Nonfiction November #NonFicNov23 – Week Two, Choosing Nonfiction

I am excited to be hosting Week 2 of Nonfiction November this week.  The other hosts for Nonfiction November are fellow bloggers Liz (Adventures in reading, running and working from home), , Heather (Based on a True Story), and Lisa (Hopewell’s Public Library of Life), and Rebekah (She Seeks Nonfiction).

  • Week 2Dates: 11/6-11/10
    • Host: That would be me, Frances
    • Title: Choosing Nonfiction
    • Description: What are you looking for when you pick up a nonfiction book? Do you have a particular topic you’re attracted to? Do you have a particular writing style that works best? When you look at a nonfiction book, does the title or cover influence you? If so, share a title or cover which you find striking.

Do you find yourself wandering around bookshops – that is if  you are lucky enough to have access to a real bookshop these days – thinking that you fancy reading something ‘different’ but you’ve no idea what it is?  I used to often feel this way.

We are peddled a relentless diet of best-sellers and known names, books which may or may not answer a need, and nowhere is that feeling stronger than in a high street bookstore.  Where is the opportunity for that quirky discovery with the battered binding?

Since I have discovered the blogosphere and all my bookish friends online, I don’t really have a problem in finding books to read any more, quite the opposite.  But I do miss just wandering around the shelves and picking up a book here or there just to see.

When browsing, I avoid footballers, celebrities and disgruntled royals.   I look for good biography, memoir, art, art history.  I mentioned in my post last week the occasional guilt complex at not reading more widely in other categories.  Probably in 2024 I will try and address that.

In terms of a favoured cover I’m pretty sold on this one which is from my current read, Jackie Wullschlager’s Biography, Monet: The Restless Vision:


I love colour.

I think human beings are attracted to bright colours.  Maybe Monet thought so too.  Here is some colour courtesy of the net.

Geordanna Cordero on Unsplash

I’m also a fan of the new nature writing, usually a blend of authoritative essay style writing on the natural world, combined with autobiographical details from the life of the author

Little Toller Books have an excellent if a somewhat pricey array of these books. Here are three that have caught my eye.

.  My

An allotment is a utopia. It is a green place where anyone can occupy a piece of land, and grow with freedom of expression.

I don’t know whether people that use allotments would agree with that idea, or how you grow with freedom of expression – or without freedom of expression unless you’re entering for Chelsea.  I’m not really a gardener in any way shape or form but my brother in law has worked an allotment plus a garden for decades.  I never quite understood how anyone manages all that work!  I suspect he may not wish to read about the history of them though, so passing swiftly on.

Richard Mabey was maybe one of the first writers to write about mental health and natural world issues combined in his book Nature Cure which I have read.  In my review I wrote:

Mabey’s book is an enlightening read, erudite without being dry, honest to the point of bleakness in parts, without being depressing. It was one of the first in the style which came to be known as the new nature writing, along with naturalist and friend Mark Cocker. These are books which entwine stories of the natural world with the writer’s own biographical tales.

Taking far longer than usual to move out of the house in which he grew up, and aided and abetted by a severe bout of depression, Mabey makes his belated escape to the Norfolk fens where he writes about sheets of water, the Wailing Wood, owls, birds, fens, the yellow star-of-bethlehem and orchids in an ‘ethereal shade of rose’. But his particular interest, like the poet John Clare

Mabey has written many, many books including a biography of the naturalist and author Gilbert White whom wiki credits with ‘shaping the modern attitude of respect for nature’ which seems a rather extraordinary claim.  I didn’t realise there was a modern attitude of respect for nature judging by the ecology crisis we have on our hands.  But I think I will put this one on my TBR.


Does anyone else find themselves drawn to a particular theme or topic?  Style of writing? Titles? Covers? They say you can’t tell a book by one, but hey, a good cover certainly helps.

If you are taking part in Nonfiction November Week 2,  don’t forget to add your link below.  I’ve been so happy to help host this challenge but the only thing I’ve been panicking about is the link party.  Despite the kindness of Rebekah at (She Seeks Nonfiction) and others showing me what to do, my link party looks worryingly unlike anyone else’s.  Therefore please if you have any problems, just leave the link to your post in the comments below.



