My Year in Nonfiction 2021 #NonficNov #NonfictionBookParty

November 1, 2021

My Year in Nonfiction 2021 #NonficNov

Nonfiction November poster (text in white against a green background against colorful fall leaves)

I’m eager to participate in Nonfiction November this year hosted by What’s Nonfiction, Doing Dewey, The Thousand Book Project, Plucked from the Stacks, and OCBookgirl. During the month of November, you will notice one nonfiction focused post each week:

Weekly Topics:
(Join us?)

Week 1: (November 1-5) – Your Year in Nonfiction with Rennie at What’s Nonfiction

Week 2: (November 8-12) – Book Pairing with Katie at Doing Dewey

Week 3: (November 15-19) – Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert with Veronica at The Thousand Book Project

Week 4: (November 22-26) – Stranger Than Fiction with Christopher at Plucked from the Stacks

Week 5: (November 29-December 3) — New to My TBR with Jaymi at OCBookgirl

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Year in Nonfiction: Nov 2020-Nov 2021

Nonfiction November is an opportunity to reflect on the year, to celebrate and appreciate nonfiction, and to share recommendations.

Well….this is embarrassing! My ten nonfiction reads fall significantly below my year’s goal of twenty. Three reflections on this number: 1. I’m doing a great deal of mood reading because of the lingering pandemic; 2. I haven’t come across that many NF titles that I’ve felt compelled to read; and 3. I read a majority of historical fiction, so I’m frequently immersed in history and spend time googling various events. Does anyone else feel like they’re reading nonfiction when reading well-researched histfic? This must count in some way, right?! It certainly feels like it does!

What is your favorite category of nonfiction?

I love narrative nonfiction.

“Nonfiction that uses novelistic devices and strategies to shape the work. That’s material that I really like.”
~Rick Moody

From November to November!

For this post, I am counting my nonfiction reads from the beginning of November 2020 because those nonfiction reads were not represented in last year’s post. So my nonfiction year will be from November to November!

Please join me for Nonfiction November!

Today’s host is Rennie at What’s Nonfiction

My Year in NonFiction:

***Book titles are Amazon affiliate links or links to my blog reviews.

A Variety of Memoirs!

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
Open by Andre Agassi
The Answer Is…Reflections of My Life by Alex Trebek
Never Broken by Jewel

Historical Event

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede (9-11).

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim Defede (cover) Image: a family of four (2 adults and 2 children) stand with their back to the camera watching a jetliner land

Topics/Issues (some are memoir adjacent)

Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee (Design)
Wintering by Katherine May (Rest and Retreat)
Everything Beautiful in its Time by Jenna Bush Hagar (Memories of Loved Ones)
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (the Writing Life)
Birth and Other Surprises by Kimberly Davis Basso (Humorous Parenting Essays)


  1. What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?
    I think it has to be The Day The World Came to Town by Jim Defede. Fascinating human interest story about the small town of approximately 9,000 that suddenly hosted over 6,000 people on 9-11!
  2. What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?
    Because of the 20 year observance of 9-11, I have recommended The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede and The Only Place in the Sky by Garrett M. Graff the most frequently.
  3. Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?
    Not really….I’m an incorrigible mood reader (even in nonfiction), but obviously I’m always attracted to thoughtful memoirs and biographies.
  4. What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?
    I’m eager to read posts from other bloggers and add inspiring nonfiction titles to my 2022 TBR!


I would love to hear all about your favorite nonfiction reads in the comments! If you could recommend ONE NF title for me, what would you recommend?

If you are participating in #NonficNov, please leave a link to your post in comments.

Happy Reading Book Friends!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.



    • Maybe the pandemic has turned some of us into escapist readers! I’ll need to build up my emotional stamina to read another 9-11 book.

  1. Nonfiction is difficult for me! I think they can be heavier in themes and weigh on my shoulders more. I’m mood reading more lately too!

  2. I loved Jenna Bush Hager’s new book. She and her sister really have a way with words, and the stories are about their family are so emotional and full of love.

  3. I have been more and more of a mood reader as this year has gone on. I also like memoirs. I recently read Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty and really enjoyed it.

    I agree with you about feeling like you have read nonfiction after reading historical fiction, especially when there are so many things to look up!

  4. I really like your idea of counting your year as being from November to November and may copy you next year! I hadn’t thought about the fact that I’d be missing out on including books read in Nov and Dec 2020 in either post. I’ve not yet read The Day the World Came to Town , but I did finally get to The Only Plane in the Sky after seeing everyone recommending it the last two Nonfiction Novembers 🙂

    • Happy to help! The Day the World Came to Town is a perfect uplifting compliment to Only Plane! It leaves you with a good feeling…hope you get a chance to read it! Thanks for commenting Katie!

  5. I’m enjoying literary bio’s atm – my favourite was also narrative non-fiction in style – Square Haunting by Francesca Wade. It ticked ALL My boxes. Hopefully my post will be finalised in the next day or so.

  6. I feel you on the mood reading during all of this!! And totally agree about well-researched historical fiction. I can’t count the number of times reading historical fiction has sent me in search of the real story.

    I’m going to have to look into The Day The World Came to Town, seems like a great companion read for The Only Plane in the Sky which was so well done.

  7. 10 is a perfectly respectable number! I also prefer narrative nonfiction and I’m interested in Alex Trebek’s memoir. My recommendation for you is one is The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore. It’s an interesting biography and I think you’ll like the history.

  8. I also read a lot of historical fiction and look up various events and people. It DOES feel like it should count for something! The only nonfiction I have read over the past year deal with politics and current events. I had to follow them up with a few fluffy romance novels to get me in a better mood.

    The only book I have read on your list is Open by Andre Agassi. Absolutely superb; it really captured tennis in this time period. I left a pretty detailed comment on your review post.

    PS – I am HKVoyage on Twitter, just in case you wonder who is liking your posts.

    • Lol! I try hard to avoid political nonfiction! Agassi is an interesting sports celebrity for sure!

      Thanks for helping me make the connection with your Twitter handle!

      I appreciate your thoughtful comments Adrienne!

  9. I love memoir and letters! Last year I read three volumes of Sylvia Plath’s letters, over 3,000 pages! It was so interesting to read about Sylvia’s life in her own words. Reading letters makes the overall story 3 dimensional.

    From this year I would recommend Beautiful Country: A Memoir by Qian Julie Wang

  10. The Day the World Came to Town….was that turned into a play? I feel like I have heard of this before. I love stories of people rising up in the middle of something terrible.

    My biggest recommendation (if I have to choose one) is probably Dolly Parton’s Storyteller. I sat and listened to every single song. I can’t claim that I have been a life long fan of Dolly’s music – I’m more into Jazz – but I love her and reading this was a singularly beautiful experience.

  11. This year I have tried to read nonfiction books about and by Indigenous Authors. I just posted my review for Jim Defede’s book. It was wonderful. I like your variety, Carol.

  12. I’m absolutely a mood reader as well, and I also found myself leaning away from nonfiction this past year. Thankfully, I’ve been finding so many great titles I’m unfamiliar with—and now I can include The Day the World Came to Town on my list. Thanks for putting it on my radar!

  13. Bird by Bird was one of my favorites this year too! The Day the World Came to Town sounds really good, I just finished The Only Plane in the Sky and was interested to learn a bit about that aspect of the day. I had Crying in H Mart on my radar but wasn’t sure, it did sound so very sad, but I think I need to give it a try!

  14. […] The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede: Carol at Reading Ladies put this one on my radar. She called it one of her favourites of the year and since I’d recently read The Only Plane in the Sky, this seemed like a good companion read. I’ve read this one too, just finished it the other day, and I can see why it was a favourite. I cried through the entire thing – mostly happy tears, but some heartbreak for sure. It’ll reinstate your faith that humanity is essentially good. Or we were, at one time, anyway. […]

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