Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Slump Busting Non-Fiction

I've known for a long time that non-fiction can serve as a slump buster for me. Most recently, Delancey, by Molly Wizenberg got me going again after the rewarding, but very heavy, Ruby by Cynthia Bond. Since I had this topic on the brain I thought I'd pick out a few non-fiction books that might rattle your slump loose the next time you run into one.


Love the idea of the 50s and 60s? Into Mad Men, by chance? Then The Astronaut Wives Club, by Lily Koppel, might be for you. 

Brain on Fire, by Susannah Cahalan, is one of those books made all the more terrifying because it's real. Cahalan lost her mental faculties over a long and mysterious illness and the road to recovery was not easy. This one will make your hypochondriac tendencies ramp up, for sure. 

No non-fiction list is complete without David Sedaris. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim was the first book of his that I read, and I loved it. I loved it even more for listening to the audio. His delivery is superb!


I picked up The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls, for last year's #EstellaProject, and boy, I was floored! I read this memoir of a wonky, challenging childhood in one day. Just try it!

I Was Told There'd Be Cake!: Essays, by Sloane Crosley is a snarky good time. Crosley, a NYC publishing gal, can really weave a tale of life, love, and misunderstanding in the Big Apple. Think Sex and the City with more city and less sex. 

Finally, This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All, by Marilyn Johnson, is an all-time favorite. You may think you revere librarians now, but once you read this book, you'll admire them all the more. 

What's your fave non-fiction book? 

42 comments:

  1. Oh, I'm so glad to see I Was Told There'd Be Cake! on here! I grabbed it recently in a random library sale trip after remember hearing good things, but seeing an extra good review from you is an added bonus ;)

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    1. It's so much fun! Snarky, hilarious, a little dark and bitchy in spots. I really liked it and plan to reread one of these days.

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  2. I've read all but 2 of those and those 2 are going on my wish list. I love good nonfiction!

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    1. Awesome! What were the two you haven't read yet?

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  3. I like non-fiction but I haven't read a lot of it, I need to change that :)

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    1. I go through phases, and for some reason this part of the summer always seems to be when I'm in a mood conducive to non-fic. Weird!

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  4. Great list! NF works as a slump buster for me too. My brain actually feels different when I read NF, so I'm not surprised that it helps. Wonder if there's a study on the brain reading NF vs the brain reading fiction?

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  5. I want to read (or listen) to all of these! I think they're all on my wishlist. I'm not sure I've ever used non-fiction to bust out of a slump but I can see how the right one would do that. I'm going to have to go look for I Was Told There'd Be Cake right now. The title alone cracks me up.

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    1. That's awesome! Definitely give non-fiction a try for your next slump. Memoirs work especially well for me.

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  6. I love nonfiction more and more lately, so I'm glad you mentioned these titles - now I have more to add to my TBR list :) I've been wanting to read the Cake book for awhile, but wasn't so sure - until now. Thanks, Andi!

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    1. I'm always happy to add to your TBR, Nadia! Cake was great, though I haven't taken the time to read her second book. I should really do that!

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  7. I...haven't...read...any of these!?! I will definitely be adding I Was Told There'd Be Cake to my tbr list. :)

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    1. Hahaha! I hope you like it, Lindsey!

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  8. I could definitely use more non-fiction in my reading diet. I just picked up The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap and An Invisible Thread. Glass Castle is one of my favorite memoirs. I instantly felt my kids were too sheltered after that book!

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    1. I will have to check out Little bookstore and An Invisible Thread! Those don't ring a bell right off the bat, but I may have seen them along the way somewhere. Glass Castle was amazing, but so frustrating! I wanted to strangle her parents.

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  9. This past year has really shown me that nonfiction, narrative nonfiction in particular, is a slump buster for me as well. It's funny; in picking books for the beach, I have found myself reaching for the narrative nonfiction I have on my shelf! I'm going to look these up...maybe they'll come along too!

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    1. Yes ma'am! For some reason this part of the summer is really a non-fiction reading mood for me. Go figure! I hope you take some winners to the beach.

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  10. Great picks! I'm so with you on Brain on Fire and The Glass Castle. I also have to suggest ANY BOOK by Mary Roach!

