As I was musing in a previous blog entry, one of the most fascinating books that I’ve read in the past few months was “The Lost City of Z” by David Grann. This book absolutely captivated me and I read it in about 2 days, which isn’t too shabby considering I started reading it on a workday!
I’ve tried to put my finger on what was so great about this book and why I enjoyed it so much, and I’ve finally determined that it was everything about the way Grann told his story, and interwove it with the story of Percy Fawcett.
The book finds Grann, a New York author with a young baby, who decides to follow in British explorer Percy Fawcett’s footsteps and retrace Fawcett’s last exploration into the jungles of the Amazon as he sought a lost civilization. Grann deftly gives the reader the appropriate amount of background on Fawcett, explorers at the end of the Victorian age, and the indigenous cultures of the Amazon, all while mingling in his own fear of going into the jungle when he hadn’t ever even gone camping before. Grann was witty without being overbearing, and informative without being preachy. But most importantly, and what is key for me when reading a non-fiction piece, Grann didn’t make it textbook. His writing was visceral and allowed me to experience what Fawcett went through and what he, himself, later endured in his attempt to tell Fawcett’s story.
If you read only one book this year, let it be “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” If you read two books or more this year, you simply must include Grann’s “The Lost City of Z.”