in my post.

      I was a history major back in the day, so I enjoy historical non fiction as well. I read an interesting book about Civil War general Lew Wallace (author of Ben Hur) earlier this year about his being scapegoated and blamed for the failures at the battle of Shiloh.

      -Jay

      Like

  5. November 5, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    I noted in my post that I’m looking for more science books–so The Unpersuadables sounds intriguing!

    Like

    • Jay said,

      November 6, 2014 at 8:35 am

      It’s been six months now since I read The Unpersuadables, and I am still thinking about it. 🙂

      Thanks for the visit!

      Like

  6. Dale said,

    November 5, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    The only non-fiction I’ve read this year is Ross Douthat’s “Bad Religion” and Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August”. They were both very good and different enough that I can’t really say which was my favorite, but “The Guns of August” probably would have the wider appeal.

    Like

    • Jay said,

      November 6, 2014 at 8:37 am

      Hi Dale,
      I enjoyed your posts about The Guns of August and had briefly considered making my 2014 focus be World War I, but eventually decided not to. (Project: Civil War in 2010 gave me my fill of “war reading” for years to come, I guess) 🙂
      -Jay

      Like

      • Dale said,

        November 6, 2014 at 1:06 pm

        It was a very good book and well worth reading. But I, too, have had my share of war reading for a little while.

        Like

  7. November 5, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    The Unpersuadables is a new title to me, but it sounds fascinating! Another one for my growing list 🙂

    Like

    • Jay said,

      November 6, 2014 at 9:07 am

      If you end up giving it a try, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

      Thanks for visiting!

      -Jay

      Like

  8. Diane McEvilly said,

    November 5, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Hi Jay ….. I do enjoy your blog – don’t remember how I came across it …… it’s the only one I follow ….. sometimes I read or have already read something you mention ……

    Non-fiction is my forté!

    Currently reading 2: BRAVE GENIUS by Sean B. Carroll (2013)…… dual biographies of Albert Camus and Jacques Monod, French contemporaries who worked anonomously through German occupation, met after the war, became fast friends and went on to win Nobel Prizes (literature and molecular biology).

    CAMUS, A ROMANCE by Elizabeth Hawes (2009)….. an appreciative biography of Camus from inside his Notebooks and other “minor” works ..

    Recently finished: HELOISE AND ABELARD, a new biography by James Burge (2003) ….. plunge yourself into the dramatic lives of 2 of the most brilliant people of the early 12th century. Background of the times fleshes out brief phrases such as “middle ages”.

    FLAUBERT: A LIFE by Geoffrey Wall (2001) …… fascinating!

    THE DISCOVERY OF FRANCE: A HISTORICAL GEOGRAPHY by Graham Robb (2007) …… from prehistoric times, science, culture, history intertwined.

    HOW TO LIVE-OR-A LIFE OF MONTAIGNE ‘”In One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer” by Sarah Bakewell (2010) …… a moral and ethical foundation for the development of France …. biography of Montaigne and his times.

    DESCARTES’ SECRET NOTEBOOK, A True Tale of Mathematics, Mysticism and the Quest to Understand the Unverse by Amir D. Aczel (2005) ….. some history of science.

    You can see that I am deeply interested in things French!

    BURYING THE TYPEWRITER, A Memoir by Carmen Bugan (2012) …… growing up during the Ceausescu regime in Romania while her dissident father is jailed, the family is watched and humiliated. This family eventually is rescued by Amnesty International due to the teenage daughter’s daring approach to the US Embassy.

    Now, Jay, I wonder what you are going to do with the answers you receive. I am interested in history because I cannot stand to read about what is going on nowadays. Documentaries (LinkTV etc) are the best source for that in my experience.

    Diana (Dee)

    Like

    • Jay said,

      November 6, 2014 at 9:11 am

      Wow! Thanks for all those recommendations, Dee. Of the ones you list, Descartes’ Secret Notebook sounds most appealing to me, as I like both science and history. I’m adding it to my “To Read” list on goodreads.com. The Brave Genius book sounds great too, as does the Flaubert bio. I enjoy reading author bios.

      -Jay

      P.S. Thanks for following my blog. 🙂 I’m happy to have you as a reader, and I’m honored that my humble blog is the only one you follow.

      Like

  9. dastevensish said,

    November 5, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Oh my–you’ve got me dying to read The Unpersuadables now! And your link to your review of The End of Growth has me wanting to read that too! (Though he’ll be preaching to the choir.) I’ll bet that book on the Ottoman Empire is good too, but like you, I bet it would take me a while to get through.

    Like

    • Jay said,

      November 6, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      Both The Unpersuadables and the End Of Growth were good reads, but both kind of leave you shaking your head about the future of humanity. The former because of the ease with which so many of us are fooled by crazy sh** and the latter because of the mess we’ve already put ourselves in.

      Thanks for visiting Bibliophilopolis.

      Like

  10. Bellezza said,

    November 5, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Like you, I feel I don’t read enough nonfiction. As a teacher, the new Common Core standards are pushing nonfiction with the students, and I think its so very worthwhile. The smartest kids are always reading nonfiction, whereas when I was a child I stuck with fantasy…I think some of that still pertains to me today. Yet, I did love Boys in The Boat when I read it <i.last year. This year? My favorite nonfiction? I’d have to say what I always say, the Bible.

    Even though to some people, that’s probably fiction.

    Like

    • Jay said,

      November 6, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      I have fond memories of reading the Old Testament in college, where it was taught (in part, anyway) as a history of the Hebrew people. I’ve seen The Boys in the Boat around a lot but have never picked it up.

      Like

  11. November 5, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    The Unpersuadedables is TOTALLY my style…adding that to the list for sure. As for science recommendations, I’ve been throwing out Sam Kean, who writes a great mix of history/science that doesn’t get too technical.

    Like

    • Jay said,

      November 6, 2014 at 9:13 am

      I really liked Sam Kean’s “The Disappearing Spoon” a year or so ago. He had another recent book with a violin in the title (or something strange like that) that sounded appealing also. I hope you enjoy The Unpersuadables as much as I did. 🙂 Thanks for the visit!

      Like

  12. BookerTalk said,

    November 6, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    I have such good intentions about reading non fiction – but they just stay at the level of good intentions. which is why my house is groaning with worthy titles that I have not opened. I did start reading one this week though – One Billion Consumers about the rise of China as a consumer society and the tensions between that and the system of political control

    Like

    • Jay said,

      November 7, 2014 at 8:34 am

      I had a book on my TBR list for awhile (can’t remember the exact name now) about China’s rise and the predicted future where that that country is the dominant world power, but I never got to it. 😦

      Like

  13. November 7, 2014 at 7:31 am

    […] The Game Plan by Bill Polian – Jay (Bibliophilopolis) […]

    Like

  14. November 8, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    I certainly don’t get enough non-fiction in my diet. Although, I’ve had to travel a lot in the recent months and this is when I find myself putting novels aside and reading (or listening to) non-fiction. I’m a big fan of Jon Ronson and I’ve been reading and re-reading his work recently. I also received some galleys of non-fiction, which I hope to get to asap.

    Like

  15. November 9, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    The Unpersuadables sounds really good! Especially in the current political climate, where so many politicians refuse to accept scientific explanations for things that are happening. Thanks for joining us this month!

    Like

  16. Lu said,

    November 9, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    The Unpersuadables sounds fascinating. Thank you for recommending and thank you for joining in Nonfiction November!

    Like

  17. November 24, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    […] The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science by Will Storr – A book I wanted to read enough that I checked it out from the library during week two. From Bibliophilopolis […]

    Like


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