Monday, November 20, 2017

Nonfiction November - Nonfiction Favorites

This week's prompt is hosted by Katy at Doing Dewey:
"We’ve talked about how you pick nonfiction books in previous years, but this week I’m excited to talk about what makes a book you’ve read one of your favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone? Let us know what qualities make you add a nonfiction book to your list of favorites."
Do you remember the other day when I said my nonfiction reading was all over the place? Because I thought that, I assumed it would be tough to do this prompt. Since six years ago I started tracking my favorite books of the year, breaking out nonfiction, I thought I'd head to those lists to see if I could find any patterns. It turns out that, while the subject can be almost anything (from drug addiction, careers in math and science, the Civil War), I tend to like to get those stories in the form of a biography, memoir, or personal essay collection. Apparently I need to be able to learn about a topic through an individual.

How the information is presented is less important. Some of my favorite personal stories are incredibly sad (The Year Of Magical Thinking, An Exact Replica Of A Figment Of My Imagination, Behind The Beautiful Forevers, This Republic of Suffering). Other favorite nonfiction works include healthy doses of humor (Cocktail Hour Under The Tree of Forgiveness, anything by Sarah Vowell, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, and I Feel Bad About My Neck).

Like any book I pick up, my nonfiction choices are largely a matter of what appeals at a particular time. Am I ready to immerse myself in a book dense with information (anything by Ron Chernow, Instant City, On China) ? Or, maybe something that give me information in a way that's less scholarly (Moranthology, Orange Is The New Black, The Happiness Project). What it comes down to is that the book needs to be well written, just like any other book.

What qualities do you look for in a nonfiction book?

1 comment:

  1. For me, it's an iteration of well-written. I need the author to have a voice I want to read. Which doesn't sound quite right so, how about: I need nonfiction that reads like fiction. There has to be a flow and a reason to keep reading.