My Top 10 Favourite NonFiction Read in 2019!

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This week so far I’ve posted my Top fiction books of the year posts (Counting down from 40 to 21, and the Top 20!) and so today it’s time for my favourite nonfiction reads of 2019! I read 91 nonfiction books in 2019 and these are the top 10 books that have stayed with me!

Click on the book titles if you’d like to read my review 🙂

I Carried a Watermelon: Dirty Dancing and Me by Katy Brand

Meditation for Children by Shelley Wilson

The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

Dopesick by Beth Macy

Trauma by Gordon Turnbull

The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt

Breaking and Mending by Joanna Cannon

Becoming by Michelle Obama

After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry

The Five: The Untold Stories of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

Non-Fiction November Round-Up and Mini Book Reviews!

Today I wanted to write a post to wrap-up my Non-Fiction November as I had such a lovely reading month. I didn’t fully stick to my planned TBR but I managed to read a lot of non-fiction and I enjoyed everything I read. Some books I’ve already reviewed so will link back to those and the others I will briefly review in this post.

Chase the Rainbow by Poorna Bell

This book had been on my TBR for quite a while so I wanted to make sure I got to it in November and I’m really glad I did. My review is here.

Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division by Peter Hook

I’ve had this book on my TBR ever since it was published so I’m really glad I finally picked it up. I really enjoyed reading this and found it so interesting. I’m a huge Joy Division fan so already knew a lot about the band but I still learnt things in this book that I didn’t know before. Peter Hook is so open in this book and it was really interesting to see Ian Curtis through his bandmate’s eyes, it gave a different perspective. I already have Peter Hook’s second memoir so I’m looking forward to reading it soon.

Gotta Get Theroux This: My Life and Strange Times on Television by Louis Theroux

I love Louis Theroux’s documentaries on TV, I find his approach so different and engaging and he really brings so much out of his subjects. I was really keen to read this book so when I saw it on my library’s audio book app I immediately downloaded it. This book covers his life and how he got into TV. He takes you through his work and the different TV shows he’s made, along with his reflections as he looks back. There was quite a bit about Jimmy Savile, which I found really interesting. Louis narrates the audio book himself so I definitely recommend this format.

I Carried A Watermelon: Dirty Dancing and Me by Katy Brand

I only got this book after I’d made my TBR list for non-fiction November but I couldn’t resist reading it as soon as I got it. I loved this one and have reviewed it here.

The Undying: A Meditation on Modern Illness by Anne Boyer

This is another ARC that I wanted to make sure I got to in November. It was a tough read because of the subject matter but it’s very well-written and it made me think. My review is here.

My Autobiography by David Jason

I’m a real fan of David Jason, I’ve watched and loved so many series that he’s been in over the years (in particular Only Fools and Horses, and A Touch of Frost) so I was really keen to finally read his autobiography. This was such a fun read learning about his life and how he got into showbusiness. He has so many great stories from over the years – some hilarious and some very moving, and I very much enjoyed reading all of them. I recommend this book if you’re a fan, it’s such a good read.

The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

I bought this book a few weeks ago and have been so keen to read it. I’m so glad I picked it up as it’s such a good read. I’ve reviewed it here.

Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class by Owen Jones

I’m not a fan of Owen Jones at all so I’m not sure how I came to own a copy of this book but I’m really glad that I decided to take a chance on it as it was a really interesting look at the working class.

The Death of a President by William Manchester

I’ve wanted to read this book for ages so when I finally bought the audio book a few months ago I knew I had to put it on my TBR for nonfiction November. This book covers the brief period before JFK was assassinated and then the days afterwards. It’s a really comprehensive look at what happened and how people reacted to it. I already knew a lot of what was in this book but there were still things that I didn’t know. It’s a fascinating book and I recommend it.

James Baldwin and the 1980s by Joseph Vogel

This book has been on my TBR for a couple of years as I’ve felt intimidated by it. I’m so pleased that I finally read it though as it was so interesting and it’s sparked off my interest in some other books as I want to know more. My review is here.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I bought the audio book of this and I’m so glad I did as it was a joy to listen to. I really enjoyed learning more about Michelle Obama and the life she has lived. It was fascinating to read about how her life was before she met Obama, to hear how she grew up and what her family was like. I then loved hearing the story of how she and Obama met and discovering how she felt about him getting into politics, also how it was for her and their daughters once he became president. This is a really open and honest memoir and I loved it!

Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly by Jim DeRogatis

I spotted this book on my library’s audio book app and immediately downloaded it. I hadn’t heard of the book before but I was intrigued to read it and I’m glad I did. This is an incredible piece of writing that is very well researched and put together. The journalist has followed the stories around R. Kelly for many years and eventually decided to put a book together. He interviews so many people, including R. Kelly’s accusers and the result is a brilliant expose. This isn’t always an easy book to read because of the subject matter but if you’re at all interested in this case I recommend it.

Logical Family: A Memoir by Armistead Maupin

I bought this book on kindle when it was first published but I ended up listening to the audio book during the month. I adored it as it’s read by Armistead Maupin himself so it was a lovely experience to hear him tell his own story. This is such a fascinating memoir of a life well-lived. He talks of how he was inspired to create some of the characters in Tales of the City, he shares about his upbringing and all the loss he experienced during the AIDS crisis. There is humour and sadness, and it’s just a wonderful memoir.

How To Be Human: A Manual by Ruby Wax

This is another book that I wanted to make sure to get to in November and I found it a good read. My review is here.

The Heretics by Will Storr

I found this book on my library audio book service so downloaded it on a whim and I’m glad I did. This wasn’t as in depth on any of the subjects covered as I was expecting but it was still such an engaging book. I enjoyed it.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

This book is such an incredible read and one I’m so pleased I read. I’m in awe of how much work and research must have gone into this book as the author put together a biography of each of these five women. It’s all about their lives, rather than about who killed them and it really made them real to me. I found this such a moving read and I felt so emotional about each of the women, I won’t ever forget them. This is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read this year and I’ll be recommending it to everyone.

Constellations by Sinead Gleason

I really enjoyed this essay collection and got a lot so much out of reading it. My review is here if you’d like to know more.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

I read Oranges are not the Only Fruit many years ago but despite buying this memoir when it was published I had never got to read it. I’m so glad I spotted it on my library’s audio book app as it meant I could listen to the author read it to me. This is such an interesting and moving book, one that really made me think as I was reading it. There is such honesty in the book and I’m so glad I finally read it.

Dopesick by Beth Macy

This is such an important book and one I’m so glad I read but it was a tough read. I’ve been interested in the rise of the opioid epidemic for a few years now but even so this book was still so eye-opening to me. Macy gives the stats and the politics but she also really focuses on the personal giving us the stories of people from all walks of life who have ended up addicted to opioids in one form or another. This book made me angry at how people are being failed by the system but it was also incredibly moving, I felt so emotional as I got to the end. This is not an easy read but it’s a book I highly recommend.

Bowie’s Bookshelf by John O’Connell

I’m a huge David Bowie fan so was very keen to read this book. It’s a really enjoyable book about the one hundred books that David Bowie considered the most influential. It’s a real mix of books and it’s fascinating to learn more about the ones I haven’t read yet (quite a few are now on my wish list now!). There is a list of all the books at the start so you get an overview of the titles. Then you get each title with a short essay about the book and what Bowie liked about it or what he took from it. At the end the author suggests a song or two that would work well with the book and I really liked that element. It made me take time to sit and think about the books and Bowie’s music and the influence that he took from what he was reading. Some of the links seems somewhat tenuous but others I knew of and it was interesting to get more understanding of them. I also have to mention how fab it was to see that the author thinks Tin Machine may get proper recognition one of these days – I’ve always thought they were under-rated and I love both of the Tin Machine albums. I definitely recommend this book to fans of David Bowie but I think readers in general who are looking to find some new books to read would also enjoy this.

 

I Carried a Watermelon: Dirty Dancing and Me by Katy Brand #NonFiction #BookReview

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About the Book

I Carried a Watermelon is a love story to Dirty Dancing. A warm, witty and accessible look at how Katy Brand’s life-long obsession with the film has influenced her own attitudes to sex, love, romance, rights and responsibilities.

It explores the legacy of the film, from pushing women’s stories to the forefront of commercial cinema, to its ‘Gold Standard’ depiction of abortion according to leading pro-choice campaigners, and its fresh and powerful take on the classic ‘coming of age’ story told from a naïve but idealistic 17-year-old girl’s point of view.

