Eva has written recently about learning to love nonfiction; I’ve loved certain forms of it for quite a while, although I still read many more novels than nonfiction books. Eva’s post caught my eye because I’ve had a longing lately to read some good nonfiction; alas, I don’t seem to be able to get to it, as my reading time has been limited and when I do have time to read I read novels for class or for book groups. So I thought I’d do a little a little fantasizing here about what nonfiction books I would read if I had the time and energy for them. I’m going to pretend for a few moments that I have nothing to do for the next couple months but read for fun. Here are some of the nonfiction books I’d pick up:
- Richard Holmes’s Coleridge: Early Visions, 1772 – 1804. Although I didn’t particularly like the Romantics when I studied them in college, I’ve changed my mind completely since then and have become a bit obsessed by them. I just received this biography of Coleridge from Book Mooch, and I’d love to dive in.
- Also about the Romantic time period is Amanda Vickery’s The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Georgian England. I so want to know what a woman’s life in Georgian England was like!
- William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience. I’ve been meaning to read this one for ages, and it’s high time I get to it.
- John Kelly’s The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time. I’ve been interested in this book ever since reading Geraldine Brooks’s novel Year of Wonders, which is also about the plague. It would be great to have a nonfiction as well as a fictional perspective.
- Helen Deutsch’s Loving Dr. Johnson. Here is what Amazon says about the book: “Loving Dr. Johnson uses the enormous popularity of Johnson to understand a singular case of author love and to reflect upon what the love of authors has to do with the love of literature.” That sounds appealing, doesn’t it?
- Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy. NYRB has an attractive-looking edition of this 17C classic. Amazon says this: “Dr. Johnson, Boswell reports, said it was the only book that he rose early in the morning to read with pleasure.” That intrigues me …
- William St. Clair’s The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period. The Romantics again. You can see what kind of nonfiction I am most attracted to — the literary history and biography kind. The title is self-explanatory — about reading habits in the Romantic period, based on quantitative research.
- Jenny Diski’s On Trying to Keep Still, or any of her work, actually. I fell in love with her blog (although she doesn’t post much) and must now read her books.
That would keep me busy for a while, wouldn’t it? Are there any nonfiction books you’ve been longing to read?