Currently Reading (Nonfiction)

(Jennifer D.) #1

I am so happy Neil created a space for non-fiction discussions. I love discovering wonderful nonfiction books! It seems to me the market for creative nonfiction is getting bigger. (I have no idea if this is actually true, heh!)

It would be great to use this space to talk about our non-fiction reads. I am always happy to hear about what people are reading, and find these kinds of discussion threads can really help the TBR list grow. (Not that I really need that to happen... but I have a slight problem with books. I think you can probably all relate.)

So... let's talk about non-fiction:

  • Do you have a preferred area within the non-fiction genre - history, memoirs, biographies, science, which fields are you interested in?
  • Which non-fiction books are you reading right now?
  • What is your favourite work of non-fiction? Which non-fiction books do you like to recommend?

I hope this helps kick off the new non-fiction Discussions space.


(BookBroad) #2

Hello Jennifer! I enjoy a wide variety of non-fiction. I like biographies and memoirs, food histories and historical events. One of my favorites that I've read lately is Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar. It includes facts, diary entries, photos, previous guesses and the current best guess as to what happened to the lost hikers on Dyatlov Pass. I also absolutely love Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson and A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson.

(Jennifer D.) #3

Heh - I will answer my own questions to get us going. smile

  1. I tend to read essay collections, memoirs, biographies and a lot of stuff in the science/medicine area. I also love stories of adventure or unusual things (like Eighty Days, by Matthew Goodman, which was great).

  2. I don't have a non-fiction book on the go at the moment, but I just finished reading Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande, and thought it was amazing! It was a standout read for me in 2015, and I feel confident I will still feel this way by year's end.

  3. Hmmm... I have a lot of non-fiction on my shelves, but to name a few books that I love a lot and have recommended:

    • Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature, by Linda Lear - so good! I do have a sweet spot for Miss Potter and love that this biography showed her for being so much more than children's author and illustrator.

    • The Empathy Exams: Essays, by Leslie Jamison - wonderful and thought-provoking read. Jamison weaves some fairly disparate subjects together with the theme of empathy.

    • Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh - Brosh writes about her struggle with depression in a very open and honest way, and she made me laugh out loud in the process.

    • The Emperor of All Maladies, by Siddhartha Mukherjee - completely fascinating and impressive history of cancer.

    • The Arctic Grail, by Pierre Berton - Berton was an excellent storyteller and an impeccable researcher. The stories of the quest for the NorthWest Passage are riveting and the utter lack of preparedness is fairly shocking.

I could probably go on a bit more (sorry!!), but I'll stop there for now. I look forward to hearing about your nonfiction reads!!


(Jennifer D.) #4

Hi BookBroad!!

Oh - that Eichar book sounds really good. I will check it out. HAHA! Lawson's book made me laugh so much. There was much, sadly, that was relatable to me in her memoir, but her humour made it an amazing read!! I still have not read any Bryson - though I know so many people who love him.

I enjoy food-related reading in non-fiction too. I have recently acquired Bitter, by Jennifer McLagan, and I hope it will be really interesting.

Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher was a book I greatly enjoyed too, but it's biography rather than a food history.

(Kate Minckler) #5

Great idea making a nonfiction category happen, @JenniferD smile I'm taking off my 'classics' alter-ego hat to post here .

I'm reading a lot of nonfiction these days! It's so much easier to have a nonfiction read on the go when I'm super busy, I find. My favourite nonfiction reads are science/health - I love learning about the cutting edge of new fields, and ways I can incorporate positive changes into my life. I think my love of nonfiction really took off with Michael Pollen's The Omnivore's Dilemma - I was always such a fiction nerd but when I read this I realised nonfiction could really change my life. So I'm so glad you shared how much you love Being Mortal - I've been seeing the cover everywhere, I guess because it's been winning awards etc - but had never actually read up on what it was about. But when I saw your post it made me curious, and it sounds brilliant!! Straight on the TBR list.

Most recently I finished Missing Microbes by Martin Blaser - I can't recommend it highly enough. Another book like Pollen's that really has the potential to empower individuals in their health choices. He has a really accessible, readable style too - something I always need in these "sciencey" books! I must get around to reviewing it on Riffle!

(Jennifer D.) #6

Hi Kate! I find this too - when my brain is on overload, or I am trying to do too many things, non-fiction tends to work better for me during those times.

