Nonfiction November 2020 Week #3: Ask the Expert

This week is being hosted by Rennie @ WhatsNonfiction

Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert). 

I’m being a little cheeky today, but I need your help!

In 2021, I will be hosting the second year of the Nonfiction Reader Challenge. The challenge is pretty simple – select, read and review a book from any of 12 categories during the year. A book may be in print, electronic or audio format. There are three goals to select from: Nonfiction Nipper : Read 3 books, from any category: Nonfiction Nibbler : Read 6 books, from any category; Nonfiction Know-It-All : Read 12 books, one for each category

I have already selected eight of the category’s for next years challenge.

* Travel * Essay Collections * Self-Help * Published in 2021 * Biography * Disease * Oceanography * Hobbies

I’d like your help to choose four more, by selecting up to four of the topics you prefer in the poll below – even if you don’t plan on participating in the challenge!

I’d also really appreciate it if you shared titles you would recommend for any of the category’s in the comments. Perhaps you have read a fascinating biography, or a useful self-help book, or a thought-provoking collection of essays, that I can then recommend to challenge participants when the challenge is launched!

I don’t want you to go away empty handed though so here are six nonfiction titles being released in 2021 that fall into one of the above category’s.


45 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carol
    Nov 15, 2020 @ 09:24:04

    The Choice by Dr Edith Eger is a memoir (Holocaust survivor) that might fall into the self help category for PTSD.

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  2. whatsnonfiction
    Nov 15, 2020 @ 10:37:53

    I’m so excited for these new categories! I voted but can’t wait to see what you pick. Strange Bedfellows has been on my list, I think it was out in the US this year. I wanted to do all of the categories since you pick such interesting ones but I might struggle with self-help as I don’t read those, Carol’s suggestion above sounds like a really good option for that though!

    I have a bunch of good essay collections I can suggest — R. Eric Thomas’s Here For It, Elisa Gabbert’s The Unreality of Memory, Alicia Tobin’s So You’re A Little Sad, So What?, Zadie Smith’s Intimations are all collections I read this year that were outstanding. Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist is wonderful, as is Zadie Smith’s older collection Feel Free, and Jon Ronson’s Lost at Sea is one of my favorites (more long-form journalism but it works!)

    I’m SO excited for Oceanography! I can recommend Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us or Under the Sea Wind, both very readable and fascinating. Also James Nestor’s Deep, about freediving and human connections to life on different ocean levels is excellent (and so entertaining) and The Whale by Philip Hoare is a great look at whaling history via Moby Dick as well as our cultural connections to whales. Rebecca Giggs’ new book Fathoms is also about whales and conservation and very poetic and abstract, I was lukewarm about it but others absolutely love it. I’m thinking of reading Hoare’s other book, The Sea Inside, or Emperors of the Deep, about sharks and their importance for oceanic ecosystems, for the challenge. The Imperiled Ocean by Laura Trethewy is another that looks at conservation from various angles of what’s going on in different parts of the world. It’s fascinating.

    For disease: Apollo’s Arrow, the new book about the impact we can expect from coronavirus and what we can learn from past pandemics, anything by Richard Preston (The Hot Zone, The Demon in the Freezer, Crisis in the Red Zone — very readable, novelistic, thriller-like books about marburg and the Reston strain of ebolavirus, smallpox, and the 2014-2015 ebola outbreak). Biography of Resistance is about how we’ve misused antibiotics, told with basically a different story each chapter, from different parts of the world and points in history. It’s so fascinating and really important. The Perfect Predator by Steffanie Strathdee is about her research into phage therapy to save her husband after he got a resistant bacterial illness. Much more hopeful and informative than scary! Influenza by Jeremy Brown is on my list.

    My favorite biography is Robert Massie’s Catherine the Great 🙂 Sorry for the long comment, but hopefully gives some ideas and suggestions if you need them. Thanks for hosting this again, can’t wait to join in this year!

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  4. happiestwhenreading
    Nov 16, 2020 @ 04:01:16

    I’m so excited you’ll be back next year…I LOVED this challenge this year and I’ll definitely be participating again!

