Non Fiction, Nonfiction November

NONFICTION NOVEMBER Week 4: Reads Like Fiction

Nonfiction NovemberWelcome to another post in the Nonfiction November series. For those of you new to this, Nonfiction November is hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Rennie at What’s Nonfiction?, Julie at Julz Reads, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, and Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves.

If you haven’t read my previous post in the series yet, you can find:

Week 1 – My Year in Nonfiction post here , Week 2 – Fiction with Nonfiction Book Pairing here and Week 3 – Be The Expert/Become the Expert here.

For those who need a recap, Nonfiction November is a month-long celebration of all things nonfiction. Each week, we’ll have a different prompt and a different host looking at different ideas about reading and loving nonfiction. This week our host, Rennie from What’s Nonfiction, has a totally new topic for us to discuss:

Reads Like Fiction (Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction): Nonfiction books often get praised for how they stack up to fiction. Does it matter to you whether nonfiction reads like a novel? If it does, what gives it that fiction-like feeling? Does it depend on the topic, the writing, the use of certain literary elements and techniques? What are your favorite nonfiction recommendations that read like fiction? And if your nonfiction picks could never be mistaken for novels, what do you love about the differences?

I always fall for a good story. And I honestly don’t mind if the story is fictional or based on real events. As I appreciate an excellent story telling, my favourite non-fiction reads that compare well to fictional reads are following:

  • Memoirs

I appreciate raw memoirs that tell us stories of growth and self-discovery. I talked about those two categories in my pairing fiction with non-fiction post here.

One of my favourite memoirs is Steph Davis‘ book Learning to Fly: An Uncommon Memoir of Human Flight, Unexpected Love, and One Amazing Dog. Davis is a well known rock climber amongst the climbing community and appeals to me because of her love of animals as well as her fight for creating a sustainable future for our next generations. I loved her memoir as it’s full of growth, there we go again! 😉 , and talks openly about how she dealt with her loss and gave me hope in our strength to push forward and lean into discomfort when needed.

  • Journalism

Remember how much I enjoyed Jon Ronson‘s So You Have Been Publicly Shamed book? His writing belongs to a category of journalism that is very dear to me.

This category of non-fiction reads extremely well because the authors are… journalists.. .. and they have been trained to write compelling stories. 😉 I especially enjoy how these authors build their cases, a bit by bit the tension starts going up, I am hooked and want to know more.

My favourite authors that belong to this category are: Malcolm Gladwell (I absolutely love his books),  Jon Ronson and from the TV world, Louis Theroux and his thought provoking documentaries.

  • Travel documentaries

I enjoy travelling. I am also happy to go to places via a compelling travel documentary. I really enjoyed Tim Butcher‘s Blood River – a documentary of his mission to re-create the expedition of H. M. Stanley in 1870’s – travelling alone through the Congo. It’s an incredible book and I got to read it weeks after returning from Africa, which magnified my memories of this beautiful continent. Butcher is a journalist as well – which means this book would probably fit the category above as well! 🙂

  • Mythology & Folklore

I talked about myths in my pairing fiction with non-fiction post here. In my opinion, to those who love fantasy and are still reluctant to read non-fiction, folk stories are a great introduction to this particular genre.


I hope these posts somehow increased your appetite towards non-fiction. 🙂

As always, I love hearing from you – what’s your favourite ‘reads like fiction’ books amongst non-fiction? 🙂

20 thoughts on “NONFICTION NOVEMBER Week 4: Reads Like Fiction”

  1. Really nice one, I’ll take note of these. For me, I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell is a memoir reads like a fiction, as you wouldn’t believe those things happened to the same person. Would recommend, it’s brilliant.

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  2. Such a great topic!! I really appreciate memoirs too! Learning to fly sounds so good as well. I’ve been really meaning to read so you’ve been publicly shamed- glad you hold it in such high esteem. I’ve always liked Louis Theroux’s documentaries as well. And really love your inclusion of mythology on this list!!

