Choosing Nonfiction: What 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? If so, share a title or cover which you find striking.
I tend to gravitate toward books that are similar to fiction: memoirs, narrative nonfiction, history that is told through the lives of individuals. Since I’m no longer in school, I’m not drawn to “textbook”-type expositions of material, but I do love learning new things through nonfiction. That’s not to say I won’t choose any books that are not told through personal narrative, but they do account for a fairly small percentage of my total reading.
In terms of writing style, I love it when the writer has an individual voice and some sense for the artistry of language, rather than a dry, pedantic way of writing. However, I have put down books that were too flowery and in love with their own eloquence. In nonfiction, there is a topic to be focused on, and the writing style should serve that rather than being an end in itself.
An attractive cover never hurts, of course — it might get me to pick up a book, but it’s the contents that will keep me reading.
Here are some of my favorites from this year, representing some of my favorite topics. What are yours?