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Helen Murdoch
    Nov 16, 2020 @ 11:50:42

    I think I’ll participate in this challenge in 2021 as it will get me to read outside of my usual ares of interest.

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf
    Nov 16, 2020 @ 12:49:43

    I voted Indigenous Cultures (I wasn’t able to select more than one category). Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer is my current read – I’m almost finished with it – and that would fit really well (and cross over into some science categories, too).

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  7. Kate W
    Nov 16, 2020 @ 23:29:27

    Did I Say that Out Loud might be a little close to home! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Erin @ Cracker Crumb Life
    Nov 17, 2020 @ 00:27:45

    I totally meant to do your challenge this year and then well, this year happened! I will try try again!

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. Deb Nance at Readerbuzz
    Nov 17, 2020 @ 01:03:17

    I signed up for the challenge last year, but Covid got in the way, and I’m sad about that. In 2021, I will do better; I will aim to be a Know-It-All.

    Here are some suggestions (some are a bit of a stretch for the categories):

    * Travel
    Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America
    On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey
    Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park

    * Essay Collections
    Wilderness Essays by John Muir
    The Common Good by Robert Reich
    Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency
    Vesper Flights

    * Self-Help
    How to Be an Antiracist
    Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed
    Good Morning, Monster: A Therapist Shares Five Heroic Stories of Emotional Recovery
    How to Be Fine: What We Learned from Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help Books
    The Socrates Express: In Search of Life Lessons from Dead Philosophers

    * Published in 2021
    When Can We Go Back to America?: Voices of Japanese American Incarceration During World War II by Barry Denenberg
    That Sounds Fun: The Joys of Being an Amateur, the Power of Falling in Love, and Why You Need a Hobby by Annie F Downs

    * Biography
    Secret Lives of the First Ladies
    What Would Cleopatra Do?: Life Lessons from 50 of History’s Most Extraordinary Women

    * Disease
    The Body: A Guide for Occupants
    Good Blood: A Doctor, a Donor, and the Incredible Breakthrough that Saved Millions of Babies
    Influenza: The Hundred-Year Hunt to Cure the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic

    * Oceanography
    The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea
    A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic

    * Hobbies
    Bad Birdwatcher’s Companion
    That Sounds Fun: The Joys of Being an Amateur, the Power of Falling in Love, and Why You Need a Hobby by Annie F Downs

    * Food
    Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting-Pot Cuisine
    Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir
    Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line
    A Bite-Sized History of France: Delicious, Gastronomic Tales of Revolution, War, and Enlightenment
    The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese

    * Wartime Experiences
    The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
    The Splendid and the Vile
    Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of “The Children’s Ship”
    No Ordinary Men: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hans von Dohnanyi, Resisters Against Hitler in Church and State

    * Indigenous Cultures
    Dreams of El Dorado: A History of the American West

    * Inventions
    Good Blood: A Doctor, a Donor, and the Incredible Breakthrough that Saved Millions of Babies

    * Comedy/Humor
    Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style

    * Wild Animals
    What It’s Like to Be a Bird: From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing—What Birds Are Doing, and Why
    How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals
    American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee

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  10. WordsAndPeace
    Nov 17, 2020 @ 01:47:03

    Looking forward to the challenge. By the way, the poll only allows us to choose 1 topic, not 4.
    I chose wild animals and I highly recommend this one, which should soon be available in English: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3314836530?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

    And I need help on Japan: https://wordsandpeace.com/2020/11/16/nonfiction-november-2020-expert-on-japan/

    Liked by 1 person

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  11. stargazer
    Nov 17, 2020 @ 07:29:37

    I felt a bit bad about voting, since I can’t guarantee that I will participate in 2021. Generally, I’m not good at commitment and my work takes a lot of time and energy. But I really like the initiative and perhaps my voting will give me incentive to participate!

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. tracybham
    Nov 17, 2020 @ 16:23:39

    I have voted and I hope to join in on the challenge in 2021.

    Liked by 1 person

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  13. silverbuttonbooks
    Nov 18, 2020 @ 04:05:41

    I didn’t know about this challenge! How cool – I would love to participate for 2021. Maybe it will make me a more organization nonfiction reader.

