Thursday, December 24, 2009

Booking Through Thursday - Historical Truth or Historical Fiction?

btt button

Given the choice, which do you prefer? Real history? Or historical fiction? (Assume, for the purposes of this discussion that they are equally well-written and engaging.)

Tough one! I'm more of a fiction person generally but I think if I really wanted to learn about something I'd choose nonfiction. Historical fiction is fun but you have to take it with a grain of salt and it's not all created equal. Some of it is alarmingly disconnected from historical reality; some of it is quite faithful to it. To get anything out of historical fiction- to be able to distinguish the good from the bad- you have to be pretty well-informed about the period you're reading about. If I'm not well-informed, I treat historical fiction like pure fiction and leave it at that.

There's more Booking Through Thursday here.

11 comments:

Novroz said...

Yup historical fictions are fun and never take it seriously.

But I never finished real history...I choice watching documentary rather than reading it

Amy Reads Good Books said...

I'm with you. Unless I know a lot about the period, I prefer to read the history. :)

bermudaonion said...

I generally read fiction, too, but do enjoy non-fiction when it's readable and not dry.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I prefer nonfiction unless the historical fiction author includes a nice appendix with details on what is real and what isn't based on good research!

cutlex said...

Well said. Reading non-fiction means being well informed of what you're gonna be reading or you'll be confused about what is and what's not.

pussreboots said...

I like both options. Since I'm currently reading a historical fiction I decided to talk about one of my favorite authors in the genre.

thekoolaidmom said...

oh, nuts! LOL... I forgot abuot BTT. I was busy having fun looking at Santa pics and stuff.

I'm with you, though, I'd rather read a non-fiction history book than the HF.

Charley said...

Non-fiction for me.

Space Station Mir said...

Interesting question-I used to be a huge fan of historical fiction, but could never get through the nonfiction. Now, fluffy or historically inaccurate fiction bothers me a lot (not to say that there isn't well-researched historical fiction, there is, it just represents a smaller portion of what's out there), and I find myself turning to non-fiction histories and biographies more often, when I need a history fix.

mattviews said...

traveling with an author who has written travelogue. Somerset Maugham is a great example. I followed his travel through Malaysia while reading his memoir, The gentleman in the Palour.

D.M. McGowan said...

For me the point of reading (and writing) historical fiction is entertainment. Of course, that should be true of fiction in general.
If there is some history within the novel that interests the reader then that reader can look to a work of history to verify or disprove the supposed facts.
Without the entertainment to be (should be) found in historical fiction far fewer people would learn about how society has reached the present situation.
Dave
www.dmmcgowan.blogspot.com