Over the last few weeks, I’ve read a couple of wonderful non-fiction books. It always takes me longer to read a non-fiction book than a novel, and often I read fiction at night and non-fiction during the day. (Now I’m thinking of the scene in Harry Potter and the philospher’s stone where Hermione drops a doorstopper of a book in front of Harry and Ron and calls it light reading!) I love a non-fiction book where the author brings in their own stories which adds meaning to all that knowledge. The books below have certainly done this!
Phospherence, on awe, wonder and things that sustain you when the world goes dark by Julia Baird – hailed as the book for covid times, this book of reflective essays range from a personal letter to Baird’s teenager daughter to musings on the benefits of ocean swimming to reflections about imperfection. My favourite pieces were always the ones which had more of Baird’s story in them – her friendships, her dog, her activism. I had just started reading the first essay when my well-read sister messaged me to recommend this book – snap! This book is also a beautiful object to cherish – the cover is so tactile with a deep navy backdrop and shiny foil font and accents.
Meander, spiral, explode, design and pattern in narrative by Jane Alison – I found this book absolutely geekly fascinating – the idea of different patterns in fiction. Alison devotes chapters on spirals, meanders, cells – all of these literary patterns are found in nature and are often absent from more chronological literature. My favourite example was Eucalptus by Murray Bail – can’t wait to reread this book now! Think back to the loopy, meandering journey of the daughter who must be wooed only by a man who can name all of her father’s many, many eucalyptus trees on his property. I loved the idea of both deliberately structuring a piece of literature in this manner, as well as the possibility of seeing patterns after the first draft has been written. I always think of my writing as a kind of patchwork, with many different fragments stitched together, and similar fabrics holding the pattern together. If you do read this, please let me know! I’d love to discuss it with someone!
Untamed by Glennon Doyle – I’m reading this one as a mini bookclub book with three friends. We send each other texts with our favourite quotes, lots of them starting with wow! This is the story of Glennon’s closure of her marriage to a man and her new marriage with a woman. It’s about the effect on her children, and her struggle to break free from old patterns and ways of thinking to live an untamed life, unsullied by cultural expectations. I started to flick through this book again to find a quote to share, and found so many I could have typed the whole book here! How about this description of women:
Selfless women make for an efficient society but not a beautiful, true, or just one. When women lose themselves, the world loses its way. We do not need more selfless women. What we need right now is more women who have detoxed themselves so completely from the world’s expectations that they are full of nothing but themselves. What we need are women who are full of themselves. A woman who is full of herself knows and trusts herself enough to say and do what must be done. She lets the rest burn.
Happy reading over the long weekend!