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20 March 2014


A rare occurrence - having a few minutes to read CR! I love nonfiction; I find a read maybe 1/3 nf to 2/3 fiction - oops, I checked my Goodreads list and it's more like 1/4-3/4. My tastes are pretty much all over the map, maybe best described as social justice issues, with some memoirs thrown in. I'd read more if I could read faster. That's why I love to read your blog - I often put your suggestions on hold. Thanks a bunch.

Very interesting re: the ratio of F/NF you read. And I feel for librarians, actually, I know they've got to try and stay on top of a lot of fiction, much less nonfiction. I also looked over the spreadsheet I started just a couple months ago--and it turns out I read more fiction than I realized too.
So glad I am able to make suggestions that are helpful to you! And I hear you on wishing you could read faster--I usually wish I had more time to read, but reading faster would certainly help too.

The reason I read your blog is because I don't read enough NF. My library doesn't have a large NF collection and the money we have goes to that bestseller crap - I mean stuff. Most of the ARC's that I come across (Net Galley and Edelweiss) are religion or business, neither of which interest me. Lots of excuses, and not enough time.

Lots to say here, but I'll confine myself to one point for now. I do collection development in adult materials, and I purchase more nonfiction titles than fiction. But even though NF represents a bigger share of the pie, it needs less RA attention as a whole. Crafts books and travel guides and cookbooks and self-help will all circulate without benefit of librarian intervention.

Also, nonfiction titles are often self-explanatory in a way that fiction titles are not. "The Goldfinch," a novel by Donna Tartt, reveals nothing about its purpose in its title. "Goldfinches," by nameless writer, is going to be about birds. No special knowledge needed to infer that, and only minimal competency needed to find it in a catalog search.

That was two points, sorry. And I really do have a thousand other things to say on this topic.

Nonfiction, of the sort one might read for enjoyment and enlightenment (rather than, as lesbrarian notes, craft books, cookbooks, test prep books, etc.) is my real love, and it's probably what I read most of, though I often feel guilty, since I'm the fiction buyer. Then again, there's a lot of fiction that doesn't need any help from me to go off the shelves (I'm looking at you, James Patterson Janet Evanovich Michael Connelly Jodi Picoult...).

Bestseller "stuff." Tee hee. We all know what you mean.
Yes, I read more business books than most, but they are not real exciting, on the whole. I'm glad to be able to provide info on some other types of nonfiction for you!

Good points all. And I realize that the subject headings for fiction do not do it justice the way they often work for nonfiction. That said, the subject headings don't always work for nonfiction either--who'da thunk a book on "causality" (Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point") would be one of the most popular NF titles ever?
Please do come back and share more, I very much appreciate the collection development (and YOUR) viewpoint.

Don't feel guilty. Plenty of nonfiction buyers are reading nothing but fiction.
Ugh, Jodi Picoult. You know how I feel about her. So sad that that's what flies off the shelves. I think I'd honestly feel better steering readers toward the Patterson!

I just finished reading The Age of Radiance by Craig Nelson, which is an epic about the Atomic Age. If there was ever a nonfiction book that ought to be read by many, this is it. It makes one think critically about what we have been doing for the last 100 years. It is also fairly entertaining as it makes famous physicists (Fermi, Bohr, Teller, etc.) into real, identifiable people. But it probably will not get the attention a James Patterson book will. But a few readers will really like it.

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