In the last few months, I’ve had a bit of a change of taste. While in the past I was never very interested in non-fiction (with the notable exception of anything that Bill Bryson ever wrote), this year I’ve been on a non-fiction reading spree. I’ve been enjoying reading while having my morning coffee, and non-fiction books just seem to work better for that time of the day. I like that I can read a chapter or an essay every morning, and it probably helps that I don’t have to remember important plot points so early in the morning.
So, here are the non-fiction books I’ve enjoyed so far this year.
- Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton. I loved this book. Reading about hundreds of women’s thoughts on personal style was definitely thought-provoking, as I’ve mentioned in this post from last week. The book consists of interviews, essays, questionnaires, pictures, illustrations, transcripts of conversations, and even poems. It covers everything from ethics in fashion, how our mother’s style can be a significant influence in ours, the special meaning certain items can hold, and the connection between what we wear and how we feel.
- The Courtiers by Lucy Worsley. This is a fascinating portrait of court life during the reign of George I and his son, George II. I enjoyed reading about some incredible people, tangled affairs, rivalries, and scandal, all set in the beautiful surroundings of Kensington Palace in London. I doubt William and Kate’s lives are as exciting…
- Dancing to the Precipice: The Life of Lucie De La Tour Du Pin, Eyewitness to an Era by Caroline Moorehead. Oh my what a life this woman had! This book is based on the detailed memoirs of an enlightened aristocrat who witnessed, participated in, and survived an extremely turbulent period. Lucie maintained her great spirit and attitude from life at the court of Versailles, through the French Revolution, the Terror, and Napoleon’s rule; reading about her life was captivating and inspiring.
- New Ways to Kill your Mother: Writers and their Families by Colm Tóibín. Catchy title, right? This is a collection of essays focused on the often complicated relationships between authors like Jane Austen, W. B. Yeats, and Barrack Obama, with their families, particularly their mothers. It was really interesting to see how their personal relationships seeped into their work. It was wonderful to read and I have since added many of the books mentioned to my TBR list. And what I suspected when I read Austen’s works has been confirmed: aunts are very important in helping a young woman find love!
- Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy by Frances Mayes. It will come as no surprise when I say that after reading this book I wanted to move to Tuscany, live in a crumbling farmhouse, and cook and eat delicious, seasonal food. This is basically what Frances did; she has build an extraordinarily charming life in a warm and beautiful place. Food and travel are topics very close to my heart and this is a book that combines both. I copied quite a few of the recipes found in this book and since I can’t move to Tuscany (yet) I’ll have to make do with scrumptious Italian food.
As you can see I’ve been reading non-fiction books in a variety of categories and I’ve really been enjoying it. This week I started reading Au Revoir to All That by Michael Steinberger, which chronicles the rise and fall (and hopefully the rise again) of French cuisine. So far it’s delicious!
I’d be very grateful if you had any book recommendations for me. What are some of your favourite non-fiction books?