Q&A: What types of nonfiction books do I love to read?

Q&A: What types of nonfiction books do I love to read?

Every month, I take some time out of my day to respond to thought-provoking questions from readers. In the full archive, you’ll find all of the reader’s questions I’ve answered so far.

Today, I’m thrilled to share what kind of nonfiction I love to read, and my take on what sets literary nonfiction apart from other forms of non-fiction. Here’s a transcript of my answer to the reader’s question of Mees, about what distinguishes literary nonfiction from traditional nonfiction, and the one I prefer:

Thank you for your thoughtful question, Mees. I truly appreciate it. First of all, traditional nonfiction and literary nonfiction both convey information to the reader about things that are true. However, the main difference between the two is that literary nonfiction uses true events to tell a story, while traditional nonfiction simply communicates facts.

Therefore, the main goal of literary nonfiction is to engage and immerse readers. This genre is often referred to as creative nonfiction and uses narrative techniques that are commonly found in fiction, which makes it a blend of true events and storytelling.

Therefore, traditional nonfiction delivers facts and information straightforwardly and reliably, without the narrative flourish. The primary objective is to present factual information without weaving a thematic or message-driven narrative.

Yet, the literary narrative found in creative nonfiction has to be detailed to be compelling, and at the same time factually correct. Take, for example, Tara Westover’s memoir, a true story about her unusual life. Although the facts have to be correct to make it a true story, it is very different from technical and academic writing whose subjects and purpose demand precision and clarity. Therefore, the memoir draws readers into her unique life journey through storytelling techniques, making it an engaging experience.

When it comes to my own reading preferences, they tend to be quite dynamic, depending on my mood and interests at the time. I love the excitement of discovering books that might be outside my usual comfort zone. There’s a certain joy in not overthinking the decision to pick up a book but simply allowing myself to be pleasantly surprised.

However, most of the book recommendations you’ll find on my bookshelf fall into the category of literary nonfiction. I must admit that from all the books that I’ve read, I often stumble upon nonfiction works that prove to be truly worthwhile. These books are usually thought-provoking and have the power to reshape my perspective. I’m naturally drawn to understanding people better because, through that lens, I gain insights into myself. Some books have this incredible ability to spark conversations and kindle a unique sense of excitement and curiosity within the reader. Ultimately, that’s what I look for in a book – a piece that stirs my thoughts and leaves me eager to explore more.


Thank you for reading. This reader’s question is part of the Ask Me Anything series. I´d love to answer more of your interesting questions and get a sense of your interests. If you have questions to extend this Ask Me Anything section, please let me know. I like to hear from you. Send me your question via team@lisanneswart.com

Here is a list of the last 3 readers’ questions I’ve answered:


» Explore more answers to thought-provoking questions from readers




150 150 Lisanne Swart
Share this:

Leave a Reply

Previous Post
Next Post

    Start Typing