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I have shelves full of proper non-fiction books all awaiting my attention. Books historical, geographical, biographical, scientific, and so on – you get the picture.

I love the idea of reading them, but in practice they make up less than ten percent of my reading. The majority of those I do read are memoirs and biographies, with occasional forays into popular science and the lighter end of the spectrum.

A small selection of non-fiction books from my TBR is pictured below. Which book am I most likely to read out of them?


It’s got to be the Nick Hornby, which is a reading diary of sorts; books about books are ideal fodder for non-fiction-phobes. Then I’d pick Heretics - which is popular science. These two may actually get read some time soon, the rest ….

It’s not that I don’t want to read these books, but proper non-fiction tends to be dense and thus hard to read in comparison with a novel. It takes an outlay of at least double the time per book, and requires so much more concentration. Slacker that I am, it is just so much easier to read novels and lighter or bite-size non-fiction, however much I yearn to improve myself with the weightier tomes.

antifragile by nicholas talebI few months ago I accepted a review copy of a non-fiction book on social economics and risk engineering, for it sounded fascinating, and I thought it would be a good challenge to read. The book was Antifragile by Nicholas Taleb which follows on from his bestseller The Black Swan in which he proposed that uncertainty rules the world.  In Antifragile, he develops his manifesto to explain how to live in a Black Swan world.

I ‘m sad to say it was a rare DNF for me, (did not finish).  The concepts are very complex, and the language is frequently esoteric, and I just didn’t have the commitment to the book to persevere.  One blogger who did read it and find it fascinating though was Jackie.

Each year in my annual round-up posts, I say I should read more non-fiction. I haven’t started off well this year – of sixteen books read, only one is not a novel and that was a diet book.  While I dislike setting myself reading challenges as I nearly always don’t finish them, maybe I should try to read one (or more) non-fiction book each month…  We’ll see.

Do you read much non-fiction?
Do you suffer from the same lack of concentration with it that I do?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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To explore the books mentioned on Amazon UK, please click below:
The Complete Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby, paperback
The Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science by Will Storr, pub Feb 2013, Picador hardback.
Antifragile: How to Live in a World We Don’t Understand by Nicholas Taleb, pub Nov 2012, Allen Lane Hardback.

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