(Katie Wilkins - Doing Dewey) #7

The first thing I noticed about discussions was the lack of a nonfiction section, so I'm excited we have one now! I love nonfiction and my favorite nonfiction books tend to be about science or adventure or are microhistories focused on a unique topic. I'm currently reading The News Sorority. It's this great book about Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, and Christiane Amanpour, but also recent women news reporters in general. Some of my favorite nonfiction reads include:

  • The Black Count
  • In the Kingdom of Ice
  • Ghettoside
  • The Woman Who Would Be King
  • The Signal and the Noise
  • Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy

And more others than I can name smile

(Katie Wilkins - Doing Dewey) #8

Awesome! It seems like we both like very similar nonfiction categories. I also thought The Emperor of All Maladies was really good!

(Jennifer D.) #9

Hi Katie!!

I am so glad you are excited for the NF discussion category too - I am glad Neil started it after my request. It was also notably absent for me. smile

Oh - also! You made a fantastic list of Non-Memoir Nonfiction by women, and I loved it!! Thank you. I wish we could comment on lists -- I have asked about that, so hope it will be something that gets introduced.

I just read The Black Count in February. I found it interesting but not as strong as I thought it was going to be, which was a total bummer. I have discovered I struggle with non-fiction when the author uses a lot of inference or supposition and I didn't enjoy when Reiss was doing it in this book, especially because there seemed to be a lot of historical documentation that he worked from.

I have a copy of Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy and I am really looking forward to it!

(Katie Wilkins - Doing Dewey) #10

Haha, I actually asked for an NF category too! Great minds smile

I'm glad you liked the list! Thanks! I agree that comments on lists would be nice and perhaps on books people are currently reading as well.

I actually really liked the way the author used historical documents, especially correspondence, to justify inference about the way people were feeling, but to each their own!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did smile

(Outlandish Lit) #11

Wait, I was JUST talking to someone about how I want a book about the Dyatlov Pass Incident. I just want to know the truth!! Best guesses are probably adequate, though, so I'll definitely be checking out Dead Mountain! Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

(Outlandish Lit) #12

I don't read a lot of nonfiction, but when I do I tend to lean toward memoirs or funny essays. What I just started reading, though, is called I'm Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son by Kent Russell (author Karen Russell's brother). He hung out with a bunch of different like hyper-masculine groups/people such as Juggalos or a dude who trains his body to tolerate snake poison. Then he wrote essays about his experiences. So far it seems like a really fascinating look into American masculinity!

(Jennifer D.) #13

I began reading Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy last night. So far, I am enjoying it a lot!

(Jennifer D.) #14

Right now, I am reading Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel, by Jane Smiley. It's interesting, but I feel like I am doing a lot of sifting to get to the little gems.

(Jennifer D.) #15

This was a really great read! I enjoyed it a lot, and it's clear Abbott did wonderful research in creating this book.

(Jennifer D.) #16

Okay, so I have been experiencing a bit of love-hate reading with 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel, by Jane Smiley. While there are definitely some gems in the book, there is a whole lot of stuff to slog through to get to the good stuff. At moments, too, Smiley seems to insert herself in ways that I feel are inappropriate.

Has anyone read this book?

(Mock Turtle) #17

I have not traditionally been an eager reader of nonfiction, for the most part. Now that I run a book discussion group at the library where I work, I end up reading at least 11 NF titles a year, since we strictly alternate between fiction and nonfiction, month to month. Right now I am reading -- and LOVING -- The End of Your Life Book Club, the group's May selection from a list I gave them of books about books and reading. It's fluid in style, tells a story, and the topic speaks to me -- all qualities that make a nonfiction book more palatable to those of us with a pro-fiction bias.

(Jennifer D.) #18

this is great to hear, mock_turtle! i have Schwalbe's book on my shelf! i am so glad you are enjoying the read.

(Alice Fan) #19

I don't read NonFiction that often at all, but I've been on a crazy non-fic kick recently because I've reignited my love of U.S. Revolutionary History.

I'm currently working my way through a re-read of Ron Chernow's excellent biography of Alexander Hamilton (He's my favorite! smiley ) and reading Alexander Rose's Washington's Spies, which is the book AMC's show TURN is based on.

(Ezra Freelove) #20

At present I am reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. The contributions a biopsy of cancerous cells who have been preserved in cultures to science is quite amazing. Of course, the shameful approach of doctors to patients at the time was depressing.

Next up, I hope to read Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach. (I see it in the Riffle list of books, but I get a 404 error when I try to visit it.) A friend is a Mars One candidate.