Thursday, March 29, 2012

Two Mini Reviews of Some Great Non-Fic

Both of these books that I'm about to review deserve much longer, more detailed reviews than they're about to get as they were both amazing for different reasons, but right now, I'm just trying to play catch up and move forward. I swear, if I could find more nonfiction like these, I'd read it so much more often! I just absolutely loved these two books. In fact, I'd love to know some of your favorite non fiction books if you want to leave some suggestions in the comments!! It would make my day I promise ;)

The first book up for review is The End of the World as We Know it: Scenes From a Life by Robert Goolrick. What do I even say about this one? It's depressing. Depressing, yet humorous in it's own way. It's a memoir of the author growing up in a seriously dysfunctional family as well as the story of how that affected him and how it continues to affect him throughout his adult life. This isn't a story that has a whole lot of light. Though there certainly is some in there. Particularly at the end. It tells the story of detailed sexual abuse by his father, growing up with two alcoholic parents and the death of those two parents, hiding everything from everyone, his resulting stays in psychiatric hospitals due to self mutilation and suicide attempts, and much more.

My first question was "why do people write books like this?" As a counselor, I get why people write books like this. I often assign my clients to write an autobiography. But why publish it? I get it now though. Publishing it puts it all out there. It makes it real, unretractable. It says, this is my story, I am the result of my story, I've suffered and I've made it...or I'm making it. And it gives so many people out there who have been through similar situations something to relate to. To know that they're not completely alone when it seems that no one else hears them.

Goolrick's writing is just wonderful. As the reader, you experience his pain, his sadness, his misery, his desperation. He writes with pure poetry at times. His words flow into lyrics on certain pages and they really just touch you. What I loved about this is that it's so uncensored. It lays the human experience completely bare with nothing off limits. And as I said, in the end, there is hope.

The second book I read is vastly different from the last. It was The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn. What a freaking gem of a book this was!!! Seriously, I think this book needs to be on everyone's shelf. It was so damn good! I can honestly see how this book can change the way I view eating in the way that Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle influenced my gardening.

Kathleen Flinn took on quite the task in writing this book. She's a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. She decided to put her skills to use by inviting nine women who ate mainly fast food/boxed food/frozen food/processed food, etc to challenge the way they ate and learn to cook whole foods. Most of these women didn't even know how to hold a knife before starting this class.

The great thing about this book is that she takes the reader on the same journey giving us the same skills that she gives her "students" and gives us some fantastic recipes along the way as well. But it's more than just a cooking manual. Flinn also has lots of commentary to share on modern eating habits and how we've grown into a culture of supposed convenience and how that's driven us to increasingly unhealthy choices. She lays the facts out for us and they're not always pretty.

I'm happy to say that I've already roasted my first chicken and bought a beautiful new chef's knife since reading this book and she really has awakened a new joy of cooking in me. Like I that should be on everyone's shelf in my opinion!


Becky said...

I really HAVE to check out Flinn's book! This week I finally purchased a Le Crueset dutch oven, that I've been saving for a very long time, and it's finally all mine. :) Now I just want to cook with it, so this book looks like just the ticket to set me on the path.

As for Goolrick's novel, I think you put it really well. It's hard to fathom some of the things people have had to endure, and continue to endure. At some point, they want to be heard and seen, right? It's so sad, but I'm glad it also gives hope.

Jeane said...

regarding the first book (which I haven't read, but just might based on your review) I think it's important for people to tell their stories so others can understand what they've gone through

Susan said...

I want Kathleen Flinn's book! I'm curious to see why she thinks we have become such a society of convenience. Does she think that people only watch tv chefs, and never emulate them by cooking more? Not that everyone cooks, goodness no! Even though I make most of our meals, I was in my late 30's before I discovered how to roast a chicken - before then they were always dried out, no matter how I did it! lol you can always learn, which is one reason that I love cooking. I love nourishing everyone around me through good food, too.

Does Matt know how lucky he is, to be getting you who cooks and gardens? :-)

The first book reminds me a little of Jeannette Walls' book, which I read,but didn't always enjoy. I know dysfunction exists and everyone's family is dysfunctional; though I am beginning to wonder if we have expectations of how normal we ought to be, and don't honour the extraordinary difference in each family. Though, this one sounds like a horrible childhood, and he's lucky to be alive - or more, found a way to be alive. Maybe that's why he had to write it.

Bookfool said...

Finally, you've reviewed a couple of books I actually have on my stacks! I'm even more afraid of the Goolrick book, though, now that I've read your review. It was only $1, so . . . no biggie if I can't get through it. I knew he came from a dysfunctional family because I read about him after reading A Reliable Wife and it made sense of how darkly sexual that book is. But, you know, I really did not like A Reliable Wife and maybe I'm not the right person to read about where he's coming from. I guess I'll find out, eventually.

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School sounds like loads of fun. I just put it beside the bed about two weeks ago, thinking I wanted to read it soon. Then, I looked at my ARC stacks. I don't think I'll get to it right away, but I'm glad to know you enjoyed it so much.

Bookfool said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trish said...

I've been reading Kitchen Counter Cooking School for the past several weeks and absolutely love it! I made the 5 minute artisan bread and it came out beautifully. Still too scared to roast an entire chicken, though. ;) Agree that it's a great book that everyone should take a look at!