    I selected Wartime and I highly recommend Code Girls by Liza Mundy. I find myself endlessly fascinated by code making and code breaking and the women who helped win the war stole my heart this year.

    Molly @ SilverButtonBooks

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  14. Jen at Introverted Reader
    Nov 18, 2020 @ 07:25:58

    Great topics!

    Disease:
    Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright
    Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
    When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
    The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

    Self-Help:
    The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama XIV and Desmond Tutu
    Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

    Travel:
    Adventures in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella Bird (Or anything by her, but this is the only one I’ve read)
    Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach

    Food:
    Gulp by Mary Roach

    Wartime Experiences:
    The Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara
    A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

    Essays:
    This I Believe, edited by Jay Allison

    Biography (I assume this includes memoirs and autobiographies?)
    I Should Have Honor by Khalida Brohi
    I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
    Becoming by Michelle Obama
    A Girl Named Zippy by Havel Kimmel

    Indigenous Cultures (I wish I had something written by an indigenous person):
    1491 by Charles C. Mann

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  15. Brona
    Nov 18, 2020 @ 09:56:01

    For local Indigenous non-fiction a great place place to start is Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe, then Fire Country by Victor Steffensen, Sand Talk by Tyson Yunkaporta and Bruce Pascoe has a new one coming out in Dec called Loving Country with Vicky Shukuroglou.

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  16. Lexlingua
    Nov 19, 2020 @ 02:38:31

    Did I say that out loud? is something I already ask myself frequently. Sheesh! Picking up World Travel from in here; it looks funny and all kinds of awesome. And just voted for the poll too, already looking forward to 2021 NonFiction spree 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  17. Gofita
    Nov 19, 2020 @ 03:26:19

    Disease: Spillover by David Quammen and Pale Rider by Laura Spinney are fantastic.

    Liked by 1 person

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  18. Jinjer
    Nov 20, 2020 @ 06:54:55

    I voted and look forward to participating in the challenge as I missed out on it this year. I will look through my books that I’ve read shelf and see if I have any recommendations for the categories you selected and that we voted on.

    Thanks for doing this!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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  19. curlygeek04
    Nov 21, 2020 @ 01:36:23

    I really enjoyed this year’s challenge, I’ve read 11 of 12 categories – the only one I’m missing, surprisingly, is a 2020 release. For next year, I’ve read some really good food-related memoirs, my favorite was Ruth Reichl’s Save Me the Plums but also liked Kwame Onwuachi and Padma Lakshmi’s memoirs. For travel, I loved The Salt Path. For essays, The Fire This Time. For humor, I really liked Shrill. I would also consider Dopesick for the disease category (addiction).

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  20. Tracey (Carpe Librum)
    Nov 21, 2020 @ 23:54:14

    Great wrap up and some terrific suggestions from fellow readers. Looking forward to participating again next year!

    Liked by 1 person

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  21. BookerTalk
    Nov 22, 2020 @ 03:45:50

    I voted though my chances of being more than a nibbler next year are very slim. I’ll do my best though… I’m especially interested in what people come forward with as suggestions for the “disease” category since I’ve asked for help on that topic too….

    For biography can I recommend My Name Is Why by Lemn Sissay. He’s a poet, was chair of judges for this year’s Booker Prize. His book traces his experience in the social care system in UK. He was fostered at birth when his Ethopian mother had to return home. She wanted him back but was told he had been adopted (a lie). He ended up in care homes, feeling unloved. Tremendously powerful book

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  22. DoingDewey
    Nov 22, 2020 @ 11:57:38

    What a fun idea for your challenge! I’d particularly recommend Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals are on wild animals and Here For It for comedy/humor. Here for It was a funny, moving memoir that will definitely be one of my favorites from this year 🙂

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  24. jessicabookworm
    Nov 23, 2020 @ 06:13:26

    Shelleyrae, I voted for food! Just because I love getting and pouring through new cookbooks! 😁

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  26. Mystica Varathapalan
    Nov 25, 2020 @ 17:37:01

    Murder in Old Bombay could be categorized for both History and Indigenous People as it deals with a small community in India.
    The Sugar Merchant set in the 11th century is another very good book.

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