Why Do You Read Nonfiction?
I met with a publisher yesterday and we were talking about the matter of databases and schools that are cutting back — or even eliminating — buying nonfiction books. As we spoke I realized that, to me, nonfiction reading is pleasure reading — nearly always. Even the material is dense, hard, poorly written, I feel excited at the thought that I cam going to learn something, gain some knowledge, be better informed than I was before I started the book Others at the table spoke about the pleasures they get from nonfiction — a great story, a person they find fascinating or come to care about, engaging line by line writing, fabulous photos. And then it hit me — we so rarely talk about Nonfiction in terms of pleasure. We are always making a case for utility — hey, notice us, we could help you! But why? How about, Hey, notice us, we offer you fun, excitement, engagement, thrills, inights-that-could-change-your-world.
So I ask all of you — what pleasures do you get out of reading Nonfiction? What do you look forward to? What do you remember? Give us a passage, a sentence, a phrase, a title. And in a library, how about having a list posted — The Pleasures of Nonfiction — and ask kids, librarians, teachers, to write down anything — from a photo of a tarantula to an opening chess move to advice about how to pick the right pet to a story about George Washington — that you really enjoyed reading.I wonder what will be on that list?