Non-Boring History? Start Here.
Real Historian Dr. Annette Laing takes you on a wild ride through US history, UK history, AND BEYOND. None of it looks like a textbook, so put on your seatbelt
A Warm Welcome from Non-Boring House!
It’s gonna be bumpy at first, but hold on! Why, yes, that is me, Dr. Annette Laing, on board a covered wagon! I was somewhere in Wyoming about to start a long journey in the summer heat on the Oregon/California Trail. Yes, I did develop a sore bum in the process. Did I mention the driver was 18 and had two weeks experience? This uncomfortable and mildly terrifying experience is one of many things I do to translate US and UK history for busy normal people. Like you!
Here’s what readers (US, UK, and beyond) have to say about Annette Laing and Non-Boring History:
I am so captivated by the stories and love Annette’s sense of humor!
The variety of topics covered has been really great.
I love it. I like the humor, the down to earth method, and the asides. Annette, your personality sells it for me, as much as the learning.
I always learn something unexpected when I read your articles. I also introduced my daughter to NBH for use during homeschooling her son.
The depth of storytelling is excellent -- provides both context and character.
I think it's opened up my horizons. As a British person, I've only ever studied British history; I've really enjoyed the information that NBH has provided about the US, and the links with British history.
Your content has allowed me to realize people are not so much all good or all bad. Things can be grey.
It has allowed me to have great conversations with other readers and to think more deeply about the past.
And From Historians:
I'm glad you enjoyed Doomsayers, and I think you did a fantastic job of capturing its spirit (in accessible prose) —Dr. Susan Juster, Rhys Isaac Collegiate Professor at the University of Michigan.
If you love history but find popular history uninteresting, focusing as it usually does on biographies of famous people and wars, and a lot of academic history inaccessible or even boring (it usually is), then you will love Annette Laing's Non-Boring History. With a discerning eye for interesting scholarship and a quirky, distinctive voice, Annette breaks down exciting scholarship, usually from academic presses, that curious general readers will almost inevitably miss. Check it out! —Dr. Daniel Kilbride, Professor of History and Director, Honors Program, John Carroll University.
Meet Annette Laing, PhD, and Non-Boring History
We live in strange times. Well, blimey, what else is new?
You may like history. You may hate it. You may not be sure. You may have got here by accident while looking for a newsletter on quilting, or samurai warfare. Who knows? You’re here now.
Hello there! My kind of person! I’m Annette Laing. I’m a renegade ex-professor of history (tenured, and quit, not fired, thank you), and Brit in the US.
As I will never tire of telling you, this does NOT mean I know everything, because that sort of cult leadery claim is very unHistorian. Academic historians, like all real experts, are fond of pointing out what we don’t know. Which makes credibility tricky. But there you go, that’s the kind of whoa moment that NBH will bring you. And I do promise, keep reading, and you’ll start to see how useful it is.
Non-Boring History is not history. It’s history, translated. History, taught in the most offbeat way you can imagine. I am an actual historian who once trained as a journalist, and that, as it happens, matters. A lot.
Non-Boring History is important history you will be glad to know exists, retold as chatty writing with jokes! No footnotes, but I have academic historians breathing down my neck. for quality control, along with a crack team of Gnomes here at Non-Boring House, but more about that later.
This is your chance to see the world differently, to understand, to take joy in, and to value things that never made sense before, or that you never even noticed.
At Non-Boring History, we’ll dance through academic history. You’ll meet the actual people who write it. You’ll learn to “read” and enjoy museums, as we visit a vast range of museums and historic sites in places you never thought of going yourself, like Nebraska, unless you live in Nebraska, in which case, I am so sorry.
And you will start to notice the world coming into focus. Like learning to read a new language.
At Non-Boring History, you may discover why you think what you think, no matter your views, and maybe change your mind, no matter your views. You will discover interests you never knew you had. And you’ll have a good laugh. Can’t beat that.
And since Non-Boring History is housed at Substack, you can click through the title of any email, and go to the site to see the most up-to-date version, photos, and a reading background that’s easier on the eyes.
How Non-Boring History Works
Every email is also a post at the Non-Boring History site. Each post is assigned to one of the following categories:
TALES: Annette Tells Tales. These long-form posts are the heart of what I do. Here’s where I rewrite historians’ often boring prose, as well as original documents, into something normal people actually want to read.
ALOUD: Non-Boring History Aloud. Podcasts of Annette Tells Tales posts, for Nonnies on the go.
ROAD: Annette on the Road. Join me virtually as I travel in the US and UK. I’m often accompanied by my non-historian, real-person spouse (He Who Shall Not Be Named On The Internets, or HWSNBNOTI, pronounced Hoosen Benoti), who represents normal non-historian people like you.
BITS: Bits of History. Random items from my personal collection of junque, um, antique collectibles, and how they’re not so random.
THROWBACKS. Writing and experiences from a life lived in archives, classrooms, and museums.
NON-BORING HISTORY The latest from Non-Boring House
Become a Nonnie, and Here’s Why
As a Nonnie, a paid subscriber to Non-Boring History, you get this for pennies a day:
NBH Posts WEEKLY as well as the monthly posts sent to free readers. Special extra features. No paywalls. Links (Nonnies only) between posts show how NBH is a freewheeling, ongoing, and delightful course in thinking historically, with no work, no pressure, and lots of fascinating connections to be made.
FULL ACCESS to my collection of hundreds of Non-Boring History posts on a wide variety of subjects in US and UK history, and on historical thinking.
Behind the scenes looks at fascinating takes and photos, with posts just for Nonnies
Make possible my unique outreach to a world that needs serious history (not just factoids) more than ever.
Comment, and meet me and others in the Nonnie Community, full of interesting and fun folks from all walks of life.
On a fixed income? Teacher? Student? Tell me (in short) what comes between you and Nonniedom, and I’ll help if I can.
More About Annette
My qualifications? I’m not just another person who plays a historian, and that matters. I am a proper historian. I was formerly a tenured professor of early American history and the Atlantic World at Georgia Southern University, where I taught classes in early American, transatlantic, and public history, and unlikely though this may sound, was also a member of the Africana Studies faculty. And while I’m a one-hit wonder as a historian, my modest career was a doozy: I changed how my academic colleagues thought about African-American religion (among other things).
And I have long experience entertaining the most unlikely audiences with history. I’m the author of historical time-travel novels for ages 9 and up ( also read by lots of adults who won’t admit to it), and take in-person and Zoom Non-Boring History programs to students and teachers across America, from Georgia to California.
What does this mean for you as a discerning adult reader?
It means I take seriously that you don’t have time to be bored. I entertain you. At Non-Boring History, I write for adults who are mostly based in the US and UK. But EVERYONE is welcome: regardless of where you are, and whether you are (insert any identity thingy of your choice here) or not. NBH is non-partisan, and very definitely non-shouty, although everyone eventually gets teased a bit. This is why historians are not invited to parties.
We don’t do debates, not even in the comments. This is all about entertaining reading, relaxation, and (okay, yes) thinking. But not the painful kind of thinking.
Non-Boring History is often fun, but it ain’t fluff: If anything, the standard textbook narrative that people think is history is fluff. There’s another thing we’ll explore along the way.
And at Non-Boring History, you pick and choose what you want to read, and when.
This isn’t just random trivia. This isn’t boring. This is history, taught without, you know, actual teaching.