Nonfiction November: What Makes A Nonfiction Book One of My Favorites

For the past three weeks, I have been joining in with other book bloggers for an event called Nonfiction November. The first week, Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, I looked back at my year in nonfiction. The second week, Nov. 4 to Nov. 8, I paired a nonfiction book with a fiction book. Last week, Nov. 11 to Nov. 15, I shared a list of books on a topic that I’d like to read or “become the expert,” as host for the week Katie from the blog Doing Dewey explained the prompt. This week, Nov. 18 to Nov. 22, I talk about what makes a nonfiction book I’ve read one of my favorites.

Over the last six years, according to my Goodreads numbers, I’ve read 39 nonfiction books. Out of those, 16 were biographies/memoirs, 12 were self-help, and 11 were other kinds of nonfiction, including history and other topics. And out of those 39, I counted 18 as “favorites” with 13 of them being autobiographies/memoirs.

So I guess for me what makes a nonfiction book one of my favorites is if it is someone telling the story of his or her own life. I prefer first person and often humorous books, for example, Yes Please by Amy Poehler or Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. However, I don’t restrict myself to humor, hence Hunger by Roxane Gay and Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I think what I prefer above else is authenticity. If a person sounds authentic, I’m in.

I saw one blogger this week mention that she likes to see notes at the end of the book, with citations and bibliographies. I used to like that, I’ll admit, or books that I knew had a lot of research, for example, Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand, which took seven years of research. I have a coworker at the library where I work, who just self-published a book that she did at least five years of research on. I am impressed when someone puts that much time into not only getting the story, but also getting the story right.

So how about you? What holds your interest in a nonfiction book? Please share in the comments.

12 thoughts on “Nonfiction November: What Makes A Nonfiction Book One of My Favorites

  1. I also agree on authenticity. I do like when there are sources and notes, although I don’t always read them. But they are there to check if you want. I also enjoy when writers have listed other nonfiction they have read to write their own book. If it is a subject interesting enough, there you have a few more books to read.

  2. I must really have missed the boat with Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. It’s been on so many lists this November. I’m going to have to pick it up. Thank you for mentioning it here. And to your point about authenticity, one can’t get more authentic and honest than Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book. It’s amazing how cutting and clear such a slim book can be. So well done.

  3. Great point about authenticity! I love it when someone tells me their story, and bonus points if they’re able to do so with some perspective. A recent fave like this was Elton John’s memoir, Me.

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