Monday, February 05, 2007

Joy's Nonfiction Five Challenge

Joy from Thoughts of Joy is hosting the Nonfiction Five Challenge, which will span the months of May through September. The idea of this challenge is to read five nonfiction books in five months. Although occasionally I am drawn to a nonfiction book, my reading tastes run more in the direction of fiction. Just looking at my TBR shelves or the books I read, would be proof enough of that. Since this seems to be the year for reading challenges and clearing out some of those TBR books that have long been collecting dust on the shelves, I decided to give the challenge a go. I have forty-two nonfiction books in my TBR collection that always seem to get passed over for the more appealing fiction novel. Joy's challenge is the perfect opportunity to put a tiny dent in that nonfiction stack of mine.

It is proving to be difficult to select the final five. I have whittled my choices for the challenge down to seventeen (I'm not very good at this whittling down thing) books so far. What makes it especially hard is the fact that I want to read each of these books. Eventually. Anyone care to offer their recommendations from the below list? Or perhaps you hated something so much you want to warn me away?

A History of God by Karen Armstrong
Death's Acre by Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson
The Nazi Officer’s Wife by Edith Hahn Beer
The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt
Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden
Crime Beat: A Decade of Covering Cops and Killers by Michael Connelly
Marching Home by Kevin Coyne
The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell
Machete Season by Jean Hatzfeld
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Bilbioholism by Tom Raabe
Out of America by Keith Richburg
Spook: Sceince Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach
Dominion by Matthew Scully
Lucky by Alice Sebold
The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan


  1. Thanks for the heads up on the challenge Kitten. I'm excited about it. I went through your list but the only one I've heard of is the Krakauer book. I heard its definately worth reading.

    p.s. you're on my blogroll!

  2. Oh, this challenge sounds interesting. I will have to think about it when I get home from class later.

  3. That's quite a list. The only one I've read is the Erik Larson book and that was good. In fact, he has a new book out that I'm looking forward to reading. I read INTO THIN AIR by Kraukauer and enjoyed that, so the one you have listed will probably be good also. Good luck getting down to 5.

  4. You have some interesting choices! I have been struggling through A History of God for the past few months. It's *good*, but I can only read a chapter at a time, and then put it down for a few weeks.

  5. Those look good. I have heard that THUNDERSTRUCK by Erik Larson is really good too, but I haven't had a chance to read it. I would also recommend RIDING ROCKETS by Mullane. One of my surprise favorites from 2005. It's written by a former astronaut and it's all about the space shuttle program. It doesn't sound that interesting but I really liked it.

  6. The only one I've read on your list is: Into Thin Air. I can highly recommend that one if you like adventure type books. It is a pretty compelling read (and made me absolutely certain I never wanted to climb Mt. Everest!).

  7. "Biblioholism" was pretty good, and "Spook" was very nifty. I liked Mary Roach's "Stiff" MUCH better than "Spook", but that's just me.

    I might have to investigate some of your titles for myself. They look darn interesting.

  8. Ive read Into the Wild and Lucky...both good, both harrowing.

    Enjoy whichever you choose, they all sound great.

  9. From the list, I've read Lucky by Alice Sebold. Seabold? (Sorry, Alice!) What a heart wrenching story! I'd move it to the top of the list, Kitten.

    Monica -- who has 1,509 emails in her mailbox from OTPS group. you people are INSANE :)

  10. OH! I just came by for a visit and look what I found...your Non-Fiction Five Challenge list!!! Please come back and link your post, all those possibilities will help others. And...welcome to the challenge. :)

    I saw the movie THE FREEDOM WRITERS last week and LOVED it! Don't know how different the book would be, but as a teacher I was definitely inspired.

  11. I haven't read any of these but of course I am attracted to the title Biblioholism! hehe


  12. Wendy, that looks like a great list! But shame on me, I haven't read any of them! I can't wait to see what you pick as the final five. Good Luck!

  13. I have read Death's Acre and Devil in the White City. I really enjoyed both.

    I started Dominion but only read parts of it. I don't necessarily blame the book for that though as much as the fact that I had been on a non-fiction binge and was ready for some escapism.

    Good luck choosing!

