Saturday, May 26, 2012

50 Nonfiction Titles in 5 Years

Yes, it's true, I've made another list.  I can't help it.  I do love nonfiction, and I don't read nearly as much as I want to.  Now that I'm running the two book groups, I'm hoping to read more nonfiction.  And recently, I saw another blogger who'd made a list to challenge herself to read fifty nonfiction books in five years, inspired by the many bloggers who have signed up for the Classics Club challenge (I apologize, but I can't remember where I saw it.  If it was your blog, please let me know in the comments so I can give you credit).  Anyway, I think I can handle ten nonfiction books in a year. . . though I've now added a whole bunch more books to the TBR list.

So, here are approximately 50 books, but of course this list could change.  I've split it into categories vaguely by topic, though there's some overlap.   Of the fifty, more than half are from my owned and unread shelves, so that's one more reason to read them.  

The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper
White Mischief by James Fox
The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley
The Bolter by Frances Osborne
When She Was White by Judith Stone

Biographies and Memoirs
My Dog Tulip by J. R. Ackerley
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
The Girls from Winnetka by Marcia Chellis
Birds, Beasts and Relatives by Gerald Durrell
The Duchess by Amanda Foreman
Wait for Me! by Deborah Mitford
Hons & Rebels by Jessica Mitford
Sword and Blossom by Peter Pagnamenta
Below Stairs by Margaret Powell
Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
All the Dogs of My Life by Elizabeth von Arnim

British History
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon
Singled Out by Virginia Nicholson
Round about a Pound a Week by Maud Pember Reeves
If Walls Could Talk by Lucy Worsley

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto by Julia Child
The Art of Eating by MFK Fisher
From Hardtack to Home Fries by Frances Haber
Untangling My Chopsticks by Victoria Abbott Riccardi
Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child by Noel Fitch Riley

Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay
Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
The Man Who Loved China by Simon Winchester

A Pound of Paper by John Baxter
A Truth Universally Acknowledged:  33 Authors on Why We Read Jane Austen by Susannah Carson
Jane Austen and Crime by Susannah Fullerton
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell
Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin
An Autobiography by Anthony Trollope

Pictures from Italy by Charles Dickens
A River's Tale: A Year on the Mekong by Edward Gargan
A Way to See the World: From Texas to Transylvania with a Maverick Traveler by Thomas Swick
Letters from Hawaii by Mark Twain
In Morocco by Edith Wharton

Victorian England
The Carlyles at Home by Thea Holme
Victoria's Daughters by Jerrold M. Packard
Dickens' Fur Coat and Charlotte's Unanswered Letters by Daniel Pool
Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages by Phyllis Rose

The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Few Eggs and No Oranges by Vere Hodgson
Nella Last's War by Nella Last
Operation Mincemeat  by Ben Macintyre

Any good choices, bloggers?  Any snoozefests I should put in the giveaway pile?


  1. You have some excellent reading ahead of you! I loved Singled Out and hope you will too. Also, I finished The Story of an African Farm recently, so I thought I'd let you know it's actually a novel. Olive Schreiner did write non-fiction books, but this is not one of them.

    1. I didn't know that! I actually have too many books on this list, so thanks for telling me. I'll have to switch it to my Classics Club list. Thanks!

  2. Several I have enjoyed on this list, and several that are sitting on my own TBR shelf. Unbroken, Lady Almina, and Wild Swans were all really good. I was going to help you out with the other nonfiction challenge blogger, but I'm drawing a blank. I thought at first it was Amanda over at Fig and Thistle, but I didn't see it on a quick search. (I know she did blog about the classics challenge.) Now you've got me wondering where we read it...Happy reading to you!

    1. I'm reading Lady Almina right now and I'm really enjoying it. There's a lot of great stuff about that period available right now, as a result of the Downton Abbey craze, undoubtably.

      I searched through my Google reader and I still can't find who did the 50 nonfiction book challenge. It's a mystery. Hopefully he or she will see this and reply.

  3. I love lists! It's like going over to your house and peering at your bookshelves. :) There are a lot of books on your list that I've read and that I'm sure you're going to enjoy (and some that I haven't, and that I'm sure I'm now going to enjoy!)

