Friday, September 25, 2009

Big Read 2010

My husband and I have an ongoing debate about what to read: he's a strictly non-fiction kind of guy (barring the occasional dare to read fiction) and I'm largely a fiction gal. He says that if he's going to read, he wants to learn something from it. While I don't dislike non-fiction, and do read it, I tend to like the entertainment value of novels that is often (though certainly not always) absent in non-fiction and, depending on the book, I can still learn something from the novels I read. On occasion, my husband will wonder how I have a piece of trivia, knowledge of a different culture, or an understanding of a historical event that I never studied. The answer, I tell him, is fiction. When fiction -- especially historical fiction -- is done well, I leave the book not only satisfied by a good story, but also enriched by new information.

The Big Read selection for 2010 has been made and I, along with thousands of others in our community will be reading Dreamers of the Day , a historical fiction by Mary Doria Russell, an Ohio author. This story is about a teacher who comes into an inheritance that allows her to take her dream trip to Egypt and the Holy Lands just as the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference convenes (it's been so long since I took my History of the Middle East class that I had forgotten there even was such a conference -- see, I'm learning things just from the summary of a novel!). While there she meets notable figures including Lawrence of Arabia and Winston Churchill, as they piece together the boundaries of the modern Middle East, an event that, not to put too fine a point on it, has implications for the entire world every day. I'm eager to test out the knowledge I gain from this book on my husband, who teaches and researches Middle East politics. Maybe, just maybe, I can even get him to read this piece of fiction and be a part of the community discussion that the Big Read was intended to foster -- even if I have to dare him to do it.

No comments: