Most anticipated non-fiction releases of 2021

I love thinking about all the great books that will come out in an upcoming year. I am not always that great at following through and actually reading the books but writing these posts is always a favourite part of my blogging year. I have already talked about my most anticipated SFF releases of 2021 here, today I want to highlight some of the amazing sounding non-fiction titles I am excited about (although I should probably just call it as it is: my most anticipated memoirs with the odd essay collection thrown in). Clicking on the covers will lead to the books’ Goodreads pages because I am not good at giving summaries.

As You Were by David Tromblay (published by Dzanc Books, February 16th 2021)
I am already reading this and it’s as brilliant as I hoped but also as gruesome as I figured it would be. Tromblay talks about intergenerational trauma, PTSD, abuse, and growing up Native. It is written in second person, addressing himself, in a way that seems custom-made for me to love.

Women and Other Monsters: Bulding a New Mythology by Jess Zimmermann (published by Beacon Press, March 9th 2021)
A book combining Greek mythology, female monsters/ villains, and feminism?! Sign me right up! I have an e-ARC of this book and I am very excited to get to this. I haven’t read Zimmermann’s writing before but couldn’t just not grab this when I had the chance. This sounds RIGHT up my alley.

Girlhood by Melissa Febos (published by Bloomsbury, March 30th 2021)
I have wanted to get to Febos’ writing for ages and somehow never do read her. I am determined to change that in 2021 – and this collection of essays, combining theory and memoir (my favourite kind of non-fiction writing) sounds incredible. It has also been compared to The Argonauts, a book I really enjoyed.

Broken by Jenny Lawson (published by Henry Holt, April 6th 2021)
I enjoyed the previous two memoirs by Jenny Lawson and cannot imagine this one being much different. I like her tone and her unflinching honesty regarding her mental illness while remaining funny. Here she chronicles her experience with an experimental treatment of transcranial magnetic stimulation, and I am very interested in this angle.

White Magic by Elissa Washuta (published by Tin House Books, April 27th 2021)
Another memoir-in-essays about growing up, about addiction, and about mental health, this one connects these musings to cultural beliefs and, yes, white magic to explore “questions of cultural inheritance and the particular danger, as a Native woman, of relaxing into romantic love under colonial rule.” This sounds incredible and Washuta is brilliant on twitter.

Negative Space by Lilly Dancyger (published by Santa Fe Writers’ Project, May 1st 2021)
Somebody on Twitter said that this is already their favourite book of 2021, I cannot remember who but it instantly made me add this to my TBR. I am particularly interested in this angle of the book: “But what happens when a journalist interrogates her own rosy memories to reveal the instability around the edges?” What I’ve read of Dancyger’s writing so far, I enjoyed, so I will probably love this.

Well, This Is Exhausting by Sophia Benoit (published by Gallery Books, July 13th 2021)
I adore Benoit on Twitter and really enjoy her advice column (I love a good advice column). I also particularly like memoirs-in-essays, so I have high hopes for this. Especially because I already like Benoit’s way of talking and thinking about feminism. I also expect this to be funny and I could do with more funny books. The brilliant cover doesn’t hurt either.

Never Say You Can’t Survive by Charlie Jane Anders (published by tordotcom, August 17th 2021)
I adore Charlie Jane Anders – which is basically the only reason I am interested in a book about writing. Anders wrote this book during the lockdown and as such it might really help me deal with the way our lives have all been drastically altered. Her writing is usually optimistic which is something I really need right now.

In Open Country by Rahawa Haile (published by Harper, February 2nd 2021 or maybe September 21st 2021 or maybe January 11th 2022)
This sounds incredible: Haile hiked the Appalachian Trail as a Black woman and I am here for a memoir exploring that. I love a well-done travel memoir, especially if it includes hiking. I really hope the book publishes next year but I am finding many different publication dates, no final cover, and no final description. Still, I am stoked for this. (Goodreads page here)

What are your most anticipated non-fiction releases of the year? I am particularly interested in titles in genres other than memoir.

Thoughts (and Recommendations): Memoirs Written by Women

In 2015 (I think) I decided I wanted to read more non-fiction. So, I pre-ordered a bunch of books that had recently made various “best of non-fiction” lists and read through them. I had to start somewhere – and non-fiction is a varied genre and I did not know what I would like best. I have found out three things:

  1. I LOVE non-fiction,
  2. I prefer memoirs to other forms of non-fiction,
  3. Especially memoirs written by women.

Recently I have read a few blog posts by young bloggers complaining about the lack of books mirroring their experiences with being a young adult and navigating this weird world; Young Adult novels are usually for younger readers, New Adult novels often focus on relationships (steamy ones from what I can gather – it’s a genre I haven’t read much of) and General Fiction does not quite fit either. But, and this is how this fits into this post: there ARE books that deal with this experience in varied and wonderful ways: memoirs. I think this is one of the reasons why I enjoy them so: I can read about lives similar to mine and lives very different and I can see many things I deal with and how others dealt with them, it puts my (very privileged life) into perspective and simultaneously shows me that I am not alone. Also, with a memoir you can be reasonably sure that the person made it out whatever situation she found herself in, at least enough to be able to write about the experience. There is something soothing in that.

