I am a lover of fiction! It is the bulk of what I read and enjoy, and I always assumed that non-fiction equaled a snore fest. I viewed it as something an unimaginative teacher forced the class to read as a form of unwarranted torture. However, I was recently introduced to the world of non-fiction by a very lovely man who is an avid reader of non-fiction books and I was very pleasantly surprised...they can be just as mesmerizing and wonderful as any novel. I have compiled a list of some non-fiction reads that I gobbled up voraciously, and I think would appeal to both readers of non-fiction and those who, like me, shun non-fiction like it is the plague (ok, I am being slightly hyperbolic). Enjoy, and please suggest some non-fiction reads you love!
1. Our Inner Ape by Frans De Waal
This book holds a really special place in my heart because it was the first book my boyfriend ever gave me. It is an awesome look at our two closest relatives, the Chimpanzee and the Bonobo, and how their social, sexual and problem-solving behaviours compare to our own. Frans De Waal is a Primatologist (an anthropologist who studies apes) and he offers an engaging, humourous and often touching look at the similarities between us and our closest relatives.
2. Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman
An amazing travel memoir written by a truly fascinating and inspirational woman. In her late fifties, and as her divorce was being finalized, Rita Golden Gelman embarked on a life-changing journey around the world. Determined to abandon the notion that we must live in one place and adhere to one cultural norm, she sets off to live amongst peoples from all over the world and learn their particular way of life. She truly adopted a nomadic existence, and continues to live her life this way.
3. Why We Get Sick by Randolph M. Nesse, George C. Wiliams
The authors of this book challenge us to rethink what we know and believe about being sick. Pioneers in the new field of Darwinian Medicine, they examine common illnesses from allergies, to cancer, to the common cold and how our society handles being ill all wrong. They remark on (amongst many things) how we confuse symptoms for an actual illness, how medicine can actually increase the length of a sickness and ultimately, on our culture's inability to recognize what our own bodies are telling us. An engaging, fascinating read that offers a new perspective on what it means to be sick.
4. The Sacred Balance by David Suzuki
I probably don't need to tell you who David Suzuki is, and if you have never seen his show, The Nature of Things, I suggest you check it out posthaste. This book is part environmental cry-for-help and part spiritual guide to reconnect with nature and our place in it. Suzuki explores the great dependence all species (humans included) have on the four basic elements of the planet: earth, fire, water and air and the evolutionary importance of living in harmony with all species we share this planet with. A beautiful, fascinating wake-up call.
5. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
When confronted with the realization that he will be unable to explain where food comes from to his soon-to-be born son, novelist Jonathan Safran Foer embarks on a quest to find the answer. He speaks to farmers, animal activists and corporate honchos and does his best to visit farms, slaughter houses and ranches to find out what he can about the lives of the animals we call food, and how we as a culture justify treating them as mere commodities. It is both a memoir and a philosophical look about the ethics and morals surrounding humankind's culinary preference for meat and other animal products. This book is profoundly shocking and horrific, but Foer approaches the dilemma of eating animals with an empathetic and non-judgemental tone. Still, I dare you to read this and eat a philly cheesesteak sandwich afterwards.