Friday, May 31, 2013

Armchair BEA ~ Nonfiction

Design credit: Nina of Nina Reads.
Today's topic for Armchair BEA is nonfiction, which means that this is going to be a VERY short post.  There was a time when I really liked to read memoirs but nowadays, nonfiction is pretty much nonexistent for me, unless you count textbooks and case studies, which I do not.  Why is that?  I have no idea, but it's probably linked to my general avoidance of current events (except Amanda Knox, I will read any Knox-related news story).  I don't mind horrible, terrible, disturbing, heartbreaking things happening to fictional characters but to real people?  I guess it's just too much, especially if I'm not in a position to help them.  So for the most part, I stick to fiction.

The main exception that I make to this rule is for Tudor history.  Almost two years ago, I went through a Tudor obsession that hasn't quite waned, which included historical fiction, the TV show The Tudors (it's so good, you have to watch it!), and also some biographies of the Tudor family, with a focus on Henry VIII wives.


Sister Queens is a feminist biography of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife, and her sister, Juana of Castile (though it's more about Catherine).  This biography does a great job of putting their stories into the context of their time.

The Six Wives of Henry VIII is about just that - Henry VIII's many marriages, which led to divorce, beheadings, and a break with the Catholic Church.  Weir paints a fascinating and complex portrait of Henry himself, a man who was heinous in a contemporary perspective for his treatment of his wives and despised in his time for meddling with the church, but nevertheless beloved by his people.


Marriage and Other Acts of Charity is the only one other nonfiction book that I've read in the last few years that comes to mind and I recommend it wholeheartedly.  Braestrup reflects on the different types of love described in the Greek language - eros, philos, and agape - as well as her own two marriages and experiences as a Unitarian minister.  My husband and I both read this shortly before we got married and it was a great way to think about our impending nuptials.  I recommend it for anybody who's getting married soon or who already is.

What are your favorite nonfiction reads?  I'd love some recommendations!

6 comments:

  1. I know what you mean about the disturbing things in nonfiction. I don't know why but I'm drawn to those heavy and dark sort of reads. (I don't really want to know what that says about me!) Perhaps that's why I enjoy nonfiction so much? I do especially like reading about the triumph of the human spirit and you can find a lot of that in nonfiction works.

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    1. That's true, there is that triumphant aspect. And I don't mind dark and heavy, I just prefer it to be fiction!

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  2. You see, I like depressing stuff, which is probably why I read a lot of non-fiction! :P

    Marriage and Other Acts of Charity sounds fascinating, is it only from a religious point of view?

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    1. It's really not from a particularly religious point of view. Braestrup is Unitarian, a very open and non-dogmatic practice (it doesn't even insist on a god). She does use some Biblical references but in a very accessible way. I'm not religious at all, and this wasn't an issue for me.

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    2. I think I'd like to read Marriage and Other Acts of Charity. I think the Unitarian view would be an interesting one to learn more about. Thanks for mentioning it!

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