April BAND: Quirky Nonfiction

After a break in March, the Bloggers’ Alliance of Nonfiction Devotees is back, and I’m happy to chime in on another of these conversations! This month’s question comes from Care’s Online Book Club:

I like to read nonfiction on odd subjects. I define quirky as a book about a single subject that at first thought might prompt a question of how anyone could find enough stuff to write an entire book?

Who are your favorite quirky titles and authors?

It seems to me that quirky nonfiction books have been growing in popularity in the past decade. I don’t know if that’s true or I’ve just become more aware of them, since I didn’t generally read this category in eighth grade. Either way, Care’s post mentioned several of the books that immediately come to my mind when thinking of quirky nonfiction.

For example, Stiff—Mary Roach’s surprisingly humorous foray into uses for cadavers—is the first book I remember reading in this category. It’s a wonderful example of defying the question “you’re writing a whole book about that??” because every facet she explores stays interesting and entertaining.

That’s not always the case, though. Sometimes quirky topics can lead authors into haphazard sort of narratives. For example, in Pink Think, Lynn Peril analyzes a range of materials from the 1940’s to 1970’s meant to train girls and women how to be women. The book has its gems, but reading it is a bit like sifting through a pink-themed yard sale.

My most recent quirky nonfiction read was This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson. Overall, I recommend it to all book and library lovers for its cornucopia of interesting library stories. Johnson did lose my interest for a while in a long section about librarians on Second Life.

On my to-read list is another book Care mentioned, Just My Type: a book about fonts, which I only read part of before I had to return to the library because someone else put it on hold!

If I were to write a book for adults, it would probably be on the quirky nonfiction shelf, so in addition to wanting to hear your answer to what are your favorite quirky nonfiction books? I also want to know, what would you write about if you were a quirky nonfiction author?

6 Responses to “April BAND: Quirky Nonfiction”

  1. 1 paindecampagne April 25, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    I personally loved “Dating Jesus: A story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl.” Spoke to the heart. You’re right — funky titles and nonfiction seem to coincide. I’m trying to think of others. Perhaps nonfiction titles have to be so creative because sometimes the content can be not-so-creatively written.

  2. 4 Tonks April 26, 2012 at 2:21 am

    I loved Stiff! I taught it in my writing about the social and natural sciences class and it was the only reading my students showed any interest in that semester. I’d like to read Roach’s other books.

  3. 6 Care April 26, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I was just given Roach’s Packing for Mars and I’ve very excited to read it. I actually started Stiff at the library but wasn’t able to check it out. I’ll get back to it one of these days.

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