Things That I'm Obsessed With: Non-Fiction Edition

Posted by Lizzie on Tuesday, August 18, 2009
One summer, during the disaffected teen era of my life, I felt an overwhelming desire to get out of my small hometown as soon as humanly possible and not come back until school resumed. However, being that I was a minor and consistently spent all my money on CDs, leaving wasn't an option.

Regardless of the fact that my wanderlust couldn't be satisfied, the urge remained.

So, I found a healthy outlet in reading as much of the local library's non-fiction section as I could.

It opened up realms of possibility for my bored and unsatisfied mind. And the unbearable need to leave became a little more bearable.

And the most apparent benefit was that AP Bio was so much easier than it should have been.

However, as the years have progressed, this healthy habit has turned the corner into unhealthy obsession. Now I'm the kid that wanders through the non-fiction stacks, finds a topic of interest, gets out four books on the subject, and reads them in a week.

Granted, during any given "normal" week, I'm usually healthily reading up on only one or two subjects from the non-fiction section and taking my time to complete them.

But every once in awhile, a day like today happens where I absolutely MUST leave whatever physical place I may be, but lack the means/time to do so. And so, instead of throwing away all my savings on a solitary Latin American vacation or moving to Oregon to live in the woods, I head straight for the library to make the feeling go away.

Why I need to leave may be attributed to any number of predicaments or sentiments, however, wanderlust is always the initiator. This time it was followed by life dissatisfaction/frustration (which is almost always somewhere in the mix), summer ending (this season is always involved in some capacity), jarring realizations (the kind you want to run away from because they lack solutions), and whores (that's a semi-new one).

As a result, I went directly to the library and up the two half-flights of stairs to the QB/QC section which is astronomy, astrophysics, quantum physics, and the like. I grabbed four books with compelling titles and will soon be underway.

Astronomy/Physics is my most commonly selected subject and so I know these aisles by heart. Stars do crazy things to my head. And the physics behind everything never ceases to BLOW MY MIND. So, during the worst of these crises, there's a 94% chance that these are the things I'm reading. And the awful thing is that I've read so much on the subject that usually only about half of what I'm reading is new material. However, it's so worth the time spent because that new material is ceaselessly extraordinary.

Aside from all that personal garbage which likely doesn't apply to you on any level, there are universal reasons why non-fiction may be beneficial to your life.

You learn something new and can share this knowledge with other people who may be interested. And subsequently, you become way more interesting to some people and broaden your group of friends. And non-fiction books come in every subject imaginable so whatever you want to read about, there is a book to satisfy your craving. It's not just dry science! Journals, biographies, historical accounts, travel-related things, some essays, memoirs, etc. are all considered non-fiction. Also, the more you know, the more you can get away with in the academic arena. Using outside knowledge can boost paper and exam scores like none other. I know from personal experience. Reading different types of things also gives you the ability to think in different kinds of ways, so grasping a difficult concept in a class or work environment can sometimes be much easier if you can compare it to something else or think differently about it. And if you need to bullshit your way through something, it's so much easier if you're in tip-top mental shape and can source all kinds of information to get your bullshitted point across in a way that makes it sound legitimate.

In short, there are no downsides to self-education. Minus the fact that sometimes non-fiction can be slower and more bland than fiction generally is. Let me emphasize the "generally" part (Can we toast to how awful anything written by Nathaniel Hawthorne is?). If you're worried about being bored to death, make sure you start out with something that interests you more than most things. If it's still bad, browse the aisle again until you find something on the subject that was intended for light reading until you get into the swing of things. Before you know it, you'll be on your way to becoming a treasure trove of useless information.

If reading just really isn't your thing, I recommend these television networks which can be obtained through most cable/satellite providers:
- Discovery... and all the affiliated Discovery channels (TLC, Animal Planet, The Science Channel, The Travel Channel, Discovery Health, etc.)
- National Geographic
- BBC affiliated channels
- The History Channel
- Biography

And if you only have a digital converter box, there's always PBS.

Speaking of educational television, it's relevant to point out that I'm also obsessed with Blue Planet, Planet Earth, and The Universe. And you can buy Blue Planet/Planet Earth TOGETHER (http://www.amazon.com/Planet-Earth-Blue-Special-Collectors/dp/B000TEUSQ8/ref=pd_cp_d_3). I would kill for that in HD.



remeber last fall when i was obsessed with boy george's bio? -julia mc

yesssss... and that's why i chose that bio to showcase... bc i missed you a lot that day <3

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