I've always been proud of the fact that I have made the most of my education career. I took AP classes in high school, I've done my best to fully engage myself in the material (well, maybe not with physical science. . . .), and I read a ton on my own anyway. And yet, given all my propensity and love for learning, yesterday I realized a serious hole in my education, more specifically my literary education. Surprised? Me too.
I never learned to read nonfiction. I've always read fiction books, especially when I read for fun. In all my English classes, I've read primarily fiction books. (I'm racking my brains for nonfiction I've read in school and came up with Night by Elie Wiesel, and I've also read and loved Rocket Boys, but do memoirs count as nonfiction?) In my major, I've read fiction books. Almost exclusively. With the exception of excruciatingly boring early American lit and horribly condescending Heideggerian theory, I've been conditioned to read and appreciate fiction, with no thought for nonfiction.
In my Literature for Adolescents class, we just read a nonfiction book, Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, about Captain Shackleton and his expedition to Antarctica. It wasn't my favorite, but it was still okay. What most concerned me about my reaction, however, was that I didn't expect much, simply because it was nonfiction. I am currently completely unable to see how a teenager would want to just pick up a nonfiction book. Do teenagers read nonfiction just because? I never did. I'm completely jaded by my own constructed bias for fiction.
What went wrong?! I'm a reader. I've always been a reader. I love being able to call myself a reader. But now I feel that I'm not real reader because I don't appreciate nonfiction--I don't even know how to appreciate or enjoy nonfiction. It's not even just about appreciation--I haven't even given nonfiction enough of a try to see if I could or wanted to appreciate it.
Who would have thought that my literary education--my literary education--was flawed like this?
In an effort to help me fill that serious gap and better round out and complete my education, please give me titles of your favorite nonfiction books. I'm serious.