A Solution Staring Me In The Face

I read mostly fiction.   For years I’ve been meaning to read more nonfiction, and I add more and more nonfiction titles to my Goodreads TBR, but there they sit, as I continue to devour novels.  However!  I’ve just stumbled upon a pretty obvious solution to my problem. PUT THE NONFICTION ON HOLD AT THE LIBRARY, LAILA.

See, one of the perks of working at a library is everyday access to the library catalog, where I can check and see if new titles have been added before they’re published.  (Patrons can do this too, it’s just that I’m here all the time and think about it more often than the average person, probably.)  So when I know the new Michael Connelly or Kate Atkinson book is coming out soon, I put myself on hold and hopefully will be near the top of the list.  But for some reason, I NEVER THINK to put myself on hold for nonfiction.  I’ve got a hold list full of fiction (and movies and compact discs ) instead.

A few months back I put White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson on hold.  When it came around to me, shockingly, I read it!  So I thought, “This worked so well, why don’t I look at my Goodreads list and put some more nonfiction on hold?”

Here are three nonfiction titles I’ve recently placed on hold (book blurbs from Goodreads:)

the-last-castle-9781476794044_hrThe Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home by Denise Kiernan.  (“The fascinating true story behind the magnificent Gilded Age mansion Biltmore—the largest, grandest residence ever built in the United States.”)  At the moment I’m number 81 out of 91 waiting for it. (Knoxville isn’t too far from Asheville, NC, which is one reason I think that there are so many people waiting for this.)

51GLNSdDDqL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The Radium Girls:  The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore.  (“The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive – until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.”)  I am currently number 12 out of 16 waiting.

9780553447453Evicted:  Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond.  (“Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today.”)  There isn’t a waiting list for this one anymore, but I’ve suspended my hold until January, when I’ve hopefully made a dent in the books I’ve got on my nightstand at the moment.

So now that you’re shaking your head at my obtuseness, tell me:  if you’ve ever wanted to make shake up your reading habits, what are some strategies you’ve used to actually get those books in your hands?  Have you read any of these books, or if not, do they interest you? What is your balance of fiction to nonfiction?  Let’s chat in the comments!

30 thoughts on “A Solution Staring Me In The Face

  1. Heh, you made me laugh. I hope your new nonfiction strategy works! I heard about Radium Girls just recently and it sounds great! The law school where I work began having a book club open to students and faculty/staff last spring. This coming spring one of the books they are reading is Evicted. Sadly the discussions are held at professor’s houses at night so I have not taken part.

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  2. I feel so silly now. This whole time I thought Radium Girls was a sci-fi novel. Smh.
    But that’s a good idea to put the books on hold. I realized this year that I’m more likely to read library books because I feel obligated to read them before returning.

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      1. Well my reading is controlled by different pressures, mainly my commitments to my bookclub and radio gig. but! I do think it’s important we don’t take ourselves or our reading too seriously, cause then what’s the point? Lol

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  3. Haha – great plan! I hope it works for you – I love mixing up some non-fiction with my fiction, though I tend to go more for history books or pop science. I’ve heard great things about the Radium Girls. My challenges are the way I do it – if I post on the blog that I’m going to read certain books or types of books, then I tend to prioritise them, whereas if I don’t, the books I want to read always get shuffled aside for whatever new, shiny books come along… 😀

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  4. Your determination made me laugh, Laila. And it inspires me. I find ‘The Radium Girls’ fascinating and I look forward to reading your thoughts on these books. When I want to read nonfiction, I choose books on animals at least sink into the habit a bit. Animals always help. 🙂

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  5. I haven’t read Radium Girls, but it’s also a play I saw a few years ago. Very moving. I think I’ve been drawn to a lot of nonfiction this year because I’m finding many life stories that are more interesting than the fiction I’ve been reading. There’s the reward of feeling more knowledgeable, too. It just seems like a lot of fiction I’ve read lately says the same thing over and over.

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  6. I’m the same way – so many nonfiction reads look good to me and I add them to my lists, but then I continue to read mostly fiction. Which is okay, but I worry that I’m missing out on some good books because of it.
    I’m also more likely to read them if they come from the library, but another strategy I use (sometimes when I’m on top of things, unlike now) is to keep the NF by my bed and read a little of it every night after my longer fiction session.
    I’ll be interested to see how this idea works for you!

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    1. I think I get what you mean, Jeanne.

      White Rage is a good one for a good overview of the history of oppressive tactics in America. Once I committed to reading it, it took me no time at all. But it was still enraging every step of the way.


  7. Heheh. I know what you mean. It recently “occurred” to me that I could read a library book during the first borrowing period, rather than renewing it the maximum number of times and then panicking to read it before it’s finally and completely due. 😀 Last year I was appalled at how little non-fiction I’d read in 2016, so I promised myself to increase it by half (it was a small amount – 10%) and just keeping it front-of-mind helped me take it to about 30% of my reading (which I’m happy with, for now, anyway) and who knew there are so many fascinating non-fiction books! (Other than all those smug non-fiction readers.) Good luck with your project!

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  8. I’m absolutely not shaking my head at your obtuseness! I’m always having to change strategies w/r/t nonfiction, but my main thing is that I try to read it before bed or while exercising. That way I’m sure to read a small portion of the book every day, and then eventually I have read the whole thing! I am presently reading a book about campus rape before bed, and a book about the Templars while exercising.

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  9. I’m currently on a nonfiction kick, and I need to milk the streak for what it’s worth. I’ve found that I really enjoy nonfiction on audio, so I’ve been listening to a lot of it in the car these past few weeks. I have Radium Girls lined up, and I hope it’s going to be good. (The plus side of using Hoopla is that there’s no line!)

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    1. Yes, I enjoy nonfiction on audio too… only we have Overdrive through our library, not Hoopla. I am currently listening to a nonfiction book (The Book of Joy – Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama) and it’s very good so far! Good luck with your nonfiction streak!


  10. Good on you! Way to take the bull by the horns, as they say. I personally tend to put books on hold ALL THE TIME on my library list. But, as you pointed out above, the hold lists can be SUPER long. I’m 86/174 for Evicted, but I live in Madison, WI about 1.25 hours from Milwaukee, which is the focus of the book.

    When I read non-fiction I try to get it on audio. With my mood reading, I find that audiobooks keep me more engaged when it comes to non-fiction. I will mentally check out sometimes reading non-fiction in a physical form. And I have plenty of time to listen since I have to take the dog on at least two walks a day. I get through ~60 minutes of audiobook a day that way!


    1. I do tend to prefer nonfiction on audiobook as opposed to fiction, with the exception of children’s books. I don’t know why, but children’s books just seem to grab me more on audio than fiction for adults. Dog walking is the perfect time for that! I don’t have a dog, alas, and I do listen to a TON of podcasts, so I only listen to audio books in the car, and it takes me FOREVER to get through one.

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