Saturday, April 7, 2012

Guest Post: When Was the Last Time You Read Nonfiction? by Alvina Lopez

Alvina Lopez, writer for Accredited Online Colleges, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.

When was the last time you read nonfiction?

by Alvina Lopez

If you’re as big of a bookworm as I am, chances are that you spend most of your time devouring page-turning works of fiction in the genres of romance, mystery, sci-fi, or anything else you can get your hands on. There’s an unexplainable magic to being transported into fictitious realms, whether they resemble our own world or not. Only recently did it strike me that the vast—and I mean vast—majority of my reading is fiction.

The realization hit me when a friend asked if I had read the memoir called The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. I told her no and she asked if I had read a similar biography, and again I said no. Suddenly I started to feel self conscious about how little nonfiction I had read all my life up to this point. So began my journey through nonfiction, and I have to tell you that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ride thus far. But I can also sympathize with readers who wouldn’t know where to start if they want to delve into the realm of nonfiction. In fact, I’d like to give you a little advice on the subject.

Look for topics that draw your interest

The most obvious place to start when looking for a book of nonfiction is in a field that you care about. If you don’t care much about whaling, I don’t suggest that you pick up the most informed book on whaling in American (though such a book does exist). People are intimidated by nonfiction because of the sheer volume of information available on any one topic, but once you decide on an area you’ll find that it’s just like choosing among fiction titles. After you read a bit a chapter or two of a book of nonfiction you can tell whether or not you want to stick with it or move on to another author.

What if you don’t know what topic would make for an interesting read? Well, in my case I simply picked something that looked interesting. One of the first nonfiction books I read last year was a biography of Cleopatra. I enjoyed the read so much that all I wanted to do was read another biography about a powerful woman, so a biography on Mary Queen of Scots was next on my list. Thus began my spree of biographies.

Read nonfiction that contextualizes your normal readings

Another angle worth trying is reading nonfiction that gives context to the fiction that you’d normally read. For example, if you’re keen on dense Victorian romance novels, why not try a book detailing the various class hierarchies of that era? Or if you’re a fan of historical Southern war fiction, why not check out a book or two about the Civil War? Every work of fiction you read is grounded in some sort of reality, no matter how abstract the setting may be. All you have to do is search for that reality in a compelling work of nonfiction.

There’s no wrong way to start

Don’t settle when it comes to books of nonfiction. This might come off sounding like dating advice, but it holds true. If you aren’t enjoyed a book, it’s probably not your fault, so ditch it and find another one that draws you. There are more nonfiction books being published this year than you will ever have time to read, so you have to be choosey about your picks. Don’t waste time on something that you’re not enjoying. Life, and especially your reading time, is too short.


About the author:

Alvina Lopez is a freelance writer and blog junkie, who blogs about accredited online colleges.  She welcomes your comments at her email:


Harvee said...

Interestingly, I'v e reading more nonfiction recently - many self-help and inspirational books. But also some psychology, social science. Here is one of my best nonfiction reads recently: Quiet: The Power of Introverts

bas1chs said...

I love non-fiction - particularly memoirs and biographies. I have also found some journals of courtesans that read like a fiction, but are not. I find that alternating between fiction and non-fiction does help but things into context, but can also be infuriating if the fiction author strays from authenticity (one of my pet peeves).

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