Good Non-Fiction is Hard to Find

“All the World Loves a Baby.”

I picked up a copy of Real Simple’s latest because the cover seduced me with this promise: “More Free Time: Shortcuts That Give You Back Hours.”  Sadly, I haven’t had time to read it. Extra hours are in short supply these days, so I chose a non-fiction quickie—not my normal M.O. when it comes to picking a winner. I researched for a brisk minute. Read some positive reviews about The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies. My interest was piqued. I downloaded Dawn Raffel’s true story about a kind-hearted doctor, ahead of his time, who revolutionized neonatal care. 

Rachel may have said it best: a good non-fiction is hard to find. I was interested to learn about the flamboyant turn-of-the-century world fairs and the entrepreneur/uncertified doctor who saved thousands of premature babies as a side-show. Couney’s work was both advanced and inspired, although often discredited by the medical establishment. His success rate of saving what many viewed as undesirable babies hardly worth saving was remarkable, as are the stories of “his babies” that should have, a vrai dire, died. But the story sometimes bounced around too much. Raffel is a good writer; she displayed some great descriptive moments. At times, she shared insignificant details that undid Couney’s story some.  Am I glad I read it? Yes. I did, however, walk away from glittering Coney Island with an even greater appreciation for authors like Hillenbrand and Brown who tell us the truth and craft stories that, like babies, all the world loves. 

P.S. If you’re craving non-fiction, this list looks on the level.

Dr. Couney

Dr. Couney