Favorites Friday: Nonfiction Edition

If you pay any attention to the books that get reviewed around here, you’ll know that I rarely read nonfiction (although I did make efforts to branch out last year).  However, there are at least a few nonfiction books that have made a big impression on me…

LM Montgomery (3)The Journals of L. M. Montgomery – This has to be closing in on 2,000 pages, putting all the volumes together, and forms a powerful account of one woman’s life.  Montgomery had such a flair for character and description in her fiction, and that comes into her journal as well.  It is nonfiction, and she wrote it over the span of 50 years, but it often reads like the most fascinating (and at times, heart-wrenching) of stories.  I know that Montgomery died over 70 years ago, but after reading her journals, I can’t feel it.

Nonfiction BooksIf You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland – Ueland doesn’t discuss the practical side of writing, and certainly not the publishing side, but she beautifully explores the spirit of writing.  Encouraging, uplifting, almost spiritual, she explores the meaning and the inspiration of writing.  If you have a passion for writing (or any creative pursuit), let no one ever tell you that it isn’t important.

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff – This one has a bit more fiction in it than the others, considering it’s an exploration of Taoism through the characters in Winnie the Pooh, and Hoff includes conversations with the characters.  An odd but very appealing blend of Winnie the Pooh and philosophy, it’s charming, sweet and will actually make you think in very serious ways.  Anecdotally, I knew a girl in college who was Taoist, and she recommended this book.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin – Somewhat story-like, somewhat a how-to, Gretchen describes her year of exploring ways to be happier.  It wasn’t that she was unhappy, precisely, or that there was anything truly wrong with her life–but she decided to seek out ways to appreciate, value and improve her daily life.  It may make you want to start your own happiness project, trying different ways to make life better–everything from making your bed in the morning to making new friends.

Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle – This is a lovely book with very small snippets of wisdom.  Few pieces go on for a full page, so it’s easy to dip in and out, and I never lose the thread of a theory.  Tolle offers insights on mindfulness, getting over your own thoughts, and learning to really know yourself.

I have a general sense that most of you reading this are also fiction fans…but do you have any favorite nonfiction books to share?

7 thoughts on “Favorites Friday: Nonfiction Edition

  1. I’m not a huge non-fiction reader, but I do like it occasionally. I haven’t read any of these! I think I’m most interested in The Tao of Pooh, The Happiness Project, and If You Want to Write. I’m putting them on my to-read list.

  2. L.M. Montegomery’s journals sound FASCINATING. Adding them to my TBR wishlist!

    I really love memoirs and biographies– two of my favorite author-related memoirs are It’s Too Late Now: The Autobiography of a Writer by A. A. Milne (much more than just about Winnie the Pooh and it’s pretty danged funny as well!) and Going Solo by Roald Dahl (lots of fun– travel, weird people he met, even some action in the form of military stuff).

    1. I found LMM’s journals fascinating! I’ve read them all 2-3 times (some volumes an extra time). A. A. Milne’s autobiography sounds like it would be wonderful! Adding that one to my TBR list 🙂

  3. kkline922

    The Ueland book sounds interesting, and while not a huge Pooh fan (except Tigger) I do love the Tao. Neal Cassady’s The First Third is my favorite non-fiction, simply because of the era, and the way he writes.

  4. A few of my favorites:

    Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle by Daniel Stashower — I’m a big ACD fan, and it turns out that his life was just as interesting as his fiction! The book chronicles the author’s peculiarly conflicted relationship with his most famous creation, as well as his many other literary ventures, his entanglement in several real-life criminal cases, his relationships with a number of other intriguing historical figures (including James Barrie, George Bernard Shaw and Harry Houdini), and the Spiritualist crusade that dominated the later part of his life. A real page-turner. I guess this is the book that showed me that real people can — sometimes! — be just as interesting as fictional ones.

    One, Two, Three… Infinity by George Gamow — Basically a collection of fun facts about math and science. It’s a little out of date, but very witty and entertaining. I especially enjoyed the parts about curved spacetime and higher spatial dimensions.

    The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien — Only for a hardcore fan, admittedly, but the letters reveal much not only of the author’s thoughts about his imaginary world, but also of his quirky personality.

  5. dianem57

    I, too, enjoy Eckhart Tolle’s books. I would also recommend books by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who currently lives in France. His “Peace is Every Step” is a great mindfulness meditation, using every day activities as illustrations.

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