Mary Roach

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Nonfiction November Week 4: Reads Like Fiction

Published November 24, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to the fourth week of Nonfiction November! If you’d like to find out what it’s all about, please see my post two weeks ago where I revealed my Nonfiction November TBR. my post for Week 1 where I talked briefly about my year in nonfiction so far and Week 2 where I paired up three nonfiction books alongside similar fiction tomes. Week 3 invited us to Be The Expert/Ask The Expert/Become The Expert.

This week as the title suggests, it’s all about non-fiction that “reads like fiction,” and is hosted by the lovely Rennie from What’s Nonfiction. You can check out her post HERE.

Nonfiction books often get praised for how they stack up to fiction. Does it matter to you whether nonfiction reads like a novel? If it does, what gives it that fiction-like feeling? Does it depend on the topic, the writing, the use of certain literary elements and techniques? What are your favorite nonfiction recommendations that read like fiction? And if your nonfiction picks could never be mistaken for novels, what do you love about the differences?

I’ve found this topic so interesting this week and have been racking my brains regarding my personal thoughts on it. I have to admit, it took me a little while to find my niche in nonfiction, I used to read solely fiction and found the nonfiction I was picking up a little dry and uninspiring. It’s only over the past six or seven years or so (and mainly due to the interaction with all you lovely bookish folk) that I’ve found nonfiction that really works for me.

As I mentioned in my previous posts this month, this tends to fall in the categories of popular science (particularly neuroscience but I’ll read anything really!), psychology, feminism, books about books and anything animal/nature related. I’ve only recently started getting into memoirs after reading two stonkingly good ones this year – I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death by Maggie O’Farrell and Educated by Tara Westover and am dipping my toes into the true crime genre after enjoying I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara.

Nonfiction doesn’t have to read like a novel for me to get something personal or moving from it – the memoirs I’ve mentioned above are a perfect example but I have to say, the O’Farrell and the Westover did have a bit of a “fiction flair,” and gave me the same sort of feeling as if I was reading a novel i.e. all the emotions and all of the pace and grittiness that you get from a captivating story. Then there’s the books that fall in the middle. They don’t necessarily read like fiction but at the same time you’re completely gripped throughout and find it difficult to put the book down.

Animal:The Autobiography Of A Female Body by Sara Pascoe for me is one of those in-between books which I read and reviewed last year and if you’re interested you can read my review HERE. It was hilariously funny, eye-opening, feminist and frank and made me angry for all the right reasons. I find it difficult to give nonfiction five stars usually as there’s almost always a certain point of the book, no matter how brief where either the pace slows or the topic becomes a little dry. This wasn’t the case with Animal, it was an easy, no-brainer of a five stars and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.

On the other hand, a lot of the popular science I read certainly doesn’t have a story-telling or gripping “must read another page right now” style and that’s okay too – sometimes when I read a nonfiction, I want to be informed, educated and learn something a bit different and usually, I prefer to read these books in smaller chunks to absorb all the information I’m being given.

One book that pops into my mind is Stiff: The Curious Lives Of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach, which I read in my pre-blogging days but was another automatic five stars from me. It is a fascinating and occasionally humorous look at death and what happens to our bodies postmortem and was a completely fascinating and illuminating read. It’s a book filled with mind-boggling facts that I read in small doses but was written in such an approachable way that I never felt overwhelmed with the scientific aspects of the topic. I must get round to reading some more Mary Roach soon!

Hope you enjoyed reading this post and have found something you might be interested in reading too. I’d love to know your thoughts on the books I’ve mentioned so please let me know in the comments below if you’ve read them or want to read them!

Coming up next week on Nonfiction November Week 5: New to My TBR (hosted by Katie @ Doing Dewey) – the last week of Nonfiction November!

 

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The Intimidating TBR Book Tag

Published October 25, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hi everyone and welcome to another book tag on bibliobeth today. I like to participate in a tag each month to mix things up a bit and always find them a lot of fun. I’ve seen this tag going around the blogosphere and book tube and thought it was about time I gave it a try. My TBR is VERY intimidating but to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m in a very fortunate position as a book blogger to be offered books for review from publishers and even though I have a ton of my own books still waiting on my shelves to be read, I’m always grateful for the chance to read something new and exciting!

I’m sorry I couldn’t find the original creator of this tag but if anyone knows let me know in the comments below and I’ll amend accordingly.

1.) Which book which was on your TBR recently have you been unable to finish?

