As it’s Academic Book Week AND Non-Fiction November, it only seems appropriate to highlight why you should be including a non-fiction book amongst the fiction that makes up the vast majority of your reading pile!
On Tuesday, the Guardian published an article that alerted us to the fact that Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species has been voted the ‘most influential academic book ever written’. It is hailed as “the supreme demonstration of why academic books matter” and “a book which has changed the way we think about everything”. There can be no denying that this is indeed a fascinating book! A list of the top 20 academic books has been compiled, and among them, several prominent works can be found, such as A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft (something I studied rather heavily in one of my degree modules), A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer to name but a few. There were a couple of surprises among this list, namely Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Complete Works of Shakespeare, but perhaps this is where what is deemed ‘academic non-fiction’ attempts to make itself more accessible to a wider reading audience.
A good example of this comes in the form of our own non-fiction title,
The Russian Countess by Edith Sollohub
Countess Edith Sollohub, born Edith Natalie de Martens, was well known in pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg for accompanying her husband Alexander on shooting and riding trips and for being outstandingly accurate with her gun. She was the daughter of a high-ranking Russian diplomat, and the mother of three young sons, destined to join the social and intellectual elite of imperial Russia. The Revolution of 1917 changed the course of these lives.
Like many non-fiction books that have filters into our everyday reading habits, The Russian Countess appeals to readers who not only have an invested interest in Russian history and want to increase their awareness of certain aspects of Russian life or society, but also those who perhaps enjoy reading biographies and crave something new in their repertoire of books. Books like Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything or Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman fall into this category of being ‘accessible non-fiction’, and offer a bridge between fiction and true, academic-style non-fiction, which makes Non-fiction November the perfect time to try picking up a non-fiction book!
So what makes good non-fiction? The honest nature of the narrative? The ability to captivate the reader in an uncomplicated way? The way a book builds a special sense of excitement and interest in the reader to research further into a topic? An excellent author who possess a real skill of telling their own story? Here at Impress Books HQ we think a combination of all of these makes for a noteworthy work of non-fiction, with a view to opening the eyes of the reader…
So, after that whirlwind tour of the dizzying (and often daunting) heights of non-fiction, go and indulge your inner intellectual and take a well-earned break from fiction to explore the world around you…
Have you read any notable non-fiction titles?
What are your thoughts on non-fiction?
Comment on this post or tweet us @ImpressBooks1
Until next time, keep reading!
(Full Guardian article is available here: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/nov/10/on-the-origin-of-species-voted-most-influential-academic-book-charles-darwin)