Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Reading from the non-fiction side of my brain

Today is Anzac Day in Australia, and in order to take a break from reading and playing around on the internet, I went to a dawn service. Yes. I got up at 6am and went to remember all of the Australians who've died in wars.

Now, let's not get into whether war (ones that Australia has been involved in, at least) is justified or not. It's my opinion that only WWII was justified, and even then war is messy, nasty and complicated. DON'T ATTACK ME INTERNET.

At the dawn service, one of the speeches was given by a general who'd done a couple of tours of Afghanistan. And he used the podium (both literal and metaphoric, a double whammy!) to canvas support for Afghanistan. He said that the troops over there are fighting for the freedom of Australia (because if the Taliban regains control of Afghanistan, we're NEXT. We'll fight them on the beaches, on the other beaches, and then some more beaches). And that if we disagree with Afghanistan, the move to withdraw the troops, etc. all the deaths related to the war will have been in vain. Well ... I felt something like this. 

Okay. Maybe I was a little bit more, to quote Clueless ... 'As IF'. 

What was I to do after such a shocking moment? I had to go buy myself some BOOKS. 

And I am super dooper excited about my purchases. 

I'm on a bit of a non-fiction bender at the moment. I guess after reading so many depressing WWII books up against so many happy-go-(very)-lucky romance books, I needed to give the fiction side of my brain a bit of a break. 

From Geraldine Brooks's The Idea of Home: Boyer Lectures 2011, to Anna Krien's Quarterly Essay on The Importance of Animals, I have been having some awesomely delightful non-fiction moments. 

The Idea of Home addresses a range of issues around ... the idea of home (what a surprise!). From environmental issues to Australian surburbia, she addresses home is a truly moving way. The perfect sort of book to inspire you to take action to preserve your home, or to read while snuggling under your bed covers, happy in the knowledge that you are home. 

As for Anna Krien's book, it's a bit more depressing (not to say that Brooks's doesn't bring the sadness to her writing, 'cause the lady knows how to make the eyes drip with le watery stuff). 

But covering topics like animal testing and the meat industry are hardly going to make you feel cheerful. A note of friendly warning: make sure you aren't eating meat while reading this. 

So I hope that my rage-inspired purchases are going to be just as amazing. I avoided buying any war books, as we don't want a reprisal of my Kelis-esque rage moment. Instead I asked the lovely bookseller for recommendations of non-fiction books in the style of Hare with Amber Eyes, Stasiland, The Tall Man.

She, in her infinite bookseller wisdom, suggested Teach Us To Sit Still, all max caps for editing nerd reference. It's about a funny guy who gets some body ailment and goes on a journey into alternative medicine. And from the cover, there seems to be some yoga involved? Namaste, friend. 

The other hopefully winning title is The Snow Leopard by Matthiessen. Not to be confused with The Leopard, that Italian book (awesome description. Snaps!). Look, the blurb says it's about an inner journey, so I'll need to have a cynical book ready and waiting to read at the end of it, just to balance things out. 

Speaking of balance brings us nicely back to my Anzac Day moment. There was no balance in the speech on Afghanistan, no other side. And there SHOULD be. I know a national holiday isn't normally time for deep thought, more like double speak (anyone? Anyone?), but still. I leave you (hey, Laura, my one reader!), this awesome speech from TED. 

1 comment:

  1. but what an awesome reader I am!! bout to listen to TED now. I have missed your blog contributions and I can't believe this gem has been sitting and waiting for me for nearly a month! THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU AREN'T WORKING FULL TIME!
    going to go dance to that song now...