This week in Nonfiction November it’s “Stranger Than Fiction”. This week’s host is “Plucked from the Stacks”.
I’m starting with a recent book that my book club partner Bev and I just finished reading, and that’s “The Year of Living Biblically” by A.J. Jacobs. A.J. Jacobs is a master of doing personal quests and then writing about them. Jacobs’ books all seem to be in the line of “stranger than fiction”, and you might have read “Know-it-all” about Jacobs’ quest to read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica, but I have not. However, I cannot wait to read Jacobs’ latest book, “The Puzzler”.
In the “Year of Living Biblically”, Jacobs decides to follow the bible as literally as possible—so long as it’s not dangerous—which includes following some of the most perplexing rules, such as not wearing mixed fibres. His journey takes him on some truly jaw dropping adventures, including wearing a white robe in public, which Jacobs discovers is a “polarizing garment”. I highly recommend this book, as it discusses biblical history and different takes on the bible from a wide range of Jewish and Christian faiths.
Our current book club read also has some jaw dropping moments, and I am sure many of you have already read “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls. Barely into this memoir, I am already shocked by the contents. Chapter 1 gives us a glimpse of Walls as an adult, as she avoids her mom who is rooting through a dumpster. In subsequent chapters, she sets herself on fire while cooking hot dogs at age 3 and learns how to handle her father’s gun at age 4. Truly a life I cannot imagine!
A book I am reading on my own is Emily Urquhart’s latest, “Ordinary Wonder Tales”. Urquhart had me hooked with the first line: “The year that I turned three I slept in a bedroom that was known to be haunted.” Urquhart is a folklorist, so she weaves folklore throughout her own stories, and the result is a beautiful patchwork of personal stories, folk stories, and history. Jaw dropping moments come in not only in the stories themselves, but also when we see how Urquhart is treated whether it is being shamed after relating her haunted story or during some perplexing medical encounters.
I leave you with three books, and hey! Three is supposed to be a satisfying number in literature.
What about you? Have you read any of these books? What nonfiction have you read this year that is stranger than fiction?
See you next week!
Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler
Those first two titles are both ones I recall enjoying in high school! I would also recommend THE UNLIKELY DISCIPLE, which is written by Kevin Roose (iirc he was Jacob’s assistant or something like that at one time. Not sure how it stands up today, but I enjoyed reading it after THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY, about 12 years ago.)
ORDINARY WONDER TALES sounds like a lovely read.
Fascinating! Roose was actually Jacobs’ slave in the book, so it would be cool to read about his journey. Thanks for the tip!
Interesting selections, The Glass Castle is a rather incredible tale. Thanks for sharing.
Yes, the further I get in The Glass Castle, the more incredible a tale I realize it is.
Okay, how have I not heard of Ordinary Wonder Tales? Love that opening line, and the rest of it sounds great. Adding it to my TBR pile now.
“Ordinary Wonder Tales” is a recent book and also written by a Canadian. I sometimes think Canadian authors are just not vocal enough, so they tend to get ignored.
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