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Urban Leaving to Country Living

Nonfiction November – Week 2


Nonfiction November photo Fall-festival-300x300_zpssui2awry.png

This week’s link-up is hosted by Rachel at Hibernator’s Library. The prompt for this week’s Nonfiction November entry asks what I look for in nonfiction reading.

Heading Home by Lawrence Scanlan photo heading home_zpsvgcqeq7x.jpg
More than anything, I want to learn from NF. I want to investigate ideas or times or places that I’m not familiar with. And I tell myself I’m particularly interested in anything to do with Canada, some things France, history, country living (especially moving to the country), or things bibliophilic. But what I’ve actually read over the last ten years leans toward food and memoirs. Oops!


I know I’m not big into how-to or self-help or business and I want my nonfiction to be narrative. Occasionally, I’ll work hard to take in a topic (and feel better for it) but generally I’d like to skip textbook or reference style NF.

For some reason, although the cover doesn’t seem as important to me as it does with the novels I read, the title does. And oddly, sub-titles have huge appeal for me.

The Table Comes First by Adam Gopnik photo table comes first_zps0w1raiv8.jpgSo books like Lawrence Scanlan’s Heading Home: On Starting a New Life in a Country Place (Canadian, country, subtitle) or Adam Gopnik’s The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food (France, food, subtitle!) have huge appeal.

For the record, I’ve read Heading Home more than once and love it, and since I’ve greatly enjoyed at least two of Gopnik’s other NF books (Paris to the Moon and Winter: 5 Windows on the Season) I’m putting The Table Comes First at the top of my TBR list – in fact, I just reserved it at the library.

What about you? What do you look for in your non-fiction reading?


P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog

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posted under Nonfiction November
40 Comments to

“Nonfiction November – Week 2”

  1. On November 7th, 2016 at 10:06 pm raidergirl3 Says:

    What we think we like, and what we actually read can be two different things!
    I forgot to say I like food books, and that I don’t like self-help.

    Nonfiction books often have the best subtitles!

  2. On November 8th, 2016 at 8:48 am Debbie Says:

    It’s actually quite sobering, raidergirl, to compare the actual with the ‘what I thought’, in so many things in life. {sigh} 😉

  3. On November 8th, 2016 at 10:25 am emma Says:

    that Gopnik’s book sounds interesting

  4. On November 8th, 2016 at 10:56 am Debbie Says:

    I agree, Emma! I’ll let you now how it pans out.

  5. On November 8th, 2016 at 1:51 pm Lory @ Emerald City Book Review Says:

    Subtitles have become an art in themselves these days! I really like the sound of “Heading Home” and the “The Table Comes First” (and appreciate the elaboration given by the subtitle.)

  6. On November 8th, 2016 at 4:13 pm Debbie Says:

    Yeah, I’m not sure, Lory, whether I would have even glanced at The Table Comes First if it hadn’t been for the subtitle.

  7. On November 8th, 2016 at 2:27 pm Naomi Says:

    The fact that you liked Heading Home so much (which I just added to my to-read list) makes me think that you might be interested in Field Notes: A City Girl’s Search for Heart and Home in Rural Nova Scotia by Sara Jewell. Not so much a memoir as a series of essays. I thought it was good, and it takes place not far from either of us – Pugwash and Oxford area!

  8. On November 8th, 2016 at 4:18 pm Debbie Says:

    Oh, Naomi, thanks so much! I had somehow missed Field Notes, I’ve just requested it by inter-library loan. (Shouldn’t every library in NS have a copy?!) It sounds perfect for me and I’m excitedly looking forward to it.

  9. On November 8th, 2016 at 2:40 pm Vicki Says:

    I don’t really like how to or business. I do like self help especially if it’s about getting fitter/healthier, and I love travel memoirs.

  10. On November 8th, 2016 at 4:18 pm Debbie Says:

    Yes, travel memoirs can be really interesting, Vicki.

  11. On November 8th, 2016 at 4:37 pm Katherine Says:

    I realized this week that I love a good subtitle too!

  12. On November 8th, 2016 at 4:48 pm Debbie Says:

    It’s wonderful how this challenge is making us crystallize our feelings about nonfiction, Katherine!

  13. On November 8th, 2016 at 7:35 pm Deb Nance at Readerbuzz Says:

    Gopnik is a particular favorite of mine, too. Somehow I missed Winter. Off to add it to my TBR now.

  14. On November 9th, 2016 at 8:17 am Debbie Says:

    I almost missed The Table Comes First, Deb. It’s great to have the blogosphere for recommendations!

  15. On November 8th, 2016 at 8:55 pm Risa Says:

    I haven’t read any food books. I’m more interested in travelogues and memoirs, and I find, perhaps, history concerned with Asia and the Sub-continent. I also like to read Christian non-fiction. (Sigh…I’m beginning to realise, when I wrote my post, I didn’t think it through enough!!)

  16. On November 9th, 2016 at 8:19 am Debbie Says:

    Asia and the Sub-continent: a fascinating subject, Risa, and one I would never have thought of for NF reading.

  17. On November 9th, 2016 at 12:17 am loren stephens Says:

    Adam Gopnick’s Paris to the Moon is one of my favorite nonfiction books. He is the editor of the New Yorker. Great read.

  18. On November 9th, 2016 at 8:20 am Debbie Says:

    I knew he worked for the New Yorker, Loren, but I didn’t realize he was editor. He’s also Canadian (well, by now, probably dual citizenship) having grown in Montreal, Quebec.

  19. On November 9th, 2016 at 8:05 am Rebecca Foster Says:

    I adored The Table Comes First. Hope you enjoy it. Memoirs are among my favorite things to read, and I’ve become particularly fond of foodie memoirs in recent years even though I don’t cook.

  20. On November 9th, 2016 at 8:21 am Debbie Says:

    Your recommendation is high praise, Rebecca! I’m sure to enjoy The Table Comes First!

  21. On November 9th, 2016 at 10:16 am bermudaonion (Kathy) Says:

    I want to learn from NF as well but I don’t want it to read like a textbook.

  22. On November 9th, 2016 at 10:36 am Debbie Says:

    Agreed, Kathy!

  23. On November 10th, 2016 at 10:29 am Buried In Print Says:

    I look for novel-like qualities in my non-fiction reading. *grin* Of course.

  24. On November 10th, 2016 at 10:54 am Debbie Says:

    Truth be told, most of us do, Marcie. 🙂

  25. On November 10th, 2016 at 11:47 am JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing Says:

    Titles, especially subtitles, are a lot more important than covers in nonfiction for me, too. Heading Home sounds like a book I’d enjoy, and Paris to the Moon has been on my shelf for years. Really need to pick it up and read it.

    Have you read The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers by Josh Kilmer-Purcell? Josh is one of The Beekman Boys, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him (and Brent Ridge) at local events. The audio version is great, too. Think you would might like this one!

  26. On November 10th, 2016 at 1:30 pm Debbie Says:

    The Bucolic Plague sounds like something I would love! Thanks for the recommendation, JoAnn.

  27. On November 10th, 2016 at 9:34 pm Sarah's Book Shelves Says:

    I really enjoyed Paris to the Moon and love food memoirs…didn’t realize he’d written one! Will to the TBR – thanks for the rec.

  28. On November 11th, 2016 at 1:57 pm Debbie Says:

    I hadn’t realized either, Sarah, until I went to Amazon for the image for From Paris to the Moon. lol

  29. On November 11th, 2016 at 8:04 pm Toady Says:

    Expanding ones knowledge really is the whole idea of it, isn’t it? I used to be in the habit of reading for just pleasure, which is okay, but I walked away not changed at all, and often forgetting about the reading experience altogether because I was not choosing books that were memorable or that were capable of changing me in any sort of way. Now I put effort into choosing books that will stay with me for a lifetime, whether they be fiction or nonfiction.

  30. On November 11th, 2016 at 8:17 pm Debbie Says:

    I certainly feel better about myself and my reading when I do that, Toady. The older I get, the more I realize that I can’t waste time on books that don’t work for me.

  31. On November 11th, 2016 at 10:09 pm looloolooweez Says:

    Haha, you’re the 3rd NFN-er to mention the importance of subtitles that I’ve seen. And you’re right — a great subtitle can really grab attention and also properly set your expectations as to content/tone.

  32. On November 12th, 2016 at 9:25 am Debbie Says:

    lol, I know, Louise! After I wrote and posted this, it seems that every second NFN post I read mentioned the importance of those ‘after the colon’ titles. 🙂

  33. On November 12th, 2016 at 10:46 am Ellie Says:

    I think looking back often reveals we’re not reading what we think we usually read! I think I intend to read a lot more weighty tomes and then have a busy life so pick up light and short titles all the time.

  34. On November 12th, 2016 at 11:26 am Debbie Says:

    {sigh} it’s true, Ellie. I’m the say way about those ‘weighty tomes’.

  35. On November 13th, 2016 at 1:39 am Judy Krueger Says:

    I like reading biographies of past American Presidents. But sometimes they have long dry sections. What I like most is learning things I didn’t know before and having a good narrative storytelling style to get me through the learning-:) Two of my favorites over the years are The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Devil in the White City. I also love biographies of authors whose novels I have read.

  36. On November 13th, 2016 at 3:56 pm Debbie Says:

    Judy, reading about the lives of past presidents is a good way to get history but I confess there are only a limited number that appeal to me. I’m hoping to read Devil in the White City when I do a Chicago reading month in the next year or two.

  37. On November 13th, 2016 at 1:19 pm Naomi Says:

    I often wonder why our libraries don’t seem to have all the local books. It seems to me that they should! (I know – money.)

  38. On November 13th, 2016 at 4:06 pm Debbie Says:

    {sigh} Yes, money. And I don’t suppose everybody wants to read local all the time. But, still . . . .

  39. On November 14th, 2016 at 1:39 pm Rebecca Foster Says:

    P.S. I just (digitally) stumbled on The Chateau by William Maxwell. Wonder if you’d like that one — if you haven’t already read it.

  40. On November 14th, 2016 at 4:26 pm Debbie Says:

    The Chateau sounds charming, and I have not read it. Thanks for the recommendation, Rebecca!

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