This week’s Nonfiction November topic — Reads Like Fiction — is hosted by Rennie at What’s Nonfiction?
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 love nearly all the nonfiction — even handbooks and manuals, if they have a sprightly tone. (Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes is one of my all-time favorite books, and I have a serious love of The Elements of Style by Strunk and White.)
And most of the self-improvement books I read (and there are lots of ’em) don’t follow a storyline, but I love them all the same. If there’s an engaging tone, I’m there.
So I don’t need a narrative drive to delight my nonfiction-loving heart.
That having been said… When you offer me something along the lines of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff or anything by Robert Kurson (I’m currently still in the afterglow of Rocket Men), I’m about as happy as I can be as a reader. Narrative nonfiction might well be the highest peak on my readerly mountain range.
In the past year, here are the narrative nonfiction books that most delighted me:
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly
The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine F. Weiss
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
I can’t wait to see everyone else’s lists.
What’re the best narrative nonfiction books you’ve read this year?