The complete list of everything I read can be found on my goodreads page- here https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/689723-alexis?shelf=2016
I thought I read more non-fiction than fiction this year, but apparently, this feeling was incorrect and I read about the same number of fiction and non-fiction books. I have been having a harder time reading fiction because I find that I get so caught up in the structure that I lose focus. Or in some cases, I get so caught up in the language and the intricacies of what the author is doing that I lose the narrative.
Anyway, here is my list of the nonfiction books that stayed with me in 2016, in no particular order-
- This Lonely Section of Hell by Lorimer Shenher-
Holy F. This book was brutal. A former police officer describes how the Pickton affair was screwed up by the police. Lorimer, who is trans, suffered for years as a result of their involvement in this investigation. This book gutted me, but was extremely well done. The consideration and attention given to the women who were killed and their families was respectful and compassionate. The focus was on the investigation and the women, not on the killer.
- In-between Days by Teva Harrison- A graphic novel about living with metastatic breast cancer. This is a brilliant, heartfelt, hopeful, heartwrenching and important book.
- Precious Cargo by Craig Davidson- Author Craig Davidson spent a year driving a school bus of special needs kids in Calgary. He learned all about himself and about his young charges in the process. This book is both funny and sad. I read it in one sitting and cried at the end. It’s ultimately a story about humanity, differences, acceptance and love. I was really affected by the compassionate way that Davidson depicted his charges.
- Missoula by Jon Krakauer- Jon Krakauer, author of “Into the Wild” and “Into Thin Air”, decides to look at the story of sexual assaults at Montana State University in Missoula. A number of women were assaulted by football players at the university, and many of the players were deemed innocent. This book basically outlines rape culture. Krakauer is a master of weaving together scenes and information. I learned a lot about sexual assault court cases. For some reason, I ended up reading this around the time of the Ghomeshi trials.
- Witches of America by Alex Mar- This book is highly controversial because author Alex Mar infiltered some wiccan groups to research them and betrayed some people in the process. Some people didn’t like how they were portrayed. But Mar’s investigations and depictions of wiccans in contemporary America are compelling, fascinating and in a few cases, downright scary.
- The Diet Fix by Yoni Friedhoff- Yoni Friedhoff (@yonifriedhoff), is an obesity doctor from Ottawa. In this book, he talks about healthy eating, and lifestyle and gives you the truth about dieting and weight loss. This is really a book about how to be healthy and avoid dietary myths. Also, @yonifriedhoff is GREAT on Twitter. Think of him as the Tim Caulfield of the obesity world.
- Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Katy Butler- American writer Katy Butler breaks down her parents’ deaths and talks about why we need assisted dying. She goes into the history of healthcare, and how the focus changed in the 1970s to keep people alive by any means. This book is very difficult to read, but it will change the way you think about death and health care.
- Smoke gets in your eyes by Caitlin Doughty- Caitlin Doughty is a mortician and the founder of the Order of the Good Death. She’s also worked in a crematory and in funeral parlours. In this book, she details her personal experiences in the industry. This book is funny and also offers a realistic and sobering look at the funerary industry. Doughty advocates for a new kind of understanding of death and funeral ritual. I would love to meet her.
- Shrill by Lindy West- I basically started reading this book, slept for a few hours and then got up and finished reading it. If you’ve been on the Internet or followed online media, you have probably read Lindy West. This book of essays is about her life, feminism, and fat activism. There’s lots of food for thought here. And some of it is really funny!
- Brown by Kamal Al-Solaylee- Kamal Al-Solaylee, a journalist who lives in Toronto, traces the global impact of brown people. In this book, he doesn’t look at indigenous people, black people or East Asians. He describes how brown people are used up to prop up economies, and become lower wage workers for higher classes. This is a very poignant and overlooked book about globalization and migration. It’s a dense read and there’s lots of information in here, as Al-Solaylee travels around the world, interviewing brown people in different countries. At some point, I will have to re-read this. I think about this book a lot, because I can see evidence of Al-Solaylee’s argument in place in many countries around the world and in situations in my daily life.
- This is not my life by Diane Schoemperlen- Canadian author Diane Schoemperlen fell in love with a prisoner (murderer) she met while volunteering in a soup kitchen in Kingston, Ontario. This is their love and unlove story. This book was riveting. Schoemperlen doesn’t make any excuses for herself, and fully details how she fell in love with “Shane”. She also reveals how Harper’s prison cuts affected prisoners in Canada. I learned a lot about crime and the justice system from this book. I thought about this book for many days after reading it. I couldn’t get it out of my head.
- Ghostland by Colin Dickey- Colin Dickey travels around the United States to study ghost stories and what they mean about social and cultural history. What does it mean that there are few ghost stories about black ghosts in Richmond, Virginia, even though there were many tragic deaths of slaves there? What about the haunted hotels of Los Angeles? What kind of places are haunted and what does it say about the United States? This was a fun read and a nice slice of Americana.
- The Dependent by Danielle Daniel- Danielle Daniel was married to a member of the Canadian military. My uncle is a retired major general, and he and my aunt moved 24 times as members of the military. I thought of my aunt many times while I was reading this memoir. This is a story about the military, love, depression, trauma and reconciliation.
- Trainwreck by Sady Doyle- Britney Spears is the ultimate trainwreck woman, a woman at the top of the world, who then plummets. People are too willing to watch trainwreck women spiral out of control and end up “wrecked”. What does the idea of the trainwreck mean and what does it say about our society? Doyle argues that the social shaming and way people talk about trainwreck women is another form of misogyny. Doyle made me think about this phenomenon in a new way. She also delves into history to show that the trainwreck narrative is nothing new.