Our Reader’s Advisory Roundtable just finished our non-fiction genre. Our benchmark was The Devil in the White City. I was happy to read it, because I know so many people have really enjoyed this book. I am a little perplexed by that, though. It is a well-written and researched book and I loved learning about the Chicago World’s Fair. Larson had so many interesting facts about the fair and there were so many famous people who were connected to the fair in one way or another. But, that’s just it, there was a lot of detail and I would have thought that people would just find it too slow to enjoy. But, they may have been drawn in to the story of the serial killer, H.H. Holmes. Holmes is a particularly repulsive character that made my skin crawl and because of him, I would probably not have read this book on my own. That for me illustrated one of the points that we covered regarding subject matter. With non-fiction subject matter can be very important. It doesn’t always have to be. Some readers just like an author’s writing style and will read whatever they write. This can be true for me, but there are certain subjects that are “deal-breakers” as we call them and true crime. I’m glad I did get a chance to encounter the World’s Fair, which was absolutely magnificent. If you’ve read this book or are interested in reading it, you might consider having this book on hand to get a better visual appreciation of the fair. I’m so disappointed that I will never be able to see it for myself.
The book that I read for my elective title, The Lost City of Z by David Grann was a whole lot of fun. Here’s the review that I did for our library’s book blog:
David Grann is a reporter for the New Yorker Magazine who likes to write about people who are obsessed with one thing or another, so writing about Percy Fawcett’s obsession with the Amazon rainforest and a lost civilization in that region was a perfect assignment for him. Grann gives the reader a wonderful look at Fawcett’s personality and career. He was one of the last “gentleman explorers” as exploration became more academic in nature. After Fawcett disappears on his last highly secretive journey to find his lost civilization that he referred to only as “Z”, the mystery of his disappearance sparked another obsession among a variety of people who were determined to find out what happened to Fawcett. As far as obsessions go, this is a dangerous one. As many as 100 people have died looking for Fawcett and his lost city. Ultimately Grann, who takes the elevator to his second floor apartment and has never gone camping in his life, is drawn to the Amazon. His experiences interspersed among those of Fawcett and his followers made this fast-paced adventure story more compelling. His characters are fully-developed and there are some interesting secondary characters. Grann really knows how to tell a story so that you can’t put it down. After reading the preface, I was in for the long-haul and the ending took me by surprise. I think this book would have a great deal of cross-over appeal for fiction reader’s who like adventure, history and armchair travel.
It looks like there is a video game based on the book and soon to be a movie with Brad Pitt playing Percy Fawcett.