Gotta Buy This Book · Nonfiction Books I Love

‘About a Mountain’ by John D’Agata

A photo of the book About a Mountain by John D'Agata with my mother's porch in the background

. . .if we linger long enough with anything, the truth of its significance is bound to be revealed.

For whatever reason, I feel like John D’Agata wrote a very personal message when he signed my copy of About a Mountain, though in reality, ‘To Kameron, from whom I expect great things,’ is rather generic. So then I think, maybe the conversation was exceptionally personal. But really, it wasn’t that personal either. We spoke for a couple of minutes about the subjects characteristic of these things. He asked me what I wanted to do, I told him I didn’t know. He wrote to me an assurance that whatever I chose, I would be great.

When I finally got around to reading About a Mountain, I started to wonder why I have attached so much meaning to this event. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that D’Agata is a teacher, someone who (I imagine) likes students and recognizes the importance of being kind to someone like me, who in that moment was shy and uncertain and incredibly in awe of meeting a Real Author. I’ve seen lots of incredible readings now from the likes of Eileen Myles and Arthur Flowers, but I think D’Agata’s remains my favorite. This is partly because it was the first reading I ever attended, but also because About a Mountain is a book that it meant to be heard as poetry is meant to be heard, in a way that other books do not require.

So, read About a Mountain. Take some time to speak the words because they are meant to be spoken. And don’t be afraid to meet your heroes, because sometimes it is better than you expect.

Want to see what other nonfiction books I’ve recommended? Find the most popular one here. Interested in one that is currently under-appreciated (or perhaps less interesting?) Try this one instead.

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