Bookish Stuff

Top 5 Nonfiction Reads of 2021

Following my top fiction reads for the year, it’s time to do a nonfiction post. There has been some fantastic nonfiction out there in recent years and I have been drawn to memoir and creative nonfiction in addition to the more psychological and philosophical nonfiction reads. My nonfiction standouts in 2021 are:

My Body Keeps your Secrets by Lucia Osborne-Crowley

Through a combination of memoir, interviews & cultural commentary, My Body Keeps your Secrets by Lucia Osborne-Crowley explores the impact of trauma on our bodies, the weight of shame, & reclaiming our selves in defiance of a patriarchal world. Osborne-Crowley discusses the impact of keeping her violent rape as a teen secret & the chronic pain she experiences in addition to mental health repercussions of the trauma. With vulnerability & courage, she discloses her struggles with her body, alcohol, relationships, & sex. She also interviews other women & non-binary people from various cultures & the impacts of their respective traumas on their bodies & beautifully weaves in their stories & her own to highlight how the system continues to invalidate women, our voices, our space in this world. Filled with facts and personal insights, this is an important read for our times.

The Mother Wound by Amani Haydar

How does a person cope when their father kills their mother? This is Amani Haydar’s story. I am yet to write a detailed review about this book which I finished in November. The Mother Wound is a powerful memoir about domestic violence and grief and how Haydar began to look at the past with more curiosity after her mother was killed by her father. She herself was pregnant with her first child at the time. This book is raw, it is heartbreaking, inspiring and an important one given that even now, we are seeing way too many women killed by intimate partners and family members and the perpetrators continue to be excused.

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado is a memoir like none other I have read. It explores the author’s experience of domestic violence in the form of coercive control and significant emotional and psychological abuse at the hand of their partner for years and is written in the second person. It was confronting and harrowing on many levels, particularly the gaslighting, and personally brought up some of my own past. Machado’s prose is lyrical and her ability to explore trauma in this way had me in awe. I borrowed a copy from the library but I cannot wait to purchase my own because I do think this is one I will re-read.

The Shape of Sound by Fiona Murphy

Fiona Murphy kept a secret for 25 years – the fact that she was completely deaf in one ear. In her debut memoir, The Shape of Sound she discusses the toll this secret took on her emotionally and physically. She also explores the economic, political, and social structures that shape deaf experiences and disabilities in general. Most importantly, her memoir explores an attempt at acceptance, understanding herself, and listening to her body.

Emotional Agility by Susan David

Emotional Agility is about being aware of & flexible with our thoughts & feelings in order to respond optimally to daily situations. In her book, clinical psychologist Susan David helps readers increase their awareness of their emotions & thoughts, accept them, get unstuck, & flourish. Backed up by evidence and with concepts rooted in acceptance and commitment therapy and behavioural therapy, David explains how to show up, step outside of our thoughts & emotions, & then choose to behave in ways according to our values. 

An honourable mention must go to Good Indian Daughter by Ruhi Lee which was relatable, reflective, thought-provoking, and sprinkled with humour.

Have you read any of these books or are they on your radar?

Stay tuned for my final bookish wrap-up post on favourite short story/poetry collections for the year.

Until next time,

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