You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter





47 thoughts on “Nonfiction November #NonFicNov23 – Week Two, Choosing Nonfiction

  1. Haha. I don’t think there’s ever a need to get past reading books with Paris in the title. Have you read Hope Mirrlees modernist poem ‘Paris’? It predated Eliot’s Wasteland by years but not many people seem to know it.

  2. I’m about half way through it. It’s a lovely book – he had quite a struggle of it. Definitely worth a read if you are interested in Monet. Also there’s some lovely colour plates of his paintings.

    1. Thanks Liz yes It’s worked. I’ve left you a comment which hopefully you’ve got. I’ve had issues with people telling me they haven’t received replies but hopefully that was just a glitch.

  3. The only “freedom of expression” shown by the allotment-owning brother-in-law is when courgettes/carrots/beans/tomatoes/any vegetable threatens to swamp the kitchen and the wife of said brother-in-law uses “freedom of expressions”

  4. It is hard to find a bookstore to just browse any more, isn’t it? Very annoying.

    Since these days I already know what I want when I order it from the library, I don’t get to browse covers much, but those are some lovely covers you’re showing.

  5. You describe my reading trajectory pretty well, wandering around libraries and bookstores forlornly looking for something different, until I found the book blogging community and now I have ideas for what to read coming out of my ears. It’s a good thing but sometimes frustrating that I can’t read ALL THE BOOKS.

    I do tend to get on jags of reading in a certain topic. At the moment I’m fascinated by trauma and recovery and by brain science. The stories and the discoveries give me hope, despite all the challenges that face us.

    1. We’re probably not alone in that I suspect Lory. I agree that it is frustrating not to be able to read everything. Thank you so much for your comment and for taking part.

  6. Whenever anyone comments that blogging about books is a bit of a waste of time, I remember how it was before I had online bookish friends – the sad walk through libraries and bookshops feeling lost and alone. Now, I’m on a mission! And there are thoughts and opinions and, most importantly, encouragement behind all these books.

    I visit my local art museum enough that I find myself curious about the artists. I worry that I will never be able to just enjoy the paintings again though if I know too much – it is like learning the politics of your favorite TV actor.

    Thank you for hosting this week! Everything looks wonderful and my linky was a piece of cake.

    1. Aw thank you so much. I agree you can know too much and definitely finding out your favourite film star is a megalomaniac would come under that title!😄Thanks so much for your kind comments and for taking part.

      1. Well, you read a lot of other subjects, and it is nice to vary oneself a little bit. I have to remind myself of this. But I find history so exciting and interesting to read about.

    1. No worries at all MaryR. Thank you so much for your post and for taking part in nonfiction November. A Libertarian Walks into a Bear? What a brilliant title. Hilarious.

  7. Hi Frances,
    thanks for your comment on my Choosing Non-fiction post.
    Since you could only post anonymously, I realize you wouldn’t get notified about my answer. So, here it is:
    Hi its Frances from Volatile Rune. Thank you so much for taking part in nonfiction november. It’s so sad about Matthew Perry isn’t it. A great photo of him on the cover there.
    Whenever I have problems commenting on someone’s post, I go to their site via Google Chrome. Maybe that would work for you, as well? The internet seems to be especially weird at the moment.

    1. Thank you Marianne. Yes I am having difficulties in commenting at the moment. Although I’m not currently running google chrome on my computer, it is perhaps something I could consider. Many thanks again.

    1. Hi Beverley I’ve tried to leave a comment but not sure if its worked. I seem to be having tech blues at the moment. The Honey Bus put me in mind of Andrey Kurkov’s book Grey Bees, about a man to takes his bees on holiday from the Donbas region of Ukraine to the Black Sea. Thank you so much for taking part in the challenge.

    1. I understand your concerns about academic and acrane language. I used to be in that world but now I’m happy blogging and using normaly language. I note too your concerns about cover design. Absolutely no cursive lettering, gold lettering or headless women I agree. Thanks so much for your comment and for taking part in the challenge.

  8. *pout*
    My comment seems to have vanished.
    I’ll try again, without the first part of the URL:
    Here’s mine:

      1. Not to worry, my main concern was for you to know that I been joining in!
        As a host for a reading week for 15 years, I know how discouraging it is if there isn’t enough participation from others.

  9. Mabey’s book sounds like one I will certainly enjoy. Nature can have a magical effect on one’s state of mind even in the ordinary course of things. Gilbert White’s bio would be worth exploring too, but I should really first read his book which has been waiting on my TBR since ??? 😀