Nonfiction November – Nonfiction Favorites


Doing Dewey is hosting the link-up for this next-to-last week of Nonfiction November (sniff). The prompt:

We’ve talked about how you pick nonfiction books in previous years, but this week I’m excited to talk about what makes a book you’ve read one of your favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone? Let us know what qualities make you add a nonfiction book to your list of favorites.

This is an interesting question, because it’s not easy for me to define what makes a nonfiction book a favorite. My favorite book of all time, Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand, is nonfiction. When I think about what made me fall in love with that book and other nonfiction works, it comes down to three main things:

  1. A good story. I believe it’s true that fact can be more interesting than fiction, and I love nonfiction that really tells a story instead of just relating information.
  2. An inspiring subject. Some nonfiction might tell a good story but have a subject matter that just isn’t relate-able or inspiring. Just as with fiction, I have to be drawn to the subject matter for it to hold my attention.
  3. An engaging writing style. I think it all comes down to how a writer tells a story, and this is particularly true for nonfiction. I never would have believed that I would fall in love with a book about a racehorse, but Hillenbrand tells the story in such a way that you can’t help but be fascinated and emotionally invested.

What about you? What makes particular works of nonfiction your “favorites”?

7 thoughts on “Nonfiction November – Nonfiction Favorites

  1. Unruly Reader

    I love Seabiscuit, too — for all the same reasons you mention. For me, The Boys in the Boat hit the same notes. Both books made me weepy because: all that triumph after all that struggle.

  2. hmsgofita

    I read Hillenbrand’s Unbroken and thought she did an amazing job. I saw the movie Seabiscuit. Did they do the book justice? Your list is what makes a great history and biography or memoir for me!

  3. Ceri

    Isn’t that so great? When the narrative is so good that you really enjoy a book about a subject you never would have thought you’d enjoy? Totally agree with you there.

  4. DoingDewey

    I didn’t even think about talking about the story, certainly not as distinct from the subject, but reading your post made me think about how important this is. I recently read Empress of the East, about a slave girl who become queen of the Ottoman empire, and part of what held it back is that there just wasn’t enough known about her story. And I often wonder how authors decide where to start and end their stories.


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