3 Reasons You Don’t Read Nonfiction and Why You Should Anyway

Look at why you don’t read nonfiction books. And see how you can change your mind.

Here are LOTS of my favorite, 5-star nonfiction books.

3 Reasons You Don't Read Nonfiction

Why You Hate Nonfiction

I love a fun novel. Fiction books can pull me deep into a story, wanting to read on and on. They also can be educational and insightful in their own ways.

As a result, many fiction readers avoid nonfiction books. They’ve found what they love in fiction; why read anything else? Plus . . .

(1) They often think nonfiction books are boring.

They fell asleep studying a high school chemistry text and why repeat that? They don’t want to read a scientific summary of dull data or a detailed description of an event that happened centuries ago. They want a story that entertains, not a sermon that lectures.

(2) Nonfiction books also have a reputation for being too long.

Being assigned to read long passages of text for work or school in short periods of time make us restless. Authors can attempt to tell everything they know about a topic, interesting or not, relevant or not. Readers grow tired before the writer does.

(3) A third reason people often dislike nonfiction books is they can present opposing views.

Opinions, philosophies, and theology differ from person and person. We aren’t keen on spending time listening to opposing ones, even a short article shared by a Facebook friend on the other side of the aisle.

So why bother with nonfiction at all?

3 Ways to Try Nonfiction

Here are 3 reasons and ways to give nonfiction another try, even if you prefer fiction.

(1) Explore WHAT types of nonfiction books to read.

Boring textbooks are only one style of nonfiction books. If you haven’t read a nonfiction book since school days, experiment with the different styles of new books available. Modern marketing and ease of publication have steered many older and new authors to write in more engaging styles, use more relevant illustrations, and speak in everyday language instead of only ivory tower prose. See Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer as an example. It’s a wonderfully delightful book on, of all things, grammar.

Also, many nonfiction books are told with a strong narrative thread. They are plot-driven and present their facts in story form. If you prefer novels, find a nonfiction book that reads like one. Barbara Demick’s book, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, is a fascinating story that exposes you to another culture but through a strong narrative voice. Or try The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton about his death sentence for a crime he didn’t commit.

Another advantage of nonfiction books is they are often compiled by a variety of authors in one edition. Try In Search of Wisdom: A Monk, a Philosopher, and a Psychiatrist on What Matters Most by Matthieu Ricard, Christophe André, and Alexandre Jollien. You will enjoy hearing different voices in conversation around a single topic.

Or read a book by one author but on a variety of topics. Try Bob Goff’s book Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People. It is a new story in every chapter about Goff’s life experiences, and is sure to entertain and inspire you to love better.

And if you actually are into charts and graphs? Nonfiction will offer your a treasure trove of options to feed your information addiction. Try Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. It contains 75 graphs, but it is fascinating information. (It’s also Bill Gates’ favorite book.)

(2) Experiment with HOW you read nonfiction books.

With a novel, you start at the beginning and read in a straight line until you get to the end. But with a nonfiction book, you often have options.

You don’t always have to start at the beginning. Pick a favorite chapter and read that one first. Or only that one. Start at the end to get the conclusion, then start over at the beginning.

Slow down for new material; quickly scan or skip material you already know. Try skipping around in James Clear’s Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones (but you will want to read it all eventually, trust me!).

Also experiment with time or page limits. For tough books, commit to only 5 minutes a day. Or 5 pages. You’ll be surprised how good it feels to make daily progress, even if it is slow. You will eventually finish as long as you continue forward. When I was reading Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson, I committed to reading 5 pages a day. And it was so worth it.

(3) Examine WHY you read nonfiction books.

While your purposes for reading nonfiction may overlap with fiction, there are also distinctions. With nonfiction, you’re more likely to be searching for facts, for truth, for knowledge that can help you going forward (even if it’s about events already past). Try Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz.

But nonfiction can be beneficial in the spiritual dimension as well. By exposing you to more knowledge—even if it’s knowledge you’re having to doublecheck—you are also exposed to seeing another side of God that you may not have seen before. Try Scot McKnight’s The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible. Or Barbara Brown Taylor’s Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith. You don’t have to agree with everything to still learn something.