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    1. Thank you! ❤️ So You Have Been Publicly Shamed is super interesting and I honestly recommend it, it looks at present cases of public shaming on social media but also touches a little bit on history as well. 😊🍀

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  3. I’m loving this series, Vera, as it’s reminding me that there’s so many more interesting topics and authors out there, who write more than just fiction. I already enjoy reading myth and folklore (fiction and non-fiction alike) and have read the occasional recommended memoir, which can be either hit or miss depending on the writer, and I especially love travel books.

    I’m also finding new categories and authors to look up thanks to your posts (and NonFiction November in general) like those in journalism – I must look up Malcolm Gladwell.

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    1. My TBR list is completely out of control after this month’s NonFiction as well as the Sci-Fi celebration. 😊🙈 So many great books I just can not wait to read.

      I also enjoy myths and folk stories. Sometimes, the non-fiction could work even better than the original fiction version depending how it’s used and told. 😊

      I really hope you will enjoy Malcolm Gladwell – his writing style uses no unnecessary words, everything is highly ‘to the point’. I always find hard putting his books down. 😊

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      1. Oh, I know what you mean. My TBR pile looks like I did a raid on my local store, grabbed a ton of books at random while wearing a blindfold. Let’s say it’s eclectic and leave it at that! 😉

        I’m always open to reading researched material, especially when it comes to myth and folklore, and ancient history. Ancient history to me is like SF of the past, it’s so foreign and almost alien and yet, vaguely familiar!

        I’ve added Gladwell to my list of authors to look out for, so if I can’t find him at my local store, I’ll check out Amazon. 😀

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    1. Same here, that’s why I found Butcher’s journey so interesting.
      I went to southern parts of Africa, mainly South Africa 🇿🇦. I went with friends from there, whom I met whilst living in London. It was mostly travelling around, seeing some wild life and taking everything in. The contract between poor and ’getting by’ was staggering and made me more interested in finding out about the history, politics etc of this country as well as the entire continent.
      I absolutely loved being in the bush though, the colours of that beautiful land, sounds of those magnificent animals… I felt so small yet so alive. It was incredible and I would definitely want to visit Kenya and other countries to do more wild life watching.

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      1. I think Kenya is on the rise as a tourist destination. I keep hearing about people going there. I know the popular countries to visit in Africa will change based on how safe it is to travel, laws, and if there is an ongoing upset.

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      2. There are so many countries I would love to visit one day, I can always dream that one day, I’ll get to see them all. 🙂

        I agree with your point regarding country’s popularity being seasonal, it always depends on quite a few of those factors for sure.

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  4. I don’t know if I have a favorite style of non-fiction writing but like you said a good story is everything. And I don’t enjoy it as much if it’s written too much like a textbook. I always enjoy non-fiction November and then tell myself I’m going to read more after. I really have to keep up with it through the year 🙂

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    1. Ha ha, same here. I already added so many books to my TBR – let’s see how that goes eh? 😊
      I have a very short attention span and textbooks really are not my thing, purely for that reason. I just can not concenrate. Stories on the other hand can hold my attention fully for a long, long time. 😊

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  5. Great post! I’m not a huge non-fiction reader, but the ones I appreciate the most are the ones that catch me up in the story and make me feel like I can’t look away. I just listened to the audiobook of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed earlier this year. Jon Ronson is a great narrator! I’m looking forward to experiencing more of his books. I do enjoy compelling memoirs as well.The one I always end up recommending is Ice Bound by Jerri Nielsen. I’m so glad you’re enjoying non-fiction November!

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    1. I feel exactly the same when it comes to such story.
      Ice Bound is new to me, I will definitely look it up, thank you for the recommendation! I’m also on a lookout for another compelling story to read. 🙂

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  6. I have only read two non-fiction books since I graduated school. I read Felicia Day’s “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)” and Wil Wheaton’s “Just a Geek” I enjoyed them both!! I think they are Memoirs? What is the difference between a Memoir and an Autobiography?

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    1. Great question! Many authors these days blur the lines between memoirs and autobiographies but I think one of the key differences is that autobiographies tend to focus on the chronology of writers lives whereas memoirs tend to cover one specific point of the writers’ lives, I also find memoirs less formal, more emotional and sometimes even less factual. I would say because of that, they read more like fiction.😊

      Thanks for those two recommendations, I will definitely look those up. 😊

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