Armchair BEA: Non-Fiction

And for today’s second Armchair BEA topic: Non-Fiction — do you read it? do you review it? what types of non-fiction do you prefer?

My reading preference is strongly, strongly, strongly (yes, strongly!) weighted toward fiction — but I do sneak in some non-fiction, here and there, as the mood strikes me.

In order for me to read non-fiction, I have to feel some sort of attraction to the topic, and the writing has to be sharp and flowing. I shy away from how-to books, business-themed books (except those that relate to my real-world career), or anything that strikes me as dry and dusty. Very subjective, I know, but there it is.

I’ve had the best non-fiction reading experiences with memoirs, adventure stories, and books that focus on a particular person or challenge. Another category I enjoy is science — the weirder, the better. Basically, if it reads like fiction — fast-paced, interesting or quirky characters, some suspense or drama — I’ll give it a try.

Favorites from my recent reading history* include:

  • Ice Bound by Dr. Jerri Nielson (featured as my Flashback Friday pick today): The memoirs of the South Pole doctor who treated herself for breast cancer while “wintering over” in Antarctica.
  • The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure: The experiences of a woman and her obsession with Laura Ingalls Wilder. (Seriously!)
  • Into Thin Air and Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. Two very different topics, one amazing writer.
  • Life by Keith Richards. Just because.
  • The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum.
  • The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis. Yes, I read a football book. And I liked it.
  • Packing for Mars and Stiff by Mary Roach. If you think science can’t be hilariously funny, then you’ve never read Mary Roach.
  • Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

That’s just a smidgen, but you get the idea. I’ll always be a fiction girl at heart, but give me a good, well-written book that surprises me, intrigues me, or keeps me guessing, and I’m in!

*I realize that most of these are books that I read before I was a blogger. I’ve provided links to the two that I’ve actually reviewed here. In theory, I have no problem with reviewing non-fiction books on Bookshelf Fantasies — I just don’t read that much non-fiction; therefore, I don’t review much of it either.

What are your non-fiction tastes? Any favorites to recommend?

6 thoughts on “Armchair BEA: Non-Fiction

  1. I have one that I’ve been recommending to everyone – The Widow Clicquot, a book about the founder of Veuve Clicquot Champagne empire. Try it!!

  2. I read Into Thin Air as a requirement the summer before I attended college. Not that we talked about it much! lol But it was such an intense story! Well-written, too.

  3. I like narrative nonfiction as well. When it flows like a novel it sweeps you away. AND you’re learning at the same time…how cool is that??

    So many people are mentioning books by Mary Roach and I can’t believe I haven’t read her. I’m a nonfiction nut and that is unacceptable 😉

    • Mary Roach is really fun — but you’ve gotta have a strong stomach for some of her writing. Nothing is too gross for her to write about, but it’s all incredibly humorous as well. Let me know if you end up reading something by her — I’d love to hear what you think! And yes, I think you hit the nail on the head. Great non-fiction sweeps you away and leaves you with new knowledge, and that is totally cool!

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