I love to read. I don’t get near enough free time to just … read. Sometimes, if I hear rain upon waking, I silently make a pact with myself that I’m just going to spend the day in the warmth and comfort of my bed and read all day. Then I realize it’s a weekday and I have to get to work. Or it’s the weekend, and I have about a million and a half chores and errands to tend to.
My favourite genre is historical fiction which takes me away from my current world and bends my mental senses every which way. I also love humour which bends my mouth and abs in every which way. The one genre of writing I stay away from is non-fiction. It’s way too much like the real world. Oh, I see. It is the real world. Maybe that’s why I don’t like it. I need to escape. Fiction and humour do that for me
So it came as a shock to me when I looked back on my list of summer reads and realized that the majority of books I read were non-fiction. I hope this doesn’t mean I’m growing up or something.
I read “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed mostly because I really liked the picture of the shoe on the front cover. Also because since reading Jane Christmas’s “What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim” I’ve wanted to walk the Camino de Santiago. But that’s in Spain and really far away. After reading “Wild”, I really wanted to walk the Pacific Crest Trail. And you know what happens next, right? I’m going to read “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson and want to walk the Appalachian Trail. Can someone please just write a book about that short cut trail to the liquor store in Manotick? Did I mention I’m not a hiker? Anyway, I couldn’t put the book down. Maybe it was like fiction to me because I’m never actually going to do anything like that.
Then I read “A House in the Sky” by Amanda Lindhout about a Canadian sort-of journalist who spent over a year as a hostage in Somalia. In part, this book ticked me off because listen, Amanda, I’ve been trying to teach my kids that there’s no short cuts to international fame and here you go and try take a short cut because no journalist would step foot in Somalia unless Oprah invited them. The seemingly endless nightmare she put her parents through as a result of her stupidity still stuns me. Yet she and her co-author Sara Corbett retell an experience that is terrifying and spellbinding. Amanda’s resilience and will to survive are nothing short of extraordinary. And as a mom, I just couldn’t put it down until I knew she was ok. I think her mom should write a book too. Wait. No.
And because a terrifying hostage story wasn’t summer-y and fluffy enough, I read “A Storm Too Soon” by James Tougias about a daring Coast Guard rescue off the coast of North Carolina after a freak storm caused a sailing vessel to capsize throwing its crew of three into a little itty bitty life raft amongst the 80 foot waves. Another page turner that I couldn’t put down until I was satisfied that everyone was safe. A special treat for me, though, was that I got to meet one of the survivors Rudy Snell who is from Ottawa and happens to be a neighbour of one of my book club friends. Oh yeah – and I’m never going sailing again.
Finally … finally … I finally read a book that wasn’t all about disaster and the wild outdoors. I read “Let’s Discuss Diabetes” by David Sedaris. Yes it’s non-fiction but it was funny. Oh he is a humour master, that David. It was so funny in fact that I was reading sections of it out loud to my family on the dock at the cottage this summer. (I got to spend a bit more time on the dock by myself pretty soon. It’s a good tactic if you want some alone time I’ve come to realize!)
I don’t think I’ve read four non-fiction books in my life and here I’ve cram them all into one summer. That’s ok. I’ve amassed a little army of historical fiction and humour books that will get me through this dreary winter.
But before that, go on! I urge you to go read these books before I change my mind about nonfiction!
What was on your reading list this summer (and spare me the non-fiction)?