I switched to nonfiction after becoming disenchanted with fiction while making my way through Oprah's depressing book club selections. I decided if I was going to read a depressing story it might as well be true. Even today on the rare occasion I read fiction I usually end up being disappointed:
Take Gillian Flynn’s book Gone Girl for instance. This was the book to read in 2012. Lisa Bloom described it as her favorite guilty page-turner. It was so popular that when I put it on hold at my local library I was #462 on the hold list. Unfortunately this book was not for me. I found the characters so unlikeable, I couldn't finish it. I made it a little over half way through, read the ending and slammed the book closed in disgust. When I returned the book I told my library friends I didn't like it especially the manipulative characters. They snickered saying that was the point of the book - how manipulative people can be. Sigh! I decided to give up reading fiction for good.
Then while preparing for a recent vacation I packed four nonfiction books and Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan just in case. I don't know what it is about being on vacation that usually makes me gravitate towards fiction. Sure enough, Charlie LeDuff's Detroit: An American Autopsy, Fred Kaplan's1959: The Year Everything Changed, Marilyn Yalom's A History of the Wife and In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall; none of them felt right. Instead, I picked up Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and didn't put it down again until I'd finished it.
What I liked about this book?
Lisa See created a beautifully written historical novel that takes place in China's Hunan Provence during the 19th century. It's about two young girls who are linked as laotongs at the age of seven (a practice bonding two girls together for eternity as kindred sisters). The book explores the oppression of woman valued only for the ability to produce sons, describes the horrific practice of foot binding which I knew little about and explores the relationship of female friendship.
In reviewing my vacation journal, I only made one note from the book:
I am still learning about love. I thought I understood it - not just mother love but the love for one's parents, for one's husband, and for one's laotong. I've experienced the other types of love - pity love, respectful love, and gratitude love. But looking at our secret fan with its messages written between Snow Flower and me over many years, I see that I didn't value the most important love - deep-heart love. (Pg. 5)So I am happy to report I'm not giving up fiction after all. Perhaps I need to read fiction only when on vacation. Then stick with my preferred fiction genre - historical fiction or as Tanya form Mom's Small Victories classified this book: World/Cultural Fiction.
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Have you read Gone Girl? What were your thoughts? Do you agree with my librarian - I gave up on the book too soon and missed the book's point?
Do you have any historical fiction or world/cultural fiction recommendations for my next vacation read?
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Memorable Vacation Reads
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