As Autumn has well and truly found its feet and the nights are getting darker that much earlier, it’s tempting to always head towards the fiction shelf for a break from some of the realities of life. As we head into the new month though we see the arrival of Non Fiction November, which aims to get readers picking up something a little more factual than fictional. I tend to have a few books on the go at once, with one usually being non fiction, and over the past few weeks and months I have read some great books that cover a wide range of subjects. I thought it would be an idea to give you a summary of some of these, and then if you’re looking for inspiration you may find something that takes your fancy.
I’m currently reading ‘Hamlet, Globe to Globe: Taking Shakespeare to Every Country in the World’, and although only three quarters of the way through it is holding up well enough to make me confident enough to pop it in this list. In 2012 The Globe invited theatre troups from every country in the world to come and perform a Shakespeare play in their own language on the hallowed stage. This was a resounding success, so much so that when the season had ended all those who worked on the project felt a little flat and were left asking ‘what now?’ They decided for their next project to do the travelling themselves, taking one Shakespeare play to every country on the globe. The book is written by Dominic Dromgoole, the former director of The Globe, and is an enjoyable look into the stresses and strains that go into planning such a tour, as well as the farcical moments that can only happen when travelling. Dromgoole gives fascinating insights into why they chose ‘Hamlet’ to be the play they toured, talks about the text itself and how differently it is received depending on the country the company currently find themselves in. There are also some great giggles to be had at the adventures the actors encounter which each new touch down. I’m not particularly a huge devourer of the Bard but I think this makes for an enjoyable read whether you dabble in his works or not.
Now I’ve always been a fan of Maggie O’Farrell’s fiction, you know when you pick up one of her books you are in safe hands, so when I saw she had a memoir coming out my ears immediately pricked up. Word spread fast on bookish twitter about how this was a must read, and when I found out the extra titbit that this wasn’t your standard memoir but actually 17 accounts of brushes with death, to say my interest was piqued would be an understatement, I ended up getting it on the day it came out. Never have the first two chapters of a book had such an effect on me as these two, they were visceral and have stayed with me to this day. The whole book is pitched perfectly, as you read about these close encounters with death you are simultaneously overwhelmed by the beauty of life. I talk about this book to anybody who will listen now, it is simply stunning and oh the language she uses, so gorgeous I was constantly reading sections out to myself. The last line of the book saw me crying, and last month I was lucky enough to see Maggie O’Farrell speak and discuss this last chapter. As she repeated the last line goosebumps covered me, every hair stood on end and I burst out crying once again, much to the alarm of the audience members sitting either side of me. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, without a shadow of a doubt one of the best reads I’ve picked up this year.
Often with non fiction I’ll happen upon a book that will teach me something new, maybe about a historical event or figure, or open my eyes to a situation, political or otherwise, in the world. It is rare that one comes along that deeply makes me question how I’ve been looking at the world and the privilege I have as much as the following book did. ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ is truly a transforming, and that old cliche, eye opening read. Starting life as a blog post by Rene Eddo-Lodge, the reaction the original piece received then planted the seed for this polemic. Every chapter revealed new layers to me of the systemic racism in Britain today. I think this is a hugely important book I’d encourage all to pick up. Eddo-Lodge is a captivating and informative writer, and the fact that so many reached out to her in recognition after her original blog post shows just how needed this book is.
So there are some options to be getting stuck into. I’ll be posting another blog with some more great non fiction offerings as we go deeper into the November days, so keep a look out! Let us know in the comments below or over on twitter @dogeared_reads if you will be joining in with the months theme!
Until next time, happy reading!