Whether it’s in a memoir or a book about space or theology itself, look for the beauty and goodness of God, inviting you into wonder, awe, and worship of his vast power and presence in our world, such as in Paul W. Brand’s The Gift of Pain: Why We Hurt & What We Can Do About It (previously titled The Gift Nobody Wants, the title I prefer).

On the flip side, also stay aware of God’s invitation in books to use YOU to make a difference in places that need change and light. Try Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. Or I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai.

While you can’t trust any nonfiction to be 100% accurate, it can still expose you to different perspectives to consider and test. Let nonfiction stretch you into questioning previously-held beliefs—whether about science or religion or history—so you can refine how you see yourself, other people, and God through a more precise and possibly more compassionate lens. Try The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. Or I Think You’re Wrong (but I’m Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations by Beth A. Silvers and Sarah Stewart Holland.

From the Head to the Heart

Maybe you still won’t fall in love with nonfiction like I have.

But by adding a few nonfiction books on your nightstand (and keep reading your novels, too), you might see nonfiction is not as bad as you think.

Not only will you learn new facts, new truths, and new people, but you also may learn more about yourself as well.

Fiction may touch the heart head-on, but nonfiction can reach your heart, too. It just takes a different path: through your head.

Don’t miss the touch, however it reaches you.

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Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction? What’s a favorite nonfiction book you can recommend? Please share in the comments.

Read more posts from Nonfiction November:

sharing with LeannAnita, Caroline,
Inspire Me Monday, Randomosity

Is God Good? 3 Ways to Find God’s Goodness

We can’t share about God’s goodness if we don’t see it.

Do you know how God has been good to YOU?

On any given day, we can see bad things happen around us. We wonder why God isn’t rushing in to remove all obstacles or heal all sicknesses, even though He can.

When we don’t understand what is happening, we can be quick to jump to wrong conclusions.

But what if instead of jumping to blame, we jump instead to grace?

3 Ways to Find the Good in God

Read them all here.

Is God Good

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I’m writing today at Do Not Depart about finding the goodness of God.

Will you join me there?

sharing with Lyli, Susan,
JenMaree, Deb

Why You Are Still Here

It could have been a birthday celebration. Happy Birthday to our middle daughter.

Instead, we went to the cemetery.

Why are you still here

A Thousand Little Deaths

If Kali had lived her first day, and the day after, and the day after, I would have been more eager to live those days, too.

But instead, when she died on Day 1, November 13, born premature and with severe problems, part of me wanted to die, too.

Don’t we all die a thousand little deaths throughout our lives? Don’t we all collect bruises on our souls?

The author of Psalm 118 certainly had his own little deaths. He knew about prisons and enemies and destruction. He (and the Hebrew people collectively) had been pushed hard.

But at this point he had not been handed all the way over to death (Psalm 118:18).

Others had died. Why not him? Why not me? Why not you? Why not yet?

Resurrect One Slow Breath at a Time

It took me awhile to understand why I was still living without my baby to care for.

Resurrection is sometimes instantaneous. But sometimes resurrection only comes one slow Spirit-breath at a time.

For me, resurrection was one small thing at a time—a friend bringing dinner after my C-section, a sympathy card in the mailbox, a flower left on Kali’s grave.

And resurrection was one person at a time—a gentle hug, a conversation mentioning Kali by name, an empathetic ear.

Each small thing reminded me I had big reasons to still be here.

  • I had my husband Jeff who loved me (and was grieving too),
  • my 4-yr-old daughter Morgan who needed her mommy, and
  • a God determined for me to know joy again.

(And unknown to me, another reason to still be here was on the horizon: a third daughter, Jenna, later to be conceived, born, loved.)

It is for the living we stay. For the loving. For the Lord.

You Still Have Purpose

If you are here reading this—as I am still here writing it—the Lord still has purpose here for you, too.

Even if you’ve come to the very rim of death, or are in crisis of a little death even today, know that God kept you from falling over the edge for now, for a reason.

You still have . . .

  • living to do
  • love to give
  • praise to proclaim

God can empower a thousand little resurrections over your thousand little deaths.

