Monday, October 23, 2017

Nonfiction Mode in October

While probably ninety percent of my reading is fiction, a heavy dose of novels, augmented by short stories, I venture into all the genres. In fact, when I checked the best seller lists in yesterday's New York Times Book Review supplement, I was surprised to find I'd read more of the current nonfiction list than fiction. (Admittedly a couple of the works of fiction are on my "want to read" list.)

I listened to Trevor Noah's Born a Crime on audio, a good choice since he actually does the reading himself. I didn't know much about Noah, since I'm not much of a talk show viewer.  Okay, since I'm not much of a television viewer. The book, though, was a selection this fall by my book club. Even though I wasn't able to make the discussion, I read it anyway. I'm still thinking about the book. He takes on some serious topics with just the right dash of humor. I'll admit that I fell in love with hi mother, despite some of her poor choices that affected her children as much as they did her.

So much of what Noah shares should be common sense--if anyone was interested in common sense.  He challenges the "Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime," pointing out that someone may just need to give the man a fishing pole!


I knew I had some drive time ahead, so I also picked up Anne Lamott's latest book Hallelujah Anyway  on CD, even though I have a print copy too. I'm glad I do because I plan to go back and re-read just so I can write down some of her memorable lines. In the book, Lamott begins with the verse from the prophet Micah in which he tells us what God requires: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with the Lord. Her focus in the book is mercy, not only mercy from God but that we bestow on others--and ourselves. She is such an unconventional writer, living out her Christianity in unexpected ways. Her revelation about her fight against her own alcohol dependency resound with honesty.

I have used parts of her classic writing text Bird by Bird in comp classes and in my own writing. She can take something intangible and share practical steps to take, usually advice she's gleaned from others-especially counselors.  I was so moved by her memories of her father's failure to respond to another man's disparagement of her hair when she was four, a encounter that shaped her self awareness. Eventually, she was advised to invite someone she considered a comforter and someone who represented strength into that memory to confront both men and to change the effect on her. It may seen a little "woo woo" but I like to think I have a battalion of supportive people who could do the same for me if I had similar bad memories that wouldn't leave.

I'm already back into fiction now (with a small dose of Car Talk stories from Click and Clack from NPR), but I'm glad I've added a dose of nonfiction to my reading brain.
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1 comment:

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