I read a lot of different types of books, both fiction and nonfiction. Lately, however, I’ve been on a big nonfiction kick—and I got to thinking about the nonfiction genres that I enjoy the most. So—here are the top ten nonfiction genres (in no particular order) that are represented the most on my bookshelves:
1. FOOD AND COOKING: I love to read and I love to cook—so what could be better than reading about food? I’m not including cookbooks in this category, although I have a lot of those, too. Instead, these books include essays about food and cooking, books by and about chefs and other restaurant employees, and books about how the act of preparing and sharing food influences family and culture. Many of these books include recipes throughout the text, but they wouldn’t be considered straight cookbooks.
2. BOOKS AND WRITING: I love reading books about books—books about collecting them, writing them, selling them, publishing them. These books includes essays about what and why people read, memoirs by people who have worked in the publishing industry, books written about people who have owned their own bookstores or who have worked in one, or books by writers about HOW they write.
3. EDUCATION: As a former teacher, I love reading books written about “a year in the life of a teacher”, as well as topics such as the pros and cons of single sex education, homeschooling, and what schools are like in other countries.
4. TRUE CRIME: The only thing I love more than a good fictional mystery is a good TRUE mystery! I’m hooked on the true crime genre—some current but mostly historical. The downside to reading these books is that some of them are so well written that they keep me up at night!
5. JOURNALISM: I like reading books made up of collections of newspaper columns or magazine articles by journalists I admire. I love seeing how their work changes over time, and how they tackle current events.
6. AMERICAN PRESIDENTS/FIRST LADIES: I enjoy history, especially historical biography, and I really like reading biographies and autobiographies of U.S. Presidents and their families. I’m most interested in their day-to-day lives, and their lives before and after living in the White House.
7. THE KENNEDYS: I guess this is a subset of the above genre, but I actually have a whole shelf devoted to books on this enormous American political family. I find the Kennedys fascinating. I certainly don’t admire everything about all of them, but I find them endlessly interesting.
8. AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY: I’ve always been interested in the civil rights movement, and I enjoy reading biographies of key African American leaders, books about the civil rights movement, and about African American culture.
9. ORAL HISTORIES: I love books that are a collection of first-person accounts from a variety of people about a common topic or event. I think it’s so interesting to compare the language choices and remembrances of different individuals.
10. SPORTS: I do not “do sports.” I am possibly the most un-athletic person you would ever meet. But—I LOVE reading about sports! Not biographies so much, but “behind the scenes” books about a particular team or sport.
So–there’s some overlap, and there’s a common theme of enjoying nonfiction books that go “behind-the-scenes” to dig deep into the story of a particular person, profession, or historical event. I may decide to write some additional Tuesday Ten lists of specific books I’ve enjoyed within some of these genres. But, in the meantime–
What about you? Do you like to read nonfiction? Why or why not? And, if you do, what nonfiction genres do you enjoy?