My Year in Non-Fiction (Thus Far)


Week 1: (Nov. 3 to 7) Hosted by Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness – 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?

My favorite nonfiction read thus far this year has been Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson. Carlson focuses in on Tesla’s early years, attempting to give his thought processes, successes, and failures context. It’s a nice demystification of a remarkable man. When recommending this book, I always feel the need to preface it with, “There *is* a bit of electrical engineering. Just go with it. You’ll be alright.”

On the other side of the recommendation coin, there is Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling. Kaling is funny and surprisingly down to earth in an almost old fashioned way. No electrical engineering in this one, but more discussion of fashion than I usually tolerate. 😉

Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Opposite ends of a spectrum?


I haven’t read as many nonfiction books this year as I intended. I have a whole shelf of research books that haven’t gotten nearly enough love. I am always looking to expand my knowledge of stage magic and Mid-Western/Heartland history. I’d also like to read more about WWI and events leading up to WWI.

As for Nonfiction November? I hope visit more bloggers who enjoy nonfiction. Nonfiction often has a black-sheep reputation that I just don’t understand. Learning about the world is a great thing!


26 thoughts on “My Year in Non-Fiction (Thus Far)

  1. Came across your blog at the Nonfiction November link-up.
    When I first saw you mention Tesla, I thought it was referring to Elon Musk and the cars, but the cover makes me think that may not be the case? And I love Mindy Kaling…I should give her book a try!

  2. I may have to play along with this one. In case I don’t, though, I’ll mention here that my favorite non-fiction reads of the year were Will Storr’s “The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science” and Li Cunxin’s “Mao’s Last Dancer.”

    The former was some fascinating “embedded” journalism among believers in pseudoscience and the like. The latter was an autobiography of a Chinese ballet star who defected to the U.S. Both were great reads, but I never blogged about them. I’ve had a post “in development” on the former for months though. Maybe someday I’ll finish it…

    Coming up I’ll be reading volume two (Bradbury Unbound) of a Ray Bradbury biography. Looking back, I did better with my non-fiction reading this year than most recent years. I always feel like I need to read more NF.

    1. Ooo, The Unpersuadables sounds like it would be right up my alley. My back-burner writing project involves a lot of skepticism and it’s hard to get into the “true believer” headspace.

      1. You definitely need to read this one, then. Could serve as entertainment and research both. 🙂 You’ll probably be occasionally disappointed in the author’s own level of skepticism (as I was), but at least he “asks the tough questions” and the answers he gets are enlightening.

  3. Hmmm I think my bf (an electrical engineer) would really like that Tesla book! On my list now. And you are right – what is with the lack of love nonfiction gets on a regular basis?! 🙂

  4. I really enjoyed Mindy Kaling’s book–it felt like we were sitting together over a glass of wine and just visiting about this and that.
    I think that your blog is probably the only time that her book and a book on Tesla are mentioned in the same post! 🙂

  5. I read Thunderstruck by Erik Larsen a few years ago (he’s more well-known for The Devil in the White City), so Tesla would be a great follow-up. And I agree–sometimes it’s ok to just let the technical wash over us and still get the meat of the story.

    I listened to the Kaling on audio and enjoyed it.

    1. Thunderstruck was probably one of the first books I read that really got me hooked on nonfiction. It was about something I knew nothing about and never thought about learning about, but it was so darn interesting!

  6. I’ve heard good things about Tesla. I’d like to know more about that fellow 😀 I really enjoyed the Kaling. Tina Fey’s book was a riot as well and of course I’ll be picking up Amy Poehler’s new release. You gotta love those funny ladies!

    I’m so glad to see folks participating in this event. Nonfiction is the best and deserves the love.

  7. I read Mindy Kaling’s book last month and enjoyed it too. Do you watch her show? I haven’t read a lot of nonfiction scientific books, although I used to read quite a bit about crime scene forensics. I feel like there are more and more science books written for people without a scientific background to understand and that really appeals to me.

    1. I really like her show even though it’s not something I’d generally watch. (Oh, the magic of Hulu, allowing me to try out a random show at a random time.)

      Mary Roach does a great job of writing accessible science. If you haven’t read it, Stiff might be a good start due to its forensics sections.

  8. Stage magic? That’s interesting! Do you perform, or just like to read about it. One book about magicians I really loved is Fooling Houdini by Alex Stone — it’s narrative nonfiction, quite charming. Thanks for joining Nonfiction November!

    1. I only read about magic; my hands are too old and my time was long ago given over to writing. I enjoyed Fooling Houdini although it’s rather grumbled about in the magician world and I haven’t quite figured out why.

  9. That Mindy Kaling book has been on my bookshelf for too long, and now that you’ve recommended it, I might need to move it up on my to-read list! 🙂 Tesla also sounds like a wonderful book – it’s interesting to see how these prominent scientists come up with their ideas and problem-solve. (And I just realized that many nonfiction readers read a wide variety of nonfiction, which I find really awesome since that’s not always the case for some genres and book types.)

    1. Carlson really delves into what might have influenced Tesla’s method of thinking, which was an aspect I hadn’t encountered before when talking about Tesla.

      The variety is nice, isn’t it?

  10. I love how totally different both of these books are! I loved loved loved Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? I listened to the audiobook read by Kaling and it was perfect. I will read and watch everything she does. I’m intrigued by the Tesla book. He’s definitely an interesting figure I’d love to know more about. Thanks for joining in Nonfiction November! I can’t wait to read the rest of your posts this month!

  11. Pingback: Nonfiction November Week 1 Wrap Up | TiaMart Blog

  12. Pingback: Review ~ The Unpersuadables | The Writerly Reader

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