Sometimes, nonfiction is the only thing you can read. When you’re focused on the practical things in life, fiction feels out of place. I went through a few months where I just couldn’t abide it. Every fiction book I opened seemed trite and predictable. I had a few subjects I was interested in and all I simply wanted to think about those – not some far off world that seemed wholly unconnected to me.
However, the nonfiction books I’ve been reading haven’t each deserved their own posts. The authors fell into two main groups – field experts and writing experts – each making rather similar mistakes. The prospect of writing on each book individually, repeating the same failings over and over again, filled me with despair, so I saved them all up for one giant nonfiction post.
Field Expert Non-fiction
The field experts understand their subjects perfectly, but they just can’t construct an engaging sentence to save their lives (or their book sales). If you approach these books with the pure expectation of extracting facts, much like a social studies book in high school, then you may be able to get through without maxing out your frustration levels for the day. Maybe.
All New Square Food Gardening: practical read for cheap people new to growing vegetables
You- the Owners Manual: decent introduction to health and nutrition
The Art of Fermentation: Fascinating historical and global facts… but did the editor even read it cover to cover?
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk: For when you find your days have become an endless series of nagging, repeating, and disciplining your children
Writing Expert Non-fiction
As expected, the writing experts category has the reverse problem. It’s filled with authors who want to write a book, but lack a subject. They are author-centered, filled with in-depth discussion of how the subject came into the author’s life and changed it. I always feel like a concise article on this category could have helped me more than a 300-page work of nonfiction. Cut out the ‘reality TV’ bits and the information could be summed up in a few good chapters.
Sugar Nation: interesting information (and strident personal opinions) on diabetes
First Bite: a few bits of information on feeding toddlers, but the pedantic historical filler is hard to slog through
The Art of Simple Food: great talk about food, but the recipes just didn’t turn out