For avid readers, books of creative nonfiction may offer something new | Entertainment/Life

Are you an avid reader who wants to branch out into something new? Consider something within the fairly new genre of creative nonfiction.

It can be rather elusive. Creative nonfiction employs the creative writing techniques of literature, such as poetry and fiction, to tell a true story. It is focused on story, meaning it has a narrative plot with an inciting moment, rising action, climax and resolution, just like fiction. However, nonfiction only works if the story is based on truth, an accurate retelling of the author’s life experiences.

For a text to be considered creative nonfiction, it must be factually accurate, and written with attention to literary style and technique. Forms within this genre include memoir, diary, travel writing, food writing, literary journalism, chronicle, personal essays, and other hybridized essays, as well as some biography and autobiography.

Many people consider the first creative nonfiction book to be “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote, published in 1965. It’s the story of actual people and actual events told with the dramatic techniques of a novel.

Following are five more recent examples of creative nonfiction, popular works that are checked out regularly from Jefferson Parish Library.

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  1. “The Orchid Thief” by Susan Orleans. The book is an examination of a man obsessed with a rare ghost orchid, and of the flower-selling subculture he became a part of.
  2. “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. This is the true story of Chris McCandless, a young man who walked deep into the Alaskan wilderness in 1992 and whose SOS note and emaciated corpse were found four months later.
  3. “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver. The author gives an account of a year spent eating only locally sourced foods.
  4. “Cork Dork” by Bianca Bosker. The author leaves her day job behind in order to learn the mysterious ways of the sommelier.
  5. “Reading Lolita in Tehran” by Azar Nafisi. The author writes of the secret book group she led, made up of her most committed female students, using the forbidden Western classics.

FRIENDS UPDATE: The Friends of the Jefferson Public Library are always seeking new members to help them in their support of the Jefferson Parish Library system and to help with the next Big Book Sale, tentatively scheduled for March 18-20 at the Pontchartrain Center. Here are some of the organization’s most recent activities.

  • The jigsaw puzzle comes out in late October 2021 netted $1,813, and the cookbook/holiday items/DVD comes out in November 2021 netted $906.
  • A quilt raffle brought in $250.
  • Catholic Women in Action, a local philanthropic organization, raised $1,000 to purchase 100 boxes of children’s books to give to needy schools, especially those affected by Hurricane Ida.
  • The “Amazon ladies” – the women who list books online – report that sales in November 2021 netted more than $5,100 in sales.
  • The Friends continue to provide Raise-a-Reader packets to new mothers at East Bank Ochsner to encourage their children to become lifelong readers.

For more information, or to become involved with the Friends of the Jefferson Public Library, go to, or call (504) 455-2665.

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JANE AUSTEN’S ‘SANDITION’: The New Orleans chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America meets from 2 pm to 4 pm, Saturday, March 12, at the River Ridge Library, 8825 Jefferson Highway, to discuss “Sandition,” a 12-chapter fragment that was left incomplete when Austen died in 1817. Through the years, there have been several completions of the novel by various authors and the story was adapted to television on PBS Masterpiece in 2019. A second season of the television series will premiere on March 20. The original unfinished text as well as other completions will be discussed. Free of charge and open to the public.

‘MAUS’ BANNED: A school district in Tennessee banned the use of Maus, a Pulitzer-winning (1992) graphic novel by Art Spiegelman about the Holocaust, in its middle school classes, citing the work’s profanity and nudity. The vote of the school board was 10 to 0.

The story details the killing of infants, Nazi gas chambers and forced labor, among other atrocities that the German regime committed during World War II. Spiegelman, a cartoonist, wrote and illustrated Maus based on interviews with his father, a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor. (“Maus” is the German word for mouse.)

The graphic novel, drawn in black and white, depicts Holocaust victims as mice and their Nazi oppressors as cats. The Jefferson Parish Library has copies of “Maus” in its collection, as well as several sequels, an a study guide for educators.

COMPUTER CLASSES: Receive free computer training at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, or at the West Bank Regional Library, 2751 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey. Seating is limited, and online registration is required. Visit the Computer Classes page at and click “East Bank Regional Schedule” or “West Bank Regional Schedule.”

Upcoming Metairie classes include:

  • Microsoft Word 2 – 10 am to noon Feb. 23.

Upcoming Harvey classes include:

  • Basic Computer Skills – 10 am to noon Feb. 26.
  • Basic Computer Skills – 2 pm to 4 pm Feb. 26.

Chris Smith is manager of adult programming at the Jefferson Parish Public Library.

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