This November, some of the things I’m thankful for include all of the great nonfiction books that are out this month (there are a lot of great books out this month, but as usual, I’m partial to nonfiction, I admit). Whether you’re looking for memoir, works in translation, nature writing, biography, or anthologies, there’s more than enough to keep you reading the whole month long, and then some. Not to mention, holidays are coming up — if you’ve got people on your lists who love nonfiction, there’s plenty from which to choose this month, if you’re getting an early start on shopping.
In addition to the books I’ve chosen to list here, The Best American series publishes on November 1st, with collections including Essays, Science and Nature, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Short Stories, Mystery and Suspense, and Food Writing — are always favorites of mine. There’s also a cheeky (couldn’t help it, sorry) book entitled Butts: A Backstory, by Heather Radke (out Nov 29th) that’s both informative and entertaining. (The cover is fantastic, and sure to start lots of conversations.)
The nonfiction books listed below aren’t the only nonfiction books out this month, but they’re the ones I’m most excited about. If you’re looking for even more new releases this month, Book Riot Insiders has a great New Release Index that comes in handy when you’re searching for a new read. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Fatty Fatty Boom Boom: A Memoir of Food, Fat, & Family by Rabia Chaudry (Nov. 8th)
In this memoir, Chaudry writes about her relationship with food, notably American processed foods, that she was fed from an early age, leading family members to comment on her weight when she was as young as two years old. She also touches on how, at the same time, they worried about finding a suitable husband. When she fell in love with Pakistani foods from her heritage, she learned about cooking with whole foods and eating in moderation. But this is more than a memoir about food and weight — it’s a humorous examination of growing up in a Muslim immigrant family, a love letter to the food of her culture, and a look at society’s expectations about what a body — a woman’s body — should look like.
Maus Now: Selected Writing edited by Hillary Chute (Nov. 15th)
It’s been more than 40 years since the original publication of Maus, and this book explores the impact Maus has made on literature, art, storytelling, even curricula. It’s been lauded, debated, examined, challenged — Maus and Art Spiegelman have been forces that have contributed to the larger cultural conversations. Chute brings together pieces from writers that approach Maus in various ways, including translations of essays in French, Hebrew, and German. This is a thought-provoking collection of pieces that explore topics that Maus touches on, and is a must-read if you’ve read Spiegelman’s books.
I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki by Baek Sehee, translated by Anton Hur (Nov. 1st)
In this memoir-in-translation, Sehee writes about her therapy for her depression. She’s successful, with a job in publishing, and mostly hides her troubles well. Except the effort this takes is exhausting, and keeps people from getting too close to her. Despite her persistent hopelessness, though, she always is able to love and enjoy tteokbokki, a kind of Korean street food, a spicy rice cake. The book covers a 12 week period of therapy, with recorded sessions, micro-essays, and self-reflections, examining her thoughts and behaviors.
Conversations with Birds by Priyanka Kumar (Nov. 8th)
Kumar grew up at the feet of the Himalayas, taking for granted the nature that surrounded her. When she moved to North America as a teen, she lost that connection with nature, and saw how people aided in the destruction of it. After she moved to L.A. in her 20s, she started to reconnect with nature through bird watching. She writes about different species and different places, and how these animals have prompted self-examination, and how they’ve changed her life.
Making Our Future: Visionary Folklore & Everyday Culture in Appalachia cover by Emily Hilliard (Nov. 22nd)
Hilliard, former West Virginia state folklorist, examines folklore and “real life” in WV, and challenges stereotypes of folklore and Appalachian culture in this book. She doesn’t see the two as old-fashioned, but instead, sees them as potential “visionary folklore,” focusing on collaborative work and community. She writes about how folklore can bring in diverse forms of culture, creating collaboration and unity, helping to shape current and future communities.
Ride or Die: A Feminist Manifesto for the Well-Being of Black Women by Shanita Hubbard (Nov. 8th)
Sociology professor and former therapist, Hubbard addresses the concept of “ride or die” in this book, exploring how for many Black women, the idea of being a “ride or die” person can do more harm than good, causing women to put off their own needs to take care of others’. She writes about conversations with friends about this topic, as well as her own personal experiences, challenging cultural norms and puts forth a new way of looking at self-care.
Eat Your Mind: The Radical Life and Work of Kathy Acker by Jason McBride (Nov. 29th)
Acker was a one-of-a-kind novelist, and this first full-scale authorized biography of her illustrates how visionary she was. She wrote about capitalism, gender, sex, colonialism, and revolution, creating space for radical artists to follow after her. McBride uses interviews, journals, correspondence, and more to create a wholly unique, insightful look at Acker, whose work remains highly relevant today.
Nature Swagger: Stories and Visions of Black Joy in the Outdoors by Rue Mapp (Nov. 1st)
Mapp, the founder of Outdoor Afro, has put together a beautiful book of photos and stories of members of Outdoor Afro and well-known Black leaders of outdoor activities, to help inspire Black readers to reclaim their place outdoors. Mapp also writes essays of her own about activism and conservation, and provides resources for readers to get started. The individuals highlighted range from children through senior citizens, and the joy in the photos and prose is contagious.
Our Red Book: Intimate Histories of Periods, Growing, & Changing by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff (Nov 1st)
It started after Nalebuff heard a story from her great-aunt — she started collecting stories of menstruation from those in her family. But it grew to getting stories from friends and strangers, and this book is a collection of artwork, essays, and oral histories about menstruation and everything that can go along with it, from people of all ages and backgrounds. Personal experiences, what they wish they’d been told, first periods to last periods — it’s all here in this compelling book that provides a diverse array of viewpoints and voices.
The World Deserves my Children by Natasha Leggero (Nov. 15th)
Comedian Leggero got pregnant at 42 after IVF and immediately started to have all of those thoughts so many of us have: what have I done? Can I do this? What if I’m terrible at this? The world is a dumpster fire, why did I do this? This book is a collection of thought-provoking and funny essays about “geriatric motherhood,” parenting, self-doubt, and much more. Parenting is hard, but this book reminds us that we can laugh about it at the same time.
Which one will you pick up first?