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July 21, 2024 - @75.78 (what is this?)
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Author Topic: Non-fiction  (Read 619 times)
almostcorporeal
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« on: May 11, 2024 @824.17 »

howdy!! i was poking around and didn't see a topic for it so i figured i'd start my own!

is anyone else a non-fiction reader? i recently got back into reading and discovered i love non-fiction, but it seems everywhere i look people are primarily reading fiction (no hate, i just don't so i have nothing to bring to that conversation  :notgood: )

most of the books i read are political theory books (anti-racist, queer, environmentalism/sustainability, etc) or self-help books specifically about polyamory (kinda random idk why they just scratch my brain) so i've been looking for recommendations that are still non-fiction but are something new! i don't like memoirs, but maybe i'll change my mind if it's super good haha

i also wanted to just have a generalized topic where folks can discuss non-fiction books they are reading or have finished recently! i've been trying to work through Greta Thunberg's The Climate Book but it's bigger than the books i've been reading (400ish pages compared to 150-200ish) so i'm struggling although i'm really enjoying it so far (:
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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2024 @900.34 »

I like non-fiction books on plants and nature. Crazy Easy Florida Gardening by David the Good was a super helpful book for me years ago. I also found Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms by Paul Stamets to be interesting and helpful. I enjoy instructional non-fiction books!
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« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2024 @906.61 »

Non-Fiction enjoyer here. Mostly biographies of racing drivers... though through having additional information from the internet or other books describing the same situations / events, some details in those biographies can appear more as fiction than real.

Do manuals count as non-fiction? The big book being called "HTML 4" certainly was worth a read, as it opened up many questions that I wouldn't have known how to ask them. That particular book lacks any fiction, though the O'Reilly books about HTML had some. Like making up the story that you want to create a website for your new coktail bar, progressing step by step though all the tags and elements.

I feel that fiction can be told much better with all other mediums than books. My immersion into fictional worlds goes through the ears. Must be a very personal taste.
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« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2024 @937.36 »

I quite enjoy autobiographies/biographies about chemists :ha: its oddly specific but chemistry has interested me since i  was a little kid , I've been reading lots about Marie Curie in particular  :ozwomp:  :ozwomp:
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2024 @957.73 »

yeah! i recently read the apple II age: how the computer became personal by laine nooney-- i think it'd probably be of interest to a good few folks on this forum, honestly, since it talks a lot about the history of personal computing and a lot of the software that popularised home computing. i highly recommend it :-)
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« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2024 @158.32 »

I'm admittedly not the biggest non-fiction fan, but I think I just haven't been exposed to the right books. I do love documentary movies and non-fiction works from other mediums, but for books I really need something to interest me enough that I keep coming back to read the next chunk. Novels grab my attention in a big way, and non-fiction has failed to do so thus far.

Recently I read Patrick Stewart's memoir, which I thought was all right, as well as some political/historical books about specific topics that interest me. I think if the book is still formatted as a narrative, rather than a bunch of chapters on different topics, then that helps a lot. But I'd like to be able to read all kinds of books. My training continues...
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almostcorporeal
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« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2024 @215.68 »

I like non-fiction books on plants and nature. Crazy Easy Florida Gardening by David the Good was a super helpful book for me years ago. I also found Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms by Paul Stamets to be interesting and helpful. I enjoy instructional non-fiction books!

oooh! the gardening book doesn't particularly spark my interest (completely different region haha) but i may see if there's a similar book for my state. the mushroom book though!! very interested and am putting it on my list (:

Non-Fiction enjoyer here. Mostly biographies of racing drivers... though through having additional information from the internet or other books describing the same situations / events, some details in those biographies can appear more as fiction than real.

Do manuals count as non-fiction? The big book being called "HTML 4" certainly was worth a read, as it opened up many questions that I wouldn't have known how to ask them. That particular book lacks any fiction, though the O'Reilly books about HTML had some. Like making up the story that you want to create a website for your new coktail bar, progressing step by step though all the tags and elements.

I feel that fiction can be told much better with all other mediums than books. My immersion into fictional worlds goes through the ears. Must be a very personal taste.

i think i would count manuals as non-fiction. i'll have to look into those, i'll smack em on the list too (:

i also take to fiction in other formats much better than i do with books, my favorite being movies. occasionally i find a fiction book that really itches my brain but it's really rare. funnily enough, i only write fiction! so one of my goals is to find more fiction books to help improve my own writing, but that's beside the topic of this thread ehe.

