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Non-fiction November 2019, Weeks 1 to 3

November 10, 2019

Meme logoI’m a relative latecomer to Non-fiction November, but I like to take part in some way because I do like and read non-fiction. However, I don’t have the time to fully take part, so as in previous years, I plan to do a couple of concatenated posts.

The meme is jointly hosted by Julz (Julz Reads) (Week 1), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves) (Week 2), Katie (Doing Dewey) (Week 3), Leanne (ShelfAware) (Week 4) and Rennie (What’s Nonfiction) (Week 5).

Week 1: (Oct. 28 to Nov. 1) (Julz ReadsYour Year in Nonfiction:

There are several questions for this week, but I’m just going to answer a couple …

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

My year starts at the end of last November. I’ve not read a lot of non-fiction, but have read a lot of really interesting non-fiction! I’m choosing three highlights:

  • The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (my review): because it’s a biography that also explores the history and ethics of science, as well as social justice and racism. It’s the whole package really.
  • Axiomatic, by Maria Tumarkin (my review): because, again, social justice is at its core, and it forces us to rethink those maxims that we trot out, often without thinking about them too deeply.
  • You daughters of freedom, by Clare Wright (my review): because it illuminates how progressive Australia was at the time of our Federation, and the significant role played by women, nationally and internationally, in that progressive thought and action.

Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?

I wouldn’t say this is a topic I’ve been particularly attracted to this year, but I have had a long, ongoing interest in the stories and rights of Indigenous Australians, and try to keep my reading up in this area. This year, in terms of non-fiction regarding Indigenous Australians, I read Anita Heiss’s anthology Growing up Aboriginal in Australia (my review) and Stan Grant’s On identity (my review). I also read Neil H Atkinson’s The last wild west (my review), in which he chronicles his enlightenment of the injustices under which Indigenous Australians live.

Week 2: (Nov. 4 to 8) (Sarah’s Bookshelves) Book Pairing:

“This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.”

Clare Wright, You daughters of freedomI love this week of the Challenge, because for as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed seeing connections between my reading. However, because I’m doing three weeks in one, I’m going to do just one pairing, and it pairs two books I’ve read this year, Clare Wright’s You daughters of freedom (my review) which chronicles the women’s suffrage movement in Australia with Sue Ingleton’s Making trouble: Tongue with fire (my review) which tells the story of two women’s rights advocates, Harriet Elphinstone Dick and Alice C Moon.

Book coverBoth these books focus on the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, though Ingleton’s ends right at the beginning of the twentieth century. Ingleton’s Dick and Moon weren’t actively involved in the suffrage movement, but they were passionate advocates of the rights of women and of women’s ability to live independent lives, and they, particularly Moon, met and associated with early Sydney leaders of the suffrage movement, like Rose Scott and Louisa Lawson, who feature in Wright’s book.

Week 3: (Nov. 11 to 15) (Doing Dewey) Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert:

Either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert) … [or] put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert) or … create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

Hmm, except that I wouldn’t and couldn’t call myself an expert, I could choose Indigenous Australian rights and lives, and repeat the three books I listed under Week 1’s particular topic question. I will stay with this idea, and share some more books I’d like to read, but with the proviso that I, as a non-indigenous person, could never actually become the expert. Some non-fiction indigenous works I’d like to read include:

  • Larissa Behrendt’s Finding Eliza: Power and colonial storytelling (Lisa’s ANZLitLovers review): this book which explores/exposes early writing about Indigenous Australians has been on my TBR for a few years now. I hope to read it for Lisa’s 2020 Indigenous Literature Week.
  • Stan Grant’s Australia Day (my post on a conversation with Stan Grant): having heard the conversation, I’d now like to read the book!
  • Alexis Wright’s Tracker (Bill’s The Australian Legend review) which won the Stella Prize in 2018, and which appeals for its story of a strong but controversial Indigenous Australian activist and for its “take” on biography/memoir.

(I am early with Week 3, but I figure that balances the fact that I’m very late with Week 1. I hope I’ll be forgiven.)

12 Comments leave one →
  1. November 10, 2019 8:10 am

    Hmmm: I forgot, months back, to see if any of Stan Grant’s writings have been released on audio. And “Australia Day” has ! – even though I’d prefer it were “On Identity”.
    So in January, when my Audible membership starts up again, I’ll have one to get. Excellent ! 🙂

  2. Meg permalink
    November 10, 2019 8:45 am

    Hi Sue, I am a bit late too! My favourite non fiction book was Underland by Robert MacFarlane. I would say this year books on nature have been my draw card. Book pairing was easy for me because I had just finished reading Grass Library by David Brooks and paired it with Only the Animals by Ceridwen Dovey. Ask the Expert for me was Factfullness by Hans Rosling, and Welcome to Country by Marcia Langton.

    • November 10, 2019 11:51 am

      Great choices Meg. I nearly paired Grass Library with an obvious choice, but one I read a couple of years ago, Backlash. I like your pairing a fiction with a non-fiction which I think I did last year.

      I don’t know Underland at all. Sounds intriguing.

  3. November 10, 2019 8:49 am

    Well done, Sue.
    Yes, I feel uncomfortable with the ‘expert’ tag. There are far too many people around who think they are experts on everything! How about an IMHO tag instead?!

  4. November 10, 2019 9:06 am

    I thought of a WA/Noongar pair on someone else’s blog but how about Tracker and Marie Mumkara’s A Most Peculiar Act for a NT pairing.

    • November 10, 2019 11:53 am

      That sounds good, Bill. I like that you are coming up with different pairs for different blogs!

  5. November 10, 2019 9:17 am

    Such interesting looking books. It is really good to have a longterm interest interest and to read around a topic. Indigenous Australian rights and lives seems like it is very important. Of course it seems like it is very interesting too.

    • November 10, 2019 11:54 am

      That’s the best, isn’t it, Brian – for an interest to be important and interesting too. Like your current reading on, hmm, would you call it contemporary political systems or thoughts or philosophies? Anyhow, I enjoy reading your posts on that area.

  6. ian darling permalink
    November 12, 2019 8:53 pm

    Off the top of my head my favourite non fiction might have been Simon Goddard’s Ziggyology which isn’t a biography of David Bowie but a study of the invention and context of Ziggy Stardust in splendidly hyperbolic terms.

    • November 13, 2019 8:39 am

      Never heard of it, Ian, but you certainly have me intrigued by “splendidly hyperbolic terms”!

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