Sunday Coffee – On Nonfiction

IMG_3153This year is peculiar for me in terms of reading habits. Since I began to track my books in 2008, my nonfiction reading rate has averaged 10% per year. This year, I’m steady at almost 30%. That is a huge jump, and beyond that, my best-of-2015 rankings currently include twice as many nonfiction titles as fiction titles. In all my combined six pre-2015 blog years, only three nonfiction titles made it into my best-of lists, and two of those only as runner-ups. This year? There will be six.

Back in January, I talked about my reading mood swings, and hypothesized that I was on a very short trend toward nonfiction. This is because I’ve never been tempted to read nonfiction for longer than about four to six weeks at a stretch. An extended mood like this one is a brand new experience for me.

And yet, I find that not all titles work for me, and that as usual, I’m super picky about what I choose and finish. This month, at Jason’s suggestion, I tried to read Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell. The book didn’t work for me. It was too much like reading a history book. I don’t find history dull…in the right context, and this context is hard to explain. Jason, in suggesting the book, thought it would be a good one for me, because of the cultural and sociological history (which I normally love). But to me, it felt too big-picture, and I couldn’t get hooked into the narrative. Was that because I had no personal connection to the subject, and no personal interest that drove me to the book? Or was it because of the way the author approached the subject and the methodology of the book? No clue. I can’t adequately describe why some nonfiction works and some doesn’t. That makes it really hard to find titles when I’m in this kind of mood!

Still, I’m grateful for what I have come across this year. Some of the books I’ve read have been life-changing on multiple levels, and I feel that I’m starting to understand what does/doesn’t work for me, which hopefully will make it easier to find good nonfiction Manda-books in the future. Maybe next year, I’ll officially participate in Nonfiction November. I was sorely tempted this year!

About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
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8 Responses to Sunday Coffee – On Nonfiction

  1. I have a slew of nonfiction books now on my hold list, thanks/no thanks to Nonfiction November, but will I get to them? We’ll see. I have one major one that I bought: Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow since the musical Hamilton now on Broadway was inspired by the book. I always want to read more nonfiction, but I think I can count on one hand the nonfiction titles I have read this year so far.

    Side note: I am drinking coffee while I read this…or shortly after, anyway. It’s iced coffee as I prefer it, but it’s still coffee. 🙂


    • Amanda says:

      I have iced coffee base in my fridge, but it’s decaf right now because I’m using it in afternoon shakes and the regular kind wasn’t working as well. Ha!

      Normally, I can count all my nonfiction titles in a year on one hand – maybe two in special years – but this year was just insane for it!


  2. I hope you will join us for Nonfiction November next year! All of the hosts agree that we like it to be a pretty chill event and open for however people want to participate. I think nonfiction can be pretty specific for each reader, and there are a lot of factors that go into a book landing aside from just the subject. Despite the fact that I read a relatively high amount of nonfiction. there are really only certain types of books that I tend to go for.


    • Amanda says:

      I loved the topics this year but by the time I remembered it was going on, I already had my blog scheduled out (bad habit!). I’m hoping for a more laid-back year next year, which should give me a little freedom to participate however I wish!


  3. Michelle says:

    I am not normally a nonfiction reader either. I like it when I do read it, but I tend to avoid it because it makes for slow reading. However, this year, like yours, my reading of NF has increased tremendously. I don’t know if it is because of a greater awareness of some amazing books, an increased willingness to read it, or because I have chosen audiobooks as my go-to NF format. All I can say is that I am thoroughly happy with this result and hope to read even more of it next year!


  4. Most of my reading this year has been nonfiction too, which is very rare for me! I think it’s because I’ve been tired and adjusting to motherhood and fiction requires more concentration for me. Nonfiction has been easier for me to read in small chunks (which is how I’ve been reading since having Caleb). Glad you’re enjoying more nonfiction too!


    • Amanda says:

      I’m impressed. Nonfiction is difficult for me because it takes so much concentration, so I have a tendency to neglect it unless I have a lot of energy to spend on it (or a lot of time).


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