On Nonfiction

A major reason I read is to learn about the world around me. Now, I have always believed that fiction is a valid way to achieve this. Obviously historical fiction can give a sense of historical events or place and time, but contemporary fiction – and even other genre fiction – can teach by putting the reader into the shoes of people from different backgrounds, in addition to just seeing the way people interact with one another in different circumstances, provided you believe the author’s rendering. Not to mention that even fiction often has interesting nonfictional tidbits.

That being said, when you want to get down to facts and brass tacks, nonfiction is the way to go. Unfortunately, for the last year or two I haven’t gotten around to much nonfiction. Some memoir, some very practical nonfiction (mostly relating to having a baby or getting said baby to go to sleep once in awhile), but not nearly enough ‘let me learn this because it sounds interesting, even if not actually relevant to my life’ nonfiction. Although I didn’t make it a formal resolution, I am trying to make it a point to read more nonfiction this year.

In order to make this happen, I am devoting the whole of this week to nonfiction reviews. I’ve got some American history, which is one of my greatest interests – which is interesting, because I almost never enjoy historical fiction with an American setting – plus two sweeping biographies of inanimate objects. I’m really enjoying this trend idea of setting sweeping histories of things as biographies, by the way. It lends a depth to the histories and keeps them from becoming dry as they could conceivably otherwise become.

What’s the best nonfiction you’ve read recently? I need more recommendations, to indulge my strong nonfiction cravings.