Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Summer Book Notes

What have you been reading this summer? Instead of breezing by with "beach books", I've been on an uncharacteristic non-fiction kick. Usually non-fiction is just a garnish, or a palette-cleanser between novels for me.

It started with
Homage to Catalonia, proceeded on to Desert Solitaire, and now I'm plowing through People's History of the United States. All this non-fiction in a row is giving me lots of insights, exposing me to beautiful language and sometimes disturbing facts. They're an educational counterpoint to some novels I've read. Homage gives a different perspective of the Spanish Civil War than Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. The characters in Edward Abbey's novel The Monkey Wrench Gang don't like dams very much, but in Desert Solitaire, Abbey beautifully and clearly illustrates the price we pay for certain types of progress, such as dams. Reading the People's History is providing a counterpoint to a myriad of fiction and non-fiction works in the American canon.

cover of bookcover of bookcover of book

Perhaps I'll keep on this non-fiction roll until the fall, or maybe longer. Any recommendations?

1 comment:

Ben said...

If you haven't tried it already, Nathaniel Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex is a pretty fascinating read, and good for summer. It charts the voyage of the titular whaling vessel, and the fates of its crew after the ship is sunk by a rogue whale (hint: the fates aren't pretty). I guess there's a pretty good chance you've read this one, though, since it was pretty popular in the press a year or two ago.