Let’s Talk About Non-Fiction; TBR & why I struggle with prioritizing it

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For goodness sake, I studied History as my undergraduate degree! You would think that I have a preference for nonfiction vs. fiction, but that just never seems to be the case for me. I’ve even committed to collecting non-fiction books to round out my personal library and I STILL can’t pick any up. Why do you think that is? Kristin posted a “Ten Non-Fiction Titles I Want to Read ASAP” recently, which inspired me to take a look at my own non-fiction TBR and figure out why I have been putting these books off.

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For me, I know a lot of my reluctance to read non-fiction (and re-read favorites to be honest) is because I suffer from some severe bookish FOMO. I only JUST discovered the bookish community a couple of years ago and in turn realized how much I missed out on during my “time off” for school. I am constantly thinking about what I could or SHOULD be reading in order to catch up, and simultaneously stay in with what is circulating around at that time.

It’s not that non-fiction is a waste of time, I am just always thinking about what else I could be reading, and feeling guilty about missing out on the conversations that are happening now in real time. And even though as a librarian I see for myself that non-fiction is one of the more healthy collections being circulated, it doesn’t always feel that way here in this community.

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Second to that though is just how dense some (let’s be honest, most) nonfiction can be. I’ve found that I don’t do well with books that are straight facts. If it has a bit of a story line to it, and if it feels a little like fiction than I am way more likely to enjoy it, which actually is probably why I like(d) memoirs and biographies so much. But even “story-like” seems daunting and like a chore. I want an escape dammit! Not to be talked at.

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Despite my reluctance to pick up it up, I have still gotten really excited about, and wanted to read many non-fiction books over the last few years. I even have plans to “study” a topic and then write about my feelings toward it/about it in an analysis here (we’ll see if that actually happens though).

Here is a list of some books I have on my shelf/want to read in the near future:

Social Injustice and the Black Lives Matter Movement

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I wanted so desperately to read these in the height of the movement these last few months but (not surprisingly) picked up fictional novels written by black authors over them. To be fair some of these are straight like history books whereas others are more personal accounts. Regardless, I would really like to get to at least one of these this year.


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I took an African American History seminar in college that completely changed me. These were two of the required readings (along with a personally curated collection of short series and accounts). I was so invested in the conversations and the readings that I kept both these books (and the packet of stories) for myself instead of trading them back to the textbook store. I haven’t read them since though and I have been desperate to get back to them. I was lucky enough to get The New Jim Crow from my parents house before the move, but Warmth of Other Suns still remains at their house at this time. One of these days I’ll get my parents to send it to me.


Female Friendships

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After acquiring (and reading) When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk this year, I have become extremely interested in female friendships. Not only for the obvious reasons, but a lot having to do with not seeing good representation in the literature that I read. It is fairly well known that friendships take a way back seat to romance in most fiction, however, conversations about toxic female relationships have been coming up more and more. The hashtags and appreciation days that circulate in support of Women Empowerment are great, but I would really like to get a further understanding of where we as women help and hurt each other in our support of one another, if that makes any sense. In terms of read-alike, i’m looking for something similar to Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance but for friendships, so these are my starting points.


Memoirs & Biographies

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I mentioned before that I really like memoirs and biographies. I’ve read a handful so far and of the ones I’ve read, I really liked the majority of them. I even read Educated by Tara Westover this year and liked it a lot so I don’t know what is blocking me from picking any of these up, but they are all still on my TBR. I’d also like to get my hands on a Lucile Ball book at some point because I just adore her and I think (from the little I know about her) she led quite an interesting life…maybe I will order one sooner rather than later…


Mental Health

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For obviously reasons (to me at least), I have an interest in mental health. These are the only two books I currently have on my TBR but if you have any better ones that you would like to recommend, I would be more than happy to look into them!


“Pop Culture”?

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These are more my speed when I think about non-fiction that I wouldn’t mind reading right now. However for whatever reason I still haven’t? I think in particular I would really like to get into How To Break Up With Your Phone for reasons i’m sure are clear enough.

Obviously I have more than just this on my TBR but these are some topics/interests of mine that I would love to indulge but for one reason or another have made excuses not to.

What about you guys? I know people like Kristin (mentioned above) and Orangutan Librarian read multiple non-fictions a year without any trouble, but do you? What do you tend to lean toward when you are in the mood for non-fiction? True Crime? History? Gardening Tips? Talk to me about your interests!

