What % of your monthly reading is non-fiction and what drives the direction of that reading?

boz ‏@bozwood: what % of your monthly reading is non-fiction and what drives the direction of that reading?


I have three goals when I read:

A) fun

B) learn. And when I say “learn” I want to learn things that will mate with my old ideas so I come up with new ideas either for this blog or maybe, in the extremely rare case, for a business.

C) to be a better writer.

For “A” I read both fiction and non-fiction. I don’t get so strict on whether the reading will improve me. I just want to have fun with a good story or compelling, page-turning reading. There is some selfishness in this reading in that I, eventually, would like to write a fun book.

For “B” I like to read almost anything. It’s not necessarily going to be the best writing (non-fiction writers, almost by definition, have spent time getting good at their area of expertise and not put in the 10,000 hours to become a world-class writer.)

For “C” I want writing that will literally put me in a trance with how good the writing is. It’s this trance that I then try to help improve my own writing.

I’ll read or spend some time reading, at least 50 different books a month.

Here’s my list of books I’ve either read chapters of, or the whole books, in the past week or so. Or books I’m planning on reading.


“The Next Decade” by George Friedman. The folks at stratfor seem to have infinite knowledge about the past, present, and future of all of our geopolitical situations and George perfectly summarizes them all for the layman.

“SoulPancake” by The Office actor Rainn Wilson. A unique book bursting with creative ideas.

“How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy” by Orson Scott Card – planning my BIG BREAK

“The Complete Book of General Ignorance” – it’s actually amazing how much pure knowledge I’ve gotten from this.

“I Am That” by Nisaragadatta Maharaj. Was on my last list but re-reading.

“Myths to Live By” by Joseph Campbell, an excellent comparison of the various myths that have evolved into today’s science around the world.

“Cyndi Lauper” autobiography. Yes, there’s a lot to learn here about being an artist.

“Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed. Often an inspiration for my Q&A posts. Her book “Wild” is also excellent.

“Every Love Story is a Ghost Story” by D.T. Max – a biography of David Foster Wallace. I’m not a fan of any of Wallace’s work but his creative ascent and then descent into depression and then suicide is tragic and compelling.

“You Are Here” by Christopher Potter – a good introduction to the Big Bang, particle physics, what happened “after” and what might’ve happened “before”.

“Winter Journal” by Paul Auster – a beautifully written memoir

“U and I” – Nicholson Baker’s internal love/hate relationship/rambling about John Updike. It’s interesting in a world of Google because he consciously tries to analyze Updike’s works without looking any of them up and without having read them all. And then he deals with his own jealousy over those works and compares Updike’s literary career with his own.

“The Chronology of Water” – Lidia Yuknavitch. Beautifully written and also recommended by Chuck Pahlianuk (“Fight Club”) who also recommends my absolute favorite fiction book, “Jesus’ Son” by Denis Johnson

“Loving What Is” by Byron Katie. An inspirational woman who seems almost supernaturally infused with happiness. She’s married to another of my favorite authors, “Stephen Mitchell” who wrote an interesting book “The Gospel According to Jesus” who picks apart the New Testament trying to determine what was added later and which parts might be accurate. I also recommend Katie’s book “Who Would You Be Without Her Story”. She’s like an overly happy Eckhart Tolle.

Also, since my visit with Amazon and meeting a bunch of self-published authors I’ve become addicted to the books of one of the sci-fi writers I met there, Hugh Howey. In particular, in the past two weeks I’ve read:

“Wool Omnibus” – a 5 part collection of his Wool series

“First Shift” – a prequel to the above series

“The Plagiarist”

“The Hurricane”

and I just downloaded “Halfway Home” by him.

And finally, a few other books I’ve enjoyed recently.

“Daytripper”, a graphic novel by Fabio Moon

“You’re Not Doing It Right” – Michael Ian Black. Funny.

rereading “Factotum” by Bukowski

These are the books I’ve read or re-read over the past month. I’ve had quite a bit of time on planes, trains, when I wake up early, and before I go to sleep and I spend that time reading. I haven’t included books I’ve only skimmed or read parts of nor have I included the books I’m planning (hoping) to read over the next few months and I left off one or two books that I didn’t enjoy.