My reading is mostly made up of fictional titles. They are what I gravitate to most, and what I wish I could write better. Having said that, I do enjoy reading non-fiction books…if they are well written. Sometimes I pick up a non-fiction book and I wish it was written by someone who can tell a story or get inside the characters head. Although I really want to like it, I often put them down because I haven’t been transported to that other place like a fictional book can do.
But, when it comes down to it, when I think about the books that really affected me, that I keep returning to or that made me rethink some of the things in my life, they are non-fiction. Here are my four favourites:
This one is a favourite of many, particularly writers. I read it right before taking part in NANOWRIMO last year and loved that it went beyond “this is how you write…” and told me how Stephen King became that writer that everyone wanted to be. I like to read about how writers come up with their stories and how their personal life affected their writing, plus this one gives insight into King’s writing habits and some of the methodologies he goes through to publish so frequently. Loved. It.
I have to mention this one because it made me cry…like really cry. I sat there getting my hair cut one day and I was a bubbling mess. I reread it only recently because we were getting a puppy (actually that was a bit silly of me…Marley was the “worst dog in the world” and it scared the crap out of me that our pup would be like Marley). Grogan also wrote another memoir about his childhood and relationship with his parents which was also engaging, funny and heartfelt called The Longest Trip Home which I highly recommend.
I am quite interested in how we have evolved into eating foods that are largely transported from far flung placed in packages that seal them and in forms that make them almost un-food like. Kingsolver and her family wrote this book about how they challenged themselves to eat only locally produced foods for one year. This meant eating seasonally, being creative, giving up fruit for the winter months and finding methods to keep food (such as jarring, pickling, etc) for those months where it is difficult to go without a trip to the supermarket. They had a little bit of a head start, living in a rural location on a farm where they could grow their own vegetables, keep their own chickens and share produce with their neighbours – but even so, it was a massive undertaking. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone interested in food, growing your own vegetables and sustainability.
I could not go past mentioning this book because it is probably that one book that I have read and reread, and made others read (including my book club girls at school) because it is just something we must all read! There is just one book, and this is it, that has reminded me (and the world) that that time in history happened to actual people…not just people in photos or books, or even our grandparents (who were young once too) but innocent people, young and old. This girl was just like any other girl…in fact, she is like many of the girls I teach now. She has dreams, frustrations, she is the younger sibling, she is made to do things she doesn’t understand or want to do, she has crushes, she loves…and then all of that was taken away. I became a history teacher because of this girl and now I share her story as a teacher librarian. That is how powerful books can be.
And for the book I am currently reading…
This book was given to me earlier in the year (yes…I am slack) at the Random House Penguin Book Bloggers conference and I am yet to get anywhere near an appropriate place to tell you my thoughts but so far…its good! I actually thought this was a fictional book, having spotted it in the crime section of my local bookstore only the other day…but it is a true story written by Australian comedian, John Safran in very readable prose about his experiences writing a book about a white supremacist group in the US. Im looking forward to finishing this one!