Hang Ten: Nonfiction Picks for Summer

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To all of you fabulous Summer Reading fanatics exercising your minds with non-fiction this summer, GO YOU! I promised these reads wouldn’t be quite as serious as the ones in this post, and I’ve almost entirely kept my written word. So let’s get crackin’ on these two suggestions:

Cover for Barbarian Days

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan
This one is a must-read for summer: The 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Biography/Autobiography went to this beautifully written coming-of age tale. Journalist and writer William Finnegan’s eloquent discourse on surfing is both a book for surfers and one that takes the uninitiated into a completely foreign world and culture (and made me want to pick up a surfboard myself). At times this book does get technical (examples: sections about waves, the history of surfing and the evolution of surfboard designs), but it concentrates on the surfing because it is that aspect of Finnegan’s life that led to his quest for adventure (and delayed maturity) and thus, his life as a writer.

Raised in Hawaii and San Francisco during the 1960s when surfing was considered a loner’s sport, the author extrapolates further on how surfing, though it may be considered by some to only be a sport, is also a life style, a close-knit community and a source of income to anyone from accomplished artists to respected business people. It became the backbone upon which he was raised and helped shape and give his life purpose. Mr. Finnegan’s descriptions of the thrill of riding the fifty-foot waves (*no thank you*) are gorgeously written, no matter where in the world he is, be it Fiji, Bali, South Africa or New Jersey (or any number of locations to which he’s traveled) and by the end of the book you understand his 50-year love-letter to the lifestyle and sport that led him on the path to an extraordinary life.

Cover for Furiously Happy

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
If you have any interest in what it might be like to live with mental illness, or want to spend some time with a fellow sufferer, meet Jenny Lawson, a blogger/writer who can get a healthy person to understand what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes for a mile. She captures her own struggles with mental illness with her unique brand of dark humor. As she explains it, “clinical depression is a semi-regular visitor and anxiety disorder is my long-term abusive boyfriend.” She is no shrinking violet and goes through what it’s like to sink deeper into depression, panic and anxiety attacks. Normally, this wouldn’t be very funny, but with her twist on things and her hilarious anecdotes, I was taken in right away (though her style may turn some people away). A collection of blog-like essays, this book is just the right mix of light-hearted and serious.

Surf’s up dudes! I have to say I enjoyed both of these books and learned so much in the process. These two books don’t have anything to do with each other, except for the fact that the writers manage to make their respective, difficult tasks look effortless.

Want a break from your own reality?

Check out Barbarian Days

Whitney Z. is a native Pittsburgher. She is currently a substitute Library Assistant who loves audiobooks, music and movies. She believes firmly that NASA made a mistake in demoting Pluto and would sincerely like for said decision to be reversed.