Part memoir based on a personal obsession, part homage to a monster hit and a work of genius, Katy will explore her own memories and experiences, and talk to other fans of the film, to examine its legacy as a piece of filmmaking with a social agenda that many miss on first viewing. One of the most celebrated and viewed films ever made is about to have the time of its life.

 

My Thoughts

I was thrilled to get a copy of I Carried a Watermelon as I’ve been a fan of Dirty Dancing ever since I first saw it when I was 11 – my cousin who’s 2 years older than me brought her video round to my house and I was mesmerised by what I saw. It turns out that Katy Brand is a similar age to me and was the same age when she first saw the film so I could really identify with her thoughts and feelings about the film so needless to say I adored this book!

Katy Brand takes us through her first experience of watching the film and how obsessed she quickly became with it. I could totally identify with her wanting to watch it over and over again but not being able to because she’d not recorded it. Also the pain of finally getting my own copy on video and it eventually getting chewed! She also explores the themes in the film and how it stands up to the test of time. There are some stories from behind the scenes, some of which I hadn’t known. Katy also visits the resort which was Kellermans and I loved these parts of the book, it felt like I was along on the trip and experiencing it all for myself!

I loved the way Katy Brand discusses how we see the women in Dirty Dancing and how our opinion of them changes as we grow older and I totally concur with what she says. The way as pre-teens we all wanted to be Baby and to have a holiday romance with Johnny but we didn’t really understand what happened with Penny or why it was such a big deal. Then you get a little older and you learn the fears of job insecurity and you understand what abortion is and suddenly it’s Penny you focus on as you watch; and now as 40 year olds we understand the older women such as Vivian and Baby’s mother a bit more.

I have a complicated relationship with Dirty Dancing, which I won’t go into here, but for years it was my favourite film, my go-to film when I needed cheering up. However, for a long time I lost all the happiness that the film used to bring me. In recent years I’ve slowly been getting that love back and this book has been the icing on the cake for that. I now want to grab some popcorn and get lost in Baby’s story all over again!

I Carried a Watermelon is a fabulous book for anyone who loves the film Dirty Dancing. I highly recommend it!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

I Carried a Watermelon is out now and available here.

WWW Wednesdays (13 Nov 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I’ve been so looking forward to listening to this on audio book and am so happy to say that I’m enjoying it even more than I thought I would. Michelle Obama’s life is so interesting and I can’t wait to read more.

Constellations by Sinead Gleason

I’ve only read the first essay in this book so far but I really enjoyed it so I’m very glad that I finally picked this book up.

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

I started reading this last night when I wasn’t feeling well and it’s perfect escapism. I’m sure I’m going to fly through this one tomorrow when I pick it back up!

James Baldwin and the 1980s: Witnessing the Reagan Era by Joseph Vogel

I’ve been really enjoying this book this week and at the time of writing this post only have 20% of it left to read so I may well have finished it by the time this post goes live. This is such a fascinating book, I recommend it if you’re a James Baldwin fan.

 

What I recently finished reading:

The Death of a President by William Manchester

I’ve been listening to this on audio for the past couple of weeks and have found it such an interesting look at the short period leading up to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the few days following his funeral. I recommend this to anyone who is interested in this period of history.

Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class by Owen Jones

I can’t stand Owen Jones so I’m not sure how I ended up buying this book on Audible but I’m actually glad I did. It’s an interesting look at how society views the working class. There is definite bias in the book but it’s still a book that gives you something to think about.

The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

I’ve been so looking forward to this book and I’m pleased to say it didn’t disappoint. The author relates insights into patients and illness that she has encountered during her career as a forensic psychologist. I recommend this one as it’s so interesting but also very readable.

The Undying: A Meditation on Modern Illness by Anne Boyer

This was a hard read because of the subject matter but it was also really interesting. The author has a lot to say about the way we look at cancer and cancer patients, along with the campaigns run around the illness. I will review this one once I’ve had time to mull over my thoughts on it.

David Jason: My Autobiography by David Jason

I’ve had this book on my TBR ever since it first came out six years ago but I finally read it this week and I very much enjoyed it. It covers most of David Jason’s life from his childhood through to Frost. I’ve got his next memoir on my TBR so I’m tempted to start that soon!

