From Fiction to Nonfiction

I recently stumbled upon a great nonfiction blog called What’s Nonfiction? In ‘About’ section, author of the blog writes:

“Back then, I read almost exclusively fiction (an easier section to pinpoint). But in recent years, I found the opposite was becoming true, and I preferred nonfiction, in its many very different categories, to anything fictional. But when I tell people I only like to read nonfiction, they sometimes look disgusted, nose wrinkle and all, like I have no imagination or can’t appreciate fine literary art.”

Blog in question also has a wonderful slug: Where is your nonfiction section please. My little quote  here above doesn’t do the blog any justice so you should go check it out.
And maybe create nonfiction section to your blog?

Anyway,I feel like same thing is happening to me. I’ve always read nonfiction. Quarter of what I’ve read in recent years has been nonfiction but now if I have to choose between reading fiction or nonfiction, I would choose nonfiction. Same goes for reviewing it. I feel like it’s my duty now, as if I have to become an ambassador of knowledge.

Don’t get me wrong. I always have and I always will love fiction. I will always love fantasy and science fiction more than anything because I’m endlessly fascinated by what human mind can come up with. And I feel like sometimes only fiction can express what must be said. Like fairytales, we know that the dragon represents great evil, however we also know can be beaten (thank you Neil Gaiman). And of course, fiction is a must. You cannot read encyclopedias to your kids (or can you?).  I don’t want to make anyone feel bad about what they read.  Please do read whatever you love. I’ve written about how I hate snobbism in reading.
All reading is beautiful.

But.
This week I read and reviewed Night by Elie Wiesel. It’s an amazing work and it changed the way I think. One of my thoughts was that you have no right not to know. If silence is a crime, then what is not knowing?  Fiction is incredible and fiction on WW2 is heart-wrenching and it gives you so much (books like All the Light We Cannot See, Book Thief.. millions of stars wouldn’t be enough to rate them) But. Six million people died because of Holocaust. Most likely the number is much greater. Then all the lives lost in World War II, all the lives lost during Mao’s rule in China, all the lives lost during Stalin’s and Lenin’s rule in Russia. What is still happening in North Korea? All the lives lost when we colonized the world, all the lives lost during the crusades. All the things we have done. All the wrongs. If not us, who will remember those events? Who will preach about them? Who will not let them happen again?

Is it not our responsibility to carry that burden? Is it not our responsibility not let it come down to WW3? And to push humans forward? Achieve greatness through scientific discoveries? To become better individuals?

Nonfiction is about the truth and very often about someone trying to uncover it. Truth is the most beautiful and most cruel thing in this world. In nonfiction, heroes often don’t win and are often unknown. If fiction puts you in shoes of an another person, nonfiction will make you walk in those shoes whether you want it or not.

So please read both. Would be happy to give you some recommendations.
Moreover, I will try to blog more about nonfiction.

How-To Read More Nonfiction
1.
Audible and audiobooks in general are super worth it. You can listen to nonfiction while you do chores. I feel like it’s also sometimes easier to concentrate when someone talks.
2. Start with a topic you like. You like historical fiction –> historical nonfiction, science fiction –> try books by Michio Kaku, thrillers –> try true crime, fantasy –> books on writing and on world building,  or if you have hobbies like cooking or sports or travel, read memoirs. Or start with author you like.  If you like Murakami, try his nonfiction books. Same goes for some other authors.
3. Keep trying. Try different nonfiction genres. Try different places. Try different ways to read.

And I’m curious. What are your thoughts on this? Have your interest switched? Have you preferred fiction and moved to preferring reading nonfiction? Or maybe from one genre to another one? Do you prefer specific genres? Why? Any  tips on how to read more nonfiction?

/Anastasia

Bookworm Stereotypes

“Oh this? It’s a ‘bookworm.’
They live in books, and they love to eat important or valuable words.”
― CLAMP, xxxHolic, Vol. 7

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1. Readers are intelligent
 Readers are leaders. How many times have you heard this? Personally, I read a lot science fiction and fantasy…even nonfiction sometimes. I don’t think it makes me terribly clever. No, not really & definitely not intelligent enough to be a leader. Unless we’re planning to overthrow the Capitol. Then I’m your person.
2. Readers always wear glasses
Bookish characters portrayed in the media ALWAYS often wear glasses. Yes, I’ve heard that reading in bad light might damage your eyes and you might need glasses or it might be in your genes. Personally, I don’t wear glasses.
3. Readers are all a bit ugly and a bit overweight and a bit goofy and there must be something wrong with them
OR
female readers must all look like sexy librarians
Is there a middle ground here?