So even though I am sad today that Kali has not been here in the flesh for 26 years, I can proclaim with confidence along with the psalmist in Psalm 118: “The Lord is powerful!” (Psalm 118:15 CEV)

Even when I don’t understand death, I can trust resurrection.

I have lived to tell what the Lord has done.

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Do you know why you are still here? You are here to love somebody this week. Someone is here to love you. Please share in the comments.

Updated from the archives

3 Spiritual Books on the Enneagram

3 Spiritual Books on the Enneagram_Lisanotes

The Enneagram and Spiritual Growth

The Enneagram is a hot topic this past year. What is the Enneagram? It’s a system of personality typing, divided into nine main types. (Here’s a quick synopsis of each nine numbers. Which are you?)

While most of us identify stronger with one type over the others, we all have traits from every type.

But the Enneagram can do more than tell you about your personality today. It also can be used as a tool (one among many) that can help you grow in your relationship with God and with others in the future.

If you’d like to learn more about the Enneagram and spiritual growth, here are three books I highly recommend. Each one leans toward better spiritual health, not just psychological and relational health.

Three Spiritual Books on the Enneagram

1. For Beginners:

The Road Back to You
An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery
by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

The Road Back to You

This book gives a great overall explanation to help you find your type so you can better cooperate with God in your transformation. (Here are some of my favorite take-aways from The Road Back to You about how to love that OTHER number on the Enneagram.)

2. For Spiritual Disciplines:

The Sacred Enneagram
Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth
by Christopher L. Heuertz

The Sacred Enneagram

Christopher Heuertz’ goal with this book is to help us “find our way back home, back to our essential nature, our True Self, and back to God.”

He exposes nine ways we lie to ourselves about who we think we are, nine ways we can come clean about those illusions, and nine ways we can find our way back to God.

Here are some ways to practice your Enneagram number from The Sacred Enneagram.

3. For Digging Deeper:

The Wisdom of the Enneagram
The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types
by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

Lots of details are in this book, but they’re easy to understand. This book goes into each type’s basic fear, basic desire, and distortions. It offers a spiritual jump start for each type, red flags, and an invitation to abundance for each type.

For Further Reading

I hope to do a 28-day series on the Enneagram in February 2020. I’ll share lots more about the Enneagram and how to use it to grow spiritually and relationally, including more books I recommend, links to podcasts, Enneagram quizzes, how to use the Enneagram in your everyday life, etc. Stay tuned!

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I’m sharing today with Katie at Doing Dewey for #NonficNov. This week’s assignment is to share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend.

Do you have a favorite Enneagram book or resource that you’d recommend? Please share in the comments.

More book recommendations from #NonficNov:


Don’t Get Distracted – Book Review of Indistractable

Indistractable book review

Is This What You Planned?

What did you do yesterday? Was it what you meant to do?

According to Nir Eyal in his new book Indistractable, success is accomplishing what you intend, even if it is watching a video or taking a nap.

But how can we stay on track to do what we plan?

That’s the hard part. That’s what Eyal writes about in Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.

We tend to blame technology and our phones for distracting us from what we really want to do. We get sucked into time warps with social media and internet surfing and looking at Pinterest.

But people have always found ways to be distracted. If not technology, it’s something else. The problem isn’t the medium of distraction (although some things are more tempting than others); the problem is ourselves.

“Traction helps us accomplish goals; distraction leads us away from them.”

The Indistractable Model

Eyal presents us with The Indistractable Model, four steps to become indistractable:


Identify and manage the psychological discomfort that leads you off track. The drive to relieve discomfort is the root cause of our behavior; everything else is a proximate cause. Time management is pain management.

2. Make time for TRACTION

Turn your values into time. You actually perform better under constraints because limitations give you a structure. Book 15 minutes on your schedule every week to reflect and refine your calendar. You can’t call something a distraction unless you know what it is distracting you from.


Remove external triggers to keep distractions out. Is this trigger serving you, or are you serving it? Many things become irrelevant when you give them a little time to breathe. Even desktop clutter takes a heavy psychological toll on your attention.

4. Prevent DISTRACTION with pacts

Being indistractable not only requires keeping distraction out. It also necessitates keeping yourself in. Rein yourself in with the ancient practice of precommitment, but only after applying the first three steps. Make unwanted behaviors more difficult to do.

