Non Fiction November! – Week 2


Week 2: November 10 to 14 is hosted by Leslie at Regular Rumination

For week two of Non Fiction November, we are tasked with the following: “Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

I’m afraid I’m going to cheat this week and kind of do two of the three options. I’m a Non Fiction November Rebel! 🙂

Marching under the “Be the Expert” banner, I’d like to recommend a great popular history writer and three of his books. Have you ever heard of Daniel Boorstin? His isn’t a household name, but he served many years as Librarian of Congress, and also wrote several books on history, including maybe my favorite non-fiction book ever, The Creators: A History of Heroes of the Imagination.


One of the beauties of this book is that it’s really a huge collection of 8-15 page segments on great men and women in the history of the arts and thus can be out down and revisited without “having to start over” again or anything like that. I read it the first time over the course of several month’s worth of lunch hour reading at downtown Indy’s City Market building. This would’ve been in the late ’90s probably, and I can still vividly remember how somedays it was hard to re-enter the “corporate world” after just a brief sojourn with the heroes of the imagination. I learned SO MUCH reading this book. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

He also wrote the similarly structured books “The Discoverers” and “The Americans” – the latter which I had read as assigned reading in college, the former I read after being won over by The Creators. Another favorite by this author is the oddly titled “Cleopatra’s Nose,” a collection of “essays on the unexpected.” All great, great reading.


Now for Part II – if you’ve made it this far 🙂 – I’d like to avail myself of the Ask the Expert option too.

I’m one who loves to know “the story behind the story” in regards to some of the great works of literature. This has led me to become a fan of author biographies (or even author autobiographies). I’ve read a handful of both – autobiographies of Asimov, Wells, Trollope, Franklin, e.g., and biographies of Kerouac, Hawthorne, Poe, Dickens et. al. I have a thick biography of Jack London on my bedside table that for some reason I still haven’t read. But I want MORE. 🙂 What are some great author biographies or autobiographies that you have read and would recommend? I’m happy to be guided…

Well that’s me, but what about you? Are you Being, Becoming, or Asking this week?

Below: Daniel Boorstin in 1992 (from Wikipedia)



  1. Randall said,

    November 10, 2014 at 8:49 am

    I used to have a copy of The Creators and I never really did it justice… and now I don’t know where it is. 😦 But you are right, Boorstin is a fantastic writer!!

    And I’d like to give a HUGE shout-out to lunchtime reading — it brings needed sanity to my day, oftentimes.


    • Jay said,

      November 10, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      My copy of The Creators is one of the most “obviously used” books I own. I have reread parts of it several times, but its dog-eared-ness might also be from me toting it along on all those lunch hours. 🙂

      Lunchtime reading provides me with sanity preservation benefits as well. Lately it seems like “lunchtime reading” has. Become lunchtime blogging though. Like now. 🙂


  2. Cedar Station said,

    November 10, 2014 at 8:56 am

    You’ve rec’d The Creators to me once and for all and I shied away because of the size, but you’ve officially convinced me! Great post.


    • Jay said,

      November 10, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      Thanks. Writing it has made me want to pick up The Creators or The Discoverers again myself. 🙂


  3. November 10, 2014 at 9:40 am

    I HAVE heard of Boorstin (I’m a native Washingtonian, and he was often quoted about books and reading, etc, in the local papers while he was Librarian of Congress), although I’ve never read any of his books. His book The Americans is also supposed to be wonderful–I think that one came out in the ’70s.


    • Jay said,

      November 10, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      Yes, The Americans is very highly regarded and I think prize winning as well. I liked the others a little better because they weren’t limited to just America for eir subject matter.


  4. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review said,

    November 10, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    You’ve won me over to Boorstin too! I’ve seen his books around forever but haven’t actually cracked one open. My list this week focuses on “unconventional biographies” — including some of George Eliot, Robertson Davies, and Jane Austen. I hope you’ll check it out.


