Nonfiction Challenge - As You Like It

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Nonfiction Challenge - As You Like It

Nov 27, 2023, 6:21 pm

This is the perennial bookend for the Nonfiction Challenge group. For this month you can read anything you like, in any genre, as long as it is nonfiction. Potentially that makes the group to select from wide open. If you want to explore the Japanese concept of Kintsugi go right ahead. If you find rest and relaxation in reading about travel, or true crime takes your mind off the hustle and bustle of the month, now is your time to read those books. It is December and reading time will be at a premium so read something that interests you and in a genre that you like.

Editado: Dez 2, 2023, 12:37 am

The number of people participating in this group is small but we are mighty readers. Since the group decided to continue through next year and I can host the group, we will gather in the new spot to share our reading and thoughts about these books.

Here is the list that we composed for next year's Nonfiction Challenge.

January - Prize Winners - prize winning books that won literary prizes that are off the beaten tracks. Not the National Book Award, Pulitzer, or other prizes of that ilk.
February - Women's Work - what women do or did. This could be books about WWII pilots, civil war nurses, the women who sued Newsweek over pay and promotion issues, or the history of home economics.
March - Forensic Sciences - forensic's is a wide open topic so read about criminal forensics, genetic forensics, even astronomical forensics.
April - Globalization - all things global, exports, international banking, terrorism, pandemics.
May - Wild Wild West - books about the western U.S. Historical or modern. Indian wars, water wars, conservation, settlement, etc.
June - Middle Europe - anything about Europe from the Elbe to the Ural's, from Finland to Turkey. History, language, travel, etc.
July - Insect World - insects are important. Butterflies, honey bees, mosquitoes, ants, roaches, etc.
August - Being Jewish - this topic is wide open as long as it is nonfiction. Zionism, modern Israel, history, religion, Kabbalah, Judaism.
September - Essays - any book of essays. Scientific, religious, political, racial, social commentary, etc.
October - Music, more music - lots of books being published now about composers, the music industry, history of music, and even memoirs and biography's from the Boss to Bach.
November - Too Small to See - books about Bacteria, Viruses, Atoms, Dust. maybe even microaggressions?
December - Political Biography - ancient or modern, any person who had a role in politics of their day. Even women who might not have had a job or title, like Madam Chiang Kai-Shek or Nancy Regan, but still had influence.

Nov 27, 2023, 6:29 pm

Post what you are reading for this month (December 2023) on this thread and let us know what you are reading and why you picked that title. When you get the book read, let us know what you thought about it.

Nov 27, 2023, 7:16 pm

I am going to be finishing off the series "The Jewish People in America" this month. I have been reading the 5 book series off-and-on throughout the year and despite different authors for each of the books, have enjoyed it overall - and learned quite a bit from it. The last volume is A Time for Healing by Edward Shapiro, which takes a look at American Jewry after WWII.

Editado: Nov 30, 2023, 10:35 pm

>2 benitastrnad: A great list for next year, and I was thrilled to see Music as a topic. I feel that sometimes the Nonfiction category often misses the Arts in general, so I appreciate it being included here.

One editorial note: I think you meant November's topic as "Too Small to See" ??

Nov 30, 2023, 10:35 pm

If Praying with Jane Eyre comes in from the library, that will be my book for this month.

Otherwise, I have lots of choices: the one calling to me now is Orwell's Roses by Rebecca Solnit (known for her essays). It's an exploration of George Orwell, his passion for gardening and how it reflects in his writing. Should be interesting.

I also have Rebecca Mead's Home/Land: A Memoir of Departure and Return. I read Mead's My Life in Middlemarch and really enjoyed it. Her current book is about moving back home to the UK after living many years in the U.S.

Editado: Dez 2, 2023, 12:53 am

>5 kac522:
you are correct. So I corrected it. I just didn't notice that small mistake, but for want of a missing o the real meaning is lost.

