Book Series Guest Post: More Non-fiction

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It took a flight across the country and a summer away from home, but my lovely cousin Cassie found a love for non-fiction. Here, she reviews her two favorites.

By Cassie
Two Books That Changed My Life
(non-religious because if it were religious, this list would be longer.)

I love people. Real people with real stories. This is probably why reading fiction has been a struggle for me. With the exception of Dracula, my favorite books are nonfiction and out of all the historical and not so historical nonfiction I’ve read, two books have truly inspired me and I love to be inspired. They are The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and The Anatomist by Bill Hayes.

I didn’t become a reader of nonfiction until the summer after I graduated from high school. Most of my reading time was spent with cheesy romance novels mainly of the Mormon kind. At age 18, I jetted across the country and landed in Connecticut where I would nanny three kids at their summer home on Fisher’s Island. Fisher’s Island is nine miles long and a place for the very rich. Never was F. Scott Fitzgerald more right when he said, “Let me tell you about the rich. They are different from you and me.” 

I spent time at the local library. A teeny, tiny house-like structure with one room dedicated to books. While browsing for something to entertain me at night I came across The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. I read it in every spare nanny moment I could find. I was smitten, not by a tale of fleeting romance, but by this man’s advice on living life. I’ve learned it’s always important to take life advice from people who are dying and he had ten tumors in his liver. 

Now, if you are looking for a sad story about a man dying from cancer and everything he did to fight it, this story is not for you. Randy takes you on a tour of how all his childhood dreams came true and how we should enable others to reach their dreams. Life. Changed.

The second book that has changed my life I happened upon during my junior year of college. I was taking an anatomy class and I was completely enthralled by the make-up of human bodies. Each system, organ and structure is designed to perfection. To explore deeper my new found love, I made a trip to the local library in search of Gray’s Anatomy.

Not this one...

This one.
I went to the right shelf looking for this gigantic mother textbook and didn’t find it...however, I found  a small book hidden in the corner called The Anatomist: A True Story of Gray’s Anatomy. Checked it out, took it home, read it immediately. 

Bill Hayes, the author, gives an inside look at Henry Gray’s life mainly through the eyes of his collegue and anatomical illustrator, Henry V. Carter. The true story of the two brilliant Henry’s whose study of the human body changed medicine is enhanced by the author’s personal experiences spent in a medical school gross anatomy class. The book explores the incredible design of the human body.  I related to him as he described the pain we feel when physical limitations can get us down even though our bodies are made to function without flaw. Nobody is perfect. Life. Changed.
I am loving the out-pouring of love lately for non-fiction. Want more non-fiction recommendations? Read about The Best Advice I Ever Got, and some of my favorites, Into the Wild, and This Is Not the Story You Think It Is.


  1. Awesome! I have always wanted to read "The Last Lecture!"


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