Facts and Fiction

I love a good creative nonfiction read. I love tucking away little snippets of new knowledge and I love that the library can provide me with multiple titles of any topic that sparks my interests. In the past year I’ve read books on subjects ranging from baking the perfect loaf of bread to surviving a plane crash in the Andes to our industrial food system.

But what does this have to do with fiction? Well, as much as I love facts from nonfiction, I doubly love a fiction read that teaches me something new.

Sometimes, the whole book can be based on a historical incident such as The Terror by Dan Simmons, which is fictionalized account of what happened to Franklin’s lost expedition in the Artic. After reading The Terror, I added Ice Blink : the tragic fate of Sir John Franklin’s lost polar expedition by Scott Cookman to my list of books waiting to be read.

Other times, a book may discuss within the storyline an esoteric subject, such as in Jeffrey Deaver’s Cold Moon. Introduced in the book is a character who is an expert of kinesics, which is the study and interpretation of body language, gestures and facial expressions. The portrayal of this character’s skills at interviewing criminals was so riveting, I immediately knew I needed to learn more about kinesics. So I added What every BODY is saying : an ex-FBI agent’s guide to speed reading people by Joe Navarro to my ever growing to-read list.

Finally, there may just be a tiny snippet of information that just catches my attention and won’t let go. In Patricia Briggs’ Bone Crossed, main character Mercy Thompson gets “authentic Mexican tacos” from a taco wagon. That means the tacos have lime, cilantro and radishes instead of lettuce and cheese. I now know that there isn’t any real consensus to why radishes are an authentic Mexican topping but pretty much anybody weighing in on the subject says they are delicious in Mexican food. But I only looked at online sources, so I’ve added Que vivan los tamales! : food and the making of Mexican identity by Jeffrey M. Pilcher to expand my fact hunt.

Have you ever read a fact in a fiction novel that sent your reading in a whole new direction?

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