May 31, 2013

Blog Post: Armchair BEA Day 4 - Non-Fiction & Me?

Image Credit: Nina of Nina Reads

Believe it or not I'm actually not that big of a non-fiction reader. That sounds terrible doesn't it? It's not that I don't like non-fiction, I like it just fine, but I'm drawn to books by stories of the unknown and supernatural and crazy things of that nature. So basically I'm like a 13-year-old fangirling after vampires and werewolves.

Kidding...Sort of.

I'm sure I read some non-fiction books in school over the years, but honestly that was so long ago it's like a big old blur. While non-fiction is not my literature of choice there are two books I've read in the past couple of years that have stayed with me and that I love.

Life's That Way by Jim Beaver

Life's That Way: A Memoir by Jim Beaver

Life's That Way is a modern-day Book of Job. In August 2003, Jim Beaver, a character actor whom many know from the popular HBO series Deadwood, and his wife Cecily learned what they thought was the worst news possible- their daughter Maddie was autistic. Then six weeks later the roof fell in-Cecily was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer.

Jim immediately began writing a nightly e-mail as a way to keep more than one hundred family and friends up to date about Cecily's condition. Soon four thousand people a day, from all around the world, were receiving them. Initially a cathartic exercise for Jim, the prose turned into an unforgettable journey for his readers.

Cecily died four months after being diagnosed, but Jim continued the e-mails for a year after her diagnosis, revealing how he and Maddie coped with Cecily's death and how they managed to move forward. Life's That Way is a compilation of those nightly e-mails. Jim's experience is universal for anybody who has lost a loved one. But Life's That Way is not solely about loss. It is an immediate, day-by-day account of living through a nightmare but also of discovering the joy of a child, of being on the receiving end of unthinkable kindness, and of learning to navigate life anew. As Jim says, these are hard-won blessings. But then again, life's that way.


A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.

What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.

In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he'd been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts.

This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty.

Both of these books were amazing in their own way. They broke my heart a little and at the same time gave me hope. They are definitely worth the read for anyone who is a lover of non-fiction. What about you guys?

What are some of your favorites?

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