I Carried a Watermelon by Katy Brand

This book was such a fun, nostalgic read and I really enjoyed it. I will be reviewing it soon but can already say that if you love Dirty Dancing then this is a book for you!

 

What I plan on reading next:

Bowie’s Bookshelf: The Hundred Books That Changed David Bowie’s Life by John O’Connell

This is both a Non-Fiction November pick and one of my NetGalley must-read books plus it’s a book I’m really keen to read so I’m hoping to get to this one in the coming days.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

I’d hoped to pick this book up last week but didn’t quite get to it but it’s definitely next up from the audio books on my Non-Fiction November TBR and I’m so looking forward to this one.

Deceit and Self-Deception by Robert Trivers

This is another of my Non-Fiction November TBR picks and I’d really like to make a start on it this week. I have tried to read this once before and failed but I’m still keen to read it so now is the time!

The School Friend by Alison James

I’m continuing on my quest to catch up on my NetGalley reads before the end of the year and this book is up next on my list. I think I’m going to love this one!

 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

 

WWW Wednesdays (6 Nov 2019)! What are you reading this week?

WWW pic

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

I Carried a Watermelon by Katy Brand

I’ve only read a tiny bit of this book at the time I’m writing this post but I can tell it’s going to be a fun, nostalgic read and I can’t wait to read more!

The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

I bought this book recently and have been so keen to read it so am glad to finally have started it. It’s a really good read so far.

The Death of a President by William Manchester

This is such an interesting audio book and I’ve listened to it quite a lot over the last few days. I think I’m about half-way through it and will definitely be listening to more in the coming days.

James Baldwin and the 1980s: Witnessing the Reagan Era by Joseph Vogel

I’m still reading this one in short bursts, I’m finding it really interesting but it feels a little more academic than I was expecting and my brain’s not always up to that at the moment. It’s a good book though, I recommend it.

 

What I recently finished reading:

I should say here that whilst I finished nine books this week, half of them were books that I’d read a lot of before this week!

 

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

I loved this book, it’s my new favourite Agatha Christie novel! I now want to make time to re-read more of her books in the new year.

Nothing Important Happened Here by Will Carver

This is such a hard book to write about as it was like nothing I’ve read before and the issue of suicide is a difficult subject matter but it was a brilliant book. I’m reviewing this one for the blog tour next week so please look out for that.

Gotta Get Theroux This: My Life and Strange Times in Television by Louis Theroux

I borrowed this book on audio from my local library and I very much enjoyed it. Louis Theroux narrates the book (I always love it when the author of a memoir narrates the audio, it adds to the story for me). I think I might like to have the hardback of this one to have on my bookcase!

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

I loved this novel and reviewed it yesterday so you can read my full thoughts here if you’d like to know more. I read it in one sitting and definitely recommend it.

Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division by Peter Hook

I almost put this on my Non-Fiction November TBR but having left it off the list I was just in the mood to read it so I picked it up anyway. It was such a good read and I’m glad I finally got to it.

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

This is such a good YA novel about a teenage girl living with HIV. It’s a really good portrayal of teenage life, as well as featuring diverse characters and a very believable plot. I’ll review this very soon.

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

This is the first Diane Chamberlain that I’ve picked up in a really long time but it was such a good read and has reminded me of how much I used to enjoy her books. This one might even be my new favourite of hers!

Chase the Rainbow by Poorna Bell

I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite a long time now so I made sure it was on my Non-Fiction November TBR this year. I’m really glad I finally picked it up as it was such an honest exploration of what it’s like to live with someone with depression and addiction. I’ll be reviewing this one soon.

One Week ‘Til Christmas by Belinda Missen

I loved this Christmas novella and have already reviewed it here if you’d like to know more.

 

What I plan on reading next:

I Want You Gone by Miranda Rijks

This thriller has been on my NetGalley shelf for quite a few months now and is the next book I hope to get to in my plan to catch up before the end of the year. I’m looking forward to this one, it sounds intriguing!

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

This is the next Christmas book that I plan on reading and I’m really looking forward to getting to it.

Turning the Tide on Plastic by Lucy Siegle

I’m trying really hard to reduce the single-use plastics in our home and this is a book that can help me achieve more than I’m already managing.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

This is a book I’ve been really keen to get to so I’d like to make this one of my next Non-Fiction November reads.

