BAND February Discussion: What Nonfiction Don’t You Like?

by Kim on February 13, 2012 · 22 comments

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BAND — Bloggers’ Alliance of Nonfiction Devotees — is a group organized to promote the joy of reading nonfiction. We are “advocates for nonfiction as a non-chore,” and we want you to join us. Each month, a member of BAND hosts a discussion on their blog related to nonfiction. 

Since I hosted the first BAND discussion last July, we’ve passed discussion around to a bunch of awesome bloggers. In my first discussion, I asked about your favorite type of nonfiction. This month, I want to go the other direction:

What is one type of nonfiction you dislike and why? And, as an extra challenge (if you choose to accept it), ask your readers to recommend a book to try!

I’ve had problems with Mr. Linky, so feel free to leave a link to your response in the comments, and I’ll update this post with a list of submissions and try to do a wrap-up near the end of the month.

My Problems with Reading Pundits and Politicians

While I try not to be a person that dislikes things before giving them an honest try, I have to admit that I have to stop myself from gagging every time I hear about a new book by a political pundit or politician. It’s making me annoyed even thinking about it.

When I think of a political pundit, I’m talking about anyone who makes a living commenting on political issues from a particular political persuasion or hosts a cable news program. And when I think of a politician, I’m referring to anyone currently running for office or who may run for office again in the future.

As much as I like reading nonfiction about politics or political issues (Big Girls Don’t Cry, a book about the 2008 presidential election, was one of my favorite reads in 2011), I just can’t seem to find any interest in reading books by people of any political persuasion. I’m equally turned off by the thought of reading Bill O’Reilly as I am of reading Bill Maher.

I think my biggest problem is that books by pundits or politicians come in only two flavors — political manifesto or political memoir — and I dislike both equally.

I don’t like manifestos because I like nonfiction that approaches a given topic with a sense of curiosity or inquiry. Political manifestos, but their very nature, are persuasive. I don’t mind books that explore a topic and reach a conclusion, but I hate reading a book where the conclusion was decided even before the book began.

I don’t like political memoirs because a memoir written by someone who is running for or plans to run for office can’t possibly be honest or emotionally truthful. I mean, Mitt Romney’s book is basically a 350 page campaign speech, right? If so, I just have absolutely no interest in reading that.

But I also think my disgust for this sort of book is slightly unfounded. After all, I haven’t actually read one in recent memory (certainly not within the almost four years I’ve been blogging here). That’s where the second part of this task comes it: I want your recommendations.

Is there a political book you’ve read an enjoyed? A memoir by a politician that’s more than just a reiteration of their campaign website (with folksy, family-oriented anecdotes thrown in for good measure)?

I read Priceless on a dare, so Donald Rumsfeld’s memoir can’t be worse, right?

(P.S. Sorry for the heavy hitting on right wing politicians. I’ve just got them all on the brain because of the presidential primary race… I’m equally skeptical about left wing books, I just can’t think of any off the top of my head.)

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