Books of the Year: Non-Fiction
Here are a few of my recent faves.
Columbine by Dave Cullen is the most captivating piece of non-fiction I’ve read in years. Insightful, enlightening, and very, very scary. This book made it nearly impossible for me to focus on work or parenting or anything else for about three days. Kudos to Dave Cullen for his decade of in-depth research and his powerful prose. I’ve always wondered what really happened at Columbine High School that April day in 1999, so this book drew me in and didn’t let go until long after I’d finished the last page.
I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly fearful person but Fearless by Max Lucado showed me how much of my life is actually marred by fear, and reminded me that there is no need for fear in a life of faith. Lucado writes engagingly and simply, bringing home a message I think many of us need to have reiterated. “Fear is unwilling to share the heart with happiness.” He asks, “What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats?” and then he shows us how to cultivate that approach to life. An encouraging and inspiring read.
Angry Conversations With God by Susan Isaacs has a terrific subtitle: “A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir” and it’s exactly that. Susan is hilarious and sometimes a bit on the irreverent side, but it’s all in the name of asking the hard questions about God and faith. In this book she takes God to couples counseling to hash things out. It’s never easy, but the results are worth it. I loved this.
In the course of working on a screenplay for his previous book Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller learned about the elements of telling a good story (something most of you know something about). A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is a look at life the same way many of us look at story. I thought it was brilliant to turn fiction technique on its head and apply it to real life. In a story we always need forward movement or it’s not interesting; we need a proactive protagonist or we lose interest; we need it to mean something. And as it turns out, Miller discovered, we need these things in real life too. An engaging read.
In the past I’ve enjoyed memoirs like Under the Tuscan Sun and Eat, Pray, Love where people go to Italy and have a fabulous time. They make me want to go to Italy, but they always seem so remote and removed from my life. I’m not single, I’m not rich, it just didn’t seem realistic. Halfway to Each Other by Susan Pohlman is the year-in-Italy memoir I’ve always wanted, because it’s about a family (dad, mom and two kids). In fact, the marriage was on the rocks and the move was a harebrained scheme to try and shake things up, do something different, see if Susan and her husband could find each other again. In a beautifully written account, she shares their Italian adventure and how the entire family came to know one another in ways they never had before. I couldn’t put this book down and loved every minute of it.
P.S. For my end of the year wrap-up posts, I’m deliberately choosing books not written by my clients. Those, of course, are all my very favorites! And I’ll be talking about them in a separate post.