Monday, November 28, 2011

New Books Show a Need for Nonfiction

Sometimes you know that you are in the mood for a certain type of book.
Sometimes you know that you are in the mood for a certain type of book and you immediately start reading it.
Sometimes you know that you are in the mood for a certain type of book and yet can't seem to get around to reading it.

Sometimes you don't know that you are in the mood for a certain type of book until your purchases illuminate it for you.

I actually own both versions of this book and haven't read either one.  They have both been following me around on my vacations from nightstand to nightstand for the last month.  I've owned them for years.  I've been wanting dreadfully to read them.  Why haven't I?

Keeping Their Place: Domestic Service in the Country House
I've just received both of these from Book Depository as an early Christmas gift to myself.  I've always been fascinated by the workings of a large estate, (I loved Gosford Park for that very reason, and touring the kitchen of Ashford Castle to make scones during my Ireland trip was mostly fantastic because I adore the behind-the-scenes fact I'm fascinated with doors in general and am now wondering if the two are related?) and my interest has ramped up again after watching the first season of Downton

All right, so maybe these seem to have nothing in common.  But they both hold importance to my family's history: my grandfather's family emigrated from Ireland, and I grew up in California Gold Rush country.  Learning more about these topics somehow makes me feel I'll know more about myself.  I've been carrying the first around for nearly a year now, wanting to read it.  The second recently arrived from PaperbackSwap.  I want to read them both, yet somehow they aren't that the top of the pile...?

I've [obviously] been having a huge urge to read some good nonfiction (it goes beyond even these titles shown) but somehow they keep getting pushed aside.  I think that nonfiction takes a concentration that fiction often doesn't, and so I keep waiting for the perfect time.  I'm coming to think, however, that starting a nonfiction book is like starting a family:  you need to just do it, because if you wait for the perfect time it will never happen.

Have you experienced this?  Perhaps in different genres or delineations?  In the past few years I've read much more nonfiction (and much less adult fiction) than this year, which leads me to speculate that blogging might have something to do with it.  I somehow seem to adopt a running-out-of-time mentality that makes me shy away from nonfiction.  I think I'll give December a nonfiction focus: I've done well with my goals for this year, why not end the year with something I've been longing for anyhow?


  1. I agree that non-fiction requires more concentration, or maybe it just stimulates a different part o'my brain. Either way, I often push it aside in favor of fiction, but I do have a couple of non-fiction titles bothering me at the moment. First among them, a book about five of Queen Victoria's granddaughters who married other royalty around the world.

  2. I love reading nonfiction books, but I do so much of it for school that I usually end up passing over it when looking for a book to read for fun.

    Thanks for pointing out Up and Down Stairs. I've been looking for a nonfiction book that ties into Downtown Abbey.

  3. 1776 is good. You see a little different picture of George Washington. I thought it was an interesting story about when George Washington lost his temper. (That's to tease you.) You have a version with pictures!!! That can only make it even better.

    I liked McCullough's book John Adams better, but it is quite long.

  4. Christina, I think that I tend to look at the writing in a nonfiction book with more trepidation. I'm afraid it'l be written well enough to keep me reading, but dull enough to make me wish I wasn't. Kind of like Dickens. :)

    Heidi, my brother got me the illustrated version a few Christmas's back not knowing I had the regular one. It even has special envelopes containing special documents. Fun! John Adams is one of the books that got me into nonfiction in the first place--I just loved the personal look at history. See? what am I waiting for? I need to know more about George Washington!

  5. I just finished, Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat, which was a wonderful nonfiction read. Really interesting stuff. But even that, I had to kind of ramp myself up to. Nonfiction sometimes seems like work, while fiction seems like play. Even though nonfiction is also sometimes fascinating. The book about women in the Gold Rush looks really interesting.

  6. I'vebeen reading much more non-fiction because of blogging. Actually, I'm ready to call 2011 my Non-Fiction Year :)

    Your two books about servants in English homes sound exactly like my cuppa and went straight to my wish-list - cheers!

  7. Robyn, that's a good point about nonfiction being more like work and fiction being more like play. Even when you enjoy your work, it's still work. :) I had to look up the title you mentioned; sounds interesting!

    Alex, so funny that blogging has made your nonfiction increase and mine decrease! This year I've focused on increasing my current adult fiction--I've read much more than usual...I don't think it was as great an experience as I was hoping for, but you never know until you give it a shot. I'm hoping for a more balanced 2012. :)


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