I have mixed feelings here. In fourth grade, my geography book was the most exotic, fascinating thing I’d ever seen. In high school, I hated history so much that I vowed never to take a non-mandatory class. And I didn’t, avoiding history all through college. But like so many, I find both topics not just palatable but absolutely fascinating when presented in literature and/or experienced during travel.
Virtually any good writing set abroad gives a vivid sense of place, so I’ll put geography aside for a bit, and urge you to consider all the ways you can enjoy history.
Consider historical events or periods of interest to you. Your reading options are myriad. I grew up in a house with few books, but we did have a two-volume pictorial history of World War II that had pictures of concentration camp survivors that are seared in my mind’s eye still.
At least as common is to read history by reading about people. Queens, kings, generals, popes—biographies abound. Think Queen Elizabeth, Marie Antoinette, Joan of Arc, or Catherine the Great—to name a few women. Often travel sparks an interest. I was unaware of Sisi the Empress Elizabeth of Austria, or Maria Theresa, one of the most outstanding and powerful personalities in the Habsburg dynasty.
I won’t belabor the point, but geography can be equally personal. Consider Dean King’s book, Bones in the Zahara. Vivid and personal, immediate and gripping. (Indeed, I recommend any of Dean King’s non-fiction books.)
Bottom line: History and geography can be as gripping as fiction. Try it!