Monday, February 26, 2007

Fun nonfiction reads

So it's taken me longer to write my post on nonfiction books that mage the popular paperbacks list. So sue me--I've been catching up on all my graphic novel reads.... I'm not a real fan of nonfiction, but through reading for this committee I've learned that there are a lot of fun books out there. I prefer the narrative to be as close to novel-like as possible--or I like the browsable goofy nonfiction. So out the 20-something titles that made the list, here were some highlighted titles.

Hippo Eats Dwarf by Alex Boese is a wealth of information about the online hoaxes in the world. Did you hear about the camel spider in Iraq? How about the one where the you can see the foot of the baby in the womb? This book investigates what's real and fake about them and a whole lot more. Besides, how could you not want to read a book called Hippo eats Dwarf?!

Another title similar in the browsability of Hippo is The Hypochondriac's Pocket Guide to Horrible Diseases you probably Already Have by Dennis DiClaudio. This hilarious guide goes through 100 diseases that are horrifying and true. It is in the humor section of nonfiction, so please don't take this as medical advice!

The other nonfiction I want to highlight are more narrative in structure, as they are memoirs. The thing about memoirs is that while they are on authors' lives, they may or may not be remembering everything quite correctly. There may be some embellishments of the truth. But these particular ones are pretty cool. We have drunken binge, suicide a la gasoline, and a rape survivor. What more could you ask for?

Smashed by Koren Zailckas is not the best written memoir out there, but her story of binge drinking froma ge 14 to twenty-something struck a chord with me. As I read this, I kept thinking, "I know this girl. I know her." She was many of my friends in high school and particularly college. This is a powerful book on a major issue facing many teens today--if alcohol is the only way you get self-esteem, how long will it help you before it hurts you.?Reading this book will show you that it doesn't take long at all.
So that memoir has done in the dumps, then this one will perk you right up! I'm kidding. As a teen I always had this morbid curiousity. It was horrible really. I always wondered what method people would choose to kill themselves. I never thought of this one. The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon is the author's account of his suicide attempt at age 14 and his recovery of said attempt. Runyon came home from school one day, doused his robe in gasoline, put it on, and lit it on fire. Holy hell. That's exactly what I thought, holy hell. And he survived. The rest of the book is all about his painful recovery--both physically and emotionally. Powerful stuff this book is. Seriously powerful.
And finally, Lucky by Alice Sebold. I'm a big fan of the author. I loved Lovely Bones--cried like a baby in parts. Very cathartic. If you liked Bones, then you need to read her story of her rape as a college freshman. The story goes through her rape, the capture of her rapist, and the trial, where she is a superb witness. Not very cathartic. Almost told without emotion, you can really tell that Ms. Sebold distanced herself emotionally from her writing. It's almost the complete opposite of Lovely Bones, but is still an extremely engaging memoir.
So that's about it for me now. This year's PPYA lists are going to be about Sex, contemporary fantasy, sports, and families. So you'll be hearing about those books from me! Nominations start this week, so if you have a book you think fits one of these categories, nominate it! This helps us out so much!

No comments: