Struggling to Read More Non-Fiction? I Can Help!

Just over three weeks into the new year, how are you doing with your bookish new year’s resolutions? Are you getting in the numbers? Getting to those genres you neglected last year? Making more of an effort to read more male or female authors? Crushing your pages read goal?

What about the non-fiction goal? Are you hitting that?

Right before 2014 was ending, when 2015 held all the promise of a fresh start, a lot of bloggers took the time to think through reading goals for the coming year. I didn’t do it but I enjoyed reading the posts and it got me to thinking about my own habits and what I would like my bookish year to look like in 2015. I noticed that a lot of readers seemed to want to make more of an effort to read more non-fiction but acknowledged that this would be difficult as they’d always had a hard time with non-fiction.

This used to be you reading non fiction.

This used to be you reading non fiction.

Remember when I came up with a few tips and tricks to help people read more? Now I’ve come up with some ideas I think will help those of you struggling to like non-fiction come over to the dark side.

You see, I’ve always liked non-fiction. It’s never been a chore or a hardship to me read or to find non-fiction that I love. There’s a lot of non-fiction out there that is REALLY good. But it can be intimidating to take the plunge so let’s see what we can do about it.

  1. Read what you’re interested in. This may seem like a no brainer but I think a lot of people have this idea of non-fiction as being stuffy and horrible. If you like movie stars, read about movie stars. If you love gossip, I can recommend LOTS of books. If you like to read about politics or the history of drinking or money or fashion, I promise you there is non-fiction out there that you will love.
  2. Start small. If the idea of reading non-fiction intimidates you, maybe don’t try and start with Ian Kershaw’s epic Hitler biography. Maybe start with the always delightful Malcolm Gladwell. Or hang out with Mindy Kaling for a bit (just because it’s funny, doesn’t mean it’s not non-fiction). Reading non-fiction doesn’t mean getting stuck with a thousand page tome covering the entire history of the Third Reich.
  3. Don’t force it. If you’ve given a history of capitalism a few hundred pages and it’s not doing it for you, then it’s not doing it for you. Reading, even reading non-fiction (that’s not assigned reading) is supposed to be fun and if you force it, you lose that essential quality. Last year I tried to enjoy biographies of Queen Anne and Lucretzia Borgia and I didn’t. So I stopped reading them and moved on.
  4. Read the first page. Next time you at the library or a bookstore, poke around the non-fiction sections and read the first page of books you might like to read. This helps you get a sense of the author’s style and will honestly go a long way towards helping you to know if it will be something you will enjoy reading.
  5. If you liked this, read that. Start paying attention to those recommendations when you’re looking up books online. also has a pretty great recommendation system – you just type in the title of a (non-fiction in this case) book you recently enjoyed and it will come up with a list of similar books. If you find yourself reading non-fiction book reviews, pay attention to what links come up at the end of the post because they will be similar to what you’re reading about.

The big thing to remember here is that non-fiction is not scary. You can still totally enjoy non-fiction reading every bit as much as reading the latest fiction best seller. I promise.

15 thoughts on “Struggling to Read More Non-Fiction? I Can Help!

  1. Most of the non-fiction I read are memoirs. It’s still a story about someone else’s life, and that what I love. Other people are so interesting (real, or not). That’s why I think some of those biographies you shared would also be good.

    • Other people and their lives are so interesting. It’s why biographies are often my favourite. I think a lot of successful cultural non-fiction writers (I’m thinking like Gladwell) are able to relate their work to people, thereby making them relateable. Have you read Me and My Shadows by Lorna Luft?

  2. I love this. I am the so guilty of always giving up on my nonfiction books! Right now I’m reading Mistakes I Made at Work, which is pretty good so far, I just keep stopping for other things!

    • I should have included another tip: give yourself time. Sometimes I find that I need more than my commute time to really sink my teeth into a book. Often, non-fiction isn’t conducive to grabbing 10 minutes while you’re waiting in line.

  3. This is amazing! It’s exactly what I needed this year. Thanks, Eva! I definitely have to remind myself that non-fiction is not scary. Reading a biography is not the same as reading a geography text book! I think I’m going to start with It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell.

  4. Great suggestions! I’ve started listening to audiobooks of fun non-fiction like memoirs because its usually narrated by the author and doesn’t require as much concentration as fiction or a heavy non-fiction topic. I listened to Tina Fey and Mindy Khaling and a few others this way.

  5. Excellent suggestions! Holly and I just got a nonfiction book to read together that I’m really excited about. I think that will make it fun too. I also need to get Cary Elwes Princess Bride book asap for a fun nonfic!

  6. Great I suggestions. I follow the read what you’re interested in…and I count memoirs as nonfiction! Lol. (The only goal I made this year was to read only TBRs as long as possible. I have enough books at home to do this for the whole year, but I also know I will break down and buy a new book sooner than later.) Luckily, I have quite a splash of nonfiction stored up too!

  7. Pingback: Non-fiction Fangirl: Erik Larson’s Dead Wake | The Paperback Princess

  8. Pingback: The Non-Fiction struggle | The Paperback Princess

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