Daily Archives: November 20, 2017

Nonfiction November 2017 – What makes a favorite?

Nonfiction November 2017 Info

Week 4: (Nov. 20 to 24) – Katie @ Doing Dewey: Nonfiction Favorites: 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.

Ooo, good question. I decided to take a look at my Goodreads “Favorites” shelf (what would be my 5⭐ picks if I rated that way) to see what nonfiction books had made the cut and what they had in common.

Subject

Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear The Magician and the Cardsharp: The Search for America's Greatest Sleight-of-Hand Artist

Obviously, the first thing that jumped out at me like an assistant in a spangly outfit is that many of my favorites are about magic history. It’s the obsession that I didn’t know I had for 35 years. But in the past five or so years, I’ve read a lot of nonfiction books about magic (and related subjects) and not all of them are on my Favorites shelf. And I don’t *just* read about magic… (Reviews: Hiding the Elephant, The Magician and the Cardsharp)

Depth of Information

Thunderstruck The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day

I like the deep delve. On a meta level, I suppose depth of information signals to me that the author knows their stuff and that they have a certain amount of passion for the subject. The thing of it is, I don’t even have to understand everything! Lots of crunchy bits in my nonfiction gives my mind something to chew on. Stretching your understanding of a topic can also reinforce lower level concepts. (Reviews: ThunderstruckThe Improbability Principle)

Wider Context

Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age The Turk: The Life and Times of the Famous 19th Century Chess-Playing Machine

One of the great sadnesses of my life is that I spend a long time thinking that history was boring. I don’t feel I’m entirely to blame; history is often taught in a dry events-and-dates kind of way. But I could have reached out sooner! To me, history (and almost any other topic) is better when placed in a wider context. Nothing exists in a void and most of my favorites always provide a good amount of context for their subjects. (Reviews: Tesla, The Turk)