It seems like tempting fate to announce my participation in a blogging event that is still nearly three weeks away, given my track record with them (plus the fact that I’m currently a good week behind with everyone’s blog posts as it is). Still, I love Nonfiction November, yet every year it takes me by surprise when it arrives. This year, therefore, I am actually planning to participate, rather than just writing my posts at the last minute and getting distracted before the end of the month. I’m hoping to use this month as a way to get to some of the nonfiction reads on my various challenge lists, as well as pairing it with German Literature Month for some translated nonfiction. (Thank you Rennie for giving me some recommendations of German nonfiction!) Here’s what I am hoping to get to, all things being equal.
Behind Putin’s Curtain: Friendships and Misadventures inside Russia by Stephan Orth (trans. Jamie McIntosh)
Excitingly, this is a three-in-one deal: it’s nonfiction, translated from German, about the author’s travels around Russia – so although it wasn’t part of my original In Lieu of Travel challenge, it definitely meets those criteria. I’m interested to get a view on current events in Russia from someone who isn’t English, North American, or Russian.
A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous, trans Philip Boehm
This is the story of a woman living in Berlin (as the title implies) during the early days of the Soviet occupation, based on diaries she kept at the time. I have been meaning to get to this for a long time, but am also a little apprehensive about it as it has a reputation for being – understandably – quite harrowing.
Mongolia: Travels in the Untamed Land by Jasper Becker
I know almost nothing about this book, but El Rhodes on Twitter recommended it to me as a good introduction to the area, and then kindly gave me a copy when we met at the London Bookshop Crawl in February 2020. Late February 2020 now feels like part of a very distant past, doesn’t it? Like Behind Putin’s Curtain, this is part of my In Lieu of Travel challenge – it will be my first read for Mongolia.
Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin
I’ve been wanting to read this culinary memoir for a long time – it’s one of the classics of food writing (and is, indeed, on my Classics Club list), and I’m not sure why I haven’t got to it before. Perhaps because I can’t stand the most recent cover – a twee one with a pot of jam and rom-com font. I much prefer this older edition, and have just purchased a copy of it.
Four books is probably enough planned reading for one month! I’m really looking forward to reading everyone’s posts. If you’re curious about the event and want to find out more, you can find the announcement post here.
I’m so happy that I could give you those recommendations, and that you could cross a couple of other challenge categories off your list this month as well! Makes everything much more doable 🙂
A Woman in Berlin is of course harrowing, but it’s also very readable, strange as that may sound. She’s such a compelling writer that it makes it more palatable somehow.
Home Cooking is one of my favorite books, I really hope you like it but I feel like almost everybody does! I have another Nonfiction November recommendation on my list from you actually, Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, I think the title is…and it has an essay from that book in it. Maybe I’ll try to finally get to that one next month, I so want to read it so I can’t say why I still haven’t!
And I’m with you on the bad covers for that book…I waited until I could buy a copy of the same one you did! The twee covers really don’t do her justice.
Thrilled you’re participating and so excited for your posts and your thoughts on those! The Mongolia one sounds completely fascinating.
Oh yes, Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant is excellent! Not all the essays and extracts are stellar, and there’s a weird short story that doesn’t seem to belong there, but there are also essays I still think about nearly a decade after I read it. And it really did make me less self-conscious about cooking and eating alone back at a time when I really needed that.
I am so looking forward to Home Cooking – everyone says it’s great. And I’m glad I’m not alone in re the twee covers!
I’m exciting for the cooking memoir. That’s not an area in which I normally read; however, about ten years ago or so I was in a book club for which we read My Life in France by Julia Child. Her honesty around knowing almost nothing about cooking, going to cooking classes in France and shopping in street markets when she barely knew any French, combined with stories about her husband and friendships, felt like a solid book, not a name-dropping celebrity memoir.
Julia Child is definitely one of the food writers I want to get to eventually. I’m trying to find a cookbook project for next year – to gradually read, cook, and blog my way through, as I love writing about cooking but haven’t done it at all thus far this year. I’m hoping Colwin’s memoir will provide some inspiration!
I just remember feeling very warm and comfortable, yet highly amused, when I read My Life in France. There aren’t any recipes in there, but she writes about the development of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Goodness, that sounds like a hefty amount of non-fiction to get through in just a month! They all sound interesting but probably the one about Russia from the German would be my pick – like you, I’d be interested in getting a different perspective than the usual UK/US one. Have fun!
Yes, I don’t know what the odds are of me finishing them all in a month! But Behind Putin’s Curtain and Home Cooking are both relatively slim volumes, and I’m hoping they’ll both be easy to read as well.
I always enjoy NFN – plus, I get to combine it with Short Non-Fiction week as part of Novellas in November!
Oh yes, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s Novellas in November posts! It was one challenge too many for me to try and fit it in, but I don’t read many novellas so I’m looking forward to getting some recommendations as people post.
I can’t say I read no NF but I avoid travel and cooking. Biographies I sometimes pickup by accident. I definitely agree with your implication that Americans aren’t the most reliable writers when it comes to Russia, the word ‘Communism’ has so much negative meaning for them that they are unable to see past it.
I think Russia is a hard country to write about in general, because it’s had such a huge impact on the world over the past century or so. Another book on my list is Erika Fatland’s The Border – Fatland is a Norwegian author who travelled around the countries bordering Russia to get a sense of what it is like to be one of its immediate neighbours. I doubt I’ll have time to get to it in November as it’s quite chunky, but hopefully soon!
Well, I hate to admit it, but I’m commenting on this post now because I’m 3 weeks behind on reading blog posts (ahhhh, panic!) and I’m helping to host this event. I really love talking about nonfiction with everyone though, so I’m hoping it will give me the boost I need to finish. Once I catch up to the present, I’m excited to hear what you think of your planned reads 🙂 Thanks for joining us!
I’m so looking forward to it – I have everyone’s posts open on my computer and I’m slowly working my way through them in between marking assignments! Thanks for hosting – it’s always one of my favourite events in the blogging calendar!