In high school, my history teachers were extremely good-looking men. In turn, I became very interested in history. Or at least, I became very interested in history class. Despite this sudden interest, I never developed an interest in nonfiction books. I occasionally dip into the memoir section of my local bookstore [I recommended this and this a few months back] but that’s as far into nonfiction as I typically, and reluctantly, go. I enjoy a good story and appreciate excellent writing but for me, reading is about relaxation. It’s my time away from the world, dedicated to only me, and I prefer to spend that cherished time in the land of fictional stories. Which explains why only now did I finally get around to reading a book recommended to me months ago. My future mother-in-law, who shares both my love of reading and my opinions on non-fiction, gave me Killing Lincoln close to a year ago and said, after seeing my initial reaction to the book, “I know. But it’s not what you think. Just start the book, read the first page. I promise you’ll want to read the whole thing.” Of course I didn’t do that. Of course I put it aside [in the basket of magazines in the bathroom] and didn’t think about it again. Only last month when my own mother saw it and borrowed it from me to read herself did I even remember I had the book. My mom finished it in record time, and promptly bought Killing Kennedy, also by Bill O’Reilly. I figured it was high time for me to give this book the first-page chance my mother-in-law recommended all those months ago.
What surprised me most was how much like fiction this book read. O’Reilly isn’t just stating facts about the events leading up to, during, and after Lincoln’s assassination. He’s created a mystery novel with two characters who just happen to be named Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth. I found myself rushing to get home each night so I can read the book, and did many a double take at my clock each night, shocked so much time had passed. It’s a feeling that doesn’t come around often, a fact to which I know other avid readers can attest. Even though you know what happens [spoiler alert: Lincoln’s assassinated and John Wilkes Booth is the one who did it] the story keeps you captivated all the way, and especially into, the very end. To steal the words of my future mother-in-law: read the first page at the bookstore. If you’re not interested, put it back. But I bet you will be.