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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming

So Far You Have Been A Bit Shy

in sending in Faves. I wonder why? I suspect some of you are on committees of some sort, so cannot tip your hands, but is that the sole reason? Are others reluctant because you have your own work that you can’t flog? There has finally been, one, CCBC NF suggestion — Russell Freedman’s Who Was First? Neat. But what about folks here? We’ve had one adult suggestion, a cluster of girl/science books, and one artist biography.

I have one book that seems obvious to discuss, but which oddly has not come up anywhere: The Dangerous Book for Boys. Now I have some interest in this since I’ve co-written a book that takes a similar approach — lots of facts, cars, battles, spies — so obviously I like the genre. But the book has been a raving bestseller, it seems clearly popular, it meets a need. And yet I don’t see a clamor to talk about. Why is that? Is it because we think of best as having to do with literary qualities? Are those the only standards to use for nonfiction? Is it, gasp, because the book claims to be aimed at boys, and we are in a female dominated industry? Someone may object that a book that, in its title, excludes half of all readers cannot be a "best" book. To which I would say, many, perhaps most, prize-winning novels are clearly aimed at girls. And there is, now, a Daring book (which I have not read) to go with Dangerous.

Sure, being popular is no guarantee that something is even good, much less best. But I do find it odd that a book which has clearly tapped something in readers does not even come up for disucssion, especially because it points to a whole strand of nonfiction — the Book of Records, USA Today, back-of-the-comicbook-compendium of the weird and cool approach. What makes for a "best" book in that genre?

Your thoughts?