Are You Phubbing?

Eyal presents both psychological theories as well as practical tips for how to become indistractable in a variety of situations, such as in the workplace, among friends, in intimate relationships, with children, even in meetings and group chats.

Some of the advice you may have heard before, but other parts are new or at least rebranded (you may be a phubber* even if you don’t call it that).

Thanks to Eyal, I’m having to rethink how I handle (or give in to) my own distractions and where I’m placing my attention.

Because how we control our attention is how we choose our life.

It’s worth our full focus.

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What distracts YOU the most? How do you refocus? Please share in the comments.

* Phubbing = a combination of “phone” and “snubbing;” paying more attention to your phone than to people

Read more about Indistractable here.

Learn more in this video.

Indistractable Video

My thanks to Net Galley
for the review copy of this book


5 Links, Books, and Things I Love – November 2019

Every month I share my list of favorite 5’s.

5 Things I Love November 2019

  • 5 interesting things online
  • 5 articles about words, books, or podcasts
  • 5 pictures of things I love
  • 5 blog posts from the month

What are you enjoying this month?

1 Second Everyday

[If you can’t see the 1 Second Everyday video, click here]

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5 Things Around the Web

1. Bible Verses to Overcome Each Enneagram Type’s Greatest Fear

The Enneagram is used as a tool for spiritual growth. This article identifies the core fear of each of the nine types and gives a Bible verse to speak directly to that fear.

2. Be Humble, and Proudly, Psychologists Say

Studies are now proving that humility is an important trait to have. (God has been saying it all along.) And that it’s hard to fake.

3.  In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace

America’s religious landscape is changing quickly.

4. How to Wash Your Hands, According to Science

Despite awareness of the importance of washing your hands, people often fail to do it properly.

5. What Makes Us All Radically Equal

It’s not our brains and it’s not our bodies. I love what David Brooks shares here.

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5 Things with Words and Books

1. Nonfiction November

Want more suggestions for nonfiction books? This is your month! I’m excited I found this Nonfiction November challenge all about nonfiction. Each week we blog on a different angle of reading nonfiction.

Last week I shared My Favorite Nonfiction Books This Year. This week’s post is Match This Nonfiction Book with This Fiction Book.

There’s a separate Instagram challenge for #NonficNov. I’m posting my Instagram posts here.


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Here are the official Instagram prompts for #NonficNov.


2. 7 Delightful Non-Fiction Books about Books and Reading

When you love books like many of us do, we even enjoy books about books. This list includes this one that I really love: I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel

3. This Book Mattered the Most

Dan Pink asked his subscribers: What book has mattered the most to you? At least 3 of these would make my top 10 as well. You? (He kicked out any entries for his own books; that’s humble. I love all his books.)

Dan Pink 10 books

4. Advice from Books

I get this newsletter each week because it contains short pieces of advice from books, many books that I already love. Including this one: David Allen’s, Getting Things Done (see the top 10 list above!). Here are four pieces of advice from his book.

5.  4 Books I Recommend

Here are short book reviews of 4 favorite books I finished reading in October, including Indistractable and Maid.

4 Books I Recommend October 2019_fb

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5 Pictures of Things I Love

You don’t have to know someone long to love them deep.

All five pictures this month are of my two beautiful granddaughters, one most recently born October 15!

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5 Favorites from the Blog

Here are brief summaries and links to blog posts from October 2019.

1. Do You Want God to Know Everything About You?

Would you rather God know or NOT know everything about you?

2. Adjusting the Dream

What do you dream about becoming? Adjust your dream to a higher goal.

3. When You Need Less Google, More God

Do we idolize knowledge more than we trust God? Try less Google, more God, in an informational Sabbath.

4. What’s Your Number? The Enneagram and The Road Back to You

Grow by learning your Enneagram number. Be more compassionate by learning others’ numbers. Here are the 9 types from The Road Back to You.

5. When You Don’t Want to Show Up

I don’t feel qualified to teach them. Should I not show up? Or maybe I’m missing the point?

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What was a highlight from your October? What do you have planned for November? Please share in the comments.

previous Links and Books

sharing with Deb,
Lyli, Jen, Maree