Monday, November 7, 2016

Nonfiction November Week 2: Choosing Nonfiction



Welcome to Week 2 of Nonfiction November! This week's post is hosted by Rachel @ Hibernator's Library. On to today's topic:

Choosing NonfictionWhat are you looking for when you pick up a nonfiction book? Do you have a particular topic you’re attracted to? Do you have a particular writing style that works best? When you look at a nonfiction book, does the title or cover influence you? 


The number one factor I tend to look for in a great nonfiction book is the writing style. I love narrative nonfiction books that really capture the reader's attention and read like novels such as Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, In Cold Blood, and Unbroken




I'm not so much attracted to particular topics as much as I am writing styles or ways the author organizes his or her information. For instance, Mary Roach can make pretty much any subject interesting, be it swallowing, the military, or cadavers. Roach's style is irreverent, witty, and always full of interesting stories about the topic. 




Candice Millard is another example of picking writing style over subject. I recently read Destiny of the Republic about the assassination of President Garfield. I previously knew almost nothing about the subject - and frankly wasn't interested in learning about it - but had been hearing that I should read this book for years and finally gave in. I'm now a blind follower of ANYTHING Millard writes. She's that good, folks.



Witty titles and clean, bright covers tend to get my attention, but the number one factor that attracts me to books isn't looks but reviews. I always read the reviews from Library Journal, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist before I start a book. Life's too short to read bad books!



10 comments:

Lory said...

You're right, I think reviews are more important to me in choosing nonfiction than book covers. Sometimes I don't even see the cover and I know I want to read the book.

Toady said...

It is such a great idea to actively seek reviews professional sites. Oddly enough, I haven't really thought to do that. I have always relied on Goodreads, which works well for the genres in which I recognize trusted reviewers, but for others, not so well. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil looks like exactly my sort of thing. I am adding that to my TBR.

looloolooweez said...

Mary Roach is freakin' awesome! And I've never read anything by Candice Millard, but it looks like I'm going to have to -- I've heard nothing but great things about her books.

Great point about reviews. I guess I tend to judge books by their covers more when I'm seeing them in person at a bookstore and picking them up on a whim. If I'm buying online or actually planning my next few reads, reviews are super important. Kirkus and LJ are also my go-to sources and have almost never steered me wrong.

Sarah's Book Shelves said...

I agree with Lory (and you) about reviews being extra important for me...especially with nonfiction.

And I loved all 3 of your narrative nonfiction examples....and forgot Garden of Good and Evil even was nonfiction!

Debbie Rodgers said...

Toady said it better than I can. I listen to other bloggers - but I should also be looking at the professionals. Because - agreed -life's too short to read bad books.

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Yep, I do both -- read a few trusted bloggers as well as professional review journals.

DoingDewey said...

Agreed! As with fiction, I mostly want something well written, something that will be an engaging read. I'll read about any topic Mary Roach wants to write on too :)

Amanda @ Gun in Act One said...

I haven't read any Mary Roach (shameful!) but you're making me really want to change that sooner vs later and now I'm very curious about Millard. I might have to reread Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil now that I'm thinking about it too! That book is so great!

JoAnn said...

Narrative nonfiction is my preferred writing style, too, and I've enjoyed most of the books you mentioned. Sounds like I need to try Candice Millard, so just added Destiny of the Republic to my wish list. Thanks!

Ellie Warren said...

I feel I should give In Cold Blood another chance. I started reading it on holiday one year and I just don't think it was right for that frame of mind!

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