Nonfiction November: Choosing Nonfiction

Well, the weather is still confusingly warm, but nevertheless my calendar informs me that we are now in the month of November, which can only mean one thing, book lovers: The triumphal return of Nonfiction November!

Nonfiction November

This week is hosted by Rachel of Hibernator’s Library, and we’re talking about book selection techniques. To wit:

What are you looking for when you pick up a nonfiction book? Do you have a particular topic you’re attracted to? Do you have a particular writing style that works best? When you look at a nonfiction book, does the title or cover influence you? If so, share a title or cover which you find striking.

Do you have a particular topic you’re attracted to?

If all the nonfiction topics in the entire world were billiard balls on an infinite pool table, and you set one of the balls in motion every time you read a nonfiction book, and then you next read books about every billiard ball topic that first billiard ball clunked into, that would be a generally accurate depiction of my ever-expanding nonfiction interests. At one point (though I cannot exactly conjure up a clear memory of this in my mind), I only read memoirs. Then memoirs plus books about very conservative Christians. Then memoirs plus books about very conservative Christians plus gay history books. And so on and so forth, you get the idea. The more things I know, the more things I find there are to know.

actual footage of me at the nonfiction shelves in my library
actual footage of me at the nonfiction shelves in my library

Do you have a particular writing style that works best?

Wellllllll, I mean, I like a book with nicely done endnotes. On my Official List of Grown Adulthood Lifehood Policies, rule number 6 is “Always verify sources,” and this is obviously more difficult to do when the book is pop nonfiction of the type that doesn’t run to endnotes. When books don’t have notes, I never feel like I really know the information contained inside; I just feel like I at best have heard rumors about it. So although I do read nonfiction where the sources aren’t carefully documented, it’s not my preference.

Oh, hm, that wasn’t really writing style so much as citation style. Well, for writing style, I like it when authors can find a good balance between theory, data, and anecdotes. It’s a tricky balance to strike!

When you look at a nonfiction book, does the title or cover influence you?

Note: This gif is from the show The Good Place. The show rocks. Watch it.
Note: This gif is from the show The Good Place. The show rocks. Watch it.

If so, share a title or cover which you find striking.

I no longer have any recollection what this book is, but there is a book on my TBR spreadsheet entitled The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse. In the “precis” column, Past Me wrote “EDWARDIAN INTRIGUE AND CRIIIIIIME,” with seven Is in the word “crime,” even though as you may know the correct spelling is with only one I. Is the missing corpse the duke’s? Why does he have a secret wife? Who is the murderer? Way to go, author Piu Marie Atwell, you have left me with many questions.

How do you choose your nonfiction reads, friends?