The Intern Diaries: Nonfiction

The Intern Diaries is a meme where I talk about my epiphanies and experiences interning whenever I have a topic I think would be interesting to my readers! I hope you enjoy this series as much as I do.


I think it comes as no surprise that I am primarily a fiction reader. When I want to lose myself in a good book, my mind immediately thinks fantasy and other worlds. But I am starting to change my opinion after my current internship.

Yesterday marked the official half-way point for me at Penguin. It's crazy to think I am half way done with this internship and next week I am halfway done with this current semester. What is my life?! Where has the time gone?!

Anyway, back to the point of this post.

About a week ago, one of my bosses asked me to write a galley letter for a Spring 2016 title that will go out after I leave my internship. The publicity assistant handed me a bound manuscript of the novel and recommended reading the first three or so chapters to get a feel for the author's voice, cautioning that she did not expect me to read all of it because I have other projects and not a lot of free time at home since college takes priority above all else.

I agreed because the whole point of interning is learning new things. Sure, I've written YA and MG galley letters, but never an adult nonfiction one. They are approached so, so differently. I leaned back in my chair, kicked my feet up in my two person cubicle, and got to reading this nonfiction book about Rockefeller's oil empire and how it collapsed.

Before I continue, I should mention that I am in a bit of a war with my best friend. My best friend has a love/hate relationship with fiction because he feels he is not properly represented in fictional works as a gay man and I don't have the best relationship with nonfiction because I was assigned some not-so-great works in the past. I've gotten him to slowly read some new LGBTQ fiction, but old habits die hard and his preference for nonfiction is deeply ingrained at this point. He always gets frustrated with me because he loves reading my LGBTQ recommendations, but knows I hate picking up his psychological explorations or architecture novels because they sound fascinating, but not fascinating enough to read 600 pages about. The second he sees this post he'll be jumping for joy because I am hesitantly waving that white flag right now.

After I finished three chapters of this book, I checked the clock and realized it was lunch time, so I brought the manuscript out to my restaurant and read for my full lunch hour, slowly realizing I was kind of hooked. This nonfiction piece about something I could not give a hoot about had caught my attention because it was ridiculously well written. It was written so well that it tells the story of a huge part of our country's past on a global scale--something I have learned about in history classes but in so much more depth. It reads like a storybook instead of a historical account, recounting the beginning of race-cars and the many tragic accidents that came with it like an action novel, approaching industry wars with the tactical mindsets found in high fantasy battles for domination, praising the blind luck that launched billion dollar fortunes, and the author made these real life people that actually walked this planet seem very much like the heroes or villains that we, as readers, enjoy.

I took this book home for the weekend and leafed through it when I had the chance, and finished it on my lunch break yesterday.

A nonfiction book. About crude. That is over 300 pages long. 

Who are you and what have you done with Lili?

Looking at this novel from a publicist's perspective and thinking about readers like myself who are hesitant to pick up nonfiction novels has really been an interesting experience for me because I never really viewed nonfiction novels as a story. I used to view them as accounts, recollections, in-depth analyses, etc. But, no, they're stories, too, that are so enticing they can draw from nothing but reality to keep a reader flipping pages.

I feel like I totally just proved myself to be inadvertently judgmental. I've read many nonfiction works in my life, but most of them have been assignments or strong nudges from family and friends where I didn't technically have a choice, and not for pure pleasure. The experience I had with this book has definitely changed that, and I can't wait to put the finishing touches on this assignment next week.

Interning can make you realize the most surprising things.

How do you view nonfiction pieces? Do you have any nonfiction book recommendations? I'd like to venture further into this field! I think I would like to focus within history, though, before branching out into heavier focuses that require a lot of knowledge about the industry such as psychology, medicine, architecture, etc.

As always, every comment is appreciated. <3


  1. That's so interesting!

    I always avoided non-fiction because of what you said here:

    "It reads like a storybook instead of a historical account"

    All the non-fiction I've read was like a historical account. AND SO BORING!!!

    I definitely think non-fiction has the potential to be as interesting as fiction, you just need to put it into the hands of a good writer. I mean, if you imagine some of the fiction stories we read, they're about political unrest and wars in a fantasy world. A fiction book could be exactly the same, just with one of the stories being real and the other one being made up.

  2. I love non-fiction pieces, but I like to balance for every two fictions, I'll read a non-fic. It's interesting that you said the book you read was super interesting, because those topics are always hit and miss. I think that's why I usually wind up reading memoirs and biographies.
    - Krys