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Genre Guide: Narrative Nonfiction

Sean's picture

Welcome to another installment in our Genre Guide series! This series will give readers exposure to unfamiliar material - and perhaps a refresher on old favorites. This month: Narrative Nonfiction.

                                                                                     book cover art collage

Narrative Nonfiction is a genre where writers apply narrative techniques to factual content. Simply put, it is nonfiction that reads like fiction. The elements within narrative nonfiction are similar to those found within novels, including: well-developed characters, engaging dialogue, a story that follows a narrative arc, an identifiable theme, and the use of literary devices such as symbolism and imagery. However, unlike novels, narrative nonfiction contains factual content and this content must be accurate and verifiable. Narrative nonfiction does not need to be objective, though. Generally, it is the author’s explanation of the story being told. Also, narrative nonfiction books tend to be written in first person. There are many subgenres within Narrative Nonfiction, including: true crime, travel narratives, memoirs, and history

Top 5 Classic Authors

Erik Larson Mary Roach Malcolm Gladwell Bill Bryson David Sedaris

Top 5 Up-and-Coming Authors

Laura Hillenbrand Katherine Zoepf Shaka Senghor Jeffrey E. Stern Simon Goodman



Top 5 Classic Books

Cover art for In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Cover art for Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Cover art for The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger
Cover art for Under The Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
Cover art for Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser


Top 5 New Titles

Cover art for Cast Away by Charlotte McDonald-Gibson
Cover art for Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly


Cover art for The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale
Cover art for Wolf Boys by Dan Slater
Cover art for The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer



My Favorite 5

Cover art for Marley & Me by John Grogan
Cover art for Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale
Cover art for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Cover art for The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown
Cover art for Night by Elie Wiesel