On days like today, I’d like to write to be finding answers; or at the very least, attempting to. Today I’d like to be finding my answer to the question “Why do you like to read non-fiction?” There is a popular belief that non-fiction comes with the burden of reality– boring, things you possibly already know, lessons you learn in your own experiences in very different ways anyway and completely irrelevant. And in many ways, I wouldn’t deny the possibility of a non-fiction book turning out to be dry, or something you can possibly expect to be unable to relate to at the end of the day. But maybe I could think about the non-fiction books I have read, and completely fallen in love with over the course of this year and decipher what exactly, draws me to books of this nature time and again.
The first was The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli, whose psychology and sociology analysis puts together a book full of easily digestible chapters about the flaws in our decisions that we make so irrationally, and yet subconsciously. Every chapter kept me in awe because it put reason and rhyme to these decisions I never spared too many moments rethinking before acting upon. It also surprised me, that much as we want to be able to make ‘good’ decisions and have control over what we do, more often than not, we base our decisions off completely irrational and nonsensical feelings and sensings. So I guess this book was a non-fiction book I loved because it showed me a side of my everyday life and of myself that I never saw, and helped me make clearer sense of the why behind the actions of myself, and the people around me.
The second I can recall, would be Scapegoat by Katharine Quarmby, and this one was about the history of disability hate crime all around the world that underlines certain injustices and laws that continue to today. In the book, the ‘scapegoat’ refers to the disabled and handicapped who’ve been shunned by society, even punished over the course of human history in place of our flaws– like our inability to understand or our lack of acceptance towards those who’re different from us. This book was one that fueled anger. It made me rethink the way we treat those marginalised in society; about how we subconsciously erase them off our minds with the acceptance of the sad truth that ‘the world is unfair’ and the injustices that we close an eye to just because we are unable to empathise fully with them. So I guess this shows, I love non-fiction because of the truth of reality that it reflects and helps me feel more aware towards.
Then in the more recent months, I have grown to have a liking toward books about people’s lives (somewhat autobiographies) that narrate the stories of their lives and how they’ve lived, fought and continue to survive as warriors in their own ways. This includes First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung and Dear Leader by Jang Jin Sung. Each with their own heart-wrenching stories to tell, reading non-fiction in this form reminds me of the diverse circumstances that there are and we will never experience in our lives, ever. And the desire to understand and gain exposure to experiences that one lifetime cannot accommodate leads me to immerse myself in their words that attempt to bring me through the experiences they have survived. Some part of sitting through their experiences, allow me to takeaway the same lessons they have or absorb a little of the courage they had displayed in the time of their crises.
And so with all due respect to fiction books that have their own emotional rollercoaster rides designed for their readers underlined with creativity and imagination, I guess I appreciate non-fiction for these above reasons and continue to see myself immersing in the stories, research and explorations of others in their journey to seek truth and fulfill their desire for closure or understanding of the experiences that are recounted.