Have you ever picked up a biography or memoir about a person you’re fascinated by? How about a travel guide or a how-to about a skill you’ve been looking to improve? Or perhaps – like this reader – a grizzly true crime tale? Well then, you’ve read nonfiction books. No matter what subject you’re picking up and whether it’s for personal or academic reasons, nonfiction books are an important genre of the literary world.
They are amazing sources of facts and tidbits of information, tips and tricks, clever anecdotes. It’s natural that we generally head for the fiction section at the bookstore or library – when we’re reading we want escapism. But basically all literature is based in reality anyway, and reading a nonfiction book can feel like a completely fictional narrative much of the time. In fact, many cultures in years past saw no difference between fiction and nonfiction, instead referring to all of them simply as “stories”.
Fiction Books vs. Nonfiction Books
While fiction certainly gets the most love from bookworms, I think that discounting nonfiction completely would be selling it short. There are an abundance of fascinating historical events, people and places that you can discover when you pick up a nonfiction book. Authors have been writing about true events for centuries, and entertaining countless readers with the exploits of celebrities or a behind-the-scenes look into a famous film. If you’ve ever enjoyed a documentary, then nonfiction is indeed for you.
Many writers find their inspiration in their own reality, creating made up cities, countries or entire worlds as part of their literature. However, I’d wager that each and every one of them took some ideas from their personal surroundings in order to create them. No matter how fantastical the setting or plot, grounding an idea in reality makes the story more accessible for the reader, and therefore more easier to lose themselves in. It draws us into the facts being recounted, or the information being given to the reader.
Nonfiction authors also go to great trouble to tell their stories, potentially more so than the average fiction writer. Instead of inventing people and places, they need to provide extensive research and facts to back their narrative up. In essence they need to create an exciting narrative, while still delivering the facts of the story that they’re telling. Even well regarded nonfiction books like Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood was criticized for some of its fabricated conversations and exaggerations. Similarly, James Frey’s supposedly true account of his earlier life was later discovered to have been widely fabricated, and wound up being discredited. Journalists – often forgotten about in the shuffle – are writers of nonfiction. They find facts and track down leads, delivering the story. Well, if they’re good journalists they do. Nonfiction requires dedication and time, and there are brilliant writers out there bringing it to us all the time.
This month we’ll be taking a look at all that a nonfiction book has to offer. Whether you want a Hollywood scandal or an investigator on the hunt for a cold case, we’ve got it. As readers, we often get caught up in the latest fiction release from our favourite author, and we bypass the nonfiction section at the bookstore. We definitely need to peruse it more, explore it more than we do. You’d be surprised at how many interesting things that you can find while you’re there. We hope you’ll join us and discover something new!