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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Vacation Books

Learning Is Pleasure

We are away from home, so my wife, my 8 year old, my 3 year old and I each had to decide which books we wanted. so I decided to look over our reading lists — and I saw a theme.

Marina just finished writing a new YA novel and dove directly into a big adult historical fiction novel she has been working on for some time. So her reading list is half novels whose style she admires, and half research about the era in which her book is set. Sasha will be deprived on his Yankee games for two weeks (every morning he’d read the sports section not merely to find out who won and how, but precisely when the game would be on later in the day. He can’t watch TV during the week in the school year, so now he craves his daily dose of Yankeedom), and he’s done with We Are the Ship, as well as various sports trivia books. Shredderman was going to be his novel, but he loved it so much he could not stop reading it, and finished it long before we left. We finally found a few sports biographies in the library.

Rafi will listen to Seuss, to the various Danny and the Dinosaurs, to just about any I Can Read, but his obsession is superheroes — those picture book and ICR level books about Batman and Spiderman (and the absolutely unreadable Power Ranger books) light him up, he smiles even to see them. My pleasure reading is books about McCarthyism — since I am writing about it. I like to read what I need to learn — and that is my theme. 

In one way or another, all of this reading crosses back and forth between fiction and nonfiction, between reading as a step away from regular life, and reading as a form of gaining knowledge — of literary styles, of historical periods, of favorite players, of the powers and attributes of superheroes, of the lies spread in America during a time of fear. 

Knowing more, discovering new ideas, gaining new insights is pleasure because you feel enlarged, you feel expanded: in one way your vision is broader, in another you have an expanded curiousity, a greater ability to make new connections. Learning is pleasure.


  1. Amy Bowllan says:

    Not to divert from your reading lists – quite a variety of approaches – but I plan to implement the no-tv during the week policy for my two on September 3, how difficult – if at all – was it to stick to?

  2. Amy. Not very hard during the school year