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Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

April 16, 2024

N is for Nonfiction #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter N

For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the genre/category and an example or two. I would love to know your thoughts on the genre/category and if you have any reading suggestions. Be sure to check out all of my A to Z posts.

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Nonfiction isn't everyone's cup of tea but I think it is important to read nonfiction from time to time.  I've already mentioned a few subtypes of nonfiction during this challenge - biographies, Christian nonfiction, and instructional books.

For just about any subject you are interested in you can find a nonfiction book on it. Sometimes these are textbooks, but there are plenty of nonfiction books for the non-academics. I love science so I tend to read a lot of science books, mostly to do with nature and the environment, but I also read about parasites and diseases since that is what I do for work. I particularly like the history of science and enjoyed reading A Lab of One's Own by Rita Colwell which is about women scientists throughout history. Patient Zero  A Curious History of the World's Worst Diseases by Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen was fascinating. 

I didn't read a lot of nonfiction before I started blogging. While in graduate school I read some nonfiction that wasn't assigned reading but I used for reference. Once I started blogging though I got involved in challenges and one of those challenges was Nonfiction November. Because I wanted books to recommend during that month I set a goal of reading at least 1 nonfiction book a month. I don't do that anymore but if I'm pitched a nonfiction book for review, I will read it. I get a lot of those suggestions from my science writers groups which is why I read The Possibility of Life: Science, Imagination, and Our Quest for Kinship in the Cosmos by Jaime Green though I'd never read about space before or really had much interest in it. It was a lot more about biology and chemistry than I was expecting and I really liked it (probably because she's also a Trekkie).

One category of nonfiction that is pretty popular is memoirs. I don't tend to read a lot of celebrity memoirs (though I listened to the incredible memoir from The Fonz aka Henry Winkler), but I read memoirs from ordinary people who have lived extraordinary lives. If you like memoirs but also want a deeper look into facts, then check out my recommendations below.

I love WWII fiction so I've been trying to read a bit more WWII nonfiction. I often find history nonfiction boring - full of names and dates. But I have found a couple of really interesting WWII nonfiction books. John Luckadoo recounted his experience in WWII to war correspondent Kevin Maurer who filled in the gaps with historical facts. Because of the human story, it became a compelling read.

Damn Lucky: One Man's Courage During the Bloodiest Military Campaign in Aviation History by Kevin Maurer

book cover of history Nonfiction book Damn Lucky by Kevin Maurer

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was a world away from John Luckadoo’s hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee. But when the Japanese attacked the American naval base on December 7, 1941, he didn’t hesitate to join the military. Trained as a pilot with the United States Air Force, Second Lieutenant Luckadoo was assigned to the 100th Bomb Group stationed in Thorpe Abbotts, England. Between June and October 1943, he flew B-17 Flying Fortresses over France and Germany on bombing runs devised to destroy the Nazi war machine.

With a shrapnel torn Bible in his flight jacket pocket and his girlfriend’s silk stocking around his neck like a scarf as talismans, Luckadoo piloted through Luftwaffe machine-gun fire and antiaircraft flak while enduring subzero temperatures to complete twenty-five missions and his combat service. The average bomber crew rarely survived after eight to twelve missions. Knowing far too many airmen who wouldn’t be returning home, Luckadoo closed off his emotions and focused on his tasks to finish his tour of duty one moment at a time, realizing his success was more about being lucky than being skilled.

Drawn from Luckadoo’s firsthand accounts, acclaimed war correspondent Kevin Maurer shares his extraordinary tale from war to peacetime, uncovering astonishing feats of bravery during the bloodiest military campaign in aviation history, and presenting an incredible portrait of a young man’s coming-of-age during the world’s most devastating war.

Buy Damn Lucky at Amazon

Read my review.

The second recommendation is a memoir from a wildlife biologist. I kind of want to be her. Her book is along the lines of Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Alamanc

Fox & I by Catherine Raven

book cover of environmental memoir Fox & I by Catherine Raven

A solitary woman’s inspiring, moving, surprising, and often funny memoir about the transformative power of her unusual friendship with a wild fox, a new window onto the natural world, and the introduction of a remarkable literary talent.

Catherine Raven left home at 15, fleeing an abusive father and an indifferent mother. Drawn to the natural world, for years she worked as a ranger in National Parks, at times living in her run-down car (which lacked a reverse gear), on abandoned construction sites, or camping on a piece of land in Montana she bought from a colleague. She managed to put herself through college and then graduate school, eventually earning a Ph.D. in biology.

Yet she never felt at home with people, and though she worked at various universities and taught field classes in the National Parks, she built a house on a remote plot of land in Montana and, except when teaching, spoke to no one. One day, she realized that the fox who had been appearing at her house was coming by every day at 4:15. He became a regular visitor, who eventually sat near her as she read to him from The Little Prince or Dr. Seuss. Her scientific training had taught her not to anthropomorphize animals, but as she grew to know him, his personality revealed itself—and he became her friend. But friends cannot always save each other from the uncontained forces of nature.

Though this is a story of survival, it is also a poignant and dramatic tale of living in the wilderness and coping with inevitable loss. This uplifting fable-like true story about the friendship of a woman and a wild fox not only reveals the power of friendship and our interconnectedness with the natural world but is an original, imaginative, and beautiful work that introduces a stunning new voice.

Buy Fox & I at Amazon

Read my review.

Do you read nonfiction? Do you have a favorite subject you read?

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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  1. I don't read a lot of nonfiction, but I do read some. Like you, I enjoyed a history that if it comes out as a bunch of names and dates, like a textbook. I still want to feel something for the narrator, besides knowing the birth date and name. :-)

  2. I don't read a lot of nonfiction, but if i do they're biographical - usually about famous horses, but sometimes important people.

  3. I enjoy non-fiction, usually something to do with health (mental or physical) and folklore.

    Ronel visiting for N: My Languishing TBR: N