Favourite Non-Fiction books of 2018

If you had told me a few years back that I would read enough non-fiction in a year (for fun that is) to be able to name favourites, I would not have believed you. This year, however, I have read more non-fiction than ever before. Around a quarter of the books I read this year were non-fiction and some of those were absolutely breathtaking. Today I want to talk about five of those.

Mean by Myriam Gurba

34381333I adored this. One of the first books I read this year, this has stuck with me. It took me a few essays to get on board with the writing style but once I did, it blew me away. Myriam Gurba’s impeccable structure tore my heart out once I realized what she was working towards and I am in awe by her command of her tone. Do read this, please. My review can be found here.

Dopesick by Beth Macy

40821527I still have not written a review for this and at this point I am not sure I will still do it. I have fallen of the waggon a bit (I really should not wait this long to get my thoughts down). This book is still absolutely worth reading. It is an impeccably researched overview of the US-American opioid crisis, enriched by case studies of people affected. Macy manages to show both the immediate, private reach of this crisis and the overarching problems in the health system that led to it.

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

25175985Laura Bates talks about sexism here, the small acts and the larger acts and how they together form a society that is not particularly nice to women (or men for that matter). Drawing on the extensive collection of women’s experiences with sexism and an impressive amount of research, Bates has written an incredibly important book here and one that should be required reading. My mini review can be found here.

Not That Bad ed. by Roxane Gay

35068524Another book dealing with sexism, this anthology edited by the brilliant Roxane Gay is brilliant and heartbreaking and absolutely stunningly put together. There was not a single weak essay here and the diversity of voices shows the impact rape culture has on us all. Some essays hit me hard, some made me angry, all of them are needed. I cannot wait for the upcoming works of some of these brilliant women (mostly Lyz Lenz’ non-fiction book about her faith and her own failed marriage and Aubrey Hirsch’s graphic memoir she is working on). You can find my review here.

Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot

35840657I adored this fragmented, short, impressive memoir. Terese Mailhot put all her pain and anger on the table and refuses to back down – I have so much respect for this. I still do not have the words to adequately talk about this book other than that it spoke to me. My review can be found here.

What was your favourite non-fiction book this year? I am always looking for recommendations.

Recommendations for Non-Fiction November

As every month is non-fiction month for me, I will not officially be participating in Non-Fiction November but I still wanted to talk about some of my favourites and recommend a few books that those of you who are looking to read more non-fiction might want to check out. Disclaimer first: my non-fiction reading is heavily dominated by memoirs written by women, feminist essays, and creative non-fiction. I rarely read biographies (but really want to more) and general non-fiction, so here your recommendations are very welcome. Recommendations are always welcome, in fact.

I have based my recommendations on other genres, so that this is also accessible to those who don’t ever read non-fiction.

If you usually read contemporary, then memoirs might be the way to go. Usually fairly accessible, memoirs often deal with that weird period of life between being a child and being properly “grown up” and for me offered a much-needed glimpse into other people’s lives. (I have written a whole post on why I love memoirs which can be found here.)

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

35840657One of my absolute favourite books of the year, this short memoir packs an enormous punch. Written in fragments and often in a spiralling way, Mailhot chronicles her fight with mental illness and what it means to be Native. She does not claim to speak a universal truth, but only her truth and I found this incredibly effective. Her language is poetic and abrasive and I am very much in love. I still don’t have the words to talk about this properly, but in my review I tried.

Mean by Myriam Gurba

34381333This book took me totally by surprise. It took me a while to find my bearing and to get used to the abrasive writing style, but once I did and once I realized what Gurba’s essays were working towards, I was hooked and in awe. The book is a total punch to the gut, but so very brilliantly executed that I cannot help but adore it. My review can be found here.

The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch

9214995No list would be complete without me recommending this book. In fact, if you only read one book from this list, maybe choose this. It was my favourite book of last year and just a complete masterpiece. Lidia Yuknavitch has a brilliant way with words and her memoir is raw and honest and just perfect. My longer review can be found here.

If you are really invested in politics, then some of these feminist essay collections might be of interest for you.

Not That Bad ed. by Roxane Gay

35068524One of the best books I have read this year, this collection of personal essays on rape culture really is a must read. I am obviously a huge fan of Roxane Gay’s work and I was very impressed by the way she curated these wonderful essays. There was not a single essay in this collection that I did not appreciate and I found a lot of people whose next work I am eagerly awaiting and whose other essays I am reading religiously. If you can deal the subject matter, I really do recommend picking this up. My longer review can be found here.

