Because Fiction Has to Make Sense

I seem to find nonfiction much more interesting. I still read plenty of fiction, of course. Particularly mystery series, like the Gideon Oliver series, which is awesome. Aaron Elkins can delelop a character that will occupy only two pages of the entire book, and I will know that character more throughly than some main characters…I will not name names–usually books with characters like that are forgotten easily.

Anyway, I’ve always been more prone to picking up books at library sales and used bookstores in the nonfiction section. These are the books that are most likely not to be read, but also far more likely to be kept. I can go back and read and skim, flip through and re-read more often. I remember them more. And I think I might just enjoy them more.

Today I went to the library–surprise!–intending to just drop off two books that I’d convinced myself to give up, but of course I found my way in, and out again with three more books. All three from the nonfiction section.

The first book I picked up, though not one I checked out, was about barbed wire through the ages. Below that was wallpaper throughout American history. Just above was a Sears catalog from 1908. Oh the things you can find in the library!

One shelf over from came the self help books from organizing time and workspace and another shelf, parenting.  Actually, my first forays into nonfiction came from the self-help section. Like most teenagers, I thought I ought to be depressed, and therefore liked to read about it. The most basic of depression books tend to be about how not to be depressed, and so I ended up with books like “Depression for Dummies.” Another oddly ironic title, however, it still didn’t last long.

From the heath care self-help books I moved on to the how-to-write section. I should note here that I rarely, if ever, read these books in order to take their advice, but more out of simple curiosity into what the writer’s thought about their subjects. Most, naturally, consisted of what is known as “common sense” despite its rarity, and yet some authors could be surprising eloquent about how best to punctuate a sentence.

Grammar books can be awesome. I suppose I shouldn’t use such a careless adjective twice in one post, but it fits, and I don’t need too hard to think of something else. It’s likely why I focused on the editing side of things. I have no trouble with judging. As for grammar books, however, I stole one from my parents that was fun to read, but terribly out of date. For the layperson, and everyone else, though, there is Eats, Shoots & Leaves. By the way, did you know that some people don’t believe in the ampersand? Fascinating. (Seriously, read the link)

Mostly, right now at least, I’ve been focusing on histories, biographies, and architecture.  Actually, mostly architecture, house plans, The Victorian Country House, things like that. I love architure. If there wasn’t so much math involved, and it didn’t involve so much schooling, and if I’d know anything about it before graduating high school, I would have become an architect. When I’m driving through town, I look out for the houses, they way they’re built, the style, the era, the condition. I just really love architecture, particularly of older homes. I really don’t know why. But the library has lots of books just on house plans, and ideas on kinds of houses, and I just keep checking them out.

I may be a dork because I like the Sims, but at least it lets me pretend to build houses.

An even better park of the ampersand comments, here. I suppose nobody actually follows these, but really ought to. It’s far better than anything I come up with. Which, I suppose, is always why I’m linking to that site.


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