Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Favorite Non-Fiction

Cassy and I are both bigger fans of fiction than we are of non-fiction, but we both dabble in non-fiction from time to time. Today we'll tell you what kind of non-fiction we prefer on these dabbling adventures.

Ever since eighth grade, when we read The Diary of Anne Frank and Night by Elie Wiesel, I have been very interested in reading about the Holocaust. I hesitate to tell people this, because I get weird looks ("You LIKE reading about death and torture and the worst event in human history?!?") but I think I like Holocaust literature because it varies so widely. Every survivor who wrote about their experience did so in a very different way, because every survivor had a very different experience, even if they met the same people or were kept in the same camp or were from the same neighborhood.

I also try to read more biographies, because you never know what you might learn about someone. Sure, you think you know a lot about a celebrity or president or inventor, but a good biography will teach you new things. And the kind of biography I like treats the subject's life like a narrative, so it still feels like I'm reading fiction... except it's true. (Like watching a movie "based on a true story," but... with more truth.) I haven't found many biographies that do this well, but my favorite is Don't Panic, a biography of Douglas Adams, my second favorite author, written by Neil Gaiman, my favorite author.

I am fascinated with Tudor England.  I mean, I just love the whole time period.  I love Henry VIII and his real ridiculous ways.  I mean, the man had six wives!  And no one stopped him when he started divorcing and beheading them!  But on the other hand, he also did great things for his country and things that had a great effect on the world.  King Henry VIII split from the Catholic church and became Protestant.  I know that doesn't sound like much, but the Catholic church basically ruled everything then.  It was HUGE that Henry said, no, actually, you're not going to rule me.  Because of that, the monarchs in the other countries tried to overthrow England.  Inevitably, Henry's split from Rome is really what started the downfall of the monarchies in Europe.

And then let's not forget Elizabeth I, his daughter, who should just be considered the most Bad Ass Ruler Ever, because she basically was.  She did so much for her country and, she was a woman in a man's world on top of that.  Seriously, pick up a biography on her sometime.  It'll be epic.

The other time period that I really like to read about is the Romanov family, which I guess is where I kind of fall in with Alex in the, "You like to read about something that depressing?"  It is depressing.  I like reading it though, because you get the story behind the tragedy.  For instance, everyone say Alexandra as this cold, distant, German Empress but, in fact, she loved her adopted country.  She just had a son who was in constant peril.  Nickolas also loved his country dearly.  He just really sucked at ruling it.  I mean, he was REALLY bad at it.  It really makes the tragedy that much, well, more tragic because they weren't terrible people.  They loved their country and really were trying to do what was best for it.  They just didn't really know how to.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think you are weird at all for liking books about the Holocaust, Alex. "Number the Stars" was one of my favorite books of my young life. I like to read books about that too, because its part of my history and its important not to forget. Now that the last of the survivors are dying books are all we will have left of that time. (PS I highly recommend if you have the chance to listen to a survivors story in person, its so worth it). I also like to read certain biographies and memoirs. I really enjoyed all three of Susan Jane Gillman's books. They are pretty funny. Check them out if you want some light reading. I also agree with Cassy. I love Tudor England. Although I tend to favor fiction on this subject, the real stories are just as intriguing. (Phillipa Gregory wrote several fiction books about the subject, all of which are good.)