Well it happened; my greatest fear about participating in a TBR challenge has come true. I have two shelves of books waiting to be read and not one of them seems appealing right now. For the last four days I have picked up and discarded several books. The nonfiction books I thought would be interesting have turned out to be dull. Now, I know what you are thinking; “all nonfiction books are dull and boring”. Oh but you are wrong! A good nonfiction reads like a novel, full of interesting characters and engaging plots. Take these titles for example:
In the Heart of the Sea, the Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick. This is the true story that inspired Moby Dick. I could not put this book down. It was artfully written and kept me reading long into the night. Even if you are not into adventure books this is not to be missed. The human drama is played out better than most novels.
The Greatest Show on Earth, the Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins is by far one of the most engaging science books I have read. This is the book Darwin would have written had he had the knowledge modern science now holds. If you want to learn about evolution this is the book to pick up.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson is my favorite science read. Bryson has written the definitive layman’s science book. It is funny, includes fascinating characters and is easy to understand. If you feel your high school science was just not enough this is the book for you.
Then there is A J Jacobs, who writes about a year in his life of experiments. The Year of Living Biblically is my favorite, but The Know it All is laugh out loud funny.
Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England made me beg for more. He concentrates on the 14th century; I am hoping he writes more on other centuries.
For a good bio no one can beat Walter Isaacson. Benjamin Franklin is my favorite. I think this should be read by all high school students.
So far I have tossed four books I bought this summer, all have good titles but wow are they dry and dull:
Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf, God’s Secretaries, the making of the King James’s Bible by Adam Nicolson, My Jesus Year by Benyamin Cohen and A Brief History of the Anglo-Saxons (though this one is written well enough I will finish it). I wish I would have borrowed these from the library, I would have felt better about tossing them.
So dear Readers, I am not sure what to do, part of me would like to toss all of my TBRs and start again while another part of me really wants to finish the challenge. I guess I will keep trying, after all not all challenges are easy, but this is one I really wish would be.
I'm a writer, lifelong bibliophile ,and researcher. I hold a Bachelors in Humanities & History and a Master's in Humanities. When I'm not reading or talking about Shakespeare or history, you can usually find me in the garden discussing science or politics with my cat.
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4 thoughts on “Where have all the good nonfiction books gone?”
Ouch! I hate it when that happens. I think that's why I'm constantly buying books (not really good for the home economy…).Have you read any of Eleanor Herman's stuff? I love her, her books read so easily to me.
Have you read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, or Emperor of All Maladies?? Both are wonder NF.
Did you toss as in throw away or just put on the back burner for now? I think you should get thee to a library quick! The TBR books will still be there for when your mood is receptive unless you really threw them away!!
Two of my favorite reads from last year were non-fiction: Tattoos on the Heart and Same Kind of Different as Me … Tattoos made me laugh and cry and laugh and cry .. and Different, well, let's just say that there was a point where I was wiping away tears just to see the printed words on the page. I also recently read Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt which was fabulous.