The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Non-Fiction

I’m not a connoisseur of non-fiction.  I prefer my books full of action, sometimes with blood and lots of plot twists. I like my characters a little warped, consumed with their haunting demons.  These kind of characters only exist in works of fiction, right?

Wrong!

To my surprise, I found lots of characters to love in non-fiction!

Ever wonder about Jezebel, the perfectly bad queen?  How about Bloody Mary, a woman of burning faith? Or Lizzie Borden, one whacky woman and Typhoid Mary, a cook without a conscience?

These are just the kinds of sirens, thieves and female villains you’ll read about in Bad Girls by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple.

From Cleopatra to Lizzie Borden, meet 26 of history's most notorious women. Each bad girl has a rotten reputation, but there are two sides to every tale. Each chapter ends with comic panels featuring caricatures of the authors discussing the women. Illustrations.

From Cleopatra to Lizzie Borden, meet 26 of history’s most notorious women. Each bad girl has a rotten reputation, but there are two sides to every tale. Each chapter ends with comic panels featuring caricatures of the authors discussing the women. Illustrations.

But be careful!  You might find yourself waking during the witching hour with nightmares!

Not a fan of bad girls? Would you rather read something a little less skin-crawling and spine-tingling?  Then you’ll love Home Front Girl by Joan Wehlen Morrison. A sweet journal of love, literature and growing up in wartime America, Home Front Girl is what some have said is reminiscent of Diary of Anne Frank.  This book is technically a YA, but it may suit some mature MG audience members. It provides a heartfelt insight into one of the most memorable times in American history.

Wednesday, December 10, 1941 “Hitler speaks to Reichstag tomorrow. We just heard the first casualty lists over the radio. . . . Lots of boys from Michigan and Illinois. Oh my God! . . . Life goes on though. We read our books in the library and eat lunch, bridge, etc. Phy. Sci. and Calculus. Darn Descartes. Reading Walt Whitman now.”   This diary of a smart, astute, and funny teenager provides a fascinating record of what an everyday American girl felt and thought during the Depression and the lead-up to World War II. Young Chicagoan Joan Wehlen describes her daily life growing up in the city and ruminates about the impending war, daily headlines, and major touchstones of the era—FDR’s radio addresses, the Lindbergh kidnapping, Goodbye Mr. Chips and Citizen Kane, Churchill and Hitler, war work and Red Cross meetings. Included are Joan’s charming doodles of her latest dress or haircut reflective of the era. Home Front Girl is not only an entertaining and delightful read but an important primary source—a vivid account of a real American girl’s lived experiences.

Wednesday, December 10, 1941

“Hitler speaks to Reichstag tomorrow. We just heard the first casualty lists over the radio. . . . Lots of boys from Michigan and Illinois. Oh my God! . . . Life goes on though. We read our books in the library and eat lunch, bridge, etc. Phy. Sci. and Calculus. Darn Descartes. Reading Walt Whitman now.” 

This diary of a smart, astute, and funny teenager provides a fascinating record of what an everyday American girl felt and thought during the Depression and the lead-up to World War II. Young Chicagoan Joan Wehlen describes her daily life growing up in the city and ruminates about the impending war, daily headlines, and major touchstones of the era—FDR’s radio addresses, the Lindbergh kidnapping, Goodbye Mr. Chips and Citizen Kane, Churchill and Hitler, war work and Red Cross meetings. Included are Joan’s charming doodles of her latest dress or haircut reflective of the era. Home Front Girl is not only an entertaining and delightful read but an important primary source—a vivid account of a real American girl’s lived experiences.

I just opened a door to a brand new world of reading for myself and my children.  I’m so glad I’ve found so much to love in non-fiction.

What are your favorite non-fiction books featuring good, bad and ugly female characters?

 

Amie Borst writes twisted fairy tales with her middle-grade daughter, Bethanie. Their first book, Cinderskella, releases October 26th, 2013! You can find them on facebook www.facebook.com/AmieAndBethanieBorst or at Amie’s blog www.amieborst.com

3 responses to “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Non-Fiction

  1. D.Lee Sebree

    I have to get Home Front Girl! Thanks for the post.

  2. wow, so glad you enjoyed both of these books, alex! i agree – these books give readers a great taste for excellent non-fiction.

  3. I was never a big fan of nonfiction, either, until I started blogging. As it happens, I read both Bad Girls and Home Front Girl. I liked Home Front Girl more, but both are worthy reads. Hopefully, more readers will begin to like nonfiction when they have books like these to read.