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In The Case Of Non-Fiction

A picture of Marie Antoinette as a teenanger

Over the past year I have developed a real taste for non-fiction, in fact my first book of 2009 (the year I decided to start reading again properly) was the hefty 571 page The Six Wives Of Henry VIII by Alison Weir. It may be that I love Tudor history but in the past that kind of academic tome would have been overlooked. As it was I devoured it and contrary to my assumptions before I begun I did not fall out of love with Henry the bigamist, despite his numerous wives.

I am lapping up non-fiction like my dog laps up the left over tuna, I simply cannot get enough. This doesn’t mean I’m reading it all the time because looking admiringly at Antonia Fraser’s Marie Antoinette and wading through it are two different matters, but I’m definitely seeing factual accounts in a whole new light. I gravitate towards them, especially those biographies.

Surprising then that I’ve not read a single one this year. I have the afore-mentioned Fraser, The Princes In The Tower by Alison Weir, and On Gold Mountain by Lisa See. I’m also considering borrowing a Bonnie & Clyde release. Odds are you’ll learn more from a non-fiction than a fiction, no matter the information provided by the latter, so why am I so wary to carry on my “winning” streak? I know that each one will take me a while.

What non-fiction books would you recommend? To make it less general I’ll include this footnote: I don’t like them much, footnotes I mean.



April 19, 2010, 8:11 pm

I remember reading Marie Antoinette by Frazer a few years ago, for a project in which I had to compare the movie to the sources and literature used. I actually liked the book, although it is very detailed at times. I can imagine that there might be too many footnotes in there though.

Charlie: Hi Iris! There are a lot of pages at the back with notes which I noticed when looking at the illustrations (I love looking at the pictures when I get a book with them!) but I’m not sure about footnote placement. You’re right, there are probably quite a lot. Interesting to hear about the detail, that can either be a good thing or a reason to take a while over it, depending how the author handles it, I find.


April 20, 2010, 12:37 am

I love nonfiction! I read so much of it, though, that I’m feel overwhelmed being asked for recommendations w/o anything more specific. Oliver Sacks, Atul Gawande, and Carl Safina all rock for me. I know there are women nonfic authors I love too, but they’re not coming to mind right now!

Charlie: Hi Eva, I was thinking about specifying but at the moment I’m wanting to expand my knowledge overall and am enjoying considering random subjects. I suppose narrowing it down to history and/or culture would probably sum up my current preferences. Carl Safina’s an author you just wrote about the other day, right? I’ll look him up.


April 20, 2010, 5:52 pm

Oh: I gave you all science/medical authors! lol I’ve enjoyed all of Peter Hessler’s books on China. And I read a really fascinating history of the Incas last year: The Last Days of the Incas by Kim MacQuarrie. I have a directory of the nonfiction books I’ve reviewed by Dewey Decimal…I haven’t updated it in a month (eek! bad blogger! lol), but it might be helpful:

Charlie: No worries. Actually I should read more about science, it was never my strong subject. Thanks for the link, I’m liking the idea of a separate non-fiction list, I hadn’t thought to do that. The Incas book definitely interests me!



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