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Shiny Pages: A Peek into the Nonfiction Genre.

by Kelsey Blackaby

There is something about nonfiction. I can’t take my eyes off it.

I love reading science fiction. I love a good romance story. I’ve found myself neck-deep in a mystery novel before, too. Reading is reading. But there is something about nonfiction, especially creative nonfiction. Nonfiction creeps into the soul differently. It takes a different path to pull heartstrings. The genre is special. Please allow me to gush for the next few paragraphs.

Like every genre, it carries stereotypes.

Nonfiction is considered boring. I can see why readers feel like the genre is only amazing things that happen to amazing people or terrible things that happen to good people. I know some think that the entire genre is just one long, linear history book with clever lines sprinkled between the dates of important events. I was that reader, and I get the thought. It is undoubtedly true for some examples in the genre. But the genre holds so much to offer readers. If I accomplish one thing in these few words here, it is that you leave this article thinking, “maybe there is something about nonfiction,” and then promptly go find a book to read. And then you get in touch with me, and we have a fantastic conversation about the future of creative nonfiction and become lifelong literary friends. Or something like that.

Nonfiction is more than stories of famous athletes, politicians, and homesteaders.

Anyone can participate in this genre, readers and writers alike. Every experience is a story, and any story can become a book if that is the goal. The genre is spilling over with stories from women, minorities, marginalized communities. The genre is not boring. The works within the creative nonfiction genre are educational, emotional, entertaining, and unforgettable. Readers cannot help but learn from written words, especially when they are firmly rooted in real experiences and facts. Every story takes on a life of its own when made into a book. Nonfiction is perfect for that.

Nonfiction is not void of groundbreaking creativity.

Nonfiction is more than written facts with interesting timelines. Stories that function entirely around real people and actual events don’t shut the door to creativity—quite the opposite. Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House is one of my favorite examples of how creative and powerful a memoir can be. She writes in such a raw, real way that no reader would dare skim a single paragraph.

I believe that the genre is vital.

We need to hear stories from our neighbors. We need the everyday story in our lives. We can't continue to ignore the struggles and magic of the world around us. Nonfiction is frighteningly confrontational. There is no mysterious world standing between readers and life’s reality. It’s there. It’s harsh. But it can be so beautiful. It is shiny in a way nothing else is. That is what keeps my eyes between the lines of a nonfiction book. The pages shine.

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