Non-fiction books + Me

It’s no secret that I love to read. Actually, pretty much all I post on here these days is my thoughts on books and some monthly updates (but I’m hoping to change that soon!). One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is how I feel about non-fiction books.

In theory, I love non-fiction. I truly love research, and spent a lot of time doing research during school and even in work. I feel that knowledge is power. I like to be well-informed about the world around me. I truly enjoy seeking out more information about things that are important to me, such as parenting, marriage, friendship, life improvement, and health. So my problem with non-fiction is that I simply cannot sustain my attention long enough to finish most non-fiction books.

People read for a lot of different reasons, but I think that a lot of people read to relax, unwind, or “escape”. Of course, many people (myself included) read to learn more about certain time periods, or to “visit” countries or scenarios that we wouldn’t experience in real life. Reading fiction can really open your mind to a lot of possibilities and make you think about things in a new light. For me, non-fiction just doesn’t captivate me the same way, and it doesn’t really provide the same “escape” feeling that I so crave from fiction.

I want to enjoy more non-fiction because I believe that there is a lot of wonderful knowledge being published that I need to get my hands on, but I just only have so many hours in a day to read & I use that time to read favourite fiction novels. When I sign out a non-fiction book or download it from Netgalley, I will usually read excerpts of it, and enjoy what I read A LOT, but I just can’t bring myself to sit down and read the book from front to back. Is this how most people read non-fiction? Just the segments that are important? I’m not sure.

For instance, I recently signed out The Fringe Hours from the library. I read bits and pieces of all the chapters, and I enjoyed the concepts a lot. I did not read every page, and I did not read all of the anecdotes. I did not browse all of the workbook activities, but I still feel like I got something out of the book despite not “finishing” it. I don’t regret not finishing it, and I probably won’t sign it out again, because it served its purpose for me. I don’t feel like I can really review the book on my blog or recommend it completely because I didn’t finish it, although I admit that I’m not overly concerned about that aspect.

However, I’m currently reading The Happiness Project and I am finding that this is one of the first non-fiction books in AGES that I’ve been able to absorb each and every page of information. It is told like a story of a project, and I find it extremely interesting. I felt similarly about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last year. It was no problem for me to read through it like my usual fiction choices. Maybe I just need to accept that certain non-fiction books that are extremely specific are books that I just need to skim.

With the abundance of information available in article/blog post/podcast form on the internet, I just don’t see lengthy non-fiction books as a priority for my time. If I’m really interested in a topic, I can find an abundance of quick information on it with a simple Google search. I am also interested in pursuing more non-fiction in audiobook format because I think it might seem a bit more like a podcast to me and keep my interest.

Anyone agree with any of these thoughts?!?! A bit long-winded for a humpday but I am really curious about any tips others might have for enjoying non-fiction reads. Do you need to read the whole book to get something out of it? What do you think? 

A few that I am really interested in reading:

Brene Brown’s books.
John Gottman’s books about marriage
A few parenting books here, here and here.
Malcolm Gladwell’s books
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi (planning this on audio from the library asap)

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