    • Jay said,

      November 10, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      Thanks for the visit, Lory. I hope you enjoy Boorstin if you give him a try. Your Austen book sounded intriguing, and the My Life in Middlemarch is a book I’m at least aware of but haven’t read. 🙂


  5. Dale said,

    November 10, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    I remember you mentioning The Creators a while back. I think I know what I want for Christmas, now.

    And, yes, I never appreciated lunchtime reading more than when I worked for a company that considered it “un-business-like” to go to lunch by yourself and read. I found some great hiding places, though. It’s a company based in Cincinnati that I no longer work for.


    • Jay said,

      November 12, 2014 at 7:33 am

      That company should be picketed or boycotted. 🙂


  6. November 10, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    If you have any interest in Southern fiction, Pat Conroy’s My Reading Life and The Death of Santini are good. Death tells lots of behind the scenes info about The Great Santini…and also Conroy’s family in general, who figure prominently disguised as fiction in his novels.


    • Jay said,

      November 12, 2014 at 7:35 am

      Thanks for the visit and recommendations, Sarah. I’ve had Conroy’s books recommended to me before, but I’ve never read any of his books (which I assume would help?).


  7. semicolonsherry said,

    November 10, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    I just bought a copy of The Discoverers at a used book sale. It’s good to know that I can read it a my leisure, dipping in and out.
    As for author bios, I recommend the older ones: G.K. Chesterton’s biography of Dickens is good. As is Mrs. Gaskell’s biography of Charlotte and Emily Bronte.


    • Jay said,

      November 12, 2014 at 7:37 am

      I think I actually own an e-copy of the Gaskell biography. Why haven’t I read that one yet? I think it was Claire Tomalin’s book on Dickens that I read. Thanks for the visit & I appreciate the suggestions!


  8. Alex said,

    November 11, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Those covers may be interesting, but they intimidate me. They look really… academic.


    • Jay said,

      November 12, 2014 at 7:38 am

      🙂 well, you know what they say about judging…


  9. Trish said,

    November 11, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    I’ll definitely be checking out The Creators–if it’s available on audio it might also be perfect for my short morning commute. In terms of biographies, Pain, Parties, Work is a great look at Sylvia Plath’s summer as an intern in 1953 New York City. I also read an interesting biography of Lewis Carroll for an undergrad project–the author is Morton N. Cohen. Very interesting look at this misunderstood author’s life.


    • Jay said,

      November 12, 2014 at 7:39 am

      Thanks for the recommendations, Trish. The Lewis Carroll one sounds like one I’d like. If you pick up the Creators, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

      Thanks for visiting Bibliophilopolis!


  10. trav said,

    November 12, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    I wasn’t familiar with Boorstin, but will have to check out The Creators. It certainly seems like one I would enjoy and get a lot out of.

    I really enjoyed “Lord of Publishing” it is billed as a memoir about famed editor/agent/publisher Sterling Lord. Lots of fun insights of his careers and stories about authors and their work habits. Good “behind the scenes” stuff of the book world. I guess that’s not truly about a specific author, but seems a good fit.

    Thanks for putting together this list!


    • Jay said,

      November 13, 2014 at 8:18 am

      Ooh, Lord of Publishing sounds right up my alley. Thanks for recommending. If you choose to. Read him, i hope you enjoy Boorstin as much as I have over the years.


  11. Brona said,

    November 13, 2014 at 5:57 am

    If you allow author its broadest definition, then the bio on Charles Darwin by Desmond & Moore was fascinating.

    The Creators sounds fabulous – thanks for the heads up 🙂


    • Jay said,

      November 13, 2014 at 8:22 am

      Thanks for the recommendation on the Darwin book. I’ve read a lot on him already but not that one. I hope you end up giving Boorstin a try someday. 🙂


  12. Dale said,

    November 16, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    I just picked up a hard copy edition of “The Creators” at Half Price Books. With a coupon, I got it for $4!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Lu said,

    November 16, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    I like that you focused on one author! I wish I had an author biography to recommend! Right now, I’m reading The Writer’s Garden and it’s very lovely, but not exactly author autobiographies. It’s about authors’ gardens and how they showed up in their work and photos of them today.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: