The Book Jar: My Quest to Read More Non-fiction


At the end of last year I promised myself I would read more non-fiction in 2014. Having already finished Stephen King’s The Stand (horror) and Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove (short stories), I think it’s time I made good on my promise. The challenge now is how to choose a non-fiction book which will get me started off on the right foot. Traditionally, when I’ve enjoyed non-fiction it’s been through reading memoirs, essays and food writing. This year I’m hoping to ramp into some more ‘serious’ non-fiction (learning more about history being my main goal), but maybe I should set myself up for success by starting with something a little lighter?

After giving the matter some thought, for the first time I’ve decided to leave my reading choices (somewhat) up to chance. Following the lead of a recent post on Book Riot, I’ve decided to start a non-fiction book jar.

The idea behind the book jar is a straightforward one: write the titles of books you want to read (whether they be books you own, books you want to buy, books to borrow, etc.) on slips of paper, fold up the slips and chuck them into a jar. When it comes time to choose a new book, let the fates decide your next read by drawing out a slip. For my book jar I have limited the fates somewhat by putting in slips for two titles each from my favourite (and a few slightly less favourite) non-fiction categories:

Food Writing


Popular Science/Sustainability


Unconventional Memoir


Harrowing Mountaineering Tales


Popular Penguin




Popular History


Popular Social Science


and Popular Economics


After one false start (I definitely can’t begin this project with the Howard Zinn, his is more of an endgame title), my first non-fiction for 2014 is Nerd do Well by Simon Pegg. My current plan is to alternate between my choice of fiction and a title from the jar. If all goes well, by December of this year I’ll be ready to read that rather thick biography of Abigail Adams that seemed like such a good idea to acquire…

Liz Gillett


One thought on “The Book Jar: My Quest to Read More Non-fiction

  1. bookmammal says:

    Great idea–I remember seeing this on Book Riot awhile back. I’m a big nonfiction fan and love reading books within many NF genres. If you’re looking for more books in the food writing/food memoir genre, I did a post about my favorites in this category a couple of months ago. Here’s the link if you’d like to take a look–
    (Also–from your photos–Into Thin AIr is a great read!)


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