What is Non-fiction?
The criterion for a text to be classified as Non-fiction is the factual nature of the subject matter. Not
that the subject matter has to be an undisputed, completely objective fact—many would argue there is
no such thing—but the subject matter has to be dealt with as truth within a particular context.
The Non-fiction genre is incredibly broad, and encompasses far more than written texts. The ideas of
fact and truth are, of course, subject to dispute and subjectivity. However, a text can still be classified
Non-fiction even if the facts or truths within are disproved or not held by everybody. For example, the
Bible, and other religious or mythological works are considered Non-fiction because some people
believe them to be fact. Journalism is Non-fiction, even if the story that was reported is later disproved.
Provided that the author of the work is writing material that they believe to be factual, or not fictitious,
the work qualifies.
There are many types of text that classify as Non-fiction. Some of these are essays, journalism,
scientific studies, photographs, biographies, and user manuals. Some texts can fall into either the
Fiction or the Non-fiction categories depending on their credentials, such as histories, letters,
magazines, and documentaries.
There is a particular niche within the Non-fiction genre called Creative non-fiction, and most (although
not all) of the Non-fiction books reviewed on Illiterarty fall into this category. Creative non-fiction
refers to the use of literary skills or techniques in the writing of Non-fiction. Some Non-fiction works
are considered to be well researched and accurate but boring and badly written. Creative non-fiction
should be well researched and believed to be accurate, but also be written in a style that captures the
reader’s attention and keeps them engaged and reading. Examples of this are certain autobiographical
writings, and the writings of authors such as Truman Capote, Hunter S. Thompson, Chuck Klosterman,
and Chuck Palahniuk.
On occasion, the reputations of Creative non-fiction authors have come under scrutiny and attack for
trying to pass writing off as Non-fiction when they know it to be fictitious. However, due to the nature
of the Creative non-fiction genre, there will always be room for controversy.
Visit Google Books via this link
In the search tab type “100 Most Popular Nonfiction Authors” and click “Search Books”
You will be given an overview of several authors as well as an extensive “Index” of authors and titles
and a “Contents” page listing all of the authors covered in this guide to Non fiction. Begin by finding
what sounds like or looks like a book for instance The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux. To learn more
about this book type in the title of the book or the author’s name in the same search tab you used to find
What will appear are links to the book housed in the Google Books database. If you click on one of the
links you will be taken to a page with “quotes” from the book itself as well as short reviews of the
This is an excellent way for you to “figure out” what you will read. I would suggest you spend some
time doing your own research before going to a library or bookstore. Due date for bringing the book to
class Monday, September 28, 2009.