3 Reasons to Read Nonfiction

by Jennifer Haynie @JenniferHaynie1

I just finished reading a great book last night. And no, it wasn’t fiction, which is what I mainly read. It was nonfiction and is called Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton. It’s about a Special Forces team who, within a month of 9/11, arrived in Afghanistan and assisted the Northern Alliance in taking Mazir-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan by horseback. If you haven’t heard of the book, maybe you’ve heard of the movie 12 Strong.

The book imparted so much information about a little-known event for most people. So packed was it that I found it hard at first to read. But as someone who is a writer and a great supporter of Special Forces soldiers, I wanted to learn about the events that occurred within weeks of 9/11.

So I dove in.

Head first.

Right out of my comfort zone of reading and writing romantic suspense and into the depths of the battle that occurred almost 20 years ago in Afghanistan.

And I learned something. Well, many things. But most of all, why it’s good to read outside of our comfort zones.

Here’s three reasons.

We can learn a lot about little known subjects. Horse Soldiers certainly taught me that. Here was a conflict that few have probably heard of but was significant in its impact both to our Armed Forces and to the Afghan people. Stanton gave solid, accurate reporting as his bibliography can attest. As a result, my heart engaged, and I became as emotionally invested with the Special Forces team as I would if I were reading fiction.

We can have our thinking challenged. It’s easy to think we know how certain events in history went, especially if all we know are snippets or sound bites from the media. Or maybe we allow the media to inform us of how certain people think and why. I’d seen the preview of Twelve Strong, but rather than simply rely on the movie and the way a screenwriter needed to alter the events to fit into ninety minutes, I picked up the book to read and learned about a deep and complex battle as well as what went on in the minds and hearts of those involved.

We can learn about faraway places. It’s easy to stay in the comfort zone of our culture and never think about the way the rest of the world lives. In Horse Soldiers, Stanton captured Afghani culture through the eyes of both the Special Forces on the ground and the Afghanis with whom they worked. I learned about the hardships under which the Northern Alliance soldiers fought. I learned about the radically oppressive culture of the Taliban and the freedom that came when they fell.

If you read fiction, take time to pick up a nonfiction book, be it about a person, place, or event you know little about. I guarantee your universe will expand.

P.S. If you’re a nonfiction reader, try picking up a really good fiction book. They can also teach about cultures, places, and people as well as a nonfiction book can.

Reading nonfiction can challenge us to learn about places, people, or events we normally wouldn’t consider. Click To Tweet

Question: What book taught challenged your thinking about a place, event, or person?

I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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