“I grabbed my book and opened it up. I wanted to smell it. Heck, I wanted to kiss it. Yes, kiss it. That’s right, I am a book kisser. Maybe that’s kind of perverted or maybe it’s just romantic and highly intelligent.”
― Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

4. Readers are geeks/nerds
Yes I guess. However, nerd is the new black.
5. Readers must have a bookish profession
Author, librarian, literary agent, book blogger … you name it. I think you’re lucky if you have a job you like doing. Personally, I’m in event industry. Also people seem to think that while they’re doing something with their lives: go to gym, eat, sleep. Readers just…read.
6. Readers are antisocial, shy and introverts
I never considered myself shy but I tire of people easily. Often, I get so disappointed with people that I don’t want to socialize with anyone new.

“Books were safer than other people anyway.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

7. Readers hate the outdoors
I mean…you could get an oxygen poisoning, some insect could bite you or you could get sunburn. Really. Anything could happen. Not like reading outside is an option. Or doing something other than reading in general.
8. Readers are socially awkward
Readers don’t know how to act normal. And how to make small talk. Not like reading helps with socializing and with knowing more of various topics.
9. Readers are dreamers
I think most of us are. Though it doesn’t mean that we have our head in the clouds. Or that we’d rather live in fictional worlds. Okay, I take that back…Take me to Narnia!


“I took my time, running my fingers along the spines of books, stopping to pull a title from the shelf and inspect it. A sense of well-being flowed through me as I circled the ground floor. It was better than meditation or a new pair of shoes- or even chocolate. My life was a disaster, but there were still books. Lots and lots of books. A refuge. A solace. Each one offering the possibility of a new beginning.”
― Beth Pattillo, Jane Austen Ruined My Life


10. Readers are typically used to process bank checks
Well…That’s what Google suggested when I wrote “readers are” in the search box. Blame Page & Brin.

Hope you enjoyed reading this.
What bookworm stereotypes have you encountered?

Reading & Snobbism

I hate snobbism. I think it is the destroyer of the culture.

Every once in a while, I encounter a person who says:
“You could never understand the greatness of classics because you only read fantasy and science fiction”
“You’re just too young (and dumb) to understand War and Peace”
I don’t understand adults who read YA. You’re a grown-up, read something more suitable for your own age.”
“I don’t see what is the point in reading fiction, after all, you can only learn by reading nonfiction.”
“I only read Nobel laureates.”
“E-reading isn’t REAL reading.”
“Your view of Raskolnikov is really childish.”
“Oh, you only read those kinds of books.”
“I NEVER dog ear pages, crease a spine, or eat food while reading.”

I think reading is always good. I am a person who reads all possible genres and I don’t care about what people do or do not read.  It drives me mad when people do this. You can always defend yourself against some of the comments. For example, you can say that you value classics, especially French ones greatly but that you still prefer reading fantasy and scifi. But what to reply, when someone says your too young to understand some book? Perhaps you answer that they are definitely right and that you’ll immediately go back to reading Roald Dahl.

It’s okay if you only like The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Rover Saves Christmas. It’s okay if you only like classics or if you only read books related to your profession or education. It’s okay if you only read fantasy or  books for young adults.  Some people say that only books that have received a Nobel are good and worth reading. It’s okay as well but it does surprise me as  that genre is,eventually, very narrow. There are stunning and beautiful books that Nobel laureates have written. Books that I remember years after reading them and that I’m always ready to praise. There are some authors though who were awarded for reasons I don’t see because obviously I have too few brain cells. It is not okay to make someone feel bad about what they read. Ray Bradbury said “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” If you are book snob, you are as bad as person who would burn books. You make people ashamed about what they read. What do people even mean by “those kind of books”? Hearing that comment almost always makes me say “well they’re not so bad really…” as if they were worst thing I could ever read and how dare I even say I read those kinds of books.

Those kinds of books… yes I’ve often said that J.K Rowling doesn’t have best writing style. It is even clumsy sometimes. And what’s with the plot?  You’d think any child could write about wizards in school? But no. Potters are great because of the unique imagination in the series. Stephen King said that books are portable magic. Rowling used her imagination and it reached millions, not only some narrow audiences. I’ve enjoyed many books but only one made me wish I was in Hogwarts. That’s why I will always ready fantasy and YA. I need that magic in my life.

I know people who would never mark the book pages, never crease the spine, never eat food or drink while reading. I was that person. I would never borrow my books to anyone because they had lovely covers and surely my friends wouldn’t be as careful with them. Books are meant to be read, they are not meant to lie in the shelves collecting dust. Besides one can always buy new books. Finally, I admit that sometimes I might come off as terrible book snob.  Sometimes I might say something like “can you believe the people who think Twilight Saga is good?” :D  But by that I really mean that I can’t believe they haven’t read other vampire stories or other fantasy/young adult books. I want to lock them up in a room with other good books and help them to discover more books like Twilight. (Okay and also maybe to make them like some other books that are my personal favorites…I swear my intentions were almost good!)  And I try to say it in company where I know people know what I am referring to. I don’t talk about The Prince by Machiavelli with people who read Hunger Games. In stead I ask if they have read Divergent series too? So if you are a book snob, please cut it out. I know all of us might have a little book snob inside of us, so if you notice someone has it, please tell.

Have you had experiences with book snobs? Are you a book snob? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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