The librarian finally handed over the two books that I had put on hold months ago. I’ve been patiently waiting for both of them. One is nonfiction, White Fragility. The other is fiction, Transcendent Kingdom.
The librarian was especially excited about the novel. She asked me if I’d read the author’s first novel, Homegoing. I hadn’t. She said they both were SO good.
I loved her enthusiasm.
I know many readers who are excited about novels. I’m glad.
I love novels too. I want to read the best of the best.
But my true love? Nonfiction books.
Many don’t understand that. They assume that fiction books are more interesting because they’re not limited to the facts; novels can be about anything, limited only by the author’s imagination.
But as the saying goes, truth is often stranger than fiction.
And nonfiction books have much to offer. Different things. Important things.
5 Reasons to Read Nonfiction
Some studies say that women read more fiction than nonfiction (reverse for men), but I read more nonfiction (although I love both).
Here are 5 reasons I enjoy reading nonfiction books. And 5 books I read this year that I can recommend under each reason.
1. LEARN ABOUT THE PAST TO UNDERSTAND THE PRESENT
This year has been particularly jarring in the United States for a variety of reasons, including our increased awareness of racial disparities. I’ve been reading many books (and having conversations) about it to better understand it.
But I also wanted to read a history book on racism to get a fuller picture of the past, to better understand what brought us to this point. Books about the past can enlighten us about where we are now.
One such history book I recommend highly is:
Stamped from the Beginning
The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
by Ibram X. Kendi
It enlightened me on things I didn’t learn in history class because they weren’t taught there. It is a challenging book (both in length and in scope) but exercising your brain is another benefit of nonfiction.
2. BE INSPIRED BY OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES
While we can certainly be inspired by great heroes in novels, there’s something special about a real person’s account of their actual story. (I’m even more inspired by a movie if I know it is based on a true story. You, too?)
Hearing how other people make sense of life helps me survive it better myself.
One book I recommend in this category is by W. Lee Warren, a practicing brain surgeon who treats patients with a fatal type of brain cancer, glioblastoma.
I’ve Seen the End of You
A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know
by W. Lee Warren, MD
Warren’s stories about his journey as a neurosurgeon and about the lives of his patients inspire me to live better, do better, believe better.
3. LEARN SOMETHING NEWLY DISCOVERED OR NEW TO YOU
Nonfiction books are where many researchers pour out their discoveries. I’ve learned that the more I know, the more I know I don’t know. And the more I am in awe of God who does know all.
You can learn the latest and most current news through nonfiction, as well as learn how to do or improve on things new to you, whether cooking or computer skills or how to build a house.
Five of the more popular nonfiction categories are: food, history, memoir, politics, and self-help. But there is no end to the available categories. You can find a book on anything and everything.
One area I love learning about is how we think and why we do what we do. Here’s a book I recommend in that category.
Thinking, Fast and Slow
by Daniel Kahneman
Kahneman’s book on the two ways we think is a fascinating read about our brain and our behavior.
4. CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE
We often read fiction books to lighten our mood or transport us to a different place. But nonfiction books can do that, too. They can make us laugh or cry or be amazed. And they do it based on factual information.
One of my favorite daily books I read every morning is this one by Bob Goff.
Live in Grace, Walk in Love
A 365-Day Journey
by Bob Goff
Goff starts each day’s devotional with a Bible verse then shares a personal story to weave a direct application to our own lives. This little book gets my day started on a positive note.
5. EXPAND YOUR PERSPECTIVE
There are no end to the number of books to grow in spirituality and expand your faith and worldview.
These are some of my favorite types of books because they reach down to the deepest parts of my beliefs about God and work their way out through my actions.
A favorite book I read this year in this category is by one of my favorite authors, Barbara Brown Taylor.
Finding God in the Faith of Others
by Barbara Brown Taylor
Taylor writes from her own Christian perspective, sharing how she grew in her own faith by learning from believers of all faiths.
Just Keep Reading
After I finish a book, I sometimes know immediately how important it’s been. Other times I don’t realize it long after the fact.
It may not have taught me a particular skill or informed me of previously unknown facts.
But if it challenged my thinking or prompted new growth or encouraged me to love deeper, even if I forgot the actual words I read, it was worth reading it.
Books can change us.
I hope books have done that for you, too, fiction or nonfiction.
Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep reading.
More here on:
What’s the latest nonfiction book you’ve read? What encourages or discourages you to read nonfiction? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
I’m sharing 5 things I love over 5 days this week. Every month I share my list of favorite 5’s.
- 5 Reasons I Love Nonfiction Books + 5 Favorite Books (Monday)
- 5 Links I Love (Tuesday)
- 5 Things to Make You Smile (Wednesday)
- 5 Posts and 5 Favorite Comments (Thursday)
- 5 Reasons to Love Being a Grandparent (+ Pictures) (Friday)
- On the Blog—October 2020
- 5 Links I Love + 1 Second Everyday Video—November 2020