I am not ashamed.
Ready for round two of my book obsessions? Today is all about nonfiction. After I completed my Master’s program, I vowed never to pick up nonfiction literature ever again. In my life. At the ripe, old age of mid-twenties, I should have known this was never going to happen. Alas, in my thirties, I have rediscovered nonfiction.
Yesterday I mentioned that I love reading stories about other lands and cultures. I love to learn about people, what makes their world different than mine? What can I learn about their life that would make mine more special? Learning about people in other cultures is a huge learning experience and, in some cases, is shockingly inspirational.
For instance, take Deborah Rodriguez‘s Kabul Beauty School. This book is everything nonfiction should be. It is informative, culturally respectful, painstakingly endearing and emotionally moving. The story of women in Afghanistan who are trying against all odds to improve their lives, this is one of those books that makes you appreciate life and want to help others.
I love experiments, especially wacky ones. I think it is because I tend to wonder very strange, specific things. Wonder what life would be like if you spent a year reading the encyclopedia? Or how about if you decided you would give up crappy television? Stunt journalism is where it is at.
My very favorite author in this genre is one I just discovered, AJ Jacobs. Jacobs is a journalist with a wondering mind. He dreams of questions like, What if I decided to live strictly by the bible for one whole year? Or, my favorite: What if I decided to strive to be the most healthy person in the world by trying every diet and exercise known to man? Is there any questions why these books would be entertaining? Most importantly, Jacobs’ desire for the answer seems a genuine curiosity, not a ploy to refute an argument or prove one point. Ah, so that is what it means to be a journalist….
I also adore Jen Lancaster. Lancaster’s books are both biography and at times stunt journalism. She is ridiculous, boisterous, very conservative, preppy, and frankly, a bit of a pain. We have very little in common. I adore her. These books will make you guffaw and then want to write stories. Her sense of humor when facing the economic downturn, slum landlords and size problems is what I now associate to be the definition “quick-witted”. I follow her blog religiously at http://www.jennsylvania.com. Proof that you don’t have to see eye-to-eye with someone to enjoy them.
I’m really into celebrity memoir and biography right now. But it is strictly in audiobook form, read by the author and it has to be funny. I don’t want to hear your sob story (which really isn’t so sob-worthy when you put it in perspective with, say those ladies in Afghanistan) or listen to you complain about oh how hard Hollywood is, wah. I love funny books by celebrities and here are some of my favorites:
Chelsea Handler is a terrible person and her books are quick, ridiculous reads. They really even shouldn’t be books. But she makes me laugh and snort out loud, particularly when I am on a plane. I think she wants people to leer at me.
Mindy Kaling is adorable, smart and witty. I love her television show and her recent biography Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) is just plain adorable. Her story is so sweet that you really, really want nothing but great things for her.
Tina Fey, Tina Fey. Why did you ever leave SNL? Bossypants is one of the top favorite books I’ve read in the past five years. It is also the first book I bought on my Kindle because I was dying to read it and was #567 on the library queue. She is smart, funny and I wish I could be her. Also, the cover is one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen.
Ellen DeGeneres. Funny lady + she makes you smile = great books. Enuf said.
I’m not a fan of science. I may have been good at it, in like 6th grade but from there on…meh. And then came Mary Roach. She makes science fun and interesting, and usually a bit disgusting. And great to read. The first book I read of hers was Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex which is hilarious, embarassing and every emotion in between. I moved on to Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife to learn about the history of ghosts in human history and belief. So, so good. The rest of her books are in my to-read pile as we speak.
Ah….okay, I think I’ve told you all I’ve wanted. Have you added a few new books to your list? I hope so.
Can I stop calling people idiots now? Hopefully you all have library cards in your wallets.