I quite enjoy autobiographies/biographies about chemists :ha: its oddly specific but chemistry has interested me since i  was a little kid , I've been reading lots about Marie Curie in particular  :ozwomp:  :ozwomp:

ooooh! that sounds super interesting though, has any particular book stood out to you among the rest?

yeah! i recently read the apple II age: how the computer became personal by laine nooney-- i think it'd probably be of interest to a good few folks on this forum, honestly, since it talks a lot about the history of personal computing and a lot of the software that popularised home computing. i highly recommend it :-)

ohhh! this super interests me for sure, smacking it on the list (:

I'm admittedly not the biggest non-fiction fan, but I think I just haven't been exposed to the right books. I do love documentary movies and non-fiction works from other mediums, but for books I really need something to interest me enough that I keep coming back to read the next chunk. Novels grab my attention in a big way, and non-fiction has failed to do so thus far.

Recently I read Patrick Stewart's memoir, which I thought was all right, as well as some political/historical books about specific topics that interest me. I think if the book is still formatted as a narrative, rather than a bunch of chapters on different topics, then that helps a lot. But I'd like to be able to read all kinds of books. My training continues...

i found that for a few of my friends who wanted to get into non-fiction, seeking out books that are specifically described as "approachable" or often even "reads like fiction" helped them a lot as a lot of people on the book review sides of things will use that to convey that a book was an easy read that isn't dry and laden with jargon. obviously ymmv but it may be worth a shot if you haven't already tried it! i think i also find non-fiction booktok reccs to be pretty approachable (for which lists online exist, you dont have to go on tiktok to find them if you dont want to) as i find most booktokers are fiction first types of people who incidentally read non-fiction and therefore their reccs lean a bit more into that "reads like fiction" zone.

i didn't even know patrick stewart had a memoir! that's super interesting to me, so i'll smack that on the list and see if i can do it haha
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« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2024 @29.85 »

i've read a number of really good nonfiction titles over the past few years! here are my recommendations:

  • if you like fairy tales and disability studies, then i recommend disfigured: on fairy tales, disability, and making space by amanda leduc. as a disabled person myself i found it fascinating and even eye opening. it forever changed the way i saw hans christian andersen's the little mermaid
  • if you're sick of late capitalism and pointless jobs that provide nothing to the world, but still have a sense of humor and a bit of hope left, then you might try bullshit jobs by david graeber. i'm still reading through it myself but it's highly engaging. i love the anthropological angle it takes
  • if you're really into food and/or its relationship to people, i STRONGLY recommend eating culture by gillian crowther. i read it for an anthropology class once nine years ago and i still have it on my shelf to this day. another one that changes the way you look at the world around you, but in a very positive way. i love humans <3
  • and i just read unequal: a story of america by michael eric dyson and marc favreau. it's a brief, dark, enlightening history of the united states that doesn't often get taught in schools, about systematic antiblack racism. it's very approachable in language in tone, but it can get a bit graphic in its description of violence

the rest of my favorite nonfiction books are thick, dry textbooks on art history and religion that i read in undergrad, and library science textbooks i've read so far in grad school, and i don't imagine those are as widely appealing haha  :grin:
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« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2024 @460.28 »

I generally avoid nonfiction because my work already largely consists of reading papers and reports. At some point my brain needs a break. But I have read some (auto)biographies, most recent being A State At Any Cost, about David Ben Gurion. But I only got halfway because it is so dense that I have to put it down after 5-10 pages. I don't know if I will finish it.

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« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2024 @641.81 »

I do pull quite heavy art books off the shelf at my university library every now and then  :smile: Having dyslexia makes it very tiring to read them cover to cover, but I like to jump around and find sections that catch my attention!

At the moment I'm really excited by one called "Digital Performance: A History of New Media in Theater, Dance, Performance Art and Installation" by Steve Dixon - 2006-ish

Its got some amazing discussions about the relationship between people and their online personas or digital doubles. It looks at bunch of ideas, but one that stood out to me was the idea of your online self being like a manifestation of your spirit or dream self, and digital space being a spirit world (which is why the word Avatar comes from Hindu beliefs). There's also a section about the fear of your digital self becoming more real than your physical self and your life becomes about trying to emulate your online identity, which seems even more relevant today then when the book was new.

