The Sunday Salon (Non-fiction Blues) -- Apr 11, 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010


The Sunday 
Salon.com

I just rolled out of bed 30 minutes back! Egad! It's 10.30 already. Thank God for Sundays ... the only day of permissible guilt-free sleep-ins! I had a fun day yesterday at the International Street Fair at my university. The food was yummy and the performances and stalls set-up by the associations of different countries were quite riveting. I enjoyed this event last year as well, but hadn't been able to spend so much time at the venue since I had some TA work then. Yesterday though, I stayed out for most of the day and most distressingly, during the entire time the sun was at its strongest. Needless to say, in spite of the good amount of sunscreen lotion I used, I got too much tan (which I don't really need). Bummer!

Congrats to all of you who took part in the Dewey Read-a-thon yesterday! I missed the fun! I'm eager to go blog-hopping today to see how you all did! I thought of reading unofficially for the read-a-thon to see if I can keep up, but I got nowhere, since the book I was reading was moving too slow!

I'm trying to figure out which book to read today and might just settle on a non-fiction, Columbine by Dave Cullen. So that will be my second non-fiction book this month. Considering I read very little non-fiction, not due to lack of interest, but due to lack of trying, this seems a huge number to me for a month.

I'm not sure what it is that keeps me from reading non-fiction. I read a few last year - In Cold Blood and The Monster of Florence come to mind instantly. In Cold Blood was a very suspenseful read, where the reader already knew the killers and the victims and still couldn't help but turn the pages. But there were times during the book that I would yawn and just wish the words read for themselves. That happened more often when I was listening to The Monster of Florence. It didn't help that the crime is still unsolved. This book started very powerful and gripping that I was left gasping. I remember I was at the gym when I started listening to this audio book, and I actually got off the treadmill for a moment, and only listened. But all that interest generated tapered off during the latter part of the book, when I started getting all the names mixed up and found the book going in a totally different direction.

Last weekend, I read April 16th: Virginia Tech Remembers, but this time I actually enjoyed the book a lot. Well, enjoy is not really the right word, since how can you "enjoy" reading about a tragedy? But I found I couldn't put the book down and I actually read it slow so that the details wouldn't go over my head. Then again, I was already familiar with most of the names and details listed in the book, so I'm not sure if that had an effect. Now, I'm going to start Columbine.

Funny how I've mainly read tragi-nonfiction books. I never thought of that before.

This week, I've been giving it a lot of thought. I've decided that I'll read at least one non-fiction book each month. I hope it will work out fine without becoming a "chore". I have quite a few nonfiction books sitting on my shelf. (I love buying them, even if I don't read them as often.) And, lately, I've come across a lot of nonfiction book reviews in so many blogs that many are on my must-read list. It shouldn't be hard to choose one.

Are you a nonfiction fan or nonfiction-reader wannabe? If you read a lot of nonfiction, how did you get attracted to that genre? If you don't read so many and would love to, what is your main obstacle?

18 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I do enjoy memoirs, but they're really lite non-fiction.

I'll be interested to see what you think of Columbine - I'm just not sure I could handle it.

Michelle said...

One non-fiction book a month is a noble goal. I don't read anywhere near as much non-fiction as I think I *should,* but I am trying to read more.

samantha.1020 said...

I'm working on reading more nonfiction as well. I'm currently reading Escape by Carolyn Jessop which is a really interesting memoir so far. I find I read nonfiction at a slower speed compared to fiction which may be the reason I don't pick it up as often.

Ash said...

Before I started blogging I read almost entirely nonfiction outside of the books I read for class. So far this year I have failed at reading a lot of nonfiction, although I'm starting to get better now. I'm halfway through a memoir right now andI have a few others I want to read soon. Nonfiction is really my favorite kind of writing, but you would never know it from looking at my blog.

Book Dilettante said...

For some reason I prefer to read crime as fiction. The true stories are too scary, I guess. Glad you made the Sunday Salon today! Here's my salon

Emidy said...

I don't read much non-fiction at all, sadly. I think the main issue is that I (usually) automatically associate non-fiction with boredom! That's a terrible assumption on my part and I really need to get past that. Even though I have read a few good non-fiction books, I still need to read more!

StephTheBookworm said...

I read both fiction and non-fiction. When I read non-fiction though, it's usually only memoirs, essays, or true crime. Fiction is my true love though.

