Friday, 12 July 2013

Hi my name's Ellie and I am a non-fiction failure

A few months ago, before I started blogging, I read The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz. Without sounding horrendously dramatic, it kind of changed my life a little bit. In fact, it was because of that book and my insatiable need to talk about that book that I started to think about blogging. I forced my parents to read it (no parents were harmed, I had better add), but they just didn't have the same enthusiasm and life-altering reaction as I did. But all that is beside the point. That book opened my eyes to the world of non-fiction, memoirs, biographies etc. Suddenly I really had an urge to suck up ALL THE KNOWLEDGE. Non-fiction can do that for you. It can teach you things, broaden your horizons and generally make you feel like you're getting a little bit smarter with every page. Want to know the best thing about non-fiction and it's general air of intelligence? Reading it in public makes you look really smart (I think so anyway). And I love to look like I'm smart because most of the time when I talk it comes out like 'blaaaahhhhh Star Wars I love books blaaahhh' so people think I'm a tad dense. I mean, I did get through my MA by faking intelligence but random people on the street don't need to know that, right?!

Goodness me, I'm tangent girl today. Back to the point: non-fiction. So, after having my life altering experience I realised that I wanted to read more non-fiction and so I made the decision to do that (are you bored of me yet?). I read a few things, mostly historical, bookish memoirs and arty things. And I bought a few more. I now have a non-fiction pile on my shelf waiting patiently for me to get to it. It's been there a while. After all my pro-active decision making and book buying in preparation for the devouring of non-fiction, I kind of stopped. Hit that metaphorical runner's wall (but a reader's wall) with a giant bang, crash and, potentially, a wallop.

This is where me being a non-fiction failure comes in. I have the books, I want to read the books but I just can't bring myself to choose one over a fiction book. I've even been reading poetry over non-fiction which is practically unheard of for me. I have read a few this year (A Room of One's Own being the one I enjoyed the most) but that pile is still there and in need of conquering. And conquer it I shall! (Bear in mind that it is this sort of fighting talk that got me in this mess in the first place).

The following are books that I have on my pile that I would definitely like to read this year. In fact, I wouldn't merely like to get to them, I WILL be reading them. I am going to try for a non-fiction read every month. That means I will have read  6 (7 including the one I am still finishing off) by the end of the year.

First up, I intend to finish Fifty Shades of Feminism. I have talked about this on here quite a few times now and it is absolutely amazing. I sped through the first 15 or so essays then stopped because I thought I was reading it too fast and not giving myself time to consider each essay and form an opinion on the argument. So then I thought to myself that I'd read one a day but eventually, it slipped to the bottom of the pile and then I had a reading slump and then everything just went a bit rubbish on the old reading front. But now I'm back, I will aim to finish this slice of feminist heaven. Then I'll spred the feminist lovin' with you lot and do a monster review. Who's exited?

My Preliminary Non-Fiction List for the Next Six Months:

1. The Woman Reader by Belinda Jack
2. Shapely Ankle Preferred: A History of the Lonely Hearts Column by Francesca Beauman
3. Between the Sheets: The Literary Liaisons of Nine 20th Century Women Writers by Lesley McDowell
4. Elsie and Mari Go To War by Diane Atkinson
5. What Are You Looking At? 150 Years of Modern Art in the Blink of an Eye by Will Gompertz
6. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

Any ideas of where to go first after Fifty Shades of Fem?



  1. OH MY GOD I TOTALLY DO THIS. I buy loads of non-fiction, because when I read one it makes me feel like I've accomplished something deeply intelligent, and also once you start exploring non-fiction in bookshops and the library everything sounds so INTERESTING and you just want to READ THEM ALL and KNOW ALL THE THINGS. Only... then I don't read them. If I get some from the library I do sometimes, especially in winter when I have more time to really get stuck in. And I try to have a non-fiction book on the go alongside a fiction one, but I usually skip over the 'good stuff' in favour of whatever sounds easiest!

    I applaud your resolve to get back to the non-fiction. I should make an effort too. I shall be INSPIRED! :)

    1. They are all terribly well marketed because they do all sound so darn exciting. And so tempting with all the knowledge. I try to do that too, have one alongside a fiction read but I inevitably finish the fiction read first and pick another one and then the non-fiction just languishes under a pile on my bedside table. Poor, unloved books. I am determined to show them so love! We should make a joint effort :)

  2. Nonfiction is the BEST. It's my favorite :) But, I can't read a bunch of them in a row because my little ol' brain starts to hurt. So, I think it's awesome that you've set a goal of reading one per month.

    I haven't read any of the books you have in your stack. Now I'm super curious about ALL of them and can't wait to hear what you think. If I were you I'd start with Between the Sheets because it sounds ultra-interesting!

    1. I find even one can get a bit much! My poor, small sized brain. Hopefully one per month will give me enough of the wisdom without forever overloading my noggin.

      I think I may start there, it does sound like it will be full of juicy nuggets of gossip from way back when!

  3. I don't read as much non-fiction as I would like to either, in my pre-blogging days I read about 50% non-fiction.
    I haven't read 50 Shades of Feminism, but I loved Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy & Misogyny by Jack Holland.

    1. It's so easy to get carried away with fiction and leave non-fiction behind I think.

      I've had Female Chauvinist Pigs on my radar for a while now and I just bought Public Women by Joan Smith which sounds interesting. I'll have to try and squeeze that into this challenge somewhere!

  4. Am so with you on this! I love non-fiction and tend to stick with true crime (studying criminology properly has something to do with it) however I read one and then I have to get back to fiction because otherwise it's just too much.
    Also find myself having to give myself a pep talk to pick one up again! Always pleased I do though :)

    1. I tend to stick to literary/feminist based things which I have no doubt it because of studying English. It really does take a pep talk but I am always happy that I do read it too.

  5. You just have to force yourself to get through the first few pages and if its a good book you wont be able to put it down from there. I read tons of autobiographies. They offer so much more for me than fiction works. I most recently read Back From The Abyss by Kieran Doherty. A wonderful autobiography of the daily struggle through alcohol addiction and a real wild rollercoaster of a life that has you turning every page with anticipation of what madness happens next. Really great read.


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