Nonfiction November TBR

Guess who’s late to the Nonfiction November party? MEEEEE, as per usual.

If you have not the slightest clue what Nonfiction November is; it’s essentially a nonfiction reading “challenge” hosted by Olive (abookolive) and Jemma (Non Fic Books). Make sure you check out their YouTube channels and follow the Goodreads Group and Twitter page!

All you have to do to participate is read a nonfiction book! It’s seriously that easy. However, if you want to make it a bit of a challenge Olive and Jemma came up with some pretty interesting themes for this year. They are as follows *drumroll*

  • Past time/Pastime
  • Self/Shelf
  • Wander/Wonder
  • Micro/Macro

These are all sorts of open to interpretation and both Olive and Jemma have TBR/Recommendation videos for each of the themes if you’re feeling stuck. (Olive’s TBR | Jemma’s TBR)

This year my Nonfiction November TBR is *futher drumroll*

I. Past time/Pastime

Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave Ona Judge | by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

30753748A startling and eye-opening look into America’s First Family, Never Caught is the powerful narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington’s runaway slave who risked it all to escape the nation’s capital and reach freedom.

When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital, after a brief stay in New York. In setting up his household he took Tobias Lear, his celebrated secretary, and nine slaves, including Ona Judge, about which little has been written. As he grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn’t get his arms around: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south just as the clock was about to expire.

Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, the few pleasantries she was afforded were nothing compared to freedom, a glimpse of which she encountered first-hand in Philadelphia. So, when the opportunity presented itself one clear and pleasant spring day in Philadelphia, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Yet freedom would not come without its costs.

At just twenty-two-years-old, Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who used his political and personal contacts to recapture his property.

Impeccably researched, historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar weaves a powerful tale and offers fascinating new scholarship on how one young woman risked it all to gain freedom from the famous founding father.

I’m choosing to focus on the past time half of this section. I’ve always had a slight interest in and curiosity about the founding fathers and slavery (I mean, I still think they were the original “not ALL men” sayers when they come up with the Constitution). I remember reading about the Washingtons’ cook Hercules earlier on this year and Ona was briefly mentioned so this seemed like the perfect book to grab for this challenge because a) it’s a past event & b) it reminded me of something that I read in the past.

II. Self/Shelf

Forgiveness is Really Strange by Masi Noor & Marina Cantacuzino – art by Sophie Standing

Synopsis via Goodreads

31702463What is forgiveness? What enables people to forgive? Why do we even choose to forgive those who have harmed us? What can the latest psychological research tell us about the nature of forgiveness, its benefits and risks?

This imaginative comic explores the key aspects of forgiveness, asking what it means to forgive and to be forgiven. Witty and intelligent, it answers questions about the health benefits and restorative potential of forgiveness and explains, in easy-to-understand terms, what happens in our brains, bodies and communities when we choose to forgive.

Humans are weird. We are weird, weird creatures with weird emotions and weird chemistry that makes or doesn’t make those weird emotions. Forgiveness is something that I struggle with and I want to know why.  This book seemed like a really easy way to figure that out without hurting my brain – it’s essentially a graphic novel.

III. Wander/Wonder

Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors by Carolyn Finney

Synopsis via Goodreads

18640643Why are African Americans so underrepresented when it comes to interest in nature, outdoor recreation, and environmentalism? In this thought-provoking study, Carolyn Finney looks beyond the discourse of the environmental justice movement to examine how the natural environment has been understood, commodified, and represented by both white and black Americans. Bridging the fields of environmental history, cultural studies, critical race studies, and geography, Finney argues that the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial violence have shaped cultural understandings of the “great outdoors” and determined who should and can have access to natural spaces. 

Drawing on a variety of sources from film, literature, and popular culture, and analyzing different historical moments, including the establishment of the Wilderness Act in 1964 and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Finney reveals the perceived and real ways in which nature and the environment are racialized in America. Looking toward the future, she also highlights the work of African Americans who are opening doors to greater participation in environmental and conservation concerns.

If you follow my Instagram, it’s no big secret that I wander around a lot. I’m a nature junkie in the simplest of ways. One of the things that I’m always noticing is that there certainly aren’t a lot of African-American’s out there wandering with me and I’ve wondered about why that is. I have my own speculations, but I want to see what somebody who’s actually taken the time to research and write a book says about the why that is.

IV. Micro/Macro

Hadrian’s Wall by Adrian Goldsworthy

Synopsis via Goodreads

35960093Stretching eighty miles from coast to coast across northern England, Hadrian’s Wall is the largest Roman artifact known today. It is commonly viewed as a defiant barrier, the end of the empire, a place where civilization stopped and barbarism began. In fact, the massive structure remains shrouded in mystery. Was the wall intended to keep out the Picts, who inhabited the North? Or was it merely a symbol of Roman power and wealth? What was life like for soldiers stationed along its expanse? How was the extraordinary structure built–with what technology, skills, and materials?

In Hadrian’s Wall, Adrian Goldsworthy embarks on a historical and archaeological investigation, sifting fact from legend while simultaneously situating the wall in the wider scene of Roman Britain. The result is a concise and enthralling history of a great architectural marvel of the ancient world.

I’ve been slacking on my history reading. In fact, I know almost nothing about the new findings in medieval or ancient history because I’ve been so focused on my damn MLIS degree.  Hadrian’s Wall is a huge thing we honestly don’t know too much about, therefore, I felt like it would fit into this category perfectly.


And there we have it! Those are my Nonfiction November goals! I’ll also be attempting to vlog all month long so make sure that you’re subscribed to my YouTube channel if you’re interested in seeing how I manage to make time for reading and adventuring along with being a part-time employee and a part-time grad student. My boyfriend might also occasionally make a few appearances.

Let me know what you plan on reading this month and/or if you’re taking part in Nonfiction November!

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