Say no to drugs! But say yes to this book about drugs.

30 Day Book Challenge – Day 26

Favorite nonfiction book

I have to say, I’m not often found perusing the non fiction section in the book store.  I read to escape reality, not to be reminded of it, which I realise is a fairly narrow-minded point of view of the genre.  Yet, despite my aversion I’ve somehow managed to read a number of excellent nonfiction books in recent years.  Humorous coffee table books, kids books on ‘how things work’, travel books and biographies.  Within me there obviously lies a dormant desire to read nonfiction, because it’s succeeded in sneaking into my reading list without my even being consciously aware of it! Go figure.

It wasn’t until last year during my writing course, however, that I had that light bulb moment and realised that nonfiction also has to incorporate all the elements and styles of a fiction novel, just without the made up parts.  An epiphany!  (Note: I am regularly prone to ‘blonde moments’ such as these.  It’s nothing to worry about, really).  Travel writing especially, caught me unawares when it registered in my head that just because the events happened one after another, it didn’t mean they had to be written in that order.  I had simply assumed that nonfiction was a chronological record of interesting events.  No beginning, middle and end, no conflict, no resolution as there is in a fiction book.

Of course, It all seemed quite obvious after I really put some thought into it.  I’d been quite ignorant of the genre and unjustifiably harsh on the poor old nonfiction section.  In fact, it seems so silly to me now that I’m almost wondering if I should have admitted to such foolishness at all.  Should I go back and delete the first two paragraphs of this post?  I could have started with something more like:

Non-fiction, *pause while I inhale from my pipe* a genre I both treasure and admire.  It is simply too hard to choose from the many literary masterpieces I have read and studied.  The genius of writers such as [insert nonfiction author here] and [insert another nonfiction author here] continue to astound this humble reader.

Nope.  I don’t think I could have pulled it off.  In any case, fortunately for me (and for you), I don’t have to fabricate an alternate life where I’m a high brow reader of every genre known to mankind, because there is a nonfiction book that comes to mind as a favourite AND I even know the author’s name.  Success!

Marching Powder by Rusty Young.

From Publishers Weekly on

This memoir of a British drug dealer’s nearly five years inside a Bolivian prison provides a unique window on a bizarre and corrupt world. McFadden, a young black man from Liverpool arrested for smuggling cocaine, finds himself forced to pay for his accommodations in La Paz’s San Pedro Prison, the first of many oddities in a place where some inmates keep pets and rich criminals can sustain a lavish lifestyle. The charismatic McFadden soon learns how to survive, and even thrive, in an atmosphere where crooked prison officials turn up at his private cell to snort lines of coke. By chance, he stumbles on an additional source of income when he begins giving tours of the prison to foreign tourists, a trade that leads to the mention in a Lonely Planet guidebook that attracts the attention of his coauthor, Young, who was backpacking in South America at the time.

I’m typically put off by stories of true crime, drugs and criminals, so to say that this one captured my attention, held it, AND became a favourite, is truly testament to the book.  I mean, the man had to pay for his own prison cell for goodness sakes!  Remarkable.  It really is a fascinating read.

~storytelling nomad~