  14. You have a couple of books listed that I started to list - Into the Wild and Lucky. I have debated about having a list of alternates like I have on tbr challenge. My problem is I like books (lol)

  15. Biblioholism by Tom Raabe was excellent! In my opinion anyway! Lots of great bookish quotes. I really enjoyed it.

  16. Hi! Thanks for visiting my blog!!!

    Loved looking at your list!! I have read the following three from your list and may I say that you must pick these!!! They are total, can't put down, can't stop reading books. If you read Lucky you would probably finish it in 2 days.

    Keep us posted!!!

    The Nazi Officer's Wife
    Into the Wild

  17. Literary Bohemian - Jon Kraukauer's book seems to be very popular! I may have to make sure that makes my list. Good luck to you with the challenge! Just the idea of it has made me want to dive into some of my nonfiction collection right now. :-)

    Kailana - I hope you will be able to join in!

    Lynne - It's quite a long list, isn't it? I tried to make it shorter; I really did. LOL I've been wanting to read the Erik Larson book for quite some time. I read Under the Banner of Heaven by Kraukauer a couple of years ago and enjoyed the author's writing. I look forward to reading more by him.

    Nyssaneala - I worry about that with all my nonfiction books. I tend to read nonfiction more slowly, and so I think I'm going to try and avoid really big books. I have heard good things about all of Armstrongs' books and am very interested in reading A History of God. I am glad you are enjoying it.

    Malady - Ooo! Another book to add to my wishlist! I'll definitely be looking for Riding Rockets down the road. Since I'm only reading nonfiction books from my TBR collection, it'll have to wait.

  18. Wendy - Lots of votes for Into Thin Air, I see. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it. I can't really say I've ever read anything of that type before, so it will be interesting.

    Kookiejar - I really enjoyed Stiff too. :-) I have heard Spook isn't quite as good, but still entertaining. I figure I could relate to Tom Raabe's book having a bit of that problem myself.

    LK - I read Lovely Bones years ago and figure it's about time I read Lucky.

    Monica - I have heard that about Lucky. I imagine it won't be an easy book to read. (I do know how you feel with so many e-mail messages! Some days it's crazy making. LOL)

    Joy - I bought the book quite a while ago because it sounded so interesting. I had no idea movie would eventually be made of the story. I'm looking forward to reading the book. Thanks for hosting the challenge!

  19. Heather - It's an appealing title for booklovers like us, isn't it?

    Lotus - Thanks! I'm looking forward to finally getting around to reading some of the titles.

    Amy - Someone who has read Death's Acre! I've heard great things about the book and am looking forward to reading it and The Devil in the White City. I bought Dominion when it first came out, very enthusiastic about it, but I never did get around to reading it.

    Janet - I think it's probably a good idea if I chose alternates. I can be really finicky about nonfiction and I want to make sure the challenge is a fun experience. Like you, I like books so much that there is always something I want to read . . . Good luck to you!

    Debi - I am glad to hear it. It sounds like a fun read. Might be a good one in between more serious ones.

    Laura - And thanks for stopping by my blog! Another vote for Into the Wild and Lucky. :-) I think a couple of other bloggers have recently read The Nazi Officer's Wife and so that might be a good one to go with as well.

  20. Do you have to choose the books in advance? I'm reading more nonfiction this year so I think I can do this...

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

  21. Hey, i have the John Berendt book if you want it. i can drop it in the mail this weekend-drop me a note/e-mail.

    Chris Pellis

  22. Jenclair - Yes, you choose the books in advance. I think the deadline for choosing the five books is the end of April. There's plenty of time. :-)

    Chris - So good to "see" you!

  23. I've read the books by Mary Roach, Alice Sebold, and Amy Tan. If you like Amy Tan's fiction writing, then you'll like her nonfiction book as well. I own it...very good. :)

  24. That's good to know, Zandria. I have enjoyed everything I've read by Amy Tan so far and am looking forward to reading The Opposite of Fate.

  25. That's a great list - good luck!

    I loved 'Into the Wild' and have 'Devil in the White City' on my TBR shelf - I've heard great things about that one so am planning to read it soon.

  26. Lesley - Thanks! I think I may read more than five nonfiction books--just pick some to read around the others or maybe stretch them out for the rest of the year. :-) I think I'm going to have to put Into the Wild on my list of 5, the way everyone is talking about it.

  27. Great list and I look forward to reading your thoughts. :)


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