Reading creative nonfiction in Nevada County
The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, Allen GreenspanThree Cups of Tea, Greg MortensonI am America (And So Can You!), Stephen ColbertClapton: The Autobiography, Eric ClaptonEat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth GilbertInto the Wild, Jon KrakauerBoom! Voices of the Sixties, Tom BrokawThese books are among the top 10 from the New York Times nonfiction hardback and paperback bestsellers lists for the week of Dec. 17. They are all in the Nevada County Library system, most of them in both print and CD format. They were also all of them checked out or in transit when I did my availability research for this column. There were waiting lists for some.The received wisdom about Americans and reading these days is disappointing. Recent studies, particularly one from the National Endowment for the Arts, say that young Americans (ages 18 24) are reading less and with lower comprehension. It found that only 57 percent of all Americans read at least one book last year. On a brighter note, the study reported that reading comprehension scores for 9-year-olds have markedly increased. I suppose Harry Potter has something to do with that.Here in Truckee, we have nearly 17,000 library cardholders and approximately 1,950 patrons are in and out the library doors in an average week. Apparently, were carrying through those doors a healthy dose of nonfiction along with our fiction and Do It Yourself reading. We can attribute that to the fact current nonfiction, from biography and memoir to travelogue to nature and environment to popular science is not all dry, dusty reportage and scholarly findings. In 1973, Tom Wolfe wrote in The New Journalism, creative nonfiction, or literary journalism, would be the death of the novel. Well, he was wrong. But creative nonfiction has certainly grown as a genre. The term creative nonfiction became official in the early 1980s, when the National Endowment for the Arts needed a name for the class of fellowships it was funding. However, the writing, which maintains the factual accuracy of traditional nonfiction while incorporating literary technique in the telling, had been around for a much longer time. Now Let Us Praise Famous Men, James Agees 1941 account of rural Southern sharecropping poverty, is an early classic. George Orwell, James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, John McPhee, Studs Terkel, Gay Talese, Joan Didion, Annie Dillard, and Barry Lopez are among the fine writers who have given us reality with style and verve. Other recent popular nonfiction includes The World is Flat (James Friedman), The Tipping Point and Blink, (Malcolm Gladwell), The Omnivores Dilemma (Michael Pollan), Guns, Germs and Steel and Collapse, (Jared Diamond).You can try your hand at creative nonfiction. Have a look at Writing Creative Nonfiction, by Theodore A. Rees Cheney, and Writing Your Life, by Lou Willett Stanek. Cheneys book gives a thorough background of who, what, where, when, why and how applied to writing about travel, history, personal reflections, nature and technology among other topics. Staneks book provides starting exercises and encouragement for writing memoir and biography.But you might have to wait a week; theyre checked out, too.
Bookshelfs Dry Camp Book ClubMeets monthly at the library. The book for January is The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, the selection for this years Truckee Reads event. Participants will receive a coupon for 15 percent off a one-time book purchase at the Bookshelf at Hooligan Rocks. Everyone is welcome.Winter Reading Program: Snow is Falling Books are Calling!Now through February, 2008 for ages 5 and up. Sign up anytime at the Library. Regular Childrens ProgramsNote: Toddlertime and Babes in Bookland on hiatus until the New Year. Storytelling with Mrs. Fix Thursdays at 11:15 a.m., for ages 3-6Bilingual StorytimeStories, songs in Spanish and English When school is in session: Fridays at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., for ages 3-5 Wanted: Literacy Tutors(English speaking or bilingual)The Librarys Literacy Program is in need of tutors Training will be held at the end of January. For more 575-7030. Now on Sale at the LibraryOpen to All: What the Library Means to Me, an anthology of library memories by residents of Nevada County, including Sue Cauhape, David Fenimore, Ann Lamott, and Gary Snyder. Proceeds will go toward the purchase of books for the Nevada County library branches. Now on display at the libraryNew art Dec. 24Portraits by Truckee artist Raphael Jolly Over the fireplace: Evening Light on Dry Mountain, acrylic on canvas by Mike Bond. Jois Child is a Truckee resident and a Friend of the Truckee Library.BOOK SMARTS: The word library is derived from: Answer: d, the Latin liber, meaning book (originally inner bark of a tree)