Non-fiction picks of 2015

Non fiction pics of 2015- In no particular order-
I noticed this year that I really like personal essays and memoirs. I also turn to non-fiction when I’m depressed, so I read a lot of non-fiction this year. (I’m fine now) In fact, I cut this list down in the interest of length.

1.They left us everything by Plum Johnson-
The author goes to her parents’ house and deals with their things after they die. It’s a look back on her parents’ life and the possessions we keep.

2. One hour in Paris- Karyn Freedman- Karyn Freedman was raped by a man she didn’t know while visiting Paris. She retraces the crime and its effects on her in this powerful memoir. Freedman looks at the effects of rape, how survivors recover, and talks about trauma and recovery. Since one in three women is a victim of sexual assault, this is a powerful and important book. (Could be triggering to some)

3. The story of a happy marriage by Ann Patchett-
I’m including this whole collection, but I first read it because I fell in love with “The Getaway car”, which is an essay that Ann Patchett wrote about writing and the writers’ life. If you’re not going to read the whole collection, you can buy “The Getaway car” as a single item on Amazon. But the rest of this collection is good too and if you like personal essays, Patchett will knock your socks off.

4. Detachment by Maurice Mierau-
Poet and writer Maurice Mierau and his wife decide to adopt two brothers from the Ukraine. These brothers have their troubles and this memoir is about the troubles of adoption, and the challenges that Mierau and his wife face. I always feel that there isn’t a lot written about adoption, especially by men, and this book was a welcome addition.

5. Between Gods by Alison Pick-
Writer Alison Pick discovers that her Czech family has Jewish roots, but they hid it during the Second World War. Pick is drawn to Judaism and decides to convert. This is a book about the process. It’s really interesting to learn more about Judaism, and the process of conversion and Pick is a beautiful writer.

6. The answer to the riddle is me by David MacLean-
This was another one that we did for book club. I had never heard of this book before we did it, but some people told me they had heard the author on NPR (or This American Life, I can’t remember). David MacLean wakes up on a train platform in India with no memory of who he is or how he got there. He has been taken lariam and it caused him to have amnesia. This book, written in short chapters, shows what can happen to a person with amnesia. I loved the structure of this book and the story it told. MacLean is actually a bit of a dick, and it’s interesting to watch him realize this too.

7. Reasons to stay alive by Matt Haig-
I’m still not sure if this book is available in Canada. I follow Matt Haig on Twitter and I wanted to read a copy of this. I actually got my copy from the US. It’s a used copy of a British edition and I ordered it online. But you should get it when it comes out in Canada. It’s part memoir, part self-help book about depression and recovery. I found it really moving and it helped me a lot.

8. Born to Walk by Dan Rubinstein-
Ottawa writer Dan Rubinstein (and former Edmontonian!) used to love to run. But then he hurt his knee, so he had to turn to walking. This is a book about the power of walking as well as a history of walking. Rubinstein does a lot of interviews and takes walks with many famous walkers. The only problem with this book is that you’ll have to keep putting it down to take a walk.

9. The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker-
Yeah, I kept on talking about this one. It’s basically about how the food processing industry tricks us into eating more by creating artificial flavours, and how these artificial flavours mess with our brains. Natural flavours (found in plants) have chemicals that tell us when to stop eating, etc. This is a fascinating book.

10. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Yeah, I know some people hate her. But I love her ideas about being a healthy creative and about creativity. This book was a great pep talk.

11. Unstuck by Jane Anne Staw-
This book addresses writer fear and writers’ block. I think it’s the best one that I’ve ever read. It really helped me learn to be a little kinder to myself.

12. This is happy by Camilla Gibb-
When she was pregnant with her child, Gibb’s partner left her. This book goes into Gibb’s past and looks at broken families and how people can make their own family. This was a book about grieving and it was very sad, but it was ultimately really uplifting too.

13. Bright eyed by RM Vaughn
RM Vaughn is an insomniac. He’s been an insomniac his whole life. So have I. Finally, someone has written a book about insomniac culture and why some people have trouble falling asleep. (and what we do about it). This is NOT a book that will teach you how to sleep better. Rather, consider it a series of essays about sleep and lack of sleep culture.

14. Between the World and Me by Tane-shi Coates
A black father writes a letter to his teenage son about what it means to be black in America. Thought provoking, brilliant and essential.

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