Week 1

I read a blog last week about a guy who decided to read a book a week for a year.  It doesn’t sound like much of a challenge to me, since I’m such a voracious reader, but I imagine that it can be somewhat difficult at times.  Therefore, I’ve decided to try it. I’m going to mix up my books a little bit–sci-fi, classics, YA fiction, plays, non-fiction, etc.  So, this blog is the kick-off.  Week 1!

My first book of 2011 is The Lost City of Z by David Grann.  It’s non-fiction! Me reading non-fiction is a rare occurence, but this was a narrative non-fiction, so for the most part, it read like a story and kept me engaged.http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=Bibliograph07-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1400078458&fc1=F3EDED&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=040404&f=ifr  It wasn’t everything I’d hoped and dreamed it would be, but I still quite enjoyed it.

The author of this book is a reporter investigating the disappearance of a British colonel Percival Fawcett, who vanished into the Amazon rainforest in the 1920s, searching for “Z,” a mythical ancient civilization he was convinced he could find.  The book is part biography, part adventure story, complete with hostile natives, mutinous team members, horrifying tropical pestilence, and a hint of the supernatural.

The narrative jumps back and forth between the time of Colonel Fawcett and the author’s experiences while trying to track down information about the explorer.  Grann faces many challenges, not the least of which is trying to sift fact from fiction, for Fawcett’s disappearance has become a source of much speculation, and fabricated evidence as to his fate is everywhere.

Unlike most non-fiction books, which are to me very dull, this book was full of fascinating facts and narrative about a region that is still a great mystery.  Many people have died looking for Fawcett, and what some don’t realize is that there are places in the Amazon that are largely unexplored, and still quite hostile.  Much of the book was spent in speculating whether or not humans could even build an advanced civilization, such as Z, in such a seemingly inhospitable place.  The entire book is fascinating, gripping, suspenseful, and at times so frightening I was unable to fall asleep at night.  But it’s the end that really got me.  Grann does reach some definite conclusions, and his discoveries are almost unbelievable.

I encourage anyone with a fondness for adventure narratives or historical fiction to read this book.  One of the things that makes it so much fun to read is that it is easy to forget that this story is true!  It seems so fantastical that sometimes it’s difficult to believe. But, lest you think that parts are fabricated, take a look at his bibliography.  It’s about 10 pages long. The research performed to write this 300 page book is astounding.  It’s really a great book!

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