It makes me think about the idea of playing video games as being a performance where you are the audience to your own soul  :omg:

Most of what is described is art from the 90s and 00s, so I'm sure its well known to those in the know, but as an insider to digital life, and an outsider to theater culture, its definitely an engaging read so far!
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« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2024 @204.04 »

I've been getting into non-fiction a lot the past few years! I'm currently reading Racial Worldmaking, about race, racism, fiction, and worldbuilding, and how they interact. I recently finished The Dawn Of Everything, which is a rather misleading title because the main focus of the book is on western europe and north and central america, but it was a fascinating read about how people choose to make their societies, including looking at a variety of prehistoric cultures which are often overlooked because they *didn't* build large monuments to great leaders.
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« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2024 @750.81 »

i'm a big fan of reading textbooks on different topics (and then not finishing them, haha). right now i'm reading Language Files 12e which is an introduction to linguistics. I've always been fascinated by linguistics and languages, so i'm really enjoying it (even though it focuses mostly on american english variation and accents [and i don't have an american accent in english which sometimes makes it difficult to understand how sounds are supposed to be read])

i've also enjoyed Virginia Woolf's 'A Room of One's Own'. just a great essay in general, haha. i'm trying to get into non-fiction more but i'm already reading three fiction books at the same time and i think adding another non-fiction book will get out of hand.

oh, also, i really love Randall Munroe's How To? and What if... very witty and funny
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« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2024 @830.01 »

I'm lately quite bad at finishing books in general, but I really enjoy books that tell histories of modern fields, especially nuclear physics and cosmology, which are fields of physics that essentially came into existence in the 20th Century. Good books for this are The 4% Universe by Richard Panek (though it is ever so slightly out of date as more research is being done -- especially with JWST's observations!!), which I finished in a few days, and Eve of Distruction by Colonel John Hughes-Wilson.
The latter is specifically about the history of nuclear incidents and although it is clear the author has a kinda fear-mongory bias, I can't blame him after looking in detail at so many near-misses and not-at-all-misses.
Other physics books I haven't really got round to are Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Universe by Andrew Newsam, which I got a free copy of (about astrophysics), and When the Uncertainty Principle Goes to 11 by Philip Moriarty, which takes you through quantum mechanics by way of heavy metal. The music references have me lost but the physics is good.

I've also recently started Bullshit Jobs which has been mentioned above, which I am enjoying, and I have several writing books on my shelf I need to get to...

Oh! And Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, which is THE book about comics and can revolutionise your understanding even as someone with little to no prior engagement with the medium.
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« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2024 @909.33 »

Oh! I love non-fiction. I mostly read memoirs though LOL. Here are some beginner friendly ones I enjoy. If I added more to this list I'd probably doxx myself...

Graphic Novels:

Chartwell Manor by Glenn Head - first half recounts the artist's experience at boarding school where the headmaster was a serial abuser, and the second half explores his life after. It is incredible. Doesn't portray the artist as a flawless angel, which is refreshing. I've met Glenn Head in person. He's a good guy.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi - PLEASE go in blind. It's amazing. If you don't have the patience to read the comic definitely check out the movie, it stays true to the comic's style and does the story justice IMO.

In Limbo by Deb JJ Lee - won an Ignatz Award at the last Small Press Expo! Mental illness, generational trauma, mommy issues & coming to understand parents as people. Left me in tears. Really beautiful art style. Personally, sometimes it's a little difficult to read because of the lower contrast colors (blue and white vs black and white). Might be easier to parse in a digital format rather than print.

Other:

How to Read Nancy by Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden - Thought you could get away from comics by not reading a comic? Here's a 300 page deep reading breaking down a single 3-panel comic strip. You can feel the love for Bushmiller radiating from the pages of this thing. Fucking incredible.

I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jeanette McCurdy - Probably the 5,000th person to suggest this book to anyone reading this, but it's such a journey. Definitely listen to the audiobook from McCurdy. I think that's the best way to experience it. She puts you into the mind of her younger self experiencing the events, so there's no judgement or moralizing done about certain things until way later than you'd expect. I don't want to ruin the experience by getting deeper into it than that.

The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture by Terry Castle - One of few assigned reads I've gotten that I sought out my own copy of later.

For OP specifically-- If you haven't already read The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide, I'd reccomend it as well. You might also enjoy reading about Tom of Finland, but I'm not sure if there's a go-to biography to read up on him.

My guilty pleasure non-fiction reads are to go to secondhand book stores and try to find really outdated books about psychology and sexuality. It's always a goldmine for bullshit. Fun times.
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