Thursday, 21 November 2019

Nonfiction November - week 4

This weeks Nonfiction November is hosted by Leann of Shelf Aware. This week we look into how we choose our nonfiction books. Leading us to what makes a book you have read your favourite one. Is the topic important? Is it the way it is written? They way it tells a story? Do you look for a humorous approach, or a more serious one? Leann thinks that picking one of your favourite nonfiction books, is like picking your favourite human. Leann gives us a hint of what could be part of our favourite nonfiction read.
  • Time period – favourite this year or decade
  • Type of nonfiction – is it a big idea book, a how-to book, a memoir, a book aimed at academics or clinicians?
  • Use Case – are you trying to find out how to solve a problem? Do you need a new skills? Is the topic on business, creativity, mindset, relationships, etc?
  • How easy it is to understand and ultimately, how helpful was it?
Leann thinks it is hard to rate a book by using stars and numbers. I totally agree. Both as concerns fiction and nonfiction. I never use a rating, unless I add my book to Goodreads and the like. I want to convey my thoughts through my review, and hope that people will find it useful, and will find a hint of whether they would like it or not. For nonfiction it does depend a lot on the subject. Is it something you want to learn more of? Do you already know something and want to compare your own thoughts? Is the nonfiction easy to understand? Is it high above your head? It all depends on the subject, and what we want to achieve by reading it.

I mostly read nonfiction to learn something more about a subject, in my case...history. Or maybe the evolution of mankind. Or something about a historical person. All in all, I read nonfiction to learn more.

I have read many nonfiction books and it is difficult to name just a few that I like more than the rest. If I have to mention a writer, I would go for Simon Sebag Montefiore. A wonderful writer and historian, who manages to make history come alive. This is one of the most important aspects of me reading historical nonfiction. Imagine if all the history teachers out there, would make history interesting to their pupils! I think many more people would be interested in history. I am presently reading his book Stalin - The Court of the Red Tsar. Amazing story of how one paranoid man could rule a country for so many years. His Catherine the Great and Potemkin, is another wonderful story of an empress and her favourite lover.

Another great historical account is Christopher Clark's The Sleepwalkers, on how the First World War came to be. It seems to be as detailed as it can be.  For both historians they manage to make historical events come alive, and write it, as the most exciting fictional novel. That, I think, is what I am looking for in a nonfiction book. It should be written in a way, as if you are reading a fiction, although it is true. Because, after all, real life often exceeds anything you can make up in fiction.


  1. Replies
    1. A good way to approach nonfiction I think.

  2. I find rating non fiction difficult, I usually don’t rate memoirs at all.
    Thanks for sharing your favourites

    1. I find rating overall difficult. What is the difference between 3 and 4, or 4 and 5? I prefer to write about my thoughts and hope that readers can find out if it is an interesting book for them.