DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Jun 21 2013

ShareReads: I don’t read that!

by Heather S


outliersI’ve always been one of those folks who claims to never read non-fiction books, but, as I started thinking about what to write about and reviewed the list of books I’ve read in the past few months, I realized that I honestly cannot make that claim.  I have read on average a nonfiction book a month this year.  The one title that has resonated and remained with me the most is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

In this short, quick reading book (also available from the library as an eBook, which is actually how I read it), Gladwell examines why the outrageously successful, those that he calls outliers are so successful.  As old adages say, success is due in part to passion, persistence and preparation. Bill Gates and the Beatles perfected their crafts with over 10,000 hours of practice. However, it is also due to a fair amount of luck, such as being born at the right time and in the right place.  For example, he explains why many professional hockey players are born in January, February and March.   He also uses generational legacies, such as those that benefited the Robber Barons or certain corporate lawyers in the 1950s.

The book is not the most academic, and I can see how many could argue against Gladwell’s claims.  I found it to be an interesting and entertaining read, as well as one that continues to come up in conversations.  Perhaps this is why I find myself reading nonfiction, despite my self-professed dislike for it; I often find it engaging and relevant in ways that linger.

So, dear readers, share!  Are there genres or categories of books that you do not think you read, but you do?  What are books that have continued to reappear in thoughts or dialogues?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah H. June 22, 2013 at 9:58 AM

I used to say the same thing! My sister always talks about reading nonfiction, and my response was always “Why would you want to do that?” But I must admit that I do enjoy the occasional nonfiction. Recent nonfiction reads that I have enjoyed include The Professor and the Madman, about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary, and Jeannette Winterson’s Why be Happy When You Could be Normal? It’s a great memoir about being adopted as an infant, leaving home, and searching for her birth family as an adult. As a former adoption social worker, I found it very well written and insightful.

Ken June 26, 2013 at 10:30 AM

I too read a lot of fiction and think of myself as a fiction reader, but I realized that the books I tend to recommend are usually non-fiction. I just finished Ranch of Dreams by Cleveland Amory, and The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. I enjoyed both and found a lot of interesting recommendations in the Schwalbe book.

Leigh P. June 28, 2013 at 11:28 AM

First, I enjoyed Outliers, too. It made sense and explained so much to me; I was glad to read the logic and success behind affirmative action (when Gladwell studies the attorneys and law school). I feel like I fully understand the underlying motive. Even if it’s debatable, it’s nonetheless a plausible and researched reason.

Second, I often shun non-fiction for fiction, too. But perusing my shelf on Goodreads, I discovered I’d read quite a bit. I’m a huge cheerleader for The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt; my friends have mentioned that I talk about it a lot. Whenever I refuse an invitation to eat at a restaurant I say, “Sorry, I read Kitchen Confidential.” And “The China Study” I mention *all the time* and it’s influenced my life in a profound way. Another good one is “Eat This Book: A Year of Gorging and Glory on the Competitive Eating Circuit” by Ryan Nerz.

Reading this sure makes it sound like I read a lot about food…and I didn’t think I did!

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