I haven’t read a non-fiction book for years, so imagine my shock when I kept seeing posts on Twitter and YouTube, advising readers to read non-fiction. At first, I was defensive. I love fiction, and I hate to see misconceptions spread about it. However, I can’t deny that those who advocate for non-fiction reading have a point.
Non-fiction is a powerful genre that reminds us of the importance of history, the present and the future. It forces us to reflect on the world we live in, the choices we make and how others operate. Some of the best works in the English language are non-fiction. So why was I sleeping on it?
Well, readers have habits. They gravitate towards books that interest them. As I have said in a previous post, reading time is precious. No one ever reads as much books as they want to. I also had misconceptions about non-fiction: that its dull and lifeless. I’m realizing that’s not true. It’s also a hypocritical stance for me to have, as I am currently at university majoring in English Literature and Modern History. How can a history major who enjoys learning about the past, the triumphs and lows of individuals- ignore non-fiction? It makes no sense, and once I realised that I was determined to fix it.
Today, I read a bit of Truman Copote and ordered George Orwell’s Homage To Catalonia. I’m excited to read more. I have heard good things about Freakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt. Most people are impressed by non-fiction’s ability to both be witty and insightful about the world we live in today. There’s a moment in every former genre snobs life when they feel jealous, as if they are missing out on something. And I feel that! I know non-fiction is diverse, wonderful and analytical. I should read more.
Yes- those Twitter posts saying ‘read books other than fiction’ are a bit on the snarky side, but they are right. No matter how often we think about ice dragons, the March sisters or superheroes… they are not real. Yes, fiction is a terrific way to understand the real. But non-fiction is important as well to understand the shaping forces behind each individual and what story they wish to tell.
Who knows, maybe I will become a true crime fan! Right now, I’m interested in political books and some regarding warfare. Yes- I haven’t read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. I probably should change that!
If anyone would like a non-fiction recommendation from me, I recommend Maus, the graphic novel by Art Spiegelman which tells a story of trying to come to terms with the horrors of the Holocaust. In a creative way, Spiegelman uses mice and other animal imagery to illustrate his ideas. You can buy it here.
I’d like to write more blog posts about non-fiction and how I go about reading it- so if anyone has any recommendations, comment below!