This week, Nonfiction November is hosted by Hibernator’s Library and we’re talking about how we go about choosing what non-fiction to read.

What are you looking for when you pick up a nonfiction book?

I want to be both entertained and to learn something, not necessarily anything relevant to my life or that will be any use, ever, even in a pub quiz.

Do you have a particular topic youโ€™re attracted to?

I really like books that are super niche, really exploring a small subject from many angles. These can be quite hard to define and discover, though. More wider subjects I enjoy are science (particularly biology and medical), psychology, mental health, natural history, books about books, food and travel. Hah, that’s quite a big list!

I used to steer clear of memoirs but I have read a few more recently and enjoyed them. I do prefer a memoir that revolves around something in particular, like We Bought a Zoo.

Do you have a particular writing style that works best?

I like narrative non-fiction and often a conversational manner with a touch of humour. Although it really depends on the subject. I’m not a fan of dry, academic text. If there’s a writer whose work I’ve loved in the past, I’m more likely to pick up a non-fiction book by them even if I’m not sure about the subject.

When you look at a nonfiction book, does the title or cover influence you?

Yup, I can be really put off by meh covers actually. Rightly or wrongly, a boring cover makes me think the contents will be boring too, or at least rather dry. I love good cover art and will admit to buying books just for their looks. Generally, a great cover will draw me in initially and then I’ll decide if the book sounds like something I’d enjoy.


How do you pick your non-fiction reads? If you’d like some more non-fiction recommendations, do check out the week one wrap-up @ Doing Dewey.