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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

The List Begins

The Nonfiction You Are Eading Now (Adult, Kids, For Pleasure, For Research)

Loree Giffin Burns responded to my request but some glitch in the SLJ site did not allow her to post, here is her list with commentary:

From my bedside table:


BUTTERFLY, by Thomas Marent

This is a visual feast, magnificent to look at and to read.


CHASING MONARCHS, by Robert Michael Pyle

This I am reading for research purposes, but I read it the first time for the pleasure of it.


IN DEFIANCE OF HITLER, by Carla Killough McClafferty

This was a gift to my ten-year-old son, who read it in two days and returned it to me, “You HAVE to read this, Mom.”



I finished this more than a month ago but keep it nearby for inspiration. It is perfection and would certainly be on my list of All-Time-Favorites.



About six months ago I had dinner with a writer who, like me, writes non-fiction. He told me that he doesn’t read fiction. At all. And I was utterly stupefied. Why? I’m not sure. But since then I have slowly realized that a lot of the fiction reading I do is out of a sense of obligation, a self-imposed pressure to ‘keep up on the field’. Over the past twenty years my tastes and interests have clearly changed, but for reasons I don’t quite understand I have felt sheepish about how little fiction I actually read. Is it possible that even those of us who write, read, and champion non-fiction can buy into the notion that fiction is somehow superior?  


Loree Burns

Marc here: I recognize that pressure, but do not accept it. I feel we can learn from fiction — narrative strategies, fine style, insightful characterization — but we really need to hold our heads high. If fiction readers do not "get," do not "have a feeling for" the pleasures of non fiction, that is a deficit of theirs, not a reflection of the relative merits of the two genres. 

More posters? More lists? More reflections?


  1. m. gratrix says:

    I was wondering if anyone can remember the name of the TV show in which a Storyteller would read a part of a novel each week, and while he was reading he would draw a scene from the story. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions.