Hello Nonfiction! How Have You Been?
For the first time in the 18 month history of 101 Books, let’s talk nonfiction. Finding a nonfiction review on this blog is kind of like spotting Paula Deen in a vegan restaurant. But I guess there’s a first time for everything.
It seems like forever ago, but I used to read nonfiction—a lot of it. That, of course, was before this blog started and I realized that I need to stick to fiction if I wanted to keep up a daily blog about fiction. Interesting concept.
Though I’m obviously not up to date on any hot new nonfiction books, here are some of my personal favorites:
Into the Wild (Jon Krakauer): I first read this book in my early 20s, a few months after quitting law school early in my first semester, when I didn’t have much of a clue about what I wanted to do with my life. While I never considered moving to a bus in the Alaskan backcountry like Chris Mccandless, I definitely connected with Into The Wild on a different level.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Dave Eggers): This is just a brilliant book. Dave Eggers was my first real experience with creative nonfiction and was one of my inspirations to take three creative writing classes while getting my English degree. Eggers’ account of choosing apartments based on their sock-sliding-on-hardwood-floor potential is hilarious. He writes a memoir that is truly heartbreaking and unbelievably funny.
Under the Banner of Heaven (Jon Krakauer): Apparently, I like Jon Krakauer books. As I write this, I just realized two of his books are on my favorites list. Under the Banner of Heaven digs into the history of fundamentalist Mormons, as Krakauer gets to know a cultish Mormon community in Colorado City, Arizona, a group once led—and supposedly still led from prison—by convicted pedophile and polygamist Warren Jeffs.
Blue Like Jazz (Donald Miller): Donald Miller is kind of like the modern day C.S. Lewis. Blue Like Jazz exploded onto the scene about 10 years ago. The tagline somewhat explains the book: “Nonreligious Thoughts On Christian Spirituality.” My favorite quote in the whole book, and one that really guides me in a way: “Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don’t believe in God and they can prove He doesn’t exist, and some other guys who do believe in God and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it’s about who is smarter, and honestly I don’t care.” In related news, just the other day Donald Miller announced on his blog the upcoming feature film based on the book.
Fast Food Nation (Eric Schlosser): I read this book a couple of years after watching the Supersize Me documentary. Largely because of this book, I’ve only had McDonalds food once in about 7 years. Fast Food Nation is an amazing look at how fast food is processed and made. It’s nasty stuff. For instance, did you know McDonalds fries are made at a perfume plant?
A Good Walk Spoiled (John Feinstein): I used to play golf, a lot of golf—and still do occasionally. Like, I was obsessed with golf. Back in the height of my golf-playing days, I read A Good Walk Spoiled by John Feinstein. It’s a fascinating book that’s a behind-the-scenes look at the PGA Tour in the early 90s—yeah, that’s pre-Tiger Woods. This is a reality show in book form that put Feinstein on the map as a sportswriter.
I would highly recommend any of those books if you’re at all interested in their particular genre of nonfiction.
What about you? Your thoughts on these books or any other nonfiction that you would recommend?
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