I read a good deal of non-fiction. Currently on the go is 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel by Jane Smiley. It’s subtitled ‘What to read and how to write’ and I’m not sure I like the prescriptiveness of that. However, she has done a lot of reading of important and literary works and compares them in interesting and useful ways. I do like it, but not hugely.
A lot of my non-fiction reading is technical stuff like The Poet’s Manual by Frances Stillman or How to be a Gardener by Alan Titchmarsh. I suppose cookery books would come under this heading. They are among my favourite non-fiction reads, and I quite often browse the recipes even if I have no intention of actually cooking them.
One of my all time favourites is The Holocene: An Environmental History by Neil Roberts. I’ve had it for a while so it must be a bit out of date by now, but I keep it and dip into it occasionally. It covers the recent history of our world from the end of the last ice age to now (or more accurately 1998 when my edition was published).
I love this stuff: evolution, the changes our planet has been through, ancient history, astronomy. I love the oldness and largeness of the scale they deal with and the perspective they put on our short lived and temporary lives.