The Joys of Nonfiction

‘What is the use of a book’, thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?’ (from Alice in Wonderland)

If you had told me six months ago that I would be reading only nonfiction for my English 015 class, I would have run over to my computer and dropped the class before you had the chance to say anything else.  Like so many other people, “nonfiction” is a word that conjures of memories of research projects you weren’t really interested in, and enormously thick books with no color and sometimes without any pictures at all.  I used to think that reading nonfiction was the literary equivalent of watching paint dry or getting stung by bees: no one in their right mind would do it for fun, because it was either boring or painful…or both.  But I was wrong.This semester in class we read three books: Outliers, The Filter Bubble, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  I can’t say that I am crazy about The Filter Bubble, but both Outliers and Henrietta Lacks I liked so much that I actually recommended them to friends.  In fact, I liked Malcolm Gladwell’s writing style so much that, over Thanksgiving, I picked up another of his books and read the whole thing.   You heard me right.  I picked up Blink, a nonfiction book, and read the whole thing in three days.  I am proud to announce that I am no longer afraid of nonfiction.

Of course, this makes for a new problem, because my selection of possible reading material has roughly doubled.  I now have to make the tough choice of discovering new worlds through fiction or discovering more about my world through nonfiction.  But for now I’m just taking it one book at a time.

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