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

25175985Laura Bates is the founder of the Everyday Sexism project and her collection of essays on the subject and on the project is definitely worth checking out. I listened to the audiobook, which Laura Bates narrates herself and I found myself really immersed in her writing. Her book is impeccably researched and wonderfully realized; she draws both on literature and statistics and on the more personal anecdotes shared on the Everyday Sexism page and builds a really convincing whole. It also did not end with me wanting to burn the world down, which is always a plus. My review is here.

If you usually read literary fiction, then creative non-fiction might just be the thing for you. It is usually exceptionally well-written and for me at least, has a poetry to the sentences that I just adore (and closely mirrors the very best literary fiction in that sense).

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson (or any book written by Maggie Nelson)

28459915Maggie Nelson is possibly the queen of creative non-fiction. Her sentences are crisp and she flits between different ideas and styles in a highly impressive way. The Argonauts deals with her relationship with her gender-fluid husband and chronicles the changes to her body due to pregnancy and the changes to Harry’s body due to hormone therapy. It also deals with so much more, drawing on gender theory and sociology and everything inbetween, and as a reading experience is highly rewarding. Bluets by the same author is also highly recommended.

Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso

22244927This book is seriously short but packs an unbelievable punch. Sarah Manguso writes about her complex relationship with her diary, which she kept religiously for most of her adult life, and about why she stopped keeping one. I found this moving and thought-provoking and incredibly well-done. You can find my review here.

Vanishing Twins: A Marriage by Leah Dieterich

37690295Leah Dieterich writes about her marriage, but she also writes about dance and art and polyamory and everything in-between. I absolutely adored her short and snappy essays that build to a much larger whole. She made me think and smile and sad and in general this book just really worked for me. You can find more of my thoughts on the book here.

Are you planning on participating in Non-Fiction November? What books are you planning on reading? Also, what is your favourite non-fiction book?

Review: Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

25175985Verdict: Important, well-researched, infuriating, empowering.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Non-Fiction

Published by Simon & Schuster, April 2014

Find it on Goodreads.

Women are standing up and #shoutingback. In a culture that’s driven by social media, for the first time women are using this online space (@EverydaySexism www.everydaysexism.com) to come together, share their stories and encourage a new generation to recognise the problems that women face. This book is a call to arms in a new wave of feminism and it proves sexism is endemic – socially, politically and economically. But women won’t stand for it. The Everyday Sexism Project is grounded in reality; packed with substance, validity and integrity it shows that women will no longer tolerate a society that ignores the dangers and endless effects of sexism.

In 2012 after being sexually harassed on London public transport Laura Bates, a young journalist, started a project called Everyday Sexism to collect stories for a piece she was writing on the issue. Astounded by the response she received and the wide range of stories that came pouring in from all over the world, she quickly realised that the situation was far worse than she’d initially thought. Enough was enough. From being leered at and wolf-whistled on the street, to aggravation in the work place and serious sexual assault, it was clear that sexism had been normalised. Bates decided it was time for change.

This bold, jaunty and ultimately intelligent book is the first to give a collective online voice to the protest against sexism. This game changing book is a juggernaut of stories, often shocking, sometimes amusing and always poignant – it is a must read for every inquisitive, no-nonsense modern woman.

I started listening to this as a sort of antidote to the misery that was It by Stephen King (which I have since put on hold and I am not sure I will pick back up again, I struggled with the depiction of sexism and racism and homophobia), and while this was certainly not a fun book, it was one that I thoroughly recommend and one that I am so very glad to have read.

Laura Bates talks about sexism here, the small acts and the larger acts and how they together form a society that is not particularly nice to women (or men for that matter). Drawing on the extensive collection of women’s experiences with sexism and an impressive amount of research, Bates has written an incredibly important book here and one that should be required reading. While I think she could have adressed intersectionality a bit better in parts, she did it a lot better than some other feminist works have done. Her chapter devoted to intersectionality was thus my favourite part of the book and something I would have liked to be more at the centre. But still, what an impressive book and man, what a kick in the gut to listen to her rallying cry of a last chapter that is infused with so much optimism – because, for me at least, the world very much feels like a clusterfuck at the moment.