My Year in Nonfiction | Nonfiction November

It’s Nonfiction November! I am so excited to be participating for the first time. Life is typically too hectic for me to feel like I can meaningfully join in, but this November looks to be quieter than usual. It’s an entire month dedicated to the celebration of nonfiction. I’ll be discussing a new topic each week, based on the prompts provided by the hosts. Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness is hosting week one.

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout by Philip Connors.

”I do not so much seek anything as allow the world to come to me, allow the days to unfold as they will, the dramas of weather and wild creatures. I am most at peace not when I am thinking but when I am observing. There is so much to see, a pleasing diversity of landscapes, all of them always changing in new weather, new light, and all of them still and forever strange to a boy from the northern plains. I produce nothing but words; I consume nothing but food, a little propane, a little firewood. By being virtually useless in the calculations of the culture at large I become useful, at last, to myself.”

Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?

For nearly a decade, I was a botany librarian. In 2017, I took a new position as a more general science librarian, but for years, I read mostly nonfiction dealing with the natural sciences. This included botanical exploration, climate change, drought, birds, trees, etc. You might think now that it’s no longer required as part of my job, I would’ve branched out, but…nope. The wilderness keeps calling. So aside from I’ll Be Gone in the Dark and Black Flags, Blue Water, I’ve read exclusively nonfiction about the natural world. I am nothing if not a creature of habit.

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

This depends on the context. In my personal life, I’ve recommended Fire Season and John Muir and the Ice That Started a Fire quite a bit. Professionally, I really push Terry Tempest Williams’ The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks.

“This is what we can promise the future: a legacy of care. That we will be good stewards and not take too much or give back too little, that we will recognize wild nature for what it is, in all its magnificent and complex history – an unfathomable wealth that should be consciously saved, not ruthlessly spent. Privilege is what we inherit by our status as Homo sapiens living on this planet. This is the privilege of imagination. What we choose to do with our privilege as a species is up to each of us.”

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?

To answer the first question, I’m not sure. Because I don’t read much in the way of nonfiction, I am not quite sure what I’ve overlooked. This leads me to the second question. I am hoping to get the lay of the land, so to speak. To find out what other people recommend, how they pair fiction and nonfiction (perhaps I can work backwards and select a new to me nonfiction book based on a novel I enjoyed), and what I’ve been missing.


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