|Casper Journal Articles
From the Natrona County Public Library
Nonfiction that Reads Like Fiction
By Susan Stanton, Technical Services Coordinator
November 2, 2011
I love reading fiction for entertainment, but I like well-written nonfiction even more. In my view, a good story that really happened is the best of both worlds. Here are a few great nonfiction stories and the fiction genres into which they fit.
Medical Thriller: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot is about how a black cancer victim’s cells are still alive today and still being used in life-saving medical research. It deals with the questions of science, race, class, ethics, and how her family struggles to come to terms with her legacy.
Humor: “Zoo Story” by Thomas French manages to be both thoughtful and out-and-out hilarious, detailing the history of a small Florida zoo. French details the soap-opera lives, personalities, and similarities of the animals and their keepers, as well as how the animals got there and the dilemma of their captivity.
Political Thriller: “Game Change” by John Heileman and Mark Halperin, about that never-a-dull-moment 2008 presidential election, has more plot twists and crazy side characters than any fiction writer could imagine. The account is rounded out with lots of new behind-the-scenes stories skewering pretentious politicians and their consultants.
History and Local Flair: As an NCPL employee I am naturally interested in “A Window to the World,” Walter Jones’ history of the Natrona County Public Library. I’m also intrigued by the Fort Caspar Museum’s new release “Natrona County: People, Place, and Time” by Rebecca Hunt, both written in an inviting style with wonderful historical photos. Lynne Vincent Cheney’s brisk memoir Blue Skies, No Fences blends the Vincent and Cheney families’ history and hard-life struggles in the Salt Creek oil fields and in Casper.
Crime Thriller: Ron Franscell’s terrifying and masterful “Fall : The Rape and Murder of Innocence in a Small Town” (republished in paperback as “The Darkest Night”), tells the grim 1970s true-crime story of two young Casper girls abducted, assaulted and thrown from Fremont Canyon Bridge. Franscell tells how the crime reverberated throughout Casper, with spot-on portraits of people who still live here today.
Holocaust Fiction: “Anne Frank Remembered” by Miep Gies offers a new angle on the story of the classic diary, retold from the perspective of the helpers (employees of Anne’s father!).
WWII Action-Adventure: “Lost in Shangri-La” by Mitchell Zuckoff tells the story of a plane crash at the end of WWII that left doctors and nurses stranded in a remote South Pacific jungle populated by a Stone-Age tribe. The author includes interviews with both the remaining survivors and the tribespeople, providing a fascinating new angle to this bizarre true tale.
Action-Adventure: “Into Thin Air” and “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer tell compelling human tales. The author provides such a deeply-researched historical context for these stories that seemingly random acts – rich people paying to climb Everest, an idealistic youth dropping out of society to wander the country – are suddenly seen as part of a larger tradition and meaning.
Your library is the place to find great books of any genre. Librarians are here to give suggestions, and we’d love to hear about your favorites. If you know a good nonfiction book that reads like fiction, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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