 

 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

Stacking the Shelves with my new Book Haul (2 Nov 2019)!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

 

Books and eBooks

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

I’ve had this book on my wish list for ages now so when I spotted it in a deal this week I snapped it up. I think this will be a hard and in-depth read so I’m not sure when I’ll get to it but hopefully it won’t be on my TBR stack for too long.

Unbelievable by T. Christopher Miller

I recently watched the Netflix drama which is based on this book and I was gripped by it so I wanted to read the book. I downloaded the sample onto my kindle but that was as far as I got then yesterday I saw the ebook in the Kindle sale so I grabbed it. I know I’ve already posted my Non-Fiction November TBR but I might swap one of those books for this one!

My Sh*t Therapist and Other Mental Health Stories by Michelle Thomas

The title of this book caught my eye in last month’s kindle sale and after getting engrossed in the sample I downloaded I had to buy it. It feels like an easy read but one that will also be helpful and interesting.

Catching a Serial Killer: My Hunt for Murderer Christopher Halliwell by Stephen Fulcher

I’ve just started watching the ITV drama A Confession and as often happens I wanted to know more about this case so when I saw this book I had to get it. I might try and squeeze this one in during Non-Fiction November if I can as I’m keen to read it soon.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This is one of those books that has been on my radar for such a long time and yet somehow I’ve never picked up a copy of it. I’ve not put that right and I hope I can finally get to read this book before too much longer.

Tuesday Mooney Wore Black by Kate Racculia

This is a book that I keep seeing and every time I see it I wonder if it’s for me or not. I’m still not sure why I’m not sure but I think it’s one my husband might enjoy so I decided to buy a copy anyway and we can both try reading it.

A Gift in December by Jenny Gladwell

This was an impulse buy because it sounds super festive and I do love a good Christmas read in December!

The Memory Collector by Fiona Harper

I love the sound of this book so this was another impulse buy!

The Visitor by Zoe Miller

This is another book set at Christmas but it’s more of a crime/thriller and I do like a book like this during the festive season so I’m glad to have a copy of this one.

 

Audio Books

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer

This book has been on my radar for years now but I’ve always held back from buying the paperback so when I saw it was in Audible’s recent sale I decided that this was the format I wanted to read it in so I snapped it up! I do love an interesting read where I can learn something as well as it being a really fun read.

Justice: What’s the Right Thing To Do? by Michael J. Sandel

I’m not sure where I first heard of this book but it’s been on my wish list for ages now so I bought it immediately when I saw it in the Audible sale.

The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau bu Graeme Macrae Burnet

I’ve not read anything by this author before but I do have his more famous book on my TBR and I do love the sound of this writing so decided to take a punt on this one when it appeared in the Audible sale.

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

I’ve just finished listening to The Dream Daughter by this author and very much enjoyed it. It reminded me just how much I used to love reading Diane Chamberlain’s novels so I couldn’t resist buying this book in the Audible sale.

The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie

I’m currently reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and loving it so when this book popped up as an Audible daily deal one day this week I decided it was time to re-visit Miss Marple and bought it! Joan Hickson narrates this audio book so I think it will be wonderfully nostalgic to listen to it as I always think of her portrayal of Miss Marple whenever I read the books.

 

ARCs

Home Truths by Tina Seskis

I was delighted to get a copy of this from NetGalley as I’ve really enjoyed the author’s previous novels. I’m hoping to read this one this month in amongst my Non-Fiction November books.

I Carried a Watermelon by Katy Brand

I requested this one from NetGalley on a whim as I have a complex relationship with the film Dirty Dancing but have recently being able to love it again. This book sounds like it will be a real nostalgia fest and I’m definitely going to add it to my Non-Fiction November TBR!

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

I’ve heard so much about this book and have been so keen to read it. I have pre-ordered it but I also requested it on NetGalley recently so I was thrilled when I got approved. I don’t think I’m going to be able to resist reading this one for very long so I may have to fit this in amongst all my non-fiction books too!

 


 

Have you bought any new books over the last week? Please tell me below. 🙂 If you join in with Stacking the Shelves please feel free to leave your link and I’ll make sure to read and comment on your post.