In Defense of Difficult Non Fiction

I am here to defend weird and wonderful non fiction books.

It started with biographies and then morphed into the bloody egghead book. I have started reading more science and math based books.

These books are hard to read, but oddly satisfying. Yes, they are academic and thick and they talk about brains, nature, studies and statistics. I think our brains want and need to be challenged, the brain wants a variety of things.

The first book that I read of the “odd, egghead or academic books” was Guns, Germs and Steel. By Jared Diamond. This is a good place to start. It is not great writing but the ideas are really different and interesting. What affects history, is the premise?

I have become engaged in a subject that I never thought would be wildly entertaining. Environmental history, what the…?

Any content can be interesting from math to biology, insects to skyscrapers. Find your curiosity and don’t assume it will be dull or boring. Dive in.

I talked about reading so much that my daughter, who is at University in Leeds and took a class on the history of the environment.

She said, “Father, I think you would love this book, it reminds me of your talks of the guns and steel book. So, you should read it. “

I literally grabbed the book out of her hands, as she handed it to me. I wanted to read something that she had read.

The book is called Under Osman’s Tree: The Ottoman Empire, Egypt and Environmental History. By Alan Mikhail published in 2017.

Following the environmental challenges in the Ottoman Empire from the 13th century to the 20th century. Wow 700 years.

So it gives an over all view of history with the environment as part of history. It is not just for some toff, it is real and clear. Brilliant.

The story goes that Osman, the founder of the Ottoman Empire, had a dream in which a tree sprouted from his navel. And from there the tree becomes a symbol of the empire.

It speaks of the longevity, politics, economy of the empire in relation to nature, to natural resources and even to weather and natural events. He speaks about how the people both helped and hurt the environment.

Well…..the book is wonderful it is a history of the earth told basically from the viewpoint that humans affect the landscape or environment pretty much no matter what they do and how different governing styles or system affect this.

Anyway, I promise I will write more on that, in the meantime, Here is the book!

This book has given me a list of science books to read. The big one is Stephen Hawking’s book and I will read it in the next year, but it frightens me.

So, again as the fanboy for reading that I am.

Read the books about math about science read the books about the cosmos.

You won’t know what you will find. You might find yourself.

One thought on “In Defense of Difficult Non Fiction

  1. Arden, I have read all of your blogs. What I see is how comfortable you have become with blogging. Your views say a lot about you as a person, but more than that, you give your readers a feeling that they too can express themselves honestly (& positively). I think you are a swell guy & I look forward to reading more from you.

    Liked by 1 person

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