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The Pleasures of Non-fiction


Kotro
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Hello, everyone!

I see that this English literature section already has quite a few topics, but I noticed most, if not all of them, deal with works of fiction (whether in the form of novels, novellas, short stories, poetry or comics). Is there no love out there for some good non-fiction?

By non-fiction I include all kinds of scientific, informative works, biographies, memoirs, essays, even newspaper columns.

Do you enjoy reading non-fiction for pleasure, that is, if your work does not require it (the same way most people do with novels)?

What are some of your favourite genres or authors?

Non-fiction has provided me so far with some of the best literature I've had the pleasure of reading. I love to spend time with good rambling essay or a well written History book. If I may be so bold, I would like to leave you with some suggestions - all of the following books rank high in my all-time favourite readings, regardless of the fiction/non-fiction divide, and I consider them all, each in its own way, as a triumph of English language in the way it can be both richly informative and highly entertaining if used properly:

John Hersey, Hiroshima

Stephen Fry, Moab is My Washpot

Simon Schama, Dead Certainties, Unwarrented Speculations

Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs & Steel

Share some of your favourites, or discuss the merits/lack thereoff of Non-fiction!

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  • 3 weeks later...
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I was going to recommend Guns Germs and Steel, but you beat me to it.  I think non-fiction is very interest-driven.  I can read anything about WW2, but most other things bore me to death (though antrhopology is interesting at times, hence Guns Germs and Steel).

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Great topic.  I agree completely.  I have also enjoyed a lot of nonfiction over the years.  Especially history and biography/autobiography which are my favorites. 

Here are just a few that left a strong impression on me:

'The Making of the Atomic Bomb' by Richard Rhodes

'The Right Stuff' by Tom Wolfe

'Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America' by Barbara Ehrenreich

There are others, but these come to mind at the moment. 

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I had been meaning to get The Right Stuff for a while, thank you for reminding me! I've only previously read a novel by Wolfe (The Bonfire of Vanities), but really enjoyed his style of writing.

I see where you're coming from, rodserd, but I think the mark of a great non-fiction writer is creating the interest in what he's writing, rather than target a specific reader.

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I do enjoy non-fiction and read a lot of it as a way to break up my time reading fiction.  There are some wonderful autobiographies and biographies out there and I love to read them as a companion to a historically based novel that I am reading.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I actually read way more non-fiction than fiction. The main reason is because I am not a very motivated reader, and it takes me a while, so when I do use my time and energy to read, I would ideally want to get something out of it, such as advancing a skill, or learning something new and interesting. Truly some of the best books I've read have been non-fiction, and it's kind of overlooked a lot.

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Yes, fiction has never really inspired me.

My favourite books have always been non-fiction.  I love biographies, self-help and motivational books. I enjoy them a lot and derive great amount of  motivation from them.

I love reading the likes of  Stephen Covey, Deepak Chopra, Dale Carnegiet, etc.

Recently, I happen to read the book "You can win" by Shiv Khera.  I thought it was  highly motivating and I strongly recommend this book for anyone who wants to better his life.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I often read non-fiction, especially biographies and historical accounts. One of my all-time favorites is The Soong Dynasty by Sterling Seagrave, which tells the story of the enormously wealthy, influential, and often evil, Chinese family that included Chiang Kai-Shek and several other political and business leaders.

I also like the works of Simon Winchester, particularly Krakatoa (about the great volcanic eruption in Indonesia), the Surgeon of Crowthorne (about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary) and a Crack at the Edge of the World (about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake).

Seeds of Change: Six Plants That Transformed Mankind by Henry Hobhouse was quite fascinating, as was The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson (an account of an 1854 cholera outbreak in central London that led to the discovery modern sanitation and hygiene principles).

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I do find non-fictionals to be quite interesting and motivating.Most of the fictions I read are abit on the spooky side so there isn't anything much to learn from them. My most pleasant non-fictions are by John Maxwell and Robert Kiyosaki.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Non-fiction for me have always been appealing than fiction story. Why? Because this is the real deal. Like you can learn real facts and apply it to your life on a daily basis. I love non-fiction so much that I keep a handful of them in my mini library.

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I agree with all the "great topic comments.  I read fiction and non-fiction.  I love both.  I found I enjoy reading books about theories and new science (explained at a non-scientist level), such as written by Malcom Gladwell.  I also enjoy reading books about travel and history, and even had a blog about these a few years ago.  Really, I'm a 'learnaholic' and 'bookaholic' so put learning and reading together and how can I lose?

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  • 1 month later...

Biographies and autobiographies are my favorite types of non-fiction. I also enjoy trivia books. I have to say I'm not a fan of self-help books though. I find them boring and feel like most of them just teach me common sense stuff. That may just be me though as I have a lot of friends who enjoy self-help books.

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I completely agree with the OP, it seems most people focus on the fiction works.  I have always preferred non-fiction over fiction, I enjoy getting my hands on learning material for different subjects, but my favorite ones are astronomy, math and chemistry.  I also like books about geology and gardening.  I enjoy biographies as well, in my opinion non-fiction offers a wider selection of topics. 

Non fiction seems to offer books of common interest too :)  No idea why this genre isn't as popular as its counterpart.

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