I’ve been thinking about this question all week and am of course going to weigh in at the last moment! There are a few different kinds of research writing over the years that I have enjoyed reading. In one of my previous comments I talked about how I have read a number of ethnographies, all chosen by the same professor from my time at Trent. As well, I have read Reading the Romance by Janice Radway, which is the ethnography that Jenna Hartel mentioned in class this past week. I am interested in romance novels because I simply don’t understand their appeal, and yet I see that they circulate frequently at the library where I work.
Having said that, while I learned a lot from Reading the Romance, it is not the kind of book I would typically read for leisure: it is quite dense, and the research is as old as me (30 years). When I think of a research book that I enjoy, I thought of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Unlike most research books that I have read for school, these are the kinds of books that you can read before you go to bed! Their style is accessible as the book is meant to be marketed to the masses. It is written in language that is intended to be humorous and somewhat self-deprecating while simultaneously imparting the knowledge gained through Levitt’s patently unconventional economic “research projects.” In terms of the way the book actually looks, the page is easy to look at, with a serif typeface and words that aren’t too cramped.
Although there are those who look down on academics for publishing books destined to be bestsellers, I sincerely hope that there is room in the world for both “serious” and “academic” research writing.
Levitt, S. & Dubner, S (2005). Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. Toronto: Harper Collins
Levitt, S. & Dubner, S. (2009). Superfreakonomics. Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
Radway, J. (1991). Reading the Romance. University of North Carolina Press.