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Why i Despised Nonfiction Until High School

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Location: United States
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Reading the book Storyworthy brings to mind why I didn't like nonfiction up until the middle of high school, with a few exceptions.

For the most part, the majority of my exposure to nonfiction books had been through public education textbooks, which for the most part were bland books that dissemanated information through disembodied voices. I did not hear the voice and character fo the authors, as the information was being conveyed.

It wasn't until I had required reading of a nonfiction book in my Advanced Placement Biology class that I discovered nonfiction books could, in fact, be well-written and compelling. The book I had to read was Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body. I found this nonfiction book to be captivating, because the author;s voice was present throughout the book, and they discussed their research and findings from a storyteller perspective and lens. And kind of from then onwards, I have mostly been keen on nonfiction books written with this certain kind of voice, character, and authenticity to them. Now, I tend to enjoy and prefer nonfiction books that have a strong voice from the author and use personal narrative to furnish and present information.
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Dave, I totally agree. Evocative non-fiction is a high art form, and while most fiction stories seem to fade away over a short period of time, non-fiction that's well done seems to change the way one sees the world.

The author that did that for me was Elaine Morgan and her theory that the story of human evolution can't be understood without focusing on the female body. I found her theory of aquatic evolution offered reasonable explanations for many of the odd things about humans that make little sense otherwise. My experience is that once an author like Morgan opens up some novel path towards greater understanding, well, there's no telling where it will lead

In addition to her fascinating books, we're fortunate that she did a TED talk before she passed on.

~~ Walt

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Dave Burton wrote:

For the most part, the majority of my exposure to nonfiction books had been through public education textbooks, which for the most part were bland books that disseminated information through disembodied voices.

I'll swear school textbooks are designed to turn people off science. Luckily my kids were turned on by an aunt giving my son a book called, Turtles, Toads and Frogs when he was barely over a year old. Most adults would look at it and think it was for a much older child, but my son loved it. It didn't talk down to him, like so many school textbooks appear to do. After that, I searched public library shelves for well-written non-fiction books and they are out there! When my younger son was in grade 4 I discovered this book, Ancient machines : from wedges to waterwheels / by Michael Woods and Mary B. Woods, and it really inspired him to work at his reading (he's a card carrying dyslexic). When I suggested it to the school librarian, she said she couldn't buy a copy for the school because it was a Grade 7 reading level. Duh! So maybe only the brighter kids in the school would read it, or maybe kids would take it home and their parents would help a little, or maybe it was just because "Scholastic Books" didn't carry it??? That book is part of a whole series that covers concepts combining history and human inventions. Personally, they're a fine bit of light reading for anyone interested in the "story" of how humans got from the stone age to the Roman Empire and aren't going to whine about it being a "children's book"!
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Schools are trying to be unpersonal so that all kids receive a sort of neutral, insipid, facts based view of the world, but actually from a very cultural and biased point of view.

I had an history teacher though, who was telling us the lesson as if she had been part of it! i did not like history but the stories yes. Unfortunately, with this teacher I also discovered that teachers could tell false facts, which led me astray from studies.... Yep, she made stories about inuit as she had visited them, but she made the story from books, or else she would have known that igloos were not made with blocks of ice!!! (and I should have known, but did not, that it is not the best idea to lift the hand and tell the truth to a teacher in front of the class!)

Also, when the writter explains it personally and with passion, we know that the person really knows her stuff. It has been lived and experienced.
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