17 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Non-Fiction; TBR & why I struggle with prioritizing it

  1. I just recently fell in the mood to read more nonfiction. I even bought a few and checked some out from the library. But I’m reading them slowly. Slightly because they are dense (to be fair I don’t think these are the densest nonfiction I’ve ever read) but also because I like to take notes from the ones I get from the library. I am firmly leaning towards history, culture, and psychology (The Family Medici, From Here to Eternity, and The Psychology Book specifically). I lean far more towards reading fiction and I also read multiple books at the same time.

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    1. I think my biggest downfall is that I can’t maintain multiple books at the same time! It would make sense to read fiction and have a nonfiction going on the side (I also read them slowly and like to take notes) but for whatever reason I cannot keep up with multiple books at the same time, regardless of how different they are in context.
      But I agree. I have been in a really non-fictiony mood for a while now and I just think it’s time to pull the plug and try them out, you know?

      I LOVE history and culture books, but have been really into the ideas of memoirs and biographies at least this time around.

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  2. I always want to read more nonfiction, but it seems like more of a commitment. When I have hundreds of books on my TBR list, it seems more efficient to read three middle grade fantasies over one large nonfiction. But I actually enjoy reading nonfiction, so being more conscious about my reading choices and maybe reading fewer books is something I want to start thinking about for the future. After I finish the 15 books I have on hold from the library! πŸ˜‰

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  3. I totally agree that the bookish community is a big source of FOMO, and it’s hardly ever directed at nonfic. I’ve been making an effort to read more nonfic lately, and it’s just incredibly rewarding πŸ™‚ Hope you pick up these books, I’d love to see your thoughts on them, especially Becoming and Stamped from the Beginning.

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    1. Right?!? I am constantly worried that if I stray for a nonfic, I will fall desperately behind! But I agree, I feel like reading nonfiction is going to be so rewarding and if definitely something I want to prioritize, especially while I seem to be “in the mood” for it at the moment.
      If you have any recommendations for great nonfic you have read recently, I am all ears πŸ™‚


  4. Oh my gosh, yes to all of this. I definitely feel like the online bookish community doesn’t care about non-fiction, and when I post reviews or lists about non-fiction they don’t get any likes, views, or comments. The whole reason I’m here is to talk, but nobody wants to talk about The Feather Thief or the USS Indianapolis. So even though I have come to really enjoy non-fiction, especially narrative non-fiction, I almost never read it. Also, yeah, it’s more work. lol

    One thing I’ve done to make sure I read those anti-racist books is to read one chapter a day in addition to everything else I’m reading. That way I can’t put it off in favor of my new fantasy releases, and bonus I get time to process.

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    1. That actually makes a lot of sense! I’m going to have to try that…
      But I totally get what you are saying about screaming into the void when it comes to non-fiction reading. It just doesn’t feel like a good use of my time (even though this is all for “pleasure” right?). I just wish that I had more drive to pick it up without being fearful that I am falling behind on what’s currently trending. It’s something I am working on for sure though. I will definitely try to do your one chapter a day thing..

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  5. I go in waves with nonfiction. Sometimes I’m really excited about it, others I’m all into fiction. Most recently I read Bill McKibbon’s ‘Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out.’ Basically he looks at our skewed priorities on global warming (something we actively ignoring that WILL kill us) and A.I. (something we work to create that will ultimately replace us and/or devalue what it means to be human). Oh, I guess I just started rereading Chuck Klosterman’s ‘Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs’ the other day and that’s a collection of philosophically-tinged essays about pop culture so that counts as nonfiction, too! I’ve read it many times over the years and I never tire of it.

    I’m 100% with you on the history books, too. I was also a history major (and am certified to teach social studies) along with my religious studies major. But some history books, no matter the subject, are just SO PAINFUL to try and read. Gah! The most fascinating bit of history can become a chore to slog through in the hands of the wrong author.

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  6. This is a really interesting topic! I have trouble prioritising non-fiction, too, which is crazy when the best book I read last year was a non-fiction book. There are always books I feel like I need to catch up on as well, which is why I so often prioritise fiction over non-fiction, but I also think that if you read more fiction than non-fiction then it takes longer to find out the kinds of non-fiction you like. Once you know what your non-fiction niche is, I think it becomes easier to prioritise! πŸ™‚

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