Recommendations, Please

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of nonfiction.

I don’t have anything against it, really, it’s just that I so rarely enjoy reading it. Maybe I’m not scholarly enough to enjoy something without an obvious narrative. Maybe I’m too much of an anarchist to commit to a certain set of fixed data. At any rate, I often find, after finishing a book of nonfiction, that I don’t know quite what to do what I’ve read. The Tipping Point  had a lot of nice evidence, but mostly I felt like it took a lot of pages to articulate the process for a product to gain popularity. And then what am I supposed to do with that? It’s not the author’s fault, of course, it’s mine. Sometimes I just feel like, “so what?” I know there are people who feel completely opposite– that fiction is the waste of time, and nonfiction is The Truth– and I have no problem with that. I’m not against nonfiction, I just don’t enjoy nonfiction.

Which is why I’m asking for your help. What are some of your favorite nonfiction books? Why do you enjoy that particular book? What should I read next?

Leave a comment and be heard!

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8 thoughts on “Recommendations, Please

  1. Have you tried reading histories and biographies that are in more of a narrative form such as David McCullough’s books? I love him. The books are deeply researched histories but read much more like stories. Also in the history/biography genre, I really liked Gutenberg: How One Man Remade the World with Words by John Man.

    I also enjoy non-fiction on subjects that I can see and apply in every day life, such as birth order. Even though some of it is a stretch, it’s still kind of fun to look around at the people you know and see if you can pick out tendencies typical of their birth order. I remember enjoying one called Blink about the split second judgments we make based on first impressions.

  2. I enjoy Dave Barry books, they count as nonfiction, right? I’ve heard good things about this one with a dead body on the cover with the feet and toe tag the focus, can’t think of the title, or what it’s about exactly. I’m going to guess dead bodies play some role. (EDIT: According to the friend it’s called Stiff by Mary Roach.) There’s always Daily Show or Stephen Colbert books and I heard Mike Birbiglia’s Sleepwalk With Me was very good.

    I’m trying to think if there were any school reads I particularly enjoyed but I’m afraid they’re mostly forgotten now. If I searched my storage I’d probably find some that I enjoyed enough to keep during the great purge a couple years ago. I’ll look forward to what others have to say. I also find myself uninterested in nonfiction books unless they are pretty funny. Jessie read nonfiction pretty exclusively but I don’t feel like asking her for recs. I know she loved Eat Pray Love (did Cheryl just have a status abt that movie? Maybe someone else on Fb… Personally I found the movie dragged). I can think of a few other things I’ve read or heard were good but I’m pretty sure those recs came from you. 🙂

  3. Whenever I pick up a nonfiction book, I tend to go for memoir. I’m not sure if that counts. A J Jacobs is fantastic and hilarious, especially in The Year of Living Biblically, but I read all of his, and they’re all great. Rhoda Janzen’s Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is good, as is The Most Human Human by Brian Christian (…on second thought, I don’t think that one is a memoir–it has some of those elements, though). I’m reading Abraham Verghese’s Tennis Partner at the moment, and it’s just as sad but beautifully written as My Own Country. For good Christian nonfiction, try Blue Like Jazz (also memoir-ish), Out of the Salt Shaker, Radical by David Platt. I also read guidebooks and tea catalogs with some enthusiasm, but that’s not for everyone.

  4. I would guess you’ve read or considered my only real recommendation, but I’ll recommend nonetheless… Malcolm Gladwell’s ” Outliers.” I loved it.

    Another you’ve probably read, but maybe not, “Freakonomics.” I liked it. I started reading Gladwell’s “Blink” but was involved in too many other things at the time and never got very far.

    I would still like to read “Bottlemania” and “Garbage Land” byElizabeth Royte, but since I haven’t read them yet I don’t know that I can really recommend them. Good luck!

  5. My favorite nonfiction/memoir is Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. It’s the easiest book imaginable to pick up and put down as needed (organized as it is in brief encyclopedic entries), and it’s beautiful — THE book I wish I would have written.

    I also like Tina Fey’s Bossypants A LOT.

  6. Bill Bryson (just about everything), Kathleen Norris (The Cloister Walk, some excerpts from it were on the suggested reading for Christian theory comps), Sarah Vowell (anything), Norah Vincent (Self-Made Man), Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed, Bright-Sided).

    Like you, I don’t read much nonfiction. I prefer the narrative stuff, and chronicles of particular experiences like Cloister Walk, Self-Made Man, and Nickel and Dimed.

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