Yeah, I love non-fiction almost as much as fiction. Some days, more, which I know is a lot like saying, I like everything in the whole world. But I kind of do. Non-fiction umbrellas about a thousand genres I love--poetry, memoir, history, science, religion, philosophy and sociology...and on and on and on.
I admit I am a huge memoir fanatic. I will basically read anyone's memoir, at any time, and certainly have an opinion about what makes a good memoir and what makes a crappy one. I read a ton of non-fiction that I have loved. But some of my favorite books are ones that are probably least predictable, but amongst my favorite favorite non-fiction books of all time is Salvation of Sand Mountain by Dennis Covington, which kind of bridges a bunch of different genres within non-fiction--memoir, history, religion, crime. Part of why I love(d) studying religion is that it was so interdisciplinary and this book is no exception.
I remember exactly where I was when I read this book--in a studio apartment in South Philly. The windows were open all day, and I drank an entire pot of coffee, then drank herbal tea for the rest of the day. I started it around 9am. It was a Sunday and I had no where to be. It was probably October 1999, or 1998, I can't rightly remember. I never dressed. I did, however, take the book on the toilet, in the bath (only to put my sweats right back on afterwards), while I picked at something to eat. I just started reading it, and then it was night. I was given this book by my friend Max who said it was the best damned book he ever read on snake handling. And it is, indeed, the best damned book ever on snake handling. It is told in the first person by a journalist whose roots are in Appalachia. He is covering a trial of a snake handling minister accused of trying to kill his wife with rattlesnakes. He searches for answers about what draws people to this sort of ecstatic religion, and his own history with it. It is incredible. I feel like if I talk more about it, I will tell you the entire book, so just suffice to say, I loved it.
And with that, I could tell you hundreds of more books like that that I loved and moved me. I could list off all the memoirs I love. Mary Carr is everything I love in a writer and memoirist. I love culinary memoir, so I loved Anthony Bourdain's books, and his essays, Michael Ruhlman's culinary books, Ruth Reichl's books, I really loved Jacques Pepin's book the Apprentice. I also love books about fucked up childhoods. And fucked up adulthoods. I love books about grace and compassion. I love learning about people and what makes them tick. And yet, I feel so remiss mentioning certain people and not others. Danielle was right, I had to add to my post this morning, because I couldn't just leave one book up there. Because there is never just one book that I love.
I love the poetry of e.e.cummings, so I would count his collected poems amongst one of my favorite books, and Federico Garcia Lorca. And fuck, I am out of control. Right now, I have no book, because I'm writing every night before bed for the next day, which means that I go up to bed when the light is out and I can only do crosswords on my blackberry until I pass out.
My last book, finished last week, was Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw. It was okay. He always manages to make me laugh. I need a new book. Now that you know everything about what I love to read, I will take suggestions. Has anyone read Jonathan Franzen's new book? I was mixed on The Corrections.