Saturday, May 30, 2015

What have I been reading…non fiction...

I have read a few books lately that I found absolutely compelling, the kind of books where you can't stop reading.

The last compelling read has been An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski.  As the book cover says it is" the true story of an 11 year-old panhandler, a busy sales executive, and an unlikely meeting with destiny".  I was thinking as I busily read it on the ferry the last book I can remember enjoying that much on a ferry was that later proved to be not strictly factual.  Oh well.

I guess we all like touching stories with happy endings, and this is a rather amazing story.  Maurice was     an 11 year old (actually 12 as he didn't know when his birthday really was) who lived in the worse possible circumstances, and Laura was a successful executive.  I liked how the story weaves in her background to explain why she may have wanted to help Maurice, to be his friend, and how honest she is in her telling of the story.  It really was amazing the commitment she did make, but she also is honest about when she thought she let Maurice down.  And there are times when he felt he let her down.  Anyway it was a great read…Maurice is an amazing example of how one can succeed against many odds and how the right mentor can make a real difference.

Now another book I could not put down was written by a Vancouver teacher about her family's struggle finding help for her daughter's mental illness, After Her Brain Broke by Susan Inman.  This was another book I could not stop reading.  This is a difficult story as well, one in which a family realizes that their younger daughter has a problem that suddenly escalates and they find themselves in a nightmare and in a difficult maze to find help.  Again the story does have a somewhat happy ending and Susan is the type of person who has worked hard to help others who find themselves in this type of situation.  Again she tells the story very honestly.   I read it and then lent it to a friend and her husband.  Her husband has a background in counselling and he thought it was excellent.  Well worth a read!

Another book that I found really interesting and had a hard time putting down was Elizabeth Jane Howard's autobiography, Slipstream.  She was an English novelist who grew up during the Second World War and whose husbands included Admiral Scott's son, Peter, and well known novelist, Kingsley Amis.  In my 20's I read and enjoyed her early novels and then later I read her Cazelet Chronicles, a series of historical novels about an upper middle class British family, not unlike her own.

I saw the book at the library and because I had enjoyed her novels, I decided to give it a read.  I found it quite fascinating.  She grew up in a very interesting but not easy family.  She married an older man  when in her late teens and was totally naive and also became a mother at 19. The marriage wasn't successful and she basically left it and her daughter, thinking she couldn't be a good mother.  Again she  wrote this autobiography very honestly.  At times I thought, another affair?  And you always knew it wouldn't end particularly well.

She often had difficulty getting writing done as she was busy trying to support herself.  It is an interesting picture of the arts scene in post war Britain.  And she certainly traveled in an interesting circle.  Her affair and then subsequent marriage to Kingsley Amis is an interesting story, and you can't blame her in finally leaving him.  She didn't get much writing done during those years.  (This part I found particularly interesting as I actually have a personally autographed book from Kingsley Amis as he ended up eventually living with his first wife and her husband, and she was a friend of a friend's sister in law-I know crazy but true).

I was impressed how she kept writing.  She also honestly sounded like a very nice person.  Anyway probably not everyone's cup of tea but I found it really interesting.

I am really much more a reader of fiction than non fiction so I was kind of surprised that a series of non fiction books grabbed my attention.


Sunita Gandhi said...

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Sunita Gandhi said...

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