What’s on my nonfiction bookshelf

nonfictionshelfLess than 5% of the books I read every year are categorized as nonfiction. It’s just not what I’m drawn to when I’m looking for something to read. If I want to learn about a historical event or famous person, I’d rather look up the information online. I want facts fast – I don’t need 300 pages worth of details! I have, however, tried to branch out this year. In fact, depending on how many more books I read in 2016, almost 12% of my books may be nonfiction this year! (My dad would be really impressed with all the math I did here…but probably wouldn’t trust that I did any of it right! ha!)

Here are all the nonfiction titles I read in 2016:

  • Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
    • A graphic novel, yes, but also a memoir! Bechdel focuses on her father’s closeted sexuality and his death, but also reflects on her childhood and her own sexuality.
  • Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
    • Another graphic novel memoir. In this one, Bechdel focuses on her relationship with her mother. But while she spared no details in her first book, Bechdel seems afraid to say too much about her mother in this one. Bechdel spends a lot of time revealing her own anxious and self-deprecating tendencies through real-life therapy sessions.
  • The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power by Kim Ghattas
    • BBC correspondent Kim Ghattas traveled with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and learned about Clinton as a person and politician, and examines American foreign policy. Dense, but informative, this book showed me how little I know about foreign policy and what it is a Secretary of State does.   
  • Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
    • Readers get more of what they love about Mindy Kaling in this book. She writes about weddings, love, work, what a day in her life looks like, and a little bit of everything. She mainly shows readers that she works really hard to achieve all of her successes. While not rolling-on-the-floor funny, it is quirky and enjoyable and I smiled while I read it.
  • Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
    • Yes, the television show is based on a book, and the book is about a real person’s life! Kerman committed a crime when she was young, but doesn’t pay for it until later in her life. She enters the criminal justice system and has a lot to say about it. She talks about prison life – both in trying to fit in to protect herself, but also in proving to herself that she’s somehow different or better than everyone else in prison with her – she also reflects on the absurdity of it all and the wastefulness: prison does not equal rehabilitation.
  • The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman
    • A concise book full of writerly guidance for people who want to know what it takes for agents and publishers to keep reading your novel. Includes straightforward advice with plenty of examples. Some of it is common sense and things that we’ve all heard before (Show, don’t Tell), but Lukeman gives good reasons and samples to back up his statements. 

What I’m curious about is how many of you readers are into nonfiction? What is the appeal for you? Also, do you have any nonfiction reading recommendations for me?


4 thoughts on “What’s on my nonfiction bookshelf

  1. Boy, you sure are catching up on your blogging! I’ll have to try to figure out how much of my reading this year has been non-fiction. Hope my figuring is as good as yours!

  2. Hi Annie ~ I like to read two kinds of non-fiction: biographies and cultural anthropology. You might like a couple of books by Tracy Kidder. One is called Among Schoolchildren. He followed a school teacher for two years and told her story. The other is called Mountains beyond Mountains. It is the story of Paul Farmer, a doctor who works in Haiti. It is one of the best books I ever read. For cultural anthropology, have you read any of Malcolm Gladwell’s books? They are very interesting. This summer, I read Present Shock by Douglas Rushkoff. It is about how technology affects our lives – fascinating.

    • Thanks for the recommendations Cathy! Among Schoolchildren looks like a good read – I will add that to my reading list. And if Mountains Beyond Mountains is one of your favorites, I guess I better give Tracy Kidder a try! I haven’t read any of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, but we have several of them here at our house. Eduardo bought them while on our honeymoon (our hotel was next to a Borders that was going out of business – I think we each bought at least three books!). However, he and I have very different reading preferences, so I never thought of reading them myself!

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