Best non-fiction read

Just another #wpad blog challenge post.

My best non-fictional read? Hmm… I guess I will leave aside all my books on writing. That cuts it down by about three metres of bookshelf.

As for what’s left, I would actually list three favourite non-fiction reads: the most important, the most moving, and the one that has been quietly working on me over the years and still continues to do so.

So, the one in the “most important” category is “The Weather Makers” by scientist and environmentalist Tim Flannery, who is currently Chief Commissioner of the Australian Climate Commission. I had always been concerned about environmental issues, but reading this account of how climate works and how human behaviour is influencing it really woke me up to climate change and the urgent need to act. I guess it was this book that eventually resulted in my current postgrad studies of environmental management.

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Then there is this account of how an incredibly resilient woman survived, physically and spiritually, many years in prison in China: “Life and Death in Shanghai”. Nien Cheng’s story reads like a novel, a drama all the more heart-breaking since it is all true, terrifying and uplifting at the same time. I was deeply moved by how the author tells her tale with modesty and belief in the good in life and in mankind, despite deprivation and horrendous injustice. 

Nien Cheng

Number three on my list is a book I discovered many years ago when I went off into the wilderness to find healing during a difficult phase in my life – sounds a wee bit dramatic but actually that is what it was. In 1956 Sigurd Olson published The Singing Wilderness, a collection of essays based on his life and work as conservationist and wilderness guide in the Minnesota boundary waters area. Having experienced the beauty of those lakes myself, I love dipping into his deeply philosophical musings about nature and man’s place in it, about spirituality and awareness and the importance of keeping the wilderness places on this planet intact.

For this book, I want to offer a picture of the real thing rather than the cover.

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I’ll return to the Minnesota lakes in the penultimate post of this July challenge.

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