At my house-warming, people commented the fact that my bookshelves are full not of novels and fiction (although there is plenty of them there too) but what I like to call Real Life Reads. How-tos and travelogues, biographies and historical reconstructions, science, philosophy and psychology, oh my! Why do I find non-fiction so appealing? It could be that – in spite of what all the fiction told me – I never got a pony for my birthday.
I am still very bitter about this. I got books about ponies* and girls with ponies, and specifically girls who got ponies for their birthday. This lead to certain expectations being built. Every Christmas and birthday I’d wake up early and then sprint to my bedroom window, hoping to see a pony out the back garden. I even expected it to have a big red bow around its neck.
This would probably have more pathos if I hadn’t continued doing it until I was seventeen or so.
But false promises of ponies aside, there is nothing wrong with a bit of fiction. I love a good chick-lit read, adore fantasy and horror, and you’ll need to peel me off the satire and humour books with a stick. But books don’t just mean novels, and it is real world reading that fascinates me most. I’m a sucker for business and psychology books and any books that explain scientific discoveries in an entertaining way aren’t safe around me. Travelogues inspire me to take off and see the world, and memoirs let me see it from someone else’s perspective.
I may be a little too fond of books. Friends hide their non-fiction when I come over to the house. Autobiographies try to hide and cookbooks tremble their glossy and delicious looking pages in fear.
I haven’t always been this way. If someone had told me when I was in school (all sulky and spotty and smuggling my Stephen King’s in to read under the desk) that I would someday find non-fiction books fascinating, I would have… well, I would have probably ignored them and continued reading my Stephen King book. But here I am, ten years on, with a love of non-fiction that borders on the obsessive; biographies and travelogues, memoirs and how-to’s and textbooks, oh my!
Perhaps my voracious fiction habit as a child and teenager led to this – I know that Elyne Mitchell’s evocative Silver Brumby series, set in the Snowy Mountains, was at least part of the reason I was interested in seeing Australia and my love of Stephen King’s horrror eventually led me to his memoir, On Writing, where I found the truth of his life just as fascinating as his books . It started with fiction but my reading habits are now in love with real life reads and all that they can do.
Here at Read Up On It. I’m hoping to create an entertaining celebration of reading and a place to share my love of books, specifically my love of non-fiction. The ability of books to inform while entertaining is something that I look forward to exploring further here, and to hearing your recommendations. If you have a real life book you think everyone should read, give a shout-out in the comments and let me know.
Books about ponies, of course, are especially welcome.