On The Bookshelf #2
At the end of October when I linked up with F.M.F. (Five Minute Friday’s) the surprise word was “bacon.” Everyone seemed to be discussing meat. Given my propensity to think unconventionally I originally thought of Francis Bacon (1561-1626). His essays are some of his most popular works. A nice copy graces my bookshelf.
My favorite of the essays is “Of Studies.” It is in describing the virtue and value of studies that Bacon applies his wit to great effect.
Francis Bacon encourages us to, “Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.”
“Some books are to be tasted, others swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested…”
I find that I swallow novels. I chew and digest history and I taste many books before deciding if they will suit me. In fact, essays like Bacon’s are very suitable books to taste.
Forgive the pun, friends, I could not resist.
Do you choose books based upon their popularity, friends’ opinions, theme, genre or availability? I find different criteria suit different purposes. I find a work of history needs more time to chew and digest, while a volume of verse may be consumed in a brief evening.
I am more particular in selecting a work of historical fiction than I am in choosing contemporary fiction. I am not well able to tolerate a poor understanding of the history in a work of historical fiction. A well researched work by an author with a good grasp of the era can be most compelling, while an engaging story and style will make an effective contemporary work alone.
This month I am devoting time to writing my own piece of historical fiction. I am finding that historical fiction can be more challenging to write than historical fact. The need to keep the drama and pace falls squarely upon the shoulders of the novelist, while the scholar can rely upon the fact that history tends to provide its’ own drama.