Nonfiction November has kicked off once more, beginning with an opportunity to reflect on the year with some questions set by our hosts: Leann @ Shelf Aware. Katie @ Doing Dewey, Julie @ Julz Reads and Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction.
What was your favourite nonfiction read of the year?
Rachel Clarke is a consultant physician in the field of palliative medicine. Dear Life is partly autobiographical, explaining how she came to specialise in a branch of medicine that cares for people whose battle for life is over. As she says, this isn’t the sexy world of heroic life-saving endeavours as performed by the likes of heart surgeons. Hers is a field that deals with a subject so many people shrink away from discussing. In her book she argues that even in the final months, weeks and days of life, there can be moments of joy.
This might sound like a depressing book, the last thing you want to read in the current global crisis. But I’ll encourage you to give it a go. While it’s emotional and honest, it also contains moments that are truly uplifting.
Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?
I haven’t purposefully looked for books on a particular theme or topic I still seem to be drawn towards memoirs. One highlight this year has been In Order To Live by Yeonmi Park, a book I came across thanks to last year’s Non Fiction November. It’s an account of a young girl’s escape from the totalitarian regime of North Korea and her attempts to find a new home in the west.
Questions have been raised about the authenticity of some parts of her account, particularly the time she spent in China as a victim of human trafficking. There are definitely times when you feel we’re not being told the whole truth but it didn’t detract from the overall impact of the book.
What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?
I’ve been telling everyone about The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn; a book that has only just been published and in fact I haven’t even read yet. But having heard the author discuss this at a launch event, I am 100% confident it will be a tremendous read.
The Wild Silence is a follow up to The Salt Path which was one of my books of the year in 2019. The earlier book described how she and her husband Moth were turfed out of their farm and became homeless and penniless. Then Moth was diagnosed with a serious brain disorder and advised to “take it easy”.
The crisis was the catalyst for an extraordinary decision to walk a 630 mile coastal path, sleeping in the wild and surviving on meagre food rations. It made a huge impression on me not only because of Winn’s descriptions of nature but of her reflections on attitudes towards homelessness The Wild Silence picks up the story with the couple now living as tenants on an old cider farm.
What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?
This is an easy one. I’m looking for book recommendations, particularly memoirs that are as good – if not better – than some of my favourites from recent years. I hope no-one dares to suggest a “misery” or the outpourings of a so-called celebrity whose career rests on one or two films or reality tv appearances. You’ve been warned!