April non-fiction books

That’s right, “books,” as in “more than one.”  I actually read three non-fiction books this month which totally makes up for not reading one in February (not that we are speaking of that).

I think I have found my non-fiction niche and that is the humorous memoir.  I read three of them in April.

First up was Little Heathens:  Hard times and high spirits on an Iowa farm during the great depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish.  My interest in this book is probably pretty obvious.  Additionally to my being from Iowa, my grandmother lives very close to where all of the action in the book takes place.  Also, my grandmother grew up on a farm (in a different part of Iowa) and so while reading the book, I often thought of my grandmother and wondered if her experiences were the same.  That said, I don’t think you have to be from Iowa or know someone who grew up on a farm to enjoy this book.  In fact, the NYT Sunday Book Review named it one of the 10 best books of 2007 so a few people outside of the midwest must have enjoyed it.  I think, the book can best be described using the same words Mrs. Kalish used in describing her her early childhood experiences–it’s “quite a romp.”

Next, I read The Sex Lives of Cannibals:  Adrift in the equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost.  This book takes place before Getting Stoned with Savages (which I read last month) and is, in fact, the book that the author is writing during that book.  The Sex Lives of Cannibals is every bit as funny as Getting Stoned despite the appalling circumstances the author finds himself in (Chapter 13 is entitled, “In which the author discusses how unfuckingbelievable scary the South Seas can be”).  After reading this book, it seems completely absurd that the author would ever want to live on an island anywhere in the Pacific ever again which makes Getting Stoned such a surprise.  As a bonus, Sex Lives has an epilogue that recounts a little bit of the author’s experiences soon after returning to the US (but before he leaves again in Getting Stoned) and the trouble he and his “beguiling wife” getting adjusted to life in America (like becoming stupefied over the bewildering array of maple syrup at the store).

Finally, I read Julie and Julia:  My year of cooking dangerously by Julie Powell which is actually being made into a movie.  The premise is that the author, Julie, finds herself in the middle of an identity crisis and in order to give her life some purpose, she decides to cook all 500+ recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year.  I really loved this book.  Really.  First of all, the author seems to be as challenged in mental health as I am (though more in terms of anxiety than depression).  She definitely breaks down crying a few times which makes me feel better about my little crying episodes.  Second, it’s really quite funny.  Third, it illustrates The Power of the Blog.  Julie sets up a blog when she starts this project (back in 2002 before everyone and their grandma had a blog).  While blogging is only mentioned infrequently there are constant references to it in the background–the support she feels from her readers (whom she calls “bleaders” for blog readers) and the responsibility she feels towards them.  Ultimately, it’s the blog that brings about the changes in her life because that is what leads the media to pick up on what she’s doing.  If you like cooking, or feel a little lost in your life and especially if you blog, you will enjoy this book.

So that’s it for April.  Who knows what I’ll be reading in May.  Probably more humorous* memoirs.  J. Maarten Troost has another book called, Lost on Planet China.  What do you want to bet I’ll be reading that? 🙂

*I think I may be reading too many blogs written by Canadians and Brits because twice now I’ve typed “humorous” as “humourous” and had to correct it.

4 thoughts on “April non-fiction books

  1. If I ever make it through Team of Rivals, I’ll have to give Sex lives of Cannibals a try. It sounds like it’d be a fun and interesting read. I need more reads like that.

  2. Sex Lives of Cannibals sounds really interesting. I just finished a book called Cannibalism, Headhunting and Human Sacrifice in North America by George Feldman. At last, a book that tells the stories of cruelty and bestiality left out of the sanitized history books we all read in school.

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