I love good nonfiction. Not everyone reads nonfiction, perhaps it makes people think of schoolwork, but great nonfiction is nothing like textbooks. Nonfiction can be just as exciting, mind-bending, heartbreaking, romantic, and literary as fiction, if not more-so. I am a big fan of nonfiction, especially nonfiction that deals with science, medicine, and exploration. There are times in my life where nonfiction is difficult for me to read; it often takes a little more attention and focus during reading, but when I get in the mood it can be more exhilarating than any novel.
So there was my plug for people to try more nonfiction. And for those looking for a good nonfiction to begin with, The Lost City of Z by David Grann is a nice starting point.
In 1925 Colonel Fawcett, a well-known British explorer, sets out to find the city of Z. Z is thought to be a lost Amazon civilization, and Fawcett and his son think they have what it takes to find it. They never return. Since then, countless other hopefuls, from explorers to actors, have searched in vain for Z and for signs of Fawcett’s expedition. The others had little luck in their quests as well. Author Grann, a writer for The New Yorker, wants his turn at discovering Fawcett’s fate. He heads to the deadly Amazon rainforest in search for clues. Grann’s tale is interwoven with Fawcett’s, and as Grann explains Fawcett’s obsession and explorer psyche.
I have had some experience reading about arctic explorers and their journeys. The Amazon is a whole different ball-game. Swarming with insects, deadly diseases, dangerous native people, river rapids, extremes of heat and humidity, and little food to be had in a place you would expect to be lush, these explorers go through hell! I love to read about the extremes people can persevere through. My only complaint is the way the book wraps up at the end. I can’t go into too much detail without spoilers, and I understand that nonfiction has to end how the real story ends, I just felt Grann could have presented it in a different way or wrapped up with more of a bang.
P.S. I hear the movie version is set for release in 2012 and Brad Pitt is attached to the project.