Friday, May 31, 2013

Armchair BEA - Ethics and Non-Fiction

Wouldn't it be nice if the topic of ethics didn't even need to come up? Sadly, it seems that the subject of ethics is one that comes up all too frequently, thanks to our politicians, big business, the ease with which students can now cheat and even in blogging. It's really quite simple, people. If it ain't yours, don't take it; if it ain't true, don't say it; if you feel you have to justify it, you probably shouldn't do it. 'Nuff said.

Now, on to the genre of the day - non-fiction.

At some point I decided that I was not interested in reading non-fiction books. Apparently, my little brain had suddenly equated all non-fiction with books about economics and politics, or some such thing that I knew I would have no interest in reading about. Silly me - non-fiction is so much more than textbook kinds of writing and I knew that. I've known it, in fact, most of my life. I've loved biographies since I was quite young. Non-fiction. I loved Joseph Wambaugh's The Onion Field as a teen. Non-fiction. I love home decorating books, cookbooks, and travelogues as an adult. All non-fiction.

According to Merriam-Webster, non-fiction is simply: "literature or cinema that is not fictional."

Huzzah! It turns out I actually am quite interested in reading non-fiction and in the past couple of years, I've made a concerted effort to incorporate much more non-fiction into my regular reading. Of the eight book I have listed as favorites so far this year, half are non-fiction and every year, for the past three years, I've included non-fiction on my best-of lists. These great books included memoirs, historical accounts of war, true crime, and, gasp, writings about political issues. Non-fiction can be more work to read but it is certainly no less pleasurable.

Miss H's current read
Here's an even better reason for me to love non-fiction: my reluctant reader (and by reluctant, I mean did your heels in, dragged kicking an screaming to a book) actually likes to read non-fiction. She is especially fond of biographies and memoirs. Real people she finds fascinating, make-believe people not so much.

If you've got your own reluctant reader, I highly recommend looking into non-fiction. Got a sports fan? There are thousands of books about athletes and coaches, the history of sports, college programs. Got a gardener? There are books to be found about gardening in every climate, historical gardens, books that are nothing more than beautiful pictures of gardens. For Miss H, music is a passion and there are no end to books about musicians (from Bach to Bieber), the history of every type of music, books about instruments and how to play them.

The next time you're in a book store, go ahead, cross that invisible line between the fiction and the non-fiction departments. I guarantee you'll find at least one title to tempt you!


  1. I think that memoirs and biographies are great for those who think they don't like to read or even read non-fiction. I think many of us can blame school for thinking that non-fiction is boring but many of my favorites are also non-fiction. Wonder if Miss H might like Jon Krakauer? Into the Wild and Into Thin Air are both great.

  2. Great post! I love the idea of tempting reluctant readers with nonfiction :)

    Nonfiction is my favorite. There are so many things out there to learn about and reading is the best way to do that, by far!

  3. And seeing Freddy there makes it all the more worthwhile!

  4. Some of my favorite books are non-fiction, and you're right, the topics covered by this category and just about endless. I tend to find authors I like and read everything by them--Erik Larsen (or is it Larson?) is a current favorite.

    I also love travelogues.