100 Greatest Nonfiction Books

Every librarian must know their own weaknesses, blind spots and areas for improvement. This summer, I am making a concerted effort to read more science fiction and fantasy, which I have always enjoyed but have crowded out in recent years in my penchant for reading too much ‘literary’ fiction (a term I am feeling increasingly ambivalent towards). But another huge area of weakness for me, which consequently affects my book group title selection, is nonfiction.

Until recently, when my department changed its name from Fiction to Readers’ Services, I was only really expected to help readers of fiction. Now I need to think more about helping readers with their nonfiction needs as well. And with our new online service, I am increasingly flexing my nonfiction readers’ advisory skills. Thinking more about narrative nonfiction and good pairings with works of fiction is also more in line with how reading Doorways, as Nancy Pearl calls them, work. There are so many reasons for why readers enjoy what they do, Doorways they hope to open and enter and often fiction and nonfiction can serve the same purpose for the places the readers wants to go.

So, I always appreciate when I stumble across resources that give me a better idea about some of the nonfiction out there that readers might enjoy. Guardian Online recently printed “The 100 greatest non-fiction books.” I know I will be consulting this list whenever my brain needs a pick-me-up.

For those more in the nonfiction know, what resources do you consult and which books do you think should be considered the greatest nonfiction books?

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About the Author:

Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library.

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