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Book Love Story: Why I love non-fiction books

Reblogged from BookLikes:

 

It's all about love during the Valentine's Week. Each day of the Valentine's week will present one book love story with a different genre insight. Today, it's all about non-fiction. We're happy to welcome Mike from Book Thoughts on BookLikes blog. 

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A guest post by Mike from Book Thoughts

 

There is no excuse for history to ever be boring - no excuse for that!

David McCullough

David McCullough on Why History Matters 

(click to view a video)

 

I am very excited to have a chance to share my passion for reading history with you all. I have had a life-long love of history, and grew up in a house where my father spent all of his free time either reading or talking about history.  I have always been fascinated about the past, and my childhood experience led to what is now a career reading and teaching history.

 

I have taught history at the high school and community college level for 15 years and my love for history has only grown during that time.  Too many adults think back to their history classes when they were in school and remember being bored and having to memorize facts and dates.  History is so much more than that!  To understand where we came from and how the world we live in was created by those who came before us is fascinating.  

 

We often have an arrogant perspective when we look back at the people of the past. We have this idea that we are smarter than them, we know more than they did, we would never possibly have made the same mistakes they made, and therefore why should we waste time reading about them? Nothing could be further from the truth. While it is true we have more technology and more access to information than at any point in human history, we must always try to put ourselves in the shoes of those who came before us and understand that they did not know what was coming next.

 

Like David McCullough talked about in the video above, most importantly to me, history is about people. One of my favorite parts of reading about great historical figures is to learn about the lives they lead before they became famous or before they made their great contribution. I want to know what their childhood was like, what schools they went to and what they studied, their loves gained and lost, and how all of those experiences led to the pinnacle of their lives that make them worthy to be studied and written about. Those stories, those experiences - those are the lessons and examples we can read about and make a part of our own lives. Those in the past experienced the same range of emotions that we experience day to day. They are not stone figures - they laughed, they cried, and they were silly just like most of us.

 

This photo shows a couple from the Victorian era.  It was considered socially awkward to smile in photographs at that time, so most photos we see show very serious people. These photos show two people that were not able to keep their serious faces together.

 

For someone that might be intimated to read a history book, I have a few suggestions. These books read like novels and will introduce you to the real stories of some famous people that you may only know by name. Not only will you learn about their lives, but you will learn about the time and society they lived in. I kept the list focused on famous people rather than events, because for those who are new to reading history, learning about individuals will be a much better introductory experience.

 

John Adams - David McCullough  Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln - Doris Kearns Goodwin  Nicholas and Alexandra - Robert K. Massie 

 

John Adams by David McCullough (Biography of our second President. Also tells one of history’s great love stories of John and Abigail Adams.)

 

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin  (Tells the story of Abraham Lincoln and how he brought together political rivals into his cabinet to help him during the Civil War.)

 

Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie (This book tells two stories - that of the last Czar of Russia and his family, and that of the Russian Revolution.)

 

 The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt - Edmund Morris  Alexander Hamilton - Ron Chernow  

 

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris (Tells the story of Teddy Rosevelt from his birth to his elevation to the Presidency. This is the first book in a trilogy that is some of the best historical writing out there.)

 

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (This book has become very famous in recent years due to the Broadway Musical, but it had been one of my favorites for many years before that.)

 

***Any books by these authors are great reads.

 

I hope I have convinced you to give a history book a try!  I bet you will enjoy it, and you will finish the book wanting to know more.  

 

If you are still not convinced, here is a short video I show my students at the start of each year.  Great tune and hopefully will inspire a desire to read history!

Why Study History - Viva la Vida Video (click)

 

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Watch out for more Book Love Stories on BookLikes blog this week! If you'd like to join, please do! Write your book love story on your blog and add the link in the comment section below. Make sure to add why I love tag to your post so we could find it and share it.