  4. Great analogy -- I LOVE looking at people's bookshelves. Of the ones on my list that you've read, which can you recommend? I'll have to peruse your blog and see if you've reviewed any on the list.

    1. I should have said! Wait for Me, the Charles Dickens biography, the Julia Child letters, and The Carlyles at Home were all favorites of mine. Oh, and Jerrold Packer - his earlier book about Queen Victoria's death was the book that got me interested in her. (I know it sounds morbid -- and it was, a little -- but it was fascinating!)

  5. I'm a huge fan of non-fiction!! I could easily read 50 books in one year. I'd add some Mary Roach, Bill Bryson and A.J. Jacobs to your list. All are entertaining, funny and educational. Kind of non-fiction lite!

  6. I don't know Jacobs, but I LOVE Bill Bryson and I thought Stiff by Mary Roach was hilarious -- I forgot about her! I read At Home by Bill Bryson in 2011, one of my very favorite reads of the year. Thanks for the suggestions.

  7. I love lists, too. You have some great books to look forward to. I loved Wild Swans--it is an absolute page turner. And I have Few Eggs and No Oranges on my night table at the moment. Elspeth Huxley is another writer I want to read more of. Looking forward to when you start reading and writing about these!

    1. I keep hearing good things about Wild Swans, I think I'm just put off by the length. (Same with Few Eggs and No Oranges!) I'm sure once I get started I won't be able to put them down.

  8. I absolutely, positively loved The Bolter when I read it a couple of years ago. It was great, juicy reading, and my eyebrows went up quite a few times when I read some of the crazy, uninhibited acts by the woman Sackhouse or Stackpoole. Sorry, can't remember her name exactly. Anyway, it was really entertaining. I haven't read any of the others, but I really enjoy reading nonfic on occasion.

    1. Oh, and me too on The Bolter!

    2. I'm intrigued by this one by the name if nothing else -- in the Mitford books there's a character whose mother is referred to as The Bolter, so I have to read it to see if it's the same person or if that's just a British expression. Either way, it sounds really interesting.

  9. The Bolter is a British expression or I should say was - for a woman who abandons her husband and children. I remember that when Lady Diana Spenser's engagement to Prince Charles was announced she was described as being from a family of 'bolters' as her mother and grandmother had both done it.

    1. That's what I thought. But what about men who abandon their families?

    2. Well, around here they're known as absolute swines - and that's cleaning it up!

  10. You have to read The Wild Swans, gorgeous and completely riveting!

    1. After so many positive comments, it's definitely on the top of the list! It's also on my TBR shelf, so that's a good place to start.

  11. I've only four of these, but you really can't go wrong with Nella Last - such an exceptionally good series of diaries.

    1. I've heard the movie is also great. I'm really fascinated by World War II, and there are so many interesting books. I especially like reading about the war at home.

  12. You've got some excellent titles on that list--some I've read and some that are on my own list.

    The Flame Trees of Thika - I want to read this too, and then watch the mini-series, which I've heard is great.

    The Duchess - an amazing book--thought it one of best bios I've ever read.

    If Walls Could Talk - I have a copy and might actually get to it this year--looks excellent.

    Bird by Bird - is fabulous--I've reread it at least twice. Her advice is excellent and insights are poignant.

    Parallel Lives - I read it years ago and it's on my reread list.

    Dickens' Fur Coat and Charlotte's Unanswered Letters - Daniel Poole is a bit shaky; he doesn't always get his facts right and when I notice mistakes I get skeptical about the rest of what he says. I'd be interested to read how you like this book.

    Operation Mincemeat - can't wait!

    Lists are a good thing. Enjoy!

    1. If Walls Could Talk just arrived at the library for me today! I started it at lunchtime and it's really interesting (though I did have to skip some parts, just because I was eating. But I'll come back to them later).

      Good to hear about The Duchess, some biographies tend to be dry, so I'm glad to learn it's a good one.

      And now I'm curious about Dickens' Fur Coat -- I wonder if I'll pick out any of Poole's mistakes!

  13. The Daniel Pool title grabbed my attention instantly. Knowing his Victorian knowledge is a bit uncertain somehow makes it all the more intriguing!


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