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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.)

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennie February 14, 2012 at 9:38 am

I have a hard time with non-fiction when it is so heavy with unneccesary details. I guess it’s a probel for fiction too actually. I don’t need to know all the details of a famous person’s eating habits throughout their life…unless I’m reading a book about a foodie/chef.

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Kim February 22, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Some nonfiction does seem to get bogged down in detail. I have a hard time with that too.

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MizB February 15, 2012 at 6:55 pm

My answer to the month’s question is posted here!

Apparently hard to stick to one answer! LOL.

~MizB

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Kim February 22, 2012 at 7:00 pm

It always is :) I’m off to read it now!

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Julie @ Read Handed February 17, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Great topic! My answer is here.

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Kim February 22, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Thanks for responding!

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Christy (A Good Stopping Point) February 18, 2012 at 5:15 pm

I’m with you on this type of nonfiction. Political memoirs – particularly those published before a campaign – have no interest for me at all, even if I like the politician.

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Kim February 22, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Every time I hear a politician has a memoir, I just roll my eyes. The idea just annoys the heck out of me.

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Joy Weese Moll February 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I enjoyed Dreams from My Father, but I’m not sure that Barack Obama was really thinking of the political career he ultimately had when he wrote it. Which may be why it has less of some of the things you find objectionable in other politician’s writing.

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Kim February 22, 2012 at 7:01 pm

That’s one that I had in mind when I was trying to think of possible exceptions to my “I hate politician memoirs” stance. I’m interested in reading that book.

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Christy (A Good Stopping Point) February 21, 2012 at 7:54 pm
Kim February 22, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Thanks for responding. I can’t wait to read it!

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Pam February 25, 2012 at 9:26 am

I agree with you on political books. Most of those people are so corrupt, and hardly ever tell the truth. The election commercials are bad enough!

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Kim March 3, 2012 at 6:41 pm

It is frustrating! I hate political commercials.

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Kara February 29, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Only a few hours left in February to respond! Here’s my answer:
http://rogueanthropologist.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/february-band/

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Kim March 3, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Better late than never :)

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Amy March 22, 2012 at 7:59 pm

I’ve finally responded, and umm… forgot to leave my link! Here it is: http://amckiereads.com/2012/03/16/band-february-2012-what-nonfiction-dont-you-like/

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Kim March 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Thanks Amy!

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Marilyn March 24, 2012 at 8:54 am

The non-fiction that I dislike most is that which is poorly done; sloppy, pretentious, and falsely claiming to be totally objective.

See the rest of what I have to say about my dislikes on my blog.
http://mdbrady.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/non-fiction-i-dislike/

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Kim March 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Ugh, yes, those are all terrible things. Thanks for responding!

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