Nonfiction November Week 2

November 10, 2016 Books 7

Has it been 2 weeks already?!


The point of Nonfiction November is to read, discuss, and otherwise celebrate all the awesome nonfic lit out there. The hosts have decided on weekly blog post topics, and this week’s topic is….

Choosing Nonfiction

Despite my massive (and still growing) to-read list, I just as often pick up books — particularly nonfiction — on a whim.

What are you looking for when you pick up a nonfiction book?

Hm… well, lots of things I guess! I’m interested in certain subjects of course (see below), but just as importantly I am a BIG fan of accuracy/thoroughness and well-done research. A nonfiction book that doesn’t include a bibliography (or, in the case of things like cookbooks, some kind of statement about how the recipes were tested) is suspect. The most obvious exception is memoirs.

Other big bonuses for me are illustrations/graphs and a helpful index/appendix or two, as appropriate for the subject. I know that one can always just Google a topic for images, definitions, further reading, etc., but it’s so much nicer to be able to just flip a few pages and get that info right in the book!

Do you have a particular topic you’re attracted to? Do you have a particular writing style that works best?

Uh, YES. (See my post re: genres + subjects and associated fancy pie charts that I posted yesterday.) I’ve read a lot in the way of biographies & memoirs in the past — actually I was surprised at how much of my NF diet is comprised of that. I think quite a few of the books I have listed as “memoirs” are actually kind of about specific adventures/quests/projects, sometimes called “stunt” books.

But I’d also say that my favorites are either foodie books — whether cookbooks or books about food in some way — and science nonfiction. I’m also interested in various periods of history, but I often end up reading biographies of specific people from said historical periods instead of more general overviews.

When you look at a nonfiction book, does the title or cover influence you?

Oh, yes. Of course I know that it shouldn’t, but… it totally does. But it’s easier to describe what turns me off than what I actually like to see. Celebrity faces, bad photochop jobs, and trying-too-hard-to-be-a-novel types of covers make me question the content inside.

However, I’m a total sucker for interesting/pretty typography, subject-appropriate artsyness, and the generally weird, e.g.:

Krist_EmpireofSin Eig_BirthofthePill Lawson_LetsPretend

(Yes, that is a mouse dressed as Hamlet waving around a mouse skull. And it’s a great book.)

So, how about y’all — any other foodie or science nonfic fans out there? And I can’t be the only one who gets overly delighted by really nice appendices, right???

7 Responses to “Nonfiction November Week 2”

  1. Ellie

    Memoirs is such a big area, isn’t it? For a long time I associated it with empty celebrity biographies or soul searching but there’s are loads of amazing books I’ve now read with, deep down, are really just memoirs.

    • Louise

      You’re exactly right. I’m sometimes think that the category “memoir” is kind of separate from other genres, in that it’s more of a way of writing about a specific subject than a subject in and of itself, if that makes sense.

  2. Toady

    For someone who is a fan, it may be hard to understand that I didn’t know that foodie nonfiction was even a thing until recently. I do hope to include a few in my reading diet to see what it’s all about.
    The covers that you chose are all ones that I am attracted to as well, especially The Birth of the Pill. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened didn’t turn out to be my thing, but I originally picked it up first for the cover.

    • Louise

      Ah, too bad about ‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened’, but the cover remains beautifully weird regardless of the content.

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