Hi guys! Here’s my nonfiction wrap-up for this January. I read 8 nonfiction books this month:
Here’s a quick rundown of my thoughts on them.
1. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – ★★☆☆☆ – This is a memoir by a budding neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with cancer at a young age. Sadly, while it’s beloved by a lot of people, it just didn’t resonate with me. Full review here.
2. The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play by Neil Fiore – ★★★☆☆ – Like a true procrastinator, I read this while procrastinating on something else. Surprisingly, this was way more helpful than the “just do it” advice I usually encounter, as it focuses more on the emotional regulation aspect of procrastination – on addressing negative self-talk and the fear of failure, among others. A quick and helpful read.
3. I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel – ★★★★☆ – This was a delightfully relatable read about joys and the dilemmas of bookworms everywhere. Read my mini-review here.
4. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall – ★★★★☆ – A fun and inspiring read with a colorful cast of characters. Born to Run tells the story of the Tarahumara, a reclusive tribe in Mexico known also as “the running people”, and the quest of a handful of adventurous Americans who wanted to pit their endurance skills against theirs. Many times while reading it, I had to fight against the urge to lace up my shoes and hit the pavement – it was that inspiring. Read my mini-review here.
5. Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin Yalom – ★★★★☆ – A fascinating read from one of the greatest psychotherapists of contemporary times. Personally, as a psychologist, I found it useful for the author’s brutal honesty in describing his own feelings during the therapeutic encounter. At times it could be brutally honest, though – he describes in detail his own visceral and unexamined bias against ‘fat women’, which struck me as misogynistic – but overall still very instructive.
6. Appetites: Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp – ★★★★★ – Part psychological exploration, feminist critique, and memoir, Appetites explores the way that society curbs women’s desires – whether it be for food, love, or sex – and how that manifests in particular pathologies. This was a powerful invective that nevertheless ended on the hopeful note of women accepting and claiming their desires in a healthy manner. Full review to come.
7. How Fiction Works by James Wood – ★★★★★ – Here, the renowned critic James Wood turns his attention to a particular element of fiction – narrator, consciousness, metaphor, character – and, like a craftsman, breaks it down to its simplest components to make readers see why it worked (and, in a few cases, why it didn’t). A nuanced and lucidly-written analysis of fiction that transported me back to my favorite lit-crit class in college, and made me more aware of the fact that the little details do matter. Read my mini-review here.
8. How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell – ★★★★★ – In this book, Odell criticizes the imperative to be productive and the ways it’s currently being addressed by tech gurus and productivity experts. She also offers a way of resisting that doesn’t pander to capitalist agenda, instead requiring widespread changes in community planning and environmental policy. A tough but ultimately rewarding read. Full review to come.
🌟 Favorite Nonfiction of the Month 🌟
What were your favourite nonfiction reads for January? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! 👇
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