A week into this Non-Fiction November business and it feels like one of the best book blogger decisions I’ve ever made. Not only has it given me an excuse to make a serious dent in all the non-fiction titles I have kicking around my house, it’s allowed me to connect with a whole new world of bloggers who share the love of non-fiction.
The only downside? I have so many more books on my TBR list now.
This week, we’re talking about how we choose the non-fiction books that we do.
What are you looking for when you pick up a nonfiction book? I’m a weirdo – I started reading non-fiction when I was like 11. One of the early titles I was obsessed with was Kitty Kelley’s The Royals – it was supposed to be super scandalous and reading it made me feel like an adult. Over time, I’ve come to recognize that I like stories – in fiction and non-fiction. The non-fiction that I like the best has to have some kind of narrative or personal hook. It’s why I will always gravitate towards Malcolm Gladwell, Erik Larson and Gretchen Rubin.
The other thing that I think about when I’m picking a new title is what I’ve been reading about lately. Sometimes it’s a matter of having read a fictional story that made me want to learn more about what really happened; other times, I’ve been reading entirely too much about a subject or time in history and I need something else. This mostly happens with WWII and the Tudors.
Do you have a particular topic you’re attracted to? A part of me will always be that 11-year-old obsessed with Royals and I have the collection of books to prove it. I especially love books about Royal women (this is not news to anyone that’s been a visitor to this blog in the past), most especially the ones who caused trouble. In recent years, that interest has expanded to include any woman ahead of her time. I also read a lot about WWII and the Nazis…
Do you have a particular writing style that works best? Not especially. I do not enjoy writing that’s super journalistic though! For example, I couldn’t get through Three Cups of Tea if my life depended on it.
When you look at a nonfiction book, does the title or cover influence you? I think we’d all be lying if we said that we weren’t influenced by cover design. It’s incredibly important. I love books that have portraits or photos of the subject on the cover, or ones that are super graphic (not in a blood and guts kind of way, in a design way).
But more than covers, I tend to read a few lines of a non-fiction book to see if the writing style works for me. And I prefer my historical non-fiction to be in hardcover because the photos are so much better on the nice shiny paper.
Here are some of the covers that I appreciated: