Fictional Non-Fiction

One of the more frequent questions we get here at the library is: What is the difference between fiction and non-fiction? The question is usually grounded in the very real need to know where a book is located in the stacks. The practical answer is that both are shelved in separate sections: fiction by the author’s last name and non-fiction by the Dewey number. If you are of a philosophical bent and want to know why something is considered fiction or non-fiction, well that is where it gets complicated. It seems obvious that non-fiction is ‘real’ and fiction is ‘made up,’ but in fact there is more crossover than you might think.

Case in point is the weird and entertaining world of fictional non-fiction. These books have avoided the fiction label and are housed in the usually serious and reality based non-fiction stacks. They are unexpected gems of fancy, shelved alongside their more serious brethren. Listed below are a few topics that house a lot of this fictional nonfiction.

User manuals for technically non-existent, but really, really cool vehicles:

deathstarThere are a surprising number of workshop manuals, many put out by Haynes no less, for fantastic vehicles in the Star Wars and Star Trek universes. Whether you want to figure out how to kick start the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive, fix the cloaking device on a Klingon Bird of Prey, or find out where the holodeck is located on a Galaxy-class starship, we have got you covered. Whatever you do, don’t pass up the Imperial Death Star: DS-1 Orbital Battle Station manual. Sure death is in the title, but you have to admit that the Death Star was a marvel of engineering. If nothing else, this book will give you an appreciation for all the hardworking men and women, most of them just trying to collect a paycheck, whom the Rebel Alliance thoughtlessly murdered. Twice no less. Just saying.

Not self-help:

zonetheoryWhile it is true that actual self-help books can seem a bit odd, there is a small subset that are clearly not intended to be helpful, one hopes, and are played for laughs. One example is Tim & Eric’s Zone Theory: 7 Steps to Achieve a Perfect Life. From the creepy images throughout the book and advice such as ‘friends are replaceable, money is not,’ this book is funny and disturbing which is to be expected from the creators of several Adult Swim TV shows.

7secretsIf you’ve ever seen the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you know that none of the characters should be giving out life advice. But that is exactly what has happened in the book 7 Secrets of Awakening the Highly Effective Four-Hour Giant, Today. If you are still tempted to apply their maxims, take heed of the warning on the back cover: ‘Following the advice contained herein could get you arrested, maimed or killed.’

Alternative histories taken seriously:

federationSadly we don’t even have a moon base yet, let alone the wherewithal to set aside our differences and unify the people of earth, but if you want to read a future history where there is an actual Federation of Planets, definitely check out Federation: The First 150 Years. You also might want to brush up on The Klingon Art of War and read The Autobiography of James T. Kirk to prepare yourself for the brave new world to come.

timelordlettersWhile the library has lots of great books about Doctor Who, they tend to treat it as a television show that continues to be produced. True believers know that the Doctor must surely exist on some plane of Space/Time. For this select group we have The Time Lord Letters, a detailed collection of the Doctor’s correspondence including his application for the post of Caretaker at Coal Hill School to his telepathic messages to the High Council of Gallifrey.

Practical guides to fictional places:

portlandiaWhile Portland is an actual place, Portlandia is, well, a place unto itself. But don’t take my word for it. Instead check out Portlandia: A Guide for Visitors and learn about a city where Kyle MacLachlan is mayor, knots have their own store, and cars are not allowed. If you are feeling more hands on, definitely take a look at the Portlandia Activity Book to learn how to ‘Build Your Own Chore Wheel’ and ‘How to Crowdfund Your Baby.’

zombiesurvivalZombies may not actually exist at this point, but bad things have been known to happen. If you want to be safe rather than sorry and prepare for the coming undead hordes, the now classic Zombie Survival Guide is the book for you. Chock full of useful information (including ideal weapon selection, home preparation, and useful zombie weaknesses) this book will guide you safely, for the most part, through a fictional disaster. The one gap in this very thorough tome is nutrition. Luckily we also have The Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse which contains recipes as well as advice on how to get the calories you need to fend off the living dead.

Delayed (Audio) Gratification

For better or worse, I tend to rely on anticipation as a coping mechanism. Setting dates (what a surprise for a librarian) and looking forward to an event helps to distract me from the occasional drudgery of daily existence. I’m not sure why this is so, but I tend to chalk it up to an early exposure to a certain Heinz ketchup commercial that has forever put a Carly Simon song in my head. And definitely not in a good way.

If you are a fellow devotee of delayed gratification, and enjoy listening to audiobooks, you might want to check out a few of the library’s recent on-order audiobook titles. On-order simply means we have ordered the title, but are waiting for it to be published and sent to us for processing. While the audiobook won’t be on the shelf right now, you can place a hold and look forward to getting the title in the not too distant future.

We have definitely ordered some of the more anticipated audio blockbusters for you to enjoy (by the likes of John Grisham, Tom Clancy, Helen Fielding, Elizabeth George, and Danielle Steel) but I’m going to list a few of the titles that might not be on your radar but that are definitely worth anticipating.

The Abominable by Dan Simmons
abominableIf you were a fan of his novel The Terror, this one looks like a return to form for Dan Simmons. Expect blinding snow storms, lots of history and something wicked lurking just outside the meager warmth of the campfire. This time around, the doomed attempt to find the Northwest Passage is replaced by an attempt to climb Mt. Everest in the 1920s. Simmons’ books are heavy on historical detail but that is what makes them so intriguing. He is also great at building tension and a master of the slow reveal. With this audiobook clocking in at 1770 minutes and 24 discs it should keep you entertained for the longest of road trips. Just go somewhere warm.

ender's game alive 1Ender’s Game Alive by Orson Scott Card
Timed to coincide with the film release of Ender’s Game, this audiobook is a dramatization written by Orson Scott Card and based on his bestselling novel. Being totally new to the Ender’s Game universe I thought this would be a good introduction. The cast is made up of many audiobook narration veterans so it should be a good listen. If you want to delve deeper and listen to various authors, including Orson Scott Card, discuss the Enders universe, you might want to check out Ender’s World: Fresh Perspectives on the SF classic Ender’s Game.

doctor who a historyDoctor Who: A History by Alan Kistler
Are you confused when you try to place each Doctor along the space-time continuum? Having trouble figuring out where the Daleks and Cybermen originated? If you are like me and have just dabbled in the expansive world of Dr. Who, this guide should be a boon. Starting with the first episode in 1963 and continuing all the way to the selection of Peter Capaldi as the twelfth Doctor this work explains everything Dr. Who related. As a side benefit, if you listen to this title it should help with the correct pronunciations of adversaries of the Doctor such as the Ogrons, Autons, Ood, Judoon, Sontarans and Mawdryn.

Hollywood Said No! by Bob Odenkirk & David Cross
hollywood said noThis title has already arrived, but you will have to wait a bit to get it so anticipation is involved. Plus it sounds freaking awesome. Comprised of rejected scripts, sketches, and ideas that were created by Bob Odenkirk & David Cross (the stars of Mr. Show among many other things) but turned down by Hollywood, this is a gem of an audiobook. You could read the book, but why not listen to both authors read the material along with other guest stars as they fully flesh out the material. David Cross has proven himself to be an excellent audiobook narrator, as evidenced on his recording of I Drink for a Reason, so expect great things.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
jekyll and hyde audioDon’t let the “classic” status of this tale scare you away. The original material, before all the films and other permutations, still has the ability to shock and disturb. The real draw here though, is that this audiobook is narrated by Michael Kitchen. You may know him as the star of Foyle’s War among other things, but he has a voice made for narration. His tonal switch from the rational, and smugly confident, Dr. Jekyll to the sinister and bestial Mr. Hyde is quite convincing. It also doesn’t hurt to have an authentic English accent when delivering Victorian prose.

If you want to take a look at all the audiobooks that are on-order and make you own selections do so by all means. Enjoy the anticipation.