Gosh this is such a hard question. I’ve had a few DNF’s recently and have got a lot more brutal about putting a book down if I’m not really getting on with it. I used to labour through books that I wasn’t enjoying then get into a major slump and wonder why I put myself through it! No longer. If I’m not enjoying a book by about 50-100 pages in, I’ll put it down and declare it’s not for me. I also have a policy not to review anything I DNF as I don’t think it’s fair to the author or publisher to review a novel that an author has put so much blood, sweat and tears into. Also, I didn’t finish the novel so how can I give a fair review of a book when I didn’t even make it to the end.

But….I digress! The book I had to give up on recently was A Brief History Of Seven Killings by Marlon James. This was particularly sad for me as Mr B (my other half) chose it for my September TBR after he really enjoyed the audiobook. I tried guys, I really did but this book wasn’t for me. About 50 pages in I knew if I pushed myself any further I was just going to start resenting it and I didn’t want to do that. It’s obvious the author is hugely talented, his style just isn’t my cup of tea unfortunately.

2.) Which book haven’t you read yet because you haven’t had the time?

Pretty much all of my current TBR, haha! I’ll give a few examples that I’m really cross with myself about and that I honestly meant to get to this year. Sweetpea by C.J. Skuse, A Song Of Fire And Ice by George R.R. Martin, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty, Tipping The Velvet by Sarah Waters, Bonk by Mary Roach, Pop Goes The Weasel by M.J. Arlidge and Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly. I could go on. You see my dilemma? What to read FIRST?!

3.) Which book haven’t you read yet because it’s a sequel?

This is quite an easy question for me to answer, hooray! I’m going to go with The Amber Spyglass, the third in the Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman. I know, I know, I’m awful. I read Northern Lights and The Subtle Knife a little while ago and just never got round to the third in the series. Then The Book Of Dust came out and I thought I should go back to the beginning of the series and start again, read all three and then read The Book Of Dust. HELP! What should I do??

4.) Which book haven’t you read yet because it’s brand new?

I have a few books I could choose for the answer to this question but I’m going to go with The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. I pre-ordered it after seeing some rave reviews (because pre-orders don’t count in a book ban, did you know?!) and it dropped through my letterbox a couple of days ago so I’m very excited to read it. Eventually.

5.) Which book haven’t you read yet because you read a book by the same author and didn’t enjoy it?

This is tough! *looks through bookshelves…* I’m going to go with Water Born, a YA novel by Rachel Ward. I read the first book in the series, The Drowning, a little while ago and wasn’t that impressed with it so to be honest, I’m not in a huge rush to get to this, if I end up reading it at all.

6.) Which book haven’t you read yet because you’re just not in the mood for it?

I don’t really count myself as much of a mood reader, I don’t feel like I have to be in particular “mood” to read a novel however I’ve had The Wonder by Emma Donoghue on my shelves for quite a while now and so far, haven’t been compelled enough to pick it up yet even though I absolutely adored her novel, Room. I will do at some point but I’m just not sure when.

7.) Which book haven’t you read yet because it’s humongous?

This one is staring at me right now and has been for quite a while. Eek. It’s A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891-1924 by Orlando Figes. In its paperback form it’s 1024 pages and an absolute beast. I’m fascinated by Russian history, particularly around this time period and the period of the Second World War so I am intrigued to read this but am SO very intimidated by the size of it!

8.) Which book haven’t you read yet because it was a cover buy that turned out to have poor reviews?

This question has taken me so long to answer. I am a “cover lover” but normally the pretty books I buy have quite decent reviews too. Although I do believe opinions are very subjective, what one person might not connect to in a novel another person might love! I’m going to go with Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee which has a beautiful hardback cover but as I’m sure you’re aware, came with a giant share of controversy. Still haven’t read it to make up my own mind!

9.) What is the most intimidating book in your TBR pile?

Apart from the Orlando Figes? Okay, I’m going with a rather odd choice but I shall explain. It’s the hardback copy of In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume, her latest adult novel. If you saw my Kid-Lit post Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing you might remember that I’m a massive fan of Blume and when I got to meet her, royally embarrassed myself in front of her! Literally. I curtsied to the woman for goodness sake. This is the most intimidating book on my TBR because I haven’t read anything brand new from her since I was a child and I’m scared of my own super high expectations!!

So that’s all the questions answered, I hope you enjoyed this post and finding out a bit more about me and my intimidating TBR. If you’ve done this post before I’d love if you left a link in the comments so I could check out your answers. Also, if you’ve read any of the books I’ve mentioned and want to persuade me to pick them up a bit quicker, I’m ALWAYS open to a little bit of gentle prodding!

Lots Of Love

Beth 

xxx