There are so many books coming out, or already published about music, at this time that it would be a shame for us not to participate in reading about Music. Lots of biographies about musicians of all stripes and about instruments and organizations around music that it just seemed that we could find enough to read about the place of music in the world. I hope it works for folks as a category/challenge to find something that they will like to read about in the world of music.

I belong to a real life book discussion group (it meets on Zoom because half of the members don't live in the same state) and we try to have one book per year about the Arts. This last year we did two, Symphony for the City of the Dead by M. T. Anderson. That book was about the composing of the 7th Symphony by that composer. We also read Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O'Connor. That one was about the return of looted Nazi art. Next year (2024) we are reading Shop Class as Soulcraft a book about the value of skilled manual labor. That might be stretching the definition of arts a bit, but we had a great discussion already about how our society doesn't value the work of craftsman. One person lived in Japan for a year and told us that the Japanese creating a class of artisans called Living National Treasure for people who have a lifetime of experience and expertise in all kinds of crafts. We thought if just talking about the title created that kind of discussion then we should read the book.

Dez 2, 2023, 8:17 am

I'm going to be reading A Tomb With a View by Peter Ross, about graveyards, as part of my research for an essay I'm writing and hoping to submit next year to a literary magazine. I have two burial grounds right by where I live (one old cemetery, plus an unconsecrated/unmarked plot next to it for the poor men who had been housed by a local dignitary in the 19th century). And when I lived in London I lived just a few minutes walk from one of its great Victorian cemeteries, Nunhead Cemetery.

Editado: Dez 11, 2023, 2:03 pm

I finished Praying with Jane Eyre: Reflections on Reading as a Sacred Practice by Vanessa Zoltan (2023) and I must say I was sadly disappointed. I think my expectations were so different from what the book actually is. This is more of a memoir. Zoltan spends a large amount of the book describing her difficult family relationships (all 4 of her grandparents were Holocaust survivors), finding a career that she loves, her love life and her struggles with depression. She went to Divinity school, is an atheist Jew and considers Jane Eyre her sacred text.

Much of the book is about her life struggles and how various passages in Jane Eyre gave her some insights. She also struggles with various aspects of Jane Eyre, too. She calls her chapters "sermons", but they didn't feel like sermons to me. Generally, good sermons take a biblical text and expound on it in a general enough way so that an audience/congregation can apply the values and lessons into their own lives. Most of these chapters center around a text in Jane Eyre, but the "sermon" felt too personal and too wrapped up in Zoltan's own life for me to find any application to my own. There's also a chapter on Harry Potter and one on The Great Gatsby.

Only the very last (and shortest!) chapter summarizes several methods scholars have been using for centuries to break down sacred texts. This was the most useful chapter, but it was too short and could have used examples. This book may be worth it for other readers, but it was not the book I was hoping for.

Dez 11, 2023, 1:56 pm

>2 benitastrnad: I notice the plans for next year don't have a similar "As You Like It" month in the plan. I rather like this catch-up month. If anyone else is interested, perhaps there can be a "wildcard" thread for non-fiction we read throughout the year that doesn't fit into any of the planned monthly themes.

Dez 11, 2023, 1:58 pm

I've started Aspects of the Novel by E. M. Forster (1927), which is a series of lectures he gave at Cambridge. It's really quite funny and I'm enjoying it a lot.

Dez 11, 2023, 5:30 pm

>10 kac522:
We could do that next year in December. I put in the category "Political Biography" in that month because it was one that got cut out several years ago. We can just change the December back to "As You Like It." That will work for me.

Dez 11, 2023, 5:31 pm

>11 kac522:
That would also be perfect for next years' September (2024) category of essays, so anybody who has taken a Book Bullet for that title - keep it in mind for this coming September.

Dez 11, 2023, 7:45 pm

>12 benitastrnad: Thank you!
>13 benitastrnad: I have several essay collections to recommend when the time comes, both old and new.