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    1. So true, Leah! I loooooved Stiff, though I didn't have much luck with Spook. I still want to try Packing for Mars and Gulp!

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  11. I also loved The Glass Castle. It was one of the first memoirs I read! I have Brain on Fire on request at the library, and I will certainly have to check out This Book is Overdue :) I recently enjoyed and blazed through Floating City, a memoir about NYC's underground economy. One of my favourite non-fiction books is Hitching Rides with Buddha by Will Ferguson.

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    1. Floating City, just from the little bit you wrote, sounds amazing. Definitely something that perks my interest. And I'll look up the Will Ferguson, too. Thanks so much for the recs, Reno!

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  12. Confession. When I first picked up Astronaut, I thought it was a novel. LOL. Of course, I figured out I was wrong quickly but still.

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    1. Whahahaha! I love it. It was as scandalous as a novel in spots. ;)

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  13. Great post idea! I loved The Glass Castle and Brain on Fire (it was my book club selection a few months ago). I wasn't as keen on I was Told There'd Be Cake. I need to read this Sedaris...I've only read Owls.

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! I haven't read Owls yet, but I've read the rest of his work. I liked everything except Naked and Holidays on Ice. And I haven't read his fiction.

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  14. Also - another non-fiction that I loved last year was The Boys in the Boat. Fantastic sports story.

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  15. Great list! My all-time favorite nonfiction book (excluding the ones about Oscar Wilde) is probably still And the Band Played On. It manages to be so gripping and suspenseful, even though it's a great big fat nonfiction book.

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    1. I seriously need to read And the Band Played On. Really really.

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  16. Great list! I recently read Confessions of a Sociopath and it was a great slump buster. David Sedaris is, of course, a safe bet.

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    1. I read Sociopath for that purpose, too!

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  17. I have heard nothing but good things about The Glass Castle.... I really need to add that title to my wish list.

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  18. I love this list! I get into slumps all the time and I always think about making a list like this, just in case I'm not able to read any book. Brain on Fire was an amazing read, and a few of these books are in my TBR!

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  19. I listened to a big chunk of The Astronaut Wives Club when I was in Oregon this past spring, but got sidetracked and never finished. Not sure I cared enough about it to pick it back up...

    The Glass Castle. Two thoughts. Eating butter and a very young child boiling her own hot dog. What a childhood! What neglect!

    Favorite non-fiction? The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. Paris in Love by Eloisa James. Little Princes by Conor Grennan. All-time favorites? All Over But the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg. Fifty Acres and a Poodle by Jeanne Laskas. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff.

    Ok. I'll stop for now. :)

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  20. I did just enjoy the non fiction book The Mockingbird Next Door!! I have the first two on your list. Just need to read. Thanks for the suggestions

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  21. The Glass Castle is one of mine, too! So is Eat Pray Love (#sorrynotsorry it is one of my faves). Is Everybody Hanging Without Me? by Mindy Kaling is a good one. I am reading 2 page-turner non fiction books right now, too - Free Spirit by Joshua Safran and Beautiful Boy by David Sheff.

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  22. I love great nonfiction and you've recommended so many good ones that I've read and love! I added This Book is Overdue to my library list.

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  23. Yes yes yes to The Glass Castle. The other day I was browsing books somewhere (OMG...maybe at Sam's Club?!) and saw a new book by her...old enough to be paperback. Not the one about her grandmother, though (which I have unread in hardcover). Have you read it? #vaguestcommentever

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  24. Yikes - I just realized I've hardly read any nonfiction this year. Some that really grabbed me were The Year of Magical Thinking, Moranthology, and anything by Alexandra Fuller.

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  25. These are all the kind of nonfiction I like to read. For librarian memoirs, I liked The World's Strongest Librarian and Free for All. I thought I read This Book Is Overdue, but maybe not. I don't remember it, if I did. I have a copy of I Was Told There Would Be Cake lying around somewhere and have also been meaning to read Brain on Fire. I've listened to all my David Sedaris on audio because he does them himself. And loved The Glass Castle. Great list of slump-busters!

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  26. Hooray for nonfiction! Great slump busting list, Andi :D I recommend anything by Daniel James Brown. He can make ANYTHING fascinating.

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