The Reading Like a Writer Series #1 – Reading Non Fiction

Reading like a writer series

I don’t need to tell you that if you are a writer, you need to be able to read, and read well.

You need to be able to read for the love of it, to glean inspiration from it, to pick out strengths and weaknesses from it, and to critique it in order to learn from it. The other lesson I have learnt is that you need to be able to read both widely across varied genres as well as reading deeply into the genre you write.

This is the start of a set of new series for my blog, this one in particular is on reading like a writer.

This first post is on:

Reading Non Fiction 

I don’t even pretend to be a non fiction reader. Can’t stand it. Much to my father’s – who is a purely non fiction reader- disgust, I am a out and out fiction reader. I have no shame in losing myself in a story, delving into the characters, and disappearing into new worlds. I struggle to read non fiction because quite honestly I find it boring, I hate the lack of story and complete absence of characters.

However, in the last month or so I have come to realise that this way of thinking is a smidgen naive. Here’s why:

I recently developed an interest in space, physics and the concept of ‘alternative history’ more specifically the ancient astronaut theory. Just an interest mind – I haven’t suddenly converted to anything odd!

Anyway, the only way I could find out more was to research online, which I did, but everything I was finding out seemed to lack depth. There were articles, and opinions, and some interesting pictures. But I couldn’t quite get the detailed knowledge I wanted. Cue the search for Non Fiction books. The first two non fictions books I have found and started reading are:

A Brief History of Time‘ by Stephen Hawking

&

Aliens in Ancient Egypt‘ by Xaviant Haze

Both fascinating and giving me the depth I was seeking. But more importantly I already I have a million ideas for new stories. One of my pledges for this year is to read more, but in particular Non Fiction. I won’t be reading just non fiction because its too heavy and I would fail miserably. I want to read a minimum of 12 books this year, a far cry from the 2 or 3 I could sink a week before baby black was born, but still. If I do at least 12 this year I would be ecstatic.

What have I learnt about starting to read non fiction?

1. Non fiction (can – depending on what you read) provide interesting facts, ideas, new thoughts, new lessons, new concepts, new everything.

2. It can open your mind to completely new… everything. It will lead anyone with half a cell of imagination into world upon world of new ideas, places and characters.

3. You learn from it, and in topics your interested in

4. You build knowledge = building skills = more ideas = better writer

5. You can find new hobbies or interests and even better, build knowledge of those areas

Does anyone out there read non fiction? If so, what types of books/topics? How do you find reading non fiction versus fiction? If you don’t read it, then I hope you try a non fiction book this year, trust me when I tell you slogging through is absolutely worth it, if nothing else, to improve your writing.

 

16 comments

      1. I think I stopped when in chapter (I don’t know, let’s say) eight, it said, “as we saw in chapter three…”.
        I had no recollection of chapter three; I had to go back and read it again. The headache was caused by the thought of spending the rest of my life flicking around that book because I couldn’t retain any of it.

          1. My ‘to-read’ list contains a lot of non-fiction – books I have placed on my Kindle. At present, I’m only managing to read for an hour or so before bed, and I’m reading kind-of-in-genre fiction mostly. I have been spending a lot of time researching for The Orphans and Knight & Deigh (I knew nothing about scuba-diving, sky-diving, court proceedings in Tanzania and Hawaii, AIDS research, peak oil, disability issues…)

          2. Clearly i need to get further into your book then to discover all these delights! Sigh, I wish I didnt have to sleep! I would be so much more productive! I have a book list as long as my arm, blog posts backing up half a novel to edit before I can continue (decided I had to go back and edit for my sanity) and an assignment due (how did you finish your writers bureau course so fast?)

  1. I tend toward nonfiction. Especially when I’m in “doer” mode. Which is me a lot lately.

    When I’m in that mindset, it’s tough to relax long enough to achieve that relaxed, receptive state I need to be in to enjoy fiction. I have the MBTI textbook on my desk for that MBTI character design project. I read books on building fiction-writing skills. Sometimes before bed the past few weeks I’ve ready Anaïs Nin’s volume one diary. Which is kind of like a story and kind of isn’t. And I read a lot of skills building for bloggers articles online too.

    By the way, I like that you’re doing a series on reading like a writer. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

    1. Thanks for commenting Mandy 🙂 funnily enough I just replied to your email today! I know what you mean about being in the right mindset. I also have to be careful about reading my genre when I am in ‘doer’ mode. I adore my MBTI textbook – its not that big, but its just so useful, Its always either on my work desk or in my reference collection. I can’t wait for your MBTI series 🙂 I also hadn’t thought about that kind of reading as non fiction. I guess I read more of it than I thought, as I do a lot of research online, but that had completely slipped my mind as counting as reading. Hope your well 🙂

  2. I usually go through periods where I am reading primarily non-fiction. Then I’ll get into a fiction kick. It’s definitely important to be able to read both.

    Nothing beats that “ah-ha” moment in non-fiction when different concepts come together in your mind and suddenly you get it. It feels like your opening doors in your mind.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s important to read both its just that I have only recently got into non fiction. I do love the Ah ha moment in fiction too though when you suddenly get the twist in the story. Nothing better.

      What kinds of non fiction do you read?

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