Dez 17, 2023, 3:41 pm

I was hoping to use this month to finish some of the nonfiction books I started for this challenge. Instead, a lot of library holds came in at the same time and there are many nonfiction books in the mix. The first of these that I finished could be categorized as a self-help book, I suppose. It was Your Future Self: How to Make Tomorrow Better Today. It was an interesting look at how we treat our future selves almost like they had less feelings than our present selves but shared the same tastes in music etc.

Dez 17, 2023, 3:54 pm

I finished Peter Ross's A Tomb With a View: The Glories and Stories of Graveyards and thoroughly enjoyed it. He visits graveyards great and small throughout the UK (and also the war graves in northern France and Belgium), and discovers the histories and personalities and stories of each. It was actually very moving, and occasionally disturbing - a great discussion of how we treat the dead and their final resting places.

Dez 26, 2023, 6:40 am

>2 benitastrnad: Hi Benita, I'm just planning out my potential reads for the year and have a question about December (Political Biography). Are you dead set on biography, or could autobiography/memoir/diaries work too? (I have a fair few of the latter, not much in the way of the former!). Thank you!

Dez 26, 2023, 10:44 pm

>17 Jackie_K:
all of those mentioned will work.

Editado: Dez 27, 2023, 9:18 am

Is the 2024 thread up? I can't find it on the Group page.

ETA: never mind, I just found it, duh.

Dez 27, 2023, 2:20 pm

>19 fuzzi:
I didn't have time to announce it yet over here. Will get to that today.

Dez 27, 2023, 2:23 pm

Here is the link to the 2024 thread for the Nonfiction Challenge. Note that it is not dated and remember that we have changed the thread format for the upcoming year, but if you read post number 1 you won't need me to remind you.

Please post what you read for December 2023 over here on this thread.

Dez 27, 2023, 2:30 pm

I am still working on Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life by Andrew Krivak. I really like this book and the fault in not getting it read is that my time has been a bit stretched. I am currently in a tiny village in North Central Kansas where I am providing care for my mother who is no longer able to stay by herself in her home. Due to many rules and regulations for Long Term Care in Kansas I can't live with her permanently so I have been spending time in Kansas and in Alabama. For the time being my permanent residence is Alabama but I suspect that will soon change and I will be moving to Kansas.

It has surprised me how much the duties of caring for her has cut into my reading time. I thought I would have a bit of a vacation while here, but I am learning fast that is not what will happen. Long Retreat is not the sort of book that I can read in short snatches so it has become my bedtime reading when it is quiet and I can concentrate fully on it. Krivak is a very good writer and the book is very detailed about life as a novitiate. It is very informative and personal at the same time.

Editado: Dez 27, 2023, 2:46 pm

I finished and enjoyed Aspects of the Novel by E. M. Forster. These 1927 Cambridge lectures were presented in an entertaining, chatty style in which Forster expands on various elements of the novel, including story, plot, people, fantasy, prophecy, pattern and rhythm. Forster uses real examples to illustrate his concepts, including discussions of Austen, Dickens, George Eliot, Dostoevsky, Proust, Henry James and many others. He made me think about the diverse elements in a novel in a new way. Plus, he had several examples of Jane Austen's brilliant and nuanced development of character. She's my favorite author, so it was wonderful to hear him praise her, especially in 1927, when Austen was not as widely read or acclaimed as an author, as she is today.

A real delight; I got this from the library and may even purchase my own copy.

I'm slowly reading selections from Forster's essay collection Two Cheers for Democracy (1936-1951), but will probably not finish it this month.

Dez 27, 2023, 4:15 pm

>22 benitastrnad: That sounds like a difficult situation, Benita - I hope that things resolve soon and the way forward becomes clearer.

Editado: Jan 1, 7:17 pm

It is January 1, 2024 and that's the end of the challenges for 2023. Here is the link to the new thread for 2024.

If you finish a book that you were reading for this challenge just post it on the new 2024 thread. In the post tell us that it is a title that is hanging over from December 2023.
See you over there for the new monthly themes.