August BAND Discussion: How I Came to Love Nonfiction

I saw Miss Remmers’ tweet about how she needs great nonfiction suggestions for her high school students, and this got me thinking about all the great nonfiction I’ve read in my life. And then, I realized I could actually join in the Bloggers’ Alliance of Nonfiction Devotees (BAND) discussion for August. I saw the advent of BAND in July, but I was on a blogging break and didn’t get my act together to respond to July’s question.

At any rate, here’s my story.

One of the first nonfiction books I remember that brought me into nonfiction as a teen/adult was one I chose to read as a 10th grader: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. It  is an intense memoir of a young girl’s growing up years, and I’ve never forgot it. (One should know that she was raped a young child, and she does mention this in her memoir). It read like a novel, and I was in awe that it was a true story, yet so wonderfully told.

As a teenager, I was very interested in deaf culture and ASL and so found myself reading a few books about that. One memoir that stands out is A Loss for Words by Lou Ann Walker, about her childhood growing up hearing with two deaf parents. I also read a lot about Helen Keller and Harlan Lane’s When the Mind Hears: A History of Deafness.

As I entered college, my free reading time disappeared. I read essays about politics, economics, and literary theory. I read novels for my literature classes. I didn’t read for fun. Even after I graduated, my reading just slumped off. I watched movies, because that’s what single friends did when they got together.

At any rate, when I stopped working full time and found myself home with a newborn just four years ago, I found my reading niche again, and it began with nonfiction. My mom sent me The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and I was again impressed with how it read like a novel. I soon found myself browsing the nonfiction shelves at the library when I needed a new book to read. I read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Einstein and Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, and other biographies (I think that’s often my favorite genre of nonfiction). I loved that I was learning about history or politics or science as I read about an important person’s life. It was fascinating to enter their worlds a few pages at a time.

I have been finding lots of satisfaction in classical fiction lately, so I’m sorry to say my nonfiction reading has been less than it’s been in the past. I am currently reading a book about books, though, and I love it! It’s reminded me to pick up nonfiction a bit more frequently. I’m looking forward to reading the nonfiction on my shelf, and some day I’ll need to browse the shelves at the library again. It’s been a long time since I’ve let myself do that.

How did you get in to nonfiction, or are you still trying to find an interest in it? What are some of your favorite nonfiction books?

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. Thanks for sharing this! Memoirs are a great gateway into nonfiction, because, yes, they do so often read like novels. Many people have this misconception that nonfiction is necessarily dry and “nothing but the facts”, but a good narrative style can make any topic interesting.

  2. So glad you were able to participate 🙂 Really interesting books that you chose to read first – I really love Angelou’s memoir as well. Hopefully you come back to nonfiction eventually!

  3. My favorite recent nonfiction book is Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. If you haven’t read it, do so. Wonderful World War II story of a man who was an Olympic runner before the war.

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