Blogging Challenges of a Nonfiction Bibliophile

When I began this experiment of blogging for the purpose of reviewing, analyzing, and highlighting  books, I assumed that it would be easy. After all, I’d been reading several book blogs and they made it look quite easy. With the exception of my personal favorite Pages Unbound, which is hosted by two writers, these (mostly) ladies were able to churn out three book reviews a week.

Although it usually takes me a week to 10 days to read a book, I committed to using this format as a means of marrying my desire to improve my writing and share my love of books. I figured with some strategic scheduling, I could manage to review a couple of books a week.

That strategy hasn’t quite worked out, due to a number of factors. Homemaking, homeschooling, and other commitments are part of it, but those aren’t even the main reasons. I can easily put together a 1,000 word blog post, plus editing, in less than an hour.

No, the difference between my approach and the approach of most of the book bloggers I enjoy so much is that the lion’s share of of my reading is nonfiction, and nonfiction takes me a lot longer to read than fiction books, which is what most of the bibliophile bloggers I enjoy tend to review. The few bloggers I read who review nonfiction tend to offer reviews as slowly as I do, with gaps between reviews.

It was this awareness of the rate at which I post reviews which prompted me to begin interspersing book reviews with discussion posts on the related topics of reading and education, two other subjects that I enjoy discussing. Maintaining a book blog based mostly on the nonfiction books I generally read is more difficult than I realized.

When I am reading fiction, I read faster, collect my thoughts faster, and can formulate an opinion and review faster. Entertainment material is easier to plow through than informational material. There’s also a difference in the speed at which certain authors can be processed and read through. Dostoyevsky requires more concentration than Austen which requires more thoughtful consideration than J.K. Rowling.

In the nonfiction realm, Chesterton takes some serious concentration, while Wendell Berry is a little easier to work through (though just as thoughtful). Books such as my latest review, Mating in Captivity, hardly require any deep introspection at all, even if there are bursts of original thought or notable commentary. It was a very quick read relative to the time I usually spend in a nonfiction book.

I am currently waiting for one of my kids to finish a music lesson and am about to crack open The 5000 Year Leap. My optimistic ambition is to have it completed by next Friday, even amidst household responsibilities, church stuff, school orientations which take place next week, and myriad other tasks which must be done. The life stuff into which all the reading is sandwiched. We’ll see how it goes.

What about you? Does nonfiction reading challenge you much more than fiction in terms of time and concentration? Which do you prefer?

11 thoughts on “Blogging Challenges of a Nonfiction Bibliophile

  1. hearthie says:

    Yes. I read nonfiction by preference, but sometimes I’m too tired, and just trudge through my rounds of favorite novels. And the best nonfiction warrants a re-read for best digestion… so there’s that.

    Going to put this bug in your ear before I write about it, but “Sacred Pathways” by Gary Thomas is worth your time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elspeth says:

    @ Robyn:

    I am drawn more strongly to nonfiction, but when I shake myself out of that box (usually because I need a light-hearted read and I’ve needed those more often over the past 3 years), I always thoroughly enjoy the fiction that I read. Sometimes even more than the nonfiction.

    I love learning and being challenged, which is why I love nonfiction.

    @ Hearth:

    What you said. Occasionally my mind needs something that doesn’t demand much of me, LOL. Fiction is great for that and good fiction is can still offer food for thought.

    Like

  3. Krysta says:

    Yes, nonfiction takes me longer to read, as well! And, then, I often end up not even reviewing it for the blog since our focus is more MG, YA, some classics (though I guess I like to think of it as “eclectic”) and nonfiction reviews don’t really get any interaction! I do like you idea of reviewing and discussing as you go, though, since it gives you more space to consider the topics being raised. It can be difficult to mention everything you might like in one blog post, which for me is usually four to six paragraphs. I know some people write much longer posts, sometimes practically novellas, bu I don’t think the average Internet attention span is good for prolonged writings so I prefer to write several posts rather than one huge one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Elspeth says:

    I do like you idea of reviewing and discussing as you go, though, since it gives you more space to consider the topics being raised. It can be difficult to mention everything you might like in one blog post, which for me is usually four to six paragraphs. I know some people write much longer posts, sometimes practically novellas, bu I don’t think the average Internet attention span is good for prolonged writings so I prefer to write several posts rather than one huge one.

    Thanks, and I agree. Once I hit around 1000 words, I am looking for a strategy to wrap things up.

    Nonfiction isn’t as interactive because the topics which interest people are so varied. I try to read a broad cross section of books and ideas, because there is worth in understanding even those you disagree with.

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  5. bikebubba says:

    I love both, though in my past, I did favor nonfiction. But when my kids were born and I started catching up with the literature I’d only read about, I realized that there was a tremendous amount I’d been cheated of, and even that at times, fiction is often “truer” than nonfiction, especially in history, for the simple reason that in fiction, you have to persuade the reader that the story is plausible.

    Regarding how long it takes to read each, I usually find that I “get enough” out of fiction on a first read, though sometimes there are times when I re-read and get a LOT that I didn’t get the first time. For nonfiction, the same, except for some books that really strike me and challenge my thinking–those it’s often 3-4 times.

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  6. Krysta says:

    I love that you read a wide variety! I agree it’s worthwhile reading things you disagree with sometimes. It’s good to get out of our comfort zones and see new perspectives every now and then. And you do an admirable job of discussing what you don’t agree with and why.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Holly says:

    Love this post!! I’ve also found myself reading more nonfiction lately, and there is a big difference between reading/review nonfiction vs. fiction books. Thanks for talking about this!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. DoingDewey says:

    I also blog about nonfiction and I think I read it at about half the pace of fiction. I review fiction too though, so that helps keep me on pace to post a review or two every week. Not always though – life definitely gets in the way sometimes and I just try not to stress about it!

    I may also write less thoughtful reviews than you (I only just discovered your blog via Pages Unbound, so can’t say for sure yet!). I find that I can write reviews of fiction and nonfiction approximately equally quickly. I typically write a review in 30 minutes, but when I’m intentionally trying to write more thoughtful reviews it takes me closer to an hour.

    Liked by 1 person

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