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Nov
07

Learn, laugh, and cry with NON-FICTION that flows like fiction. For real! For you and the kids.

“Non-fiction” needs an image makeover. Let’s start with the name: “Non-fiction.”  How would you like to be described by something that you’re not?  Imagine:  “Meet my daughter, Exciting, and my other daughter, Non-exciting.” We don’t call books that are not mysteries, “non-mysteries,” so why apply “non-fiction” to such a vast array of topics and writing?   Encyclopedias could be classified as “Bare facts” and crime/mafia books could be classified as “Mysteries solved.”

Why read non-fiction?  Because sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction! If well-written, the narrative of a non-fiction work can be just as  gripping as a novel.  There’s something about the people and events actually being REAL that gives the reading a whole new dimension. Sometimes it’s just that much more provocative, that much more disturbing. Bonus: Learning about people, places, and periods may actually enhance your connections to fiction based on those themes.

So, here’s a small selection of non-fiction works for adults and kids. Notice the quirky topics, and diversity of themes.  The writing will not disappoint.

Expand your reading horizons, and become the next stars of the cocktail party!  (Or, just check these out and let me know what you and your kids think by clicking “Comments” above the post.)

LIST FOR KIDS

1-Usborne:  The Revealing Story of Underwear by Katie Daynes. A quirky view of history through, (ahem), undergarments.  From awful corsets made of whale bone to cotton, kids learn a great deal about the evolution of comfort.  Even the issue of women’s place in society is brought to light in this original presentation of history.  AGES: 7 and up.

2-Cartoon History of the Universe by Larry Gonick. (series.)  A comprehensive overview of the history of the universe from ancient times to the present in comic book form.  My kids love this!  Don’t know why, but it seems to wind up in the bathroom.  AGES: 8 and up.

3-Strange Mr. Satie by M T Anderson. Erik Satie was a French avant-garde composer in the early 20th century, and he was really odd.  The eccentricities and life of this talented man are captured in poetic form.  His childlike and unconventional ways appeal to kids, and may arouse their curiosity in his music.  AGES: 7 and up.

LIST FOR ADULTS

1- Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. A psychopathic murderer and a great architect both leave their mark on Chicago’s World Fair in 1893.  Full of drama and suspense, it’s hard to believe this is actually not fiction.  Riveting and well written.

2- Personal History: Katharine Graham. A fascinating autobiography about a woman who overcame a difficult childhood and her husband’s suicide to become the owner of the Washington Post during the Watergate scandal.  Even though her father had owned the paper, it was never expected that Katharine would take the helm.  It would have been highly unusual for a woman of that time.  Yet, she became one of the most influential people in Washington and knew everybody who was anybody.  An honest story of will, determination, and brains.

3-A Nervous Splendour by Frederic Morton. One year in Vienna 1888-1889. Lust, suicide, power, beauty, and evil are all central themes in this book about Vienna on the cusp of modernity.  I can’t recommend this book enough.  You will learn a ton, because Vienna was the epicentre of music, philosophy, and art.  A lot of big names appear, and the Meyerling affair with Crown Prince Rudolph and his lover is riveting.  I will say no more.  Must read!!

 

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