Stray Sparks: The Non-Fiction

Old BooksA couple of years ago while looking for new things to read, I started to take notice of what the authors I like to read are reading. I even attended a panel at the Phoenix Comicon entitled “Cool Things I’m Reading” with a number of authors including  Cherie Priest and Paul Cornell.

I’d say that more than eighty percent of those authors named at least one book of non-fiction that they were either currently reading or had recently finished. More surprising to find was that not all of them were doing it for research. They read them for personal enjoyment.

What’s this?

I thought that’s what fiction was for. My association with non-fiction always pointed toward text books and school work. Why would anyone want to read non-fiction for fun?

But that many authors I enjoy couldn’t be wrong, could they? So I looked for a work of non-fiction to see what all the hubbub was about. That required thinking about what subject matter I like, and then asking a polite librarian to point me in the right direction. I picked a book and began to read.

That’s when it hit me.  Ideas, I mean. They hit me one after the other. Fiction is basically a book about a “what if” moment. I was reading books giving factual and anecdotal evidence. That in turn allowed me to create a hundred “what if” moments of my own. All I had to do was write them down.

I now regularly put non-fiction works in my reading rotation. You should too.

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