I read Columbine last year and thought it was absolutely phenomenal - by far one of the best non-fiction books I've read to date. I hope it interests you as much as it interested me. It was just so fascinating to see the entire story laid out. Such a powerful book.

Helen's Book Blog said...

I enjoy non-fiction more now than I used to. Perhaps that's because I've been buying it for my library. You call it tragi-non-fiction and I've been calling it survival non-fiction. The students at school love it!

Cat said...

One of my personal challenges this year was to read more nonfiction and I've found that the fiction I'm reading is often a good starting point to find books of interest.
The Pirate's Daughter led to Jamaican non-fiction which I really enjoyed. Now I'm exploring China.
I have Columbine on hold at the library - hope you like it.

Aths said...

Kathy, memoirs would be awesome, I agree! I don't think I have read any, but I want to start.

Michelle, it's the trying that counts! I don't think we should compel ourselves to read something we don't enjoy. That being said, nonfiction is something we should all aim to read. So as long we read even a little, I think it's good!

Samantha, the speed is what bugs me too. I wish I could read it faster, but if I tried reading it faster, I wouldn't be able to grasp it either. It's like reading a textbook. You miss a part, then you'll pay for it in a later section.

Ash, I am impressed! It's very rarely that I hear a college-going student reading nonfiction. You really inspire me! I would love to see more nonfiction in your blog if that's possible, maybe as a consolidated post, once a month? It might help stragglers like me. :)

Book Dilettante, LOL, I would second that! To read about true crime can also be morale sapping, when you consider that there exists people like that!

Emidy, I used to think the same. Nonfiction = boredom, till I read so many wonderful reviews online and realized what I am missing out on!

Stephanie, nice to hear your thoughts on Columbine! I'm sure I'll enjoy it too!

Aths said...

Helen, I like 'survival nonfiction' better! Though I doubt I will put In Cold Blood and The Monster of Florence in that category. Something I didn't get out of both those books was closure. By closure I mean, something positive and redeeming about the crimes or other participants in the crimes, either as viewers or victims or the affected people. But the VT book is more a survival NF than a tragic one!

Cat, that's a good challenge! I hope you are successful in it! Also reading a fiction book and finding NF references is such a good approach!

christa @ mental foodie said...

I used to read 99% fiction and the past couple of years I read about 70% non-fiction. It all started with Running with Scissors (memoir about a dysfunctional family... The Glass Castle is another good one in that category). After that, I couldn't wait to read more memoir! I also choose books based on topics I am interested in, e.g. business, psychology, true crime, education, medicine, pop science, food, cooking, photography...

I think once you find a topic you're passionate about, it is very easy to read non-fiction! E.g. if you are interested in movies, you can read books on how to write screen play, how they choose casting, what the directors do, how they scout locations etc etc.

If you looked at my 2008 and 2009 book lists, you can see what non-fiction I'd read.

2008:
http://mentalfoodie.blogspot.com/search/label/Books%20-%202008

2009 (didn't mark out the ones I recommended...):
http://mentalfoodie.blogspot.com/search/label/Books%20-%202009

2010 (rank in the order of "love to meh")
http://mentalfoodie.blogspot.com/search/label/Books%20-%202010

Aths said...

Christa, it is so true that one book may be enough to set you on a new path! I am yet to find that one book that will hook me to nonfiction. But thanks for those links to your blog! I will definitely check them out for reference!

Jennifer G. said...

I always think of nonfiction as boring, but I enjoy the little I do read. I just need to get that prejudice out of my head and find books that interest me.

Aths said...

Jennifer, that used to be the issue with me too. NF = boredom. But thank God for the wonderful blogs out there. I got introduced to so many wonderful ones!

Eva said...

I'm a definite non-fiction fan! I always have been though, so I don't know what 'attracted' me to it. And I think it's too big to be a genre! lol

Aths said...

Eva, I should say yours is one of the blogs that convinced me that I should try my hand at non-fiction. I love your choices. :)

Callista said...

I love nonfiction and it's what I primarily review. I've always loved to learn and that's what drew me to nonfiction. Anytime I want to learn something, I read about it. I love memoirs too but more so ones that have good lessons in it so I'm still learning.

You should try true crime. The facts are true but it reads like fiction.