What is Nonfiction?
What is nonfiction, why did it get such a nondescript name, and is it really worth your time to read it?
Anything that has a basis in fact can be called nonfiction.
That means reportage, textbooks, manuals, self-help, memoir, history, guidebooks, and so on, all come under the umbrella of this almost-too-broad term.
Its very breadth, however, lends it a richness that has allowed it to dominate a large part of the global book market.
In recent years, sales of nonfiction have been outpacing fiction year-on-year.
In the English language, some concepts are defined purely by what they are not.
The definition of ‘nonfiction,' for instance, “prose writing that is informative or factual rather than fictional” is an interesting case, not just because of how recently it came into use, but also because, etymologically at least, fabrication precedes fact.
The word ‘nonfiction' made its first ever appearance in the annual trustees' report of Boston Public Library in 1867, and debuted in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1903.
The word ‘fiction', on the other hand, has a direct root in Latin, came to English via Old French, and has been used to mean imaginative prose since the 1590s.