Thursday, November 18, 2010

Categorizing Nonfiction

Literary Blog HopIs there such a thing as Literary Nonfiction you ask?  I must admit I've never thought of separating my nonfiction into categories in the same way I do with fiction, although that doesn't mean that those delineations don't exist.  Nonfiction categories tend to be more along the lines of topic (history, biography, self-help) than quality or prestige (like literary fiction or classics) likely for the simple reason that nonfiction is less read for pleasure than fiction is.

I enjoy nonfiction, and am always pleased to find well-written nonfiction.  I've read 21 nonfiction books so far this year in topics from gardening and writing to memoir and history.  Some of those were definitely more on the literary side than others (putting real emphasis on writing quality as opposed to simply relating the facts.)  So far this year, these have been the real stand-outs in writing style in nonfiction:

Thunderstruck Angela's Ashes Mere Christianity The Glass Castle: A Memoir

Don't those look exciting? Makes me want to go find more nonfiction.  Lucky for me then, that numerous high-quality book blogs await my perusal at the Literary Blog Hop.

27 comments:

  1. I loved The Glass Castle, but the others I haven't read. I can see this blog hop is going to be disastrous for the tbr!

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  2. Every week my wishlist grows...and at a much faster rate than the books I read. I can't keep up but it's great fun. :)

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  3. Oh, I loved The Glass Castle.

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  4. You've read a lot of nonfiction this year! Larson is on my list, too, with The Devil in the White City. I'm probably the only person in the world that didn't like The Glass Castle.

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  5. Amy--I never think I'll like memoirs, but The Glass Castle and Angela's Ashes (and I Know Why a Caged Bird Sings--which I forgot to include) have all been great reads.

    JoAnn--I need to add The Devil in the White City to my wishlist. I was impressed with Larson's writing. Was is content or style that you didn't like about The Glass Castle?

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  6. I love reading non-fiction too but it can be hard to find a very good non-fiction book. Just because it's factual doesn't mean I need to be bored!

    My favourite non-fiction writer is Bill Brsyon. His "A Short History of Nearly Everything" is on my top-ten book list.

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  7. I can't believe I haven't read any Bill Bryson this year! I really enjoy him. My favorite is The Mother Tongue.

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  8. I had forgotten about The Glass Castle! That was also a good book.... I haven't read Larson yet, but keep eyeballing Devil in the White City...


    Thanks for joining my Back to the Classics Challenge!

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  9. If Devil in the White City is actually better than Thunderstruck, as I keep hearing, it'll be engaging whether it sounds interesting or not.

    Looking forward to the Classics Challenge! I'm just getting my picks figured out. It'll be fun to see what everybody chooses.

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  10. I love CS Lewis, and Mere Christianity is my favorite. I need to get to The Glass Castle soon - I read a sample and loved it. Thanks for hopping by :) I really like your blog and will be back. :)

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  11. I'm looking forward to reading more of C.S. Lewis' nonfiction. Mere Christianity was my first, and I really liked it. The Glass Castle is quick, but it is such an interesting study in the opposites that exist inside us.

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  12. Melody - I guess it was more content that bothered me. I was just horrified by the conditions she grew up in. Bought the book in hardcover, lent it to a friend and told her I didn't want it back!

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  13. I included The Devil in the White City -- loved that story and can't wait to see the film. Here's my Literary view...: Coffee and a Book Chick -- Literary Blog Hop...

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  14. JoAnn--I don't blame you, the conditions were often horrific. I was truly amazed that they made it to NY.

    Coffee and a Book Chick--I didn't realize that they were making a movie until today. Now I really must read it!

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  15. I've not read Devil in the White City. I've tried it several times and never got very far. (Maybe it's too scary for me. I don't like scary.)

    Here's my post on literary nonfiction. I'd love to hear what you think.

    And if you have read any wonderful literary books
    published in 2010, I urge you to nominate your favorites
    for The Independent Literary Awards. The awards
    include categories of Literary Fiction and Literary Non-Fiction.
    Nominations close December 15.

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  16. 21 books! Fantastic! It always makes me a little sad when people write off non-fiction as being dull and boring. Not so! Glass Castle is also on my list--and Angela's Ashes is a great example too. The only one I haven't read is Mere Christianity but would love to one day. Great picks. :)

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  17. I'm growing a taste for non-fiction, especially for essays and non-fiction novels. I'm looking at Thunderstruck in your post and it's taunting me. Both because of your review and that it bears the name of an amazing rock song.

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  18. readerbuzz--you know, it did take me a little while to get into Thunderstruck. I had to get it read for book club though, so I just pushed on. Sounds like Devil in the White City may be more suspenseful than Thunderstruck though.

    Trish--It's very true, nonfiction can be simply informative, but it can also be fascinating and riveting. Sometimes I think people don't realize that nonfiction is more than history or facts: one girl in my book club says she won't read nonfiction, and yet she loved Erik Larson's books. ??

    Ben--I'm dying to know if reading Thunderstruck with a mental soundtrack of Thunderstruck on repeat is a good experience or a bad one. If you ever test that out, be sure to let me know. :)

    gautami tripathy--nonfiction makes for a nice change of pace. I like to mix things up and cycle through different types of books so I don't get bored or bogged down. It helps prevent reading slumps I think.

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  19. Wow, 21! That's a lot! I haven't read any of the four you've mentioned though.

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  20. I really liked your choices I am your newest followerand I bookmarked this page so I can add it
    to my incredibly long TBR list( The one that doesn't stop growing)

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  21. IngridLola--I think the more nonfiction I read, the more I'm impressed by how readable it can be. Thank goodness it isn't all dry and stodgy!

    bookaddict4real--oh yes, the ever-growing TBR lists! One of my favorite things about book blogs is the personalized recommendations. :) Look forward to getting to know you!

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  22. A great cookbook can be literary.Not a great fan of CS Lewis, And not read any of the others.so I guess my TBR will be approaching everest proportions

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  23. Just finished a re-read of ANGELA'S ASHES and it was every bit as good as the first time! I got so caught up in it's voice that I found myself replying to my husband in an Irish accent one night.

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  24. Angela's Ashes is a perfect example of literary nonfiction! I don't love memoirs but I loved that one. I haven't read your other suggestions. You read a lot more nonfiction than I do!

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  25. 21 non fictions books in a year is amazing. This year I have really discovered some brilliant non-fiction, even if most of it is comedic essays. I hope to get around to The Glass Castle or Angela's Ashes soon, since I've had both on my shelves for years.

    Sarah @ Loving Books

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  26. I have picked up and put down both "Thunderstruck" and "Devil in the White City" about ten times apiece. I will have to check them out. I have to agree with Sam up above..."A Short History of Nearly Everything" is amazing. And 21 nonfiction books is amazing, and inspiring!!

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