Monday, April 27, 2009

Reading Non-Fiction

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about reading non-fiction…

Do you read non-fiction regularly? Do you read it in a different way or place than you read fiction? (question courtesy of Diane)

I do enjoy reading non-fiction sometimes although it's rarely my first choice. I occasionally feel a little bit guilty about that but the draw of fiction is simply too strong for me, I suppose. Even if I'm interested in a topic or a certain book, I often seem to need a little encouragement to pick it up. So no, I can't say that I read non-fiction regularly, and in fact, I haven't read any yet this year. I have a few titles that I'd like to get to before too long though, which I'll mention below.

I think I do read non-fiction a little bit differently than fiction, at least in the sense that it's not a story to just get lost in so I need to read it when I'm able to concentrate on it. I usually only read one book at a time, but with non-fiction it's much easier for me to read something alongside it, and that's what I often will do when I read non-fiction. Without a story arc to follow, it's not a problem to put it down to read something else and then pick it back up again later.

The best non-fiction is the kind that grabs your attention and reads like fiction. However, if it's a bit more challenging I might leave that particular book at home and take something else out with me for commuting and whatnot. But where I read or how often I pick up a specific book ultimately comes down to not whether it's fiction or not, but my mood at the time and how engrossed in the book I am. On that note, I plan to start a mystery tonight. Oops.

For more Musing Mondays visit Just One More Page.

I kept meaning to post about Trish's Non-Fiction Five Challenge but just hadn't got around to it yet. With today's Monday Musing topic though, it seems the perfect time to finally do so. I really enjoyed participating in the Non-Fiction Five Challenge the previous two years when it was hosted by Joy, so I'm glad that Trish has decided to take it over. Like I mentioned above, I often need a little encouragement to read non-fiction so thanks to a little nudge from the challenge, I'm looking forward to reading some more non-fiction this year. The challenge runs from May to September and, like the name suggests, the goal is to read 5 non-fiction titles during that time. For more details about the challenge, and how to join, click on the button or the link above.

A few of the non-fiction titles that I read last year and fully enjoyed were The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari, Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation by Michael Zielenziger, and A Geisha's Journey: My Life as a Kyoto Apprentice by Komomo. Perhaps not too surprisingly, I'm very curious about all things Japanese so quite a few of the non-fiction books that I'm interested in are related to Japanese history, society, or culture, but not exclusively of course. So here are some of the non-fiction books I have on hand that I'd like to read this year. Some of these I already mentioned as possibles for the World Citizen Challenge, but I'm all about the cross-over challenge books.

Shakespeare Wrote for Money - Nick Hornby
Tears of the Desert - Halima Bashir & Damien Lewis
Polite Lies: On Being a Woman Caught Between Cultures - Kyoko Mori
The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto - Pico Iyer
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books - Azar Nafisi
Dickens - Peter Ackroyd
Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II - John Dower
Re-enchantment: Tibetan Buddhism Comes to the West - Jeffrey Paine
Goodbye Madame Butterfly: Sex, Marriage and the Modern Japanese Woman - Sumie Kawakami

Have you read any good non-fiction lately?


  1. Reading Lolita in Tehran is one of my favorite books of all time. It's especially great as a nonfiction book for people who love to read because Nafisi spends so much time analyzing and interpreting the books her students are reading. I hope you like it!

  2. I read a small mix of non-fiction from time to time and for the most part really enjoy it. I like how you wrote that you most enjoy non-fiction when it reads like fiction. I find that I like that too. Your list of books looks great!

  3. I like to read nonfiction too. And like you, I tend to gravitate more towards fiction and so the nonfiction falls by the wayside. I'm glad you are joining in on the nonfiction challenge!

  4. You have some great books there! I'm looking forward to reading a lot of those myself.

    My own nonfiction reading is about half of my overall reading. It wasn't always that way but reading nonfiction has gotten easier and easier. I'm a much better judge of the type of nonfiction that works for me and what doesn't. Memoirs, essay collections, general histories area always personal favorites.

  5. Kim - One of your favourite books of all time!? That's high praise! Part of the reason why I haven't read it yet is because I haven't read 'Lolita' either and I'd like to read it before 'Reading Lolita in Tehran'. I am looking forward to it though.

    Staci - I love it when non-fiction is so engaging you almost forget it's Non-fiction. :)

    Wendy - I'm pretty bad about choosing fiction over non-fiction most of the time. Who knows when I'd get around to it if it weren't for the Non-Fiction Challenge!

    J.S. Peyton - I usually do enjoy reading non-fiction once I start, it's the starting that I seem to put off. I really should try to read more of it.

  6. I defintely read a lot more ficton than non-fiction. I am reading "THE WORLD OF INVISIBLE WOMEN" along with fiction, it seems it has been left to be finish for quite a while.

  7. Sylvie - It's so much easier to get lost in a good novel, for me anyway. :)

  8. Oh Tanabata--it makes me sad to think about how far behind I am in my blog reading. :( Anyway, wanted to pop by quickly and say thanks for signing up for the challenge. I've only read Reading Lolita, but I look forward to hearing what you think of the others! Hope you're having a good week.

  9. Trish - I'm desperately behind and it's only going to get worse this month. Oh well, someday things will calm down and I'll be able to catch up a bit.
    I'm so glad you're taking over the challenge since Joy decided not to host it anymore. I need that extra encouragement to read some non-fiction! :)


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