Nonfiction November 2016: How I Choose My Nonfiction

November 8, 2016 Blogger Events 20

Nonfiction November 2016


Today’s Nonfiction November (hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Lory at Emerald City Book Review, Rachel at Hibernator’s Library, Julz at Julz Reads, and me) is how we pick our nonfiction! Hop on over to Rachel at Hibernator’s Library to link up your posts and check out the plans for the month at Doing Dewey.

What are you looking for when you pick up a nonfiction book?

It depends on whether I’m looking for a read or a listen.

For nonfiction I’m going to read…

I tend to look for mostly backlist nonfiction or recent releases that have been vetted by a couple trusted sources. So, this means I request very few nonfiction ARCs. I have a hard time selecting nonfiction that would interest me just based on the publisher’s blurb. It’s much easier for me to do this for fiction. Depending on how the book is written, nonfiction about a topic that really interests me could fall woefully short (i.e. The Midnight Assassin) or nonfiction about a topic I don’t care about could end up being fascinating (i.e. The Boys in the Boat). There are also only a few nonfiction authors I can comfortably rely on (i.e. Michael Lewis, Erik Larson, Jon Krakauer), whereas I have tons of go-to authors for fiction.

For nonfiction I’m going to listen to…

I’m much more willing to try an un-vetted nonfiction audiobook because the writing and storytelling style is less of a factor for me on audio. Plus, there’s Audible’s Great Listen Guarantee! That being said, I’ve found that lighter nonfiction (particularly these topics) is my audio niche.

Do you have a particular topic you’re attracted to?

My weird little nonfiction niches are cooking / food, sports, business (the behind-the-scenes, not boring kind), true crime and juicy celebrity biographies (what I like to call “biogossip”). I’ve been reading these types of books for years. Lately, I’ve also been interested in PTSD in returning soldiers, North Korea, and dysfunctional childhood memoirs.

On audio, I stick mainly to celebrity memoirs, life improvement, social/behavioral sciences, sports memoirs and trashy celebrity exposes.

Do you have a particular writing style that works best?

Definitely narrative nonfiction (aka nonfiction that “reads like fiction”) or investigative journalism.

How do you choose your nonfiction?

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20 Responses to “Nonfiction November 2016: How I Choose My Nonfiction”

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I’ll check out Massie…always looking for more authors like Larson and Krakauer!

  1. Toady

    I approach things very much the same way. I recently requested a historical nonfiction for review, but it was by recommendation from someone who had already read it.

  2. Susie | Novel Visits

    These are some good tips for choosing nonfiction. I resisted The Boys in the Boat for a long time, but then loved it and have recommended it to so many people. I’ve been thinking of reading Missoula. Did you read it?

  3. Helen Wells

    I suggest Mei Fong’s One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment. I haven’t read it, but heard her speak at UNC-W. She was fascinating and I could have listened to her for hours.

  4. Bri @ Transported By Books

    Oh I absolutely love the celebrity biography for audio book. i’m still waiting to get my hands on the Leah Remini but that may be one I have to read because I’m not sure if I can listen to her voice for that long. Lauren Graham has a bio coming out this month that I’m incredibly excited for because I’m assuming it will mostly be fluff and I am 100% okay with that.

  5. Eva @ The Paperback Princess

    I find it so interesting that you have a hard time choosing non-fiction for yourself based on a blurb only! I totally get what you mean – writing style is such a huge part of non-fiction – I just have never thought about it. I’m reading Jane Austen’s England right now and it’s much more academic than I’ve read in a good long while and I’m having a hard time getting into the swing of things. Maybe one that I should have vetted better!

    I haven’t read any Michael Lewis, but I’ve loved Larson (I need him to get going on his new project ASAP) and Jon Krakauer (Prophet’s Prey is one of the most disturbing books) so perhaps I have a new go-to author waiting in the wings!

    Audiobooks…I’m getting closer to giving them a whirl but still not there.

  6. Amanda

    I agree about Lewis/Krakauer/Larson for sure. I need to read Dead Wake soon. Mark Bowden is another totally compelling one. Killing Pablo is excellent and Black Hawk Down reads like you are right there. I’m with Eva – I am so tempted to try audio but I just haven’t done it. Some day!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I love Bowden as well! Killing Pablo was fantastic! Haven’t read Black Hawk Down, but have obviously heard of it.

  7. JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing

    Hmm, thought I commented on this post earlier in the week…

    Erik Larson are Jon Krakauer favorites, so I should try Michael Lewis, too…my husband enjoyed Flash Boys. A good recommendation, especially from a trusted blogger, is even more important for nonfiction!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Definitely try Michael Lewis…Flash Boys was actually my least favorite of his. The Blind Side, The Big Short, Liar’s Poker, and Boomerang were my favorites. Blind Side and Boomerang might be good places to start.

  8. Ellie

    I don’t come across many non-fiction ARCs in the UK, I’d actually really love some of the randomness I get through publicist requests. I tend to choose my NF reads without any endorsements; I might check they don’t have an awful average rating on Goodreads, but mostly I just dive in base on a feeling I get 😀

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I can think of 2 random nonfiction ARCs that I read without knowing anything that were successful (Dirty Chick and Never Leave Your Dead), but it’s not the norm for me. Good for you for taking the plunge!

  9. Catherine

    Nonfiction is one of the few areas where I don’t rely so much on trusted opinions simply because I have so much trouble reading it- even if it is a subject that seems like a good fit. It really is a matter of what catches my eye.

    I can’t quite tell- have you read Boys in the Boat? Because if not…DO. IT. It’s sports, the Olympics, the human spirit! And I, who does not love nonfiction thought it was one of the best books I’ve read this year.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      YES – obviously!!! I read it years ago and absolutely loved it – you know it’s right up my alley.

  10. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    For audiobooks, I tend to like lighter nonfiction topics too! I’m currently listening to A Short History of Nearly Everything and it’s too heavy. If I stop listening for a second, I’m lost.

    I’d like to do more reading backlist nonfiction. Next year, maybe I’ll commit to using my library more and ARCs less. It’s hard though, because I love the lack of deadlines with ARCs so much and I hate returning books to the library unread!

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