I spent many hours in my teen years, in front of the TV with an encycopedia open on my lap, sometimes just browsing, sometimes jumping from article to article. Actually not much different from the way I surf the internet these days!
I find most non-fiction very dry to read. You have to be interested in the subject matter (or be truly bored!) to persevere. But there is one non-fiction book that I have read over and over. I know the stories contained in its pages intimately, but sometimes I'll just dip into it and read a few pages just for pleasure.
The book is Dorothy Gies McGuigan's The Habsburgs. It covers over five hundred years of European history, focussing on one of the most influential dynasties of all time: the Habsburgs, who came out of obscurity in central Europe (Austria) to conquer most of Europe through marriage. First The Netherlands, then Spain and Hungary, vast tracts of Italy and the title of Holy Roman Emperor into the bargain.
She started southward in a great funeral cortege, the coffin on an open bier before her carriage, journeying only at night by the light of torches, for, she said, "A widow who has lost the sun of her own soul should never expose herself to the light of day."Is it just me, or is that really moving?
If you ever stumble across this book, give it a read. And if you're a romance writer then like me, you might just find inspiration within its pages.