Continuing Edutainment

by Marina M.

Learning: it’s not just for school

I like to know stuff. That’s probably why I chose librarianship as a profession. And what I learned while I was getting my degree is that I really enjoyed the research aspect of all those papers I had to write. For both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. So many papers!

The research process led me to uncover heretofore unknown pieces of information to incorporate into my final product. After the completion it was never the writing of the paper that I found myself missing. It was the actual process of digging up those tidbits of knowledge. Which is why I seem to find myself drawn to a wide variety of nonfiction books. If I examine the list of nonfiction titles I’ve read over the past several years I’ll probably find that the majority of them are audio memoirs. Read by the author, obviously. However, every now and again I’ll get on a tear and want to find something new about the past, present or future.

Read for your interests

With an undergraduate major in American Studies (yeah, I still don’t know how that applies to working in the real world) I do have a fondness for history and sociology. During the course of gathering my thoughts, books, and ideas for this post I was listening to Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. That book, which I (and the author) dubbed as Freakonomics 2.0, really gave me a peek into society and culture through the lens of Google Trends. Google doesn’t keep any secrets! (Although that data is anonymous. Mostly.)

Even before that, when I was brainstorming ideas to write about, I was listening to Dan Flores’ book American Serengeti. Which was preceded by my viewing of the documentary, Unbranded, about the wild mustangs of the American West. Looking back at my reading list, I tend to clump my favorite nonfiction topics when I read, watch or listen. For example, a few years ago I listened to Pit Bull: An American Icon by Bronwyn Dickey and The Dog Merchants by Kim Kavin back-to-back. (While both had uplifting stories included, the hardships of the animals from both books stuck with me.) Additionally, a few months later, I went to the dark side, uh, the cat side, and listened to The Lion in the Living Room by Abigail Tucker.

Learning outside the book

My main focus was to share a selection of entertaining books that also would expand your knowledge. I would be remiss to not also share some of the online research options that are accessible to you with just your Sno-Isle Libraries card. One of my favorite eLearning options is When the Readers’ Services Team first started using WordPress for BiblioFiles to bring our love of books, movies, and music to life I took a crash course on the ins and outs from There are even videos to help you understand Google Trends! Plus much, much more.

Another resource I find myself going back to again and again is Consumer Reports. Yes! Full access to their website with all the buyer guides and ratings with just your library card! Don’t stop with and Consumer Reports. Explore all of our online research options. And don’t hesitate to Ask Us for help if you get stuck.

So, how about you? Do you have a favorite nonfiction subject you find yourself going back to again and again?


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11 responses to “Continuing Edutainment”

  1. Jackie P. says:

    I find that I have to do non-fiction on audio. It’s extremely rare for print non-fic to hold my attention. That little extra drama and emotion from the audio narrator works for me. I tend toward history and sociology as well, with a smattering of memoir and biography. After that, probably narrative sciences, mostly medical. My favorite questions at the information desk (after helping readers find books they’ll love!) are always medical-related.

    • Marina M. says:

      I think the last nonfiction I read that wasn’t a cookbook (because those count!) was The Boys in the Boat (over two years ago). And whenever I tell people that they always tell me I need to go back and listen to the audio. Jackie, from your comments, I believe we are reading twins!

  2. Heather O. says:

    Like Jackie, I enjoy a good medical book. Specifically one that teaches me something new about the human body (or the uses for the human body after death). The book (and author) who got me hooked was “Stiff” by Mary Roach. I got to see her in person when she stopped by Seattle to promote her new book “Gulp” (which I also consumed in one sitting) and it was neat to hear how much she enjoyed the research process.
    Speaking of food, I also enjoy looking at baking books. Quite often, I’ll just look through them to get ideas for new techniques or combinations to try. If I’m brave and have the time, I’ll actually try a recipe (and try not to get the book dirty), which means my co-workers will get a sweet treat in the breakroom.

  3. Janet Raynor says:

    I have little time to sit and read, so I listen to lots of audiobooks. Non-fiction is perfect for that! I’ve put a couple of yours on my list, so thank you.

    Nonfiction/edutainment I’ve enjoyed recently: Why I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown. The Sports Gene by David Epstein. How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough. Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis. Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell.

    • Marina M. says:

      Janet, it’s always a pleasure to extend somebody’s reading list. And thanks for sharing your list, too! I see some of your recent reads making their way onto my list as well.

  4. Lindsey says:

    Edutainment is the best. I love history! I sometimes wish I’d done my undergrad in History rather than English, but as it happened there was a lot of history in my English courses anyway. I don’t get through nonfiction books as quickly as I blow through fiction, but I’m always poking around in SIL’s databases and online for whatever topic I latch onto, whether it’s English Romanticism or the RAF during WWII or the medieval myth of Cockaigne or the history of Newgate Prison. I definitely need to read American Serengeti!

  5. Erin L. says:

    I like to combine non-fiction and historical fiction with the same subject back to back. Sometimes the non-fiction book inspires the fiction selection and sometimes the other way around. The fiction fills in the emotional gaps and the non-fiction gives more accurate facts. Two non-fiction books I loved reading recently were “Hidden Figures” and “Lion”. Both made great movies too.

  6. michele bates says:

    I have just added your recommended titles to my ‘Must read non-fiction’ list. I’m always on the lookout for unusual, somewhat quirky bits of info to share.
    Even though I am a staunch sci-fi and/or fantasy reader I occasionally stumble across a non-fiction title that I think is worthy of my limited time and brain power. These are some of my all-time favorites:

    Frozen in time: an epic story of survival and a modern quest for lost heroes of World War II
    By Mitchell Zuckoff
    The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries
    By Marilyn Johnson
    The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds, and What They Reveal About Being Human
    By Noah Strycker
    When Science Goes Wrong: Twelve Tales from the Dark Side of Discovery
    By Simon Levay
    The Strange Case of Dr. Doyle: A Journey into Madness & Mayhem
    By Dan Friedman
    The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate: Discoveries from A Secret World
    By Peter Wohlleben

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