My favorite new way I’ve been finding nonfiction books to read is within other nonfiction books.
In Assata’s auto-biography, she references Lolita Lebron. I’m a sociology and theology major and the story of a Puetro Rican nationalist who opened fire on Congress decades ago is something I’d 1. never heard of and 2. a minefield of human condition, especially when compared with modern events. She was (and still is, I believe) the longest held political prisoner in American history, and she maintained a rigorous faith throughout. I like to hear/read things from people I agree with and those I don’t as well, I think it’s necessary.
She herself didn’t seem to have an autobiography, at least not in English, so after some digging I found one of her granddaughter’s, in which she discusses Lolita. This book - Message From God in the Atomic Age - has been one of my favorite reads so far. I’d never have found this otherwise.
Still in Assata’s book, she references Camillo Torres, a Columbian priest who left the cloth to become an on the ground fighting revolutionary because he believed that’s what any good priest would have done - to help the people. An english copy of his writing took forever to find, and was rather costly, but again, has been one of my favorite reads.
I read mostly non-fiction and find books mostly like this. In I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, Giraud repeatedly references Nietzsche and it felt important to stop before continuing, feeling like I had some pre-requisites to read first. Having never actually read his works, I set about finding his necessary reads - The Gay Science, Beyond Good and Evil, and Thus Spoke Zarathustra (from my research) - and found Gay Science’s Introduction to be one of my favorite to reference essays of linguistic/preservation of intent approach in translation.
Outside of nonfiction?
Has anyone figured out a good way to stop re-reading the books we read as kids? I thought that’s what we all did primarily.
After donating slews of old books a few years ago, I’ve begun repurchasing them all because I can’t seem to live without the stories I grew up with. Buried Fire Jonathan Stroud, Time Cat Lloyd Alexander, Artemis Fowl Eoin Colfer, Neverwhere Neil Gaiman, Phantom Tollbooth Norton Juster. I also bought Japanese editions of all my old mangas, can you believe Tokyo Mew Mew in English is going for like 200 on Amazon?
Aside from the tried and true checking of fronts and backs of books and a peruse of a random page in the center - I used to find amazing books in Dollar Tree. I moved a few years back and I’ve never been able to decide if it’s because I’ve moved or if they don’t do it anymore, but 5-10 years ago I would spend 20 bucks at a Dollar Tree for 20 books and I’d leave with books that I’d see in regular book stores that season for full price. I even once got an autographed copy there. No idea how they managed that, but I bought books there for years.
Listen to Levar Burton Reads! If there’s nothing else, his podcast is AMAZING and filled with current author’s short stories and he often plugs their upcoming books as well. Mostly science fiction authors. I listen to a ton of podcasts of short story readings or dramatized old school radio style shows. There’s the actual old one’s - Dimension X - on spotify, and many others, or podcasts like Call of the Flame, The Two Princes, Alba Salix, Leviathan, If I go Missing the Witches Did It.