If any of you are saying, “Who the helvetica is David Foster Whatsit?” please don’t go yet! Yes, this month’s nonfiction revolves around a particular person, BUT the meat of the book is about something more broad: writing. The craft, the business, the joys and pitfalls and neuroses thereof. I chose it for this month’s Let’s Dewey This because his insights are so incredibly relatable that I thought you guys – my fellow wordslingers – would like to read them.
This month’s nonfiction read is a fascinating account of going undercover in the secretive and oppressive dictatorship of North Korea. Suki Kim is a Korean-American journalist who infiltrated a North Korean university as a teacher, during the reign of Kim Jong-il in 2011. Here is some info I found the most interesting in her book:
Reading, right? It’s crazy!! The psychic delivery of entire worlds from one head to another, via squiggly little marks? Ri-donk-ulous. Since most of you visiting this blog are writers, and thus readers as well, I decided to make this month’s nonfiction book about something we all relate to.
Ironically, I listened to this on audiobook instead of reading it, because sometimes I like to break the rules. Excuse me while I don some cool sunglasses and jump into a moving helicopter.
… I’m back. Anyway, I’ll be citing the following tidbits with time-markers instead of pages. Alright, let’s read about reading!
Several months ago I broached the topic of OCD with a nonfiction read about hoarding. Because OCD is such a personal subject to me, I decided to devote this month’s nonfiction more fully to the illness with a read of David Adam’s “The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought.”
For the average, non-ill person, it’s normal to obsess now and then. It’s normal to have a senseless fear (clown in the closet?), a sudden and unsettling urge that does not fit with who we are (swerve into traffic, perhaps?) or a good-luck practice not founded on reality (certainly no one believes that knocking on wood actually works, but… just in case.) It’s normal to be picky about your books lining up straight or to lose sleep one night as a worry goes round and round in your head like a circling predator. This is not OCD.
This month has been horrific for America, but if one awesome thing happened in January, it was seeing the glorious uprising of protestors. If you marched, I give you all my applause. While today’s nonfiction post has nothing to do with those events, it carries an equally fiery spirit, so I deemed it a good choice to kick off the year’s nonfic reads.
Lindy West’s memoir, “Shrill,” is both searingly honest and laugh-too-loudly-in-the-break-room-and-annoy-all-your-coworkers hilarious. West boldly delves into topics that polite society doesn’t like to discuss, such as the stigma of menstruation, her abortion, what it’s like to be a woman hearing a rape joke, and most of all, body image and our culture of fat-shaming.
Here are my favorite passages from the book:
How many books did you read this year?
66! I’m not a bookworm. I’m a bookpython.
(Why yes, I did make an almost identical joke last year, and I’m going to keep making it with slight variations until I’m tired of it, so there!)
What was your number one TOP FAVORITE of them?
Oh jeez, this is so hard, erm, agh, uhh… Gone Girl. No, wait. Wild. No! My Sister’s Keeper! WAIT, NO! The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake! A Man Called Ove! Perks of Being a Wallflower! We Need To Talk About Kevin! WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT WHAT A CRUEL QUESTION THIS IS.
Final answer: “I Have Too Many Favorite Books: A Memoir,” by Shannon Noel Brady.
After a rollicking good year of facts, figures, and (f)theories, my Let’s DEWEY This! challenge is at a close. Alas… But we’re not done quite yet! Today I’m adding a bonus round, section 92: memoirs and biographies. Technically this is part of the 900s since 92 is short for 920, but in my library, 92 splits off into its own cliquey area, too cool to sit with the other 900s at lunch.
For 92 I picked Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed. Wild is a deeply personal account of Strayed’s grief after the death of her mother and the downward spiral of her marriage, events that prompted her to tackle a solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. I absolutely adored this book. Here’s my review on Goodreads:
This Dewey post is breaking allllll the rules by showing up on the first Tuesday of the month instead of the last Tuesday of the previous. Imagine this post in a leather jacket and riding a motorcycle, because it’s bad to the bone.
(I just really wanted to keep those travel-themed posts together, because splitting them up felt wrong.)
Anyway, after ten awesomely educational months of nonfiction reading, we’re now in the final section of the Dewey Decimal system! (But not the final post of this series… Will explain at the end.) The 900s are all about history, and my pick to read was Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero, by Michael Hingson, DD# 974.71044. Since this was a personal account more than academic, my post will not list factoids but instead summarize Hingson’s experience of escaping the Twin Towers during the harrowing attacks of 9/11.
In case you ever got the ridiculous impression that I am suave, let me clear that right up for you with a story.
In either 2007 or 08, I went to a live reading by David Sedaris. Perhaps you know him? Writes hilarious personal essays, often appears on the radio show This American Life, does an uncanny impression of Billie Holliday… Anyway, I first became a fan around 2003 when I read Me Talk Pretty One Day, and have giggled over several of his books since.
Naturally, I was excited to hear him read at Royce Hall in Los Angeles. I got to the theatre way too early and ended up milling around outside for a while. It was pretty empty – one of the few others there was this man wandering around by himself, eating a sandwich. There was something peculiar about him, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Maybe it was the flagrancy of his sandwich-eating. Like who does he think he is, right? Just eating a sandwich, like, right there? Doesn’t he know he’s about to see a David Sedaris reading?
I’m fuzzy on the details, probably because I blew up in a cloud of awkwardness, but what happened next was the man finished his meal, went around chatting to people who were now arriving, eventually made it to me and the person I came with, talked with us while I was like “why is this stranger talking to us, what’s his deal,” and then finally introduced himself as…
… David Sedaris.
This month’s section for my Dewey Decimal Discovery project is all about my greatest love… The world’s most heaven-sent pursuit… The core of my life’s endeavors– Nay! My life itself… ! (You’ll understand why I’m being so ~theatrical~ in a minute…)
…… The arts!
(The 700s also include sports, but as any American school budget can attest, arts and sports are at WAR and I will not dignify those sweaty ball-throwers with an inclusion.)
((Kidding! I’m not opposed to athletics, I’m just being dramatic [pun!] because a good ol’ fashioned butting-of-heads makes for livelier blogging.))
(((Or should I say PUTTING-of-heads! Get it? Golf? Golf’s a sport? Kind of?)))
((((Okay enough parentheses.))))