Let’s Talk: Do you read non-fiction or only fiction?

Let's Talk

Wooohoooo, look, it’s a new feature! One of my reading goals is to create 49+ discussion posts this year.  That ends up being about one per week. This week, I want to talk about non-fiction, and why so many of us avoid non-fiction books.

Although I do not read nearly as many as I do fiction books, I love a good non-fiction book, and I’ve read some great ones! Last year I read 8 non-fiction books, which isn’t a huge number considering I read 120 books in total, but I still think that’s pretty good.

I think the biggest reason why people read less non-fiction nowadays is because of the accessibility of information on the internet.

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When I was a kid, if I wanted to learn something or needed information for a school assignment, I had to look it up in an encyclopedia or read a book about the subject.

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Yes, sadly, I’m aware that I sounded like an old lady shaking her finger and scolding youths, “Back in my day…” Let’s ignore that. I’m already developing a complex because I turn 30 this year.

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Now, we can Google virtually anything and the answers are at our fingertips in a split second.  I don’t think we are spending less time reading educational content (I realize fiction can be educational too!!!), we just access it in a different way now.

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I think another  reason many people don’t read non-fiction is because they are intimidated.  Non-fiction books are often perceived as “hard” or “boring.”

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Let’s be real, there are a lot of non-fiction books out there that are full of complex language, vocabulary, and topics that you just can’t devour as quickly as easily as a fun, fluffy novel. No one wants to read an entire chapter and then have no idea what they just read.

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Who wants to feel like they’re reading a textbook when they’re reading for pleasure? Not many people I’m guessing!

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HOWEVER, if you think non-fiction is boring or confusing, you’re probably just not reading the right kind of books! Look for books about topics, people, and places  you find interesting.

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Or maybe you need to try a different format! My favorite kind of non-fiction are memoirs by comedians, and I LOVE getting the audiobook versions because they are read by the authors. Audiobooks narrated by the author give authors the amazing opportunity to read the book in their own voice. You hear the dialogue, anecdotes, and jokes delivered exactly as they intended when they wrote the book. And I love that!

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Audiobooks are also great for those non-fiction books with really difficult subject matter. Sometimes it’s just easier to understand something when someone is reading it to you. Plus you can listen while doing other things, so you won’t be as bored if the subject matter is dry.

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Now that I’ve told you how great non-fiction is, you need some recommendations, right?

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Yes, I DID have to include a One Direction gif in here somewhere, thanks for asking.

Here are some great non-fiction books I’ve enjoyed. I’ve included both physical books and audiobooks!

PHYSICAL:

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (I read this short book during the 24 hour readathon last year!)

Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard (I read this one during a readathon too)

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (he also narrates the audiobook)

For Hearing People Only  by Matthew S. Moore & Linda Levitan (This is one of those books that will probably only interest you if you’re interested in learning about Deaf culture, but it’s my favorite book on the subject so I wanted to include it. It’s in Q&A form so it’s super easy to read too)

The Mental Floss History of the United States: The (Almost) Complete and (Entirely) Entertaining Story of America by Erik Sass, Will Pearson, & Mangesh Hattikudur (This is more of a coffee table book rather than one you’d want to pick up and read straight through, but I’ve been slowly perusing through it over the past couple years and it’s hilarious and really interesting. )

The Tipping Point : How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell (I’ve read a couple of his books but this was my first. I highly recommend if you’re at all interested in sociology. I’ve heard the audiobook versions are really good too.)

Winning Sounds Like This: A Season with the Women’s Basketball Team at Gallaudet, the World’s Only University for the Deaf by Wayne Coffey

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley

 

AUDIOBOOKS: 

All of these are narrated by the authors!

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

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Let’s Talk! Why do you or don’t you read non-fiction? How often do you read non-fiction compared to fiction books? Recommend me some of your favorites! 

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27 thoughts on “Let’s Talk: Do you read non-fiction or only fiction?

  1. Haha, so many gifs! I often don’t LEAN towards nonfiction, but I’m not against it either. I just never find topics that interest me, though I do want to/love listening to memoirs by celebrities.

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  2. I read about 1/3 nonfiction. I love it. A lot of the books I read are on subjects that I wouldn’t have thought to look up. I didn’t know I was interested until I read the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t really read non fiction because it’s usually not pleasure reading when I do. Although I do have a few non fiction that I enjoy – one I’m slowly reading now is one of Brian Cox’s books. I loved his documentaries so I can almost hear him saying the words as they reflect his language well 😛

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    • It definitely takes some trial and error to find one that’s interesting enough to stay with. I usually read non-fiction really slowly alongside whatever fiction books I’m reading at the time. I haven’t heard of Brian Cox, but it sounds like you’ve found something that works for you!

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      • Yeah. I don’t really read it often… I should probably read a page tonight! Haha. He’s quite popular, he does a series of documentaries called Human Universe on BBC I think. I don’t know what it is, but the way he says things makes it sound really interesting to me… Haha 😛

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  4. I can enjoy nonfiction, but I read enough of it for school that I don’t tend to seek it out for pleasure-reading. I have found a few books, though, that I appreciate, and I like the way it can break up other things I’m reading at the time.

    I also really like learning, even if I can’t absorb all the information in a given nonfiction book.

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  5. I’ve really been loving nonfiction lately. I used to only read celebrity memoirs, but I’ve found that with audiobooks, any type of nonfiction can be enjoyable to me.

    I’m excited to check out some of your suggestions!

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  6. Great discussion! (I’m excited to see what else you cook up!)

    I participated in #nonficnov in 2015 and read 3 or 4 nonfiction works. I always tend to gravitate towards psychology/mental health books, for whatever reason. I do think that some get a bit dense, but they’re so fascinating most of the time! It’s also so fun to consume/observe someone’s hard work – especially scholarly books. Often times, they’ve been working on the book for ages and have done TONS of research. The best ones are when you can just feel their passion for the subject oozing out through their writing.

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    • Thanks! I have another one queued up for Wednesday.

      I’m interested in psychology and mental health topics too, but I tend to watch documentaries about it rather than reading books for some reason. I love when you can tell that an author is really interested in the subject they’re talking about. I felt that way when I read (listened to) Aziz Ansari’s book. A lot of research went into it, and he did a lot of it himself, so it was interesting to hear him talking about what he’d learned and the information he’d gathered.

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  9. I always intend to read more non-fiction, but then rarely follow through. I maybe read 1-2 non- fiction books a year? That’s kind of pathetic :p I really need to check out the non-fiction section at the library next time I go!

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  12. I have a handful of non-fiction books on my TBR list/kindle, but don’t get around to reading them as I’d like. I always put fiction books ahead of them, which isn’t always good. But I have read a couple of non-fiction books for a reading challenge I’m participating in this year.

    I usually like to read memoirs over historical events. But depending on the event, I would be tempted to change my mind.

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