This year, three of my favourite books were memoirs:

 

All three of them deal with growing up, with loss, with finding themselves, and with the ultimate power of art. Megan Stielstra writes about academia and fear and having children and buying and losing houses; Roxane Gay talks about her body and rape culture and finding herself; Lidia Yuknavitch writes about loss and trauma and art. All three books are honest and raw and unbelievably beautifully written.

Here are some other memoirs I have enjoyed, in no particular order (I have linked my reviews whenever possible; clicking on the covers will lead to the Goodreads pages):

34496930Nine Continents by Xiaolu Guo about growing up in China, family and family issues, art and cinema, moving abroad and feeling like an outsider.

 

12262741Wild by Cheryl Strayed about fucking up and losing her mother, about finding herself and about healing.

 

23848559Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson about mental illness and chronic pain, about finding your place, about being different and being ok with it.

 

33381433We are never meeting in real life by Samantha Irby about being queer and black and introverted.

 

Do you read memoirs at all? I sometimes feel like this is genre many neglect (maybe it’s uncool? I don’t know what’s cool).

Do you have any recommendations for me? I would love to read even more memoirs in 2018.

September 2017 Wrap-Up

September is usually a rather bad reading month for me – and this year was no exception. Partly because I spend the first half travelling (and catching up with my partner who is abroad for work for three months, so, I didn’t read at all); but mostly because the end of September is particularly busy at work. The next few months will be stressful as hell, what with my PhD kicking into high gear (wish me luck with my interviews!) and the beginning of winter term which is always crazy busy. I hope pleasure reading won’t suffer completely but I am not optimistic.

Books read in September:

  1. The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin: 4 out of 5 stars (review to come closer to the publication date)
  2. Manhattan Beach – Jennifer Egan: 2 out of 5 stars.
  3. The Relive Box and other stories – T. C. Boyle: 2 out of 5 stars.
  4. Furiously Happy – Jenny Lawson: 4 out of 5 stars.
  5. Every Heart a Doorway – Seanan McGuire: 4 out of 5 stars.

Favourite of the month:

The Immortalists. It has THE best prologue you can imagine. It had me hooked and glued to the page. The first half is stronger then the second but overall I highly recommend it for anybody who likes stories about siblings, or magical realism, or stories about growing up, or stories about magicians.

Man Booker List update:

I am not doing very well. I am still reading Underground Railroad which is still beautiful but still devastating.

I am not very happy with the shortlist. I have no intention reading Elmet or History of Wolves unless they win – both books don’t sound like anything I would enjoy. I cannot believe Underground Railroad is not on the list and I adored Solar Bones way to much for me to be happy about its exclusion. It was such a good book!

Currently Reading:

Too many books to list. I am a bit fickle and cannot convince myself to stick with one book.

This Wrap up is kind of sad – I really hope to get back into the groove soon.

But on a positive note: I went to South Africa and I cannot recommend it enough. Also, I never knew how much I love elephants. They are brilliant. And otherworldy. And a little bit scary.

Review: Furiously Happy – Jenny Lawson

23848559My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Date re-read: September 29, 2017

Published by Flatiron Books, September 2015

Verdict: I adore Jenny Lawson.

Find it on Goodreads.

In LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

According to Jenny: “Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.”

“Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you’d never guess because we’ve learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, ‘We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.’ Except go back and cross out the word ‘hiding.'”

Jenny’s first book, LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. FURIOUSLY HAPPY is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways-and who doesn’t need a bit more of that?

I adore Jenny Lawson and her wit and humanity and bravery and just sheer weirdness.

This was one of the first memoirs I read when I decided to read more non-fiction (which by the way, brilliant decision on my end) and when I needed something fun and quick to read on my flight from hell back from holiday (I just have the worst luck when it comes to flying, but this time really took the cake) this seemed like the obvious pick. And I am so glad to have decided to re-read this. Jenny Lawson is an absolute hero – and beyond hilarious. I have so much respect for her honesty and her vulnerability and her bravery, but its her wit that lifts this beyond many of the other memoirs I have read since reading this.

Jenny Lawson is painfully honest about her struggle with mental illness – and the picture she paints s not pretty. I have so much respect for the fact that she gets up time and time again and that she found a way to deal with her illness. I cannot even image how hard that must be at times. I adore her manifesto of living “furiously happy” and I adore the strength she shows.

This time around I also really appreciated her relationship with her husband a lot more than the last time – he is the straight man to her weirdness and the picture it paints of their relationship is just beautiful. I love when people are happy with their spouses.

So, yes, brilliantly done memoir with humour and wit but also raw and honest pain. Which seems to be just my favourite type of memoir (not sure what that says about me). Also, she makes taxidermy sound a lot more fun than I thought possible.

First sentence: “Dear reader, Right now you’re holding this book in your hands and wondering if it’s worth reading.”