History was never my favorite subject when I was in school. My memories of history classes in junior high and high school are a blur of boring lectures and lists of “important dates” that I needed to memorize for an upcoming test. I was never good at memorization, especially with subjects that bored me to tears. Oddly, one of my favorite books I read as a pre-teen was a novel about Lady Jane Grey, but I never connected the drama and emotion of that story to history as I learned it in school – those bland dates void of any flesh and blood.
When I took a Western Civilization class in college, finally history became something different. My professor told us history as a story, with people and action and intrigue. He also didn’t skimp on the details when describing the many famous murders that changed the course of history. In the years since taking that class (and especially recently) reading historical fiction and biographies have made me fall in love with history.
This is the moment that I love: I love reading a biography of someone who lived hundreds of years ago, and suddenly I find myself thinking “I know how she feels.” It doesn’t matter that she lived in a completely different time, a completely different life from the one I’m living. The social context of our lives are different, but genuine human emotion transcends time and circumstance. I know how she feels: I can imagine it by recalling those same emotions within myself.