Handprints on the Wall of My Soul: Nonfiction November 2017 Week 4

Some of Nick's Nonfiction Favorites

Nonfiction November 2017 continues with a prompt about favorite nonfiction books hosted by Katie of Doing Dewey:

Nonfiction Favorites: We’ve talked about how you pick nonfiction books in previous years, but this week I’m excited to talk about what makes a book you’ve read one of your favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone? Let us know what qualities make you add a nonfiction book to your list of favorites.

For me, the subject matter is probably the most important element in choosing a nonfiction book, but to become one of my favorites a nonfiction book will have one of two main qualities:

They Left Handprints on the Wall of My Soul: When I look over my favorite nonfiction books on LibraryThing, what immediately jumps out to me is how much these books have made a difference in my life. Whether they’re about reading, writing, spirituality, or some other topic, I can see their handprints on the wall of my soul. They moved me. In other words, I am who I am partly because I have read and re-read these nonfiction favorites. I have mentioned many of them in this blog over the years, but here are a few I have not mentioned as often as the others, if at all:

They Mentored Me, and Continue to Do So: The other quality I notice in my nonfiction favorites is that they have given me the answers or skills I needed to do something important (like teach or preach), or they have informed me in an interesting and compelling way about something I was especially curious about. In other words, they taught me, and continue to teach me. Great nonfiction books are like Mr. Miyagi, and I am Daniel-san learning to “wax on, wax off.” They are the mentor and I am the student. No matter how often I read them, they still have more to teach me. Here a few books that fall into that category that I somehow haven’t written much about:

Other qualities I find in most of my favorite nonfiction titles are common to all good nonfiction:

  • Use of metaphors, analogies, and examples to bring concepts to life
  • A clear organizational structure
  • A familiar, friendly narrative voice

Do any of these qualities resonate with you? Which nonfiction books have left handprints on your soul? Which nonfiction authors have been the Mr. Miyagi’s in your reading life?

Deacon Nick

Nick Senger is a husband, a father of four, and a Catholic school teacher, vice principal and technology coordinator. He taught junior high literature and writing for over 25 years, and has been a Catholic school educator since 1990. In 2001 he was named a Distinguished Teacher of the Year by the National Catholic Education Association.

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