Posts Categorized: Books

#NonficNov: Nontraditional Nonfiction

November 20, 2015 Books 3


If there is one thing I can credit with getting me more into reading nonfiction, it was audiobooks. I’m not a fan of first person point of view, which a lot of nonfiction is written in, but surprisingly I don’t mind it when it’s an audiobook. They really opened the genre up for me!

Then, thanks to nonfiction, I really got into graphic novels. The very first graphic novel I ever read was Maus by Art Spiegelman and I’ve never looked back.

Now, I’m going to share some of my favorites with you!



1. AVM just changed my life. I can’t rave about it enough. 2. Same with Quiet. It showed me that quiet is…just fine! 3. Midwife is just so interesting! As are it’s sequels! 4. Unbroken taught me so much about WWII in the Pacific! I had NO IDEA. 5. At Home is just hella interesting. The history of the home. Who knew? 6. H is for Hawk was a complete surprise. A delightful one. I did not expect to love this one as much as I do. 7. With a title like The Sex Lives of Cannibals, how can it not be awesome? 8. Girl in the Dark is fascinating. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to live in the dark. 9. Kitchen Confidential! Anthony Bourdain! Bad Ass! 10. Julia Child! The ORIGINAL BAD ASS.

Graphic Novels:


1. Maus. One of the most powerful books I’ve ever read and made all the richer for its format. 2. Persepolis. See Maus. 3. Hyperbole and a Half will make you laugh, cry, and commiserate. 4. I love all of Lucy Knisley’s autobiographical graphic novels, but Displacement may be my favorite. 5. March: Book One. Wow. Just…wow. 6. Pride of Baghdad. Also wow. 7. Blankets will give you college flashbacks. In a good way. 8. Feynman was brilliant and helped build the atomic bomb. Great look at part of his life. 9. If you’ve ever had braces, or major dental surgery, or a childhood, you will love Smile. 10. Ethel and Ernest, the life of the author’s parents, beautifully told.

What are your favorite nontraditional ways to read nonfiction? What are some of your favorite titles?



Top Ten Tuesday – You Can Quote Me On That

November 17, 2015 Books, Lists, Meme 3


It was so hard to pick just ten. I have noted some pretty awesome quotes this year!

“Once you’ve held a book and really loved it, you forever remember the feel of it, its specific weight, the way it sits in your hand.”  ― Erika Swyler, The Book of Speculation: A Novel

“It’s an inconvenience, true enough, and I don’t like it at all, but I know that you do it for everyone, Mister Death. Is there any other way?’

“My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all, I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in our family is dead.”  ― Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle

“Do not try any of this at home. The author of this book is an Internet cartoonist, not a health or safety expert. He likes it when things catch fire or explode, which means he does not have your best interests in mind. The publisher and the author disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects resulting, directly or indirectly, from information contained in this book.” ― Randall Munroe, What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

“But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming “the people” has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy. Difference in hue and hair is old. But the belief in the preeminence of hue and hair, the notion that these factors can correctly organize a society and that they signify deeper attributes, which are indelible—this is the new idea at the heart of these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, deceitfully, to believe that they are white.” ― Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

“Some foods are so comforting, so nourishing of body and soul, that to eat them is to be home again after a long journey. To eat such a meal is to remember that, though the world is full of knives and storms, the body is built for kindness. The angels, who know no hunger, have never been as satisfied.” ― Eli Brown, Cinnamon and Gunpowder

“The women also put my life of privilege, opportunity, independence, and freedom into perspective. As an American woman, I was spoiled: to work, to make decisions, to be independent, to have relationships with men, to feel sexy, to fall in love, to fall out of love, to travel. I was only twenty-six, and I had already enjoyed a lifetime of new experiences.” ― Lynsey Addario, It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War

“But then again I wonder if what we feel in our hearts today isn’t like these raindrops still falling on us from the soaked leaves above, even though the sky itself long stopped raining. I’m wondering if without our memories, there’s nothing for it but for our love to fade and die.” ― Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant

“My ears become my conduit to the world. In the darkness I listen—to thrillers, to detective novels, to romances; to family sagas, potboilers and historical novels; to ghost stories and classic fiction and chick lit; to bonkbusters and history books. I listen to good books and bad books, great books and terrible books; I do not discriminate. Steadily, hour after hour, in the darkness I consume them all. By way of this unprecedented, unbridled literary promiscuity, I have made some pleasant discoveries.”  ― Anna Lyndsey, Girl in the Dark

“She felt the panic rising in her then. She knew. She knew how quickly things could break. You did the things you could. You tended to the world for the world’s sake. You hoped you would be safe. But still she knew. It could come crashing down and there was nothing you could do. And yes, she knew she wasn’t right. She knew her everything was canted wrong. She knew her head was all unkilter. She knew she wasn’t true inside. She knew.” ― Patrick Rothfuss, The Slow Regard of Silent Things

What are some of your favorite quotes from your reading this year?


Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. More HERE.



That Time When a Book was More Than I Thought….

November 13, 2015 Audio Books, Book Reviews, Books 3 ★★★★★

That Time When a Book was More Than I Thought….The Penguin Lessons: What I Learned from a Remarkable Bird
Narrator: Bill Nighy
Length: 6 hours 6 minutes
Published by Random House Audio
on October 27, 2015
Genres: Memoir
Pages: 240
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
I was hoping against hope that the penguin would survive because as of that instant he had a name, and with his name came the beginning of a bond which would last a life-time.'

Tom Michell is in his roaring twenties: single, free-spirited and seeking adventure. He has a plane ticket to South America, a teaching position in a prestigious Argentine boarding school, and endless summer holidays. He even has a motorbike, Che Guevara style. What he doesn't need is a pet. What he really doesn't need is a pet penguin. Set against Argentina's turbulent years following the collapse of the corrupt Perónist regime, this is the heart-warming story of Juan Salvador the penguin, rescued by Tom from an oil slick in Uruguay just days before a new term. When the bird refuses to leave Tom's side, the young teacher has no choice but to smuggle it across the border, through customs, and back to school.

Whether it's as the rugby team's mascot, the housekeeper's confidant, the host at Tom's parties or the most flamboyant swimming coach in world history, Juan Salvador transforms the lives of all he meets - in particular one homesick school boy. And as for Tom, he discovers in Juan Salvador a compadre like no other... The Penguin Lessons is a unique and moving true story which has captured imaginations around the globe - for all those who dreamed as a child they might one day talk to the animals.

Okay, I admit it. I picked this book for the cover. So sue me. In my defense, LOOK at that cover. Is there anything cuter than a penguin wearing a long scarf? Okay, I could probably go for an owl or a fox wearing a long scarf, or a Doctor (wink), but not many animals, or people, can pull off this look.

Judging by the cover, I was expecting a sweet, slightly whimsical, and completely charming story of a man and his penguin. I got all of that. But I also got so much more, for during the time Michell owned his pet penguin, he lived in Argentina and it was an Argentina in turmoil. It is the post-Perón years and it is a time period I absolutely knew nothing about. So, intermingled with adorable stories of a penguin who rules a boarding school in Argentina are stories of coups and all the problems of living in an impoverished country where violence, deprivation, and uncertainty run rampant.

Now really. Is there a better way to learn some history about a time period and place you know little about? Surround any history lesson with stories of a cute penguin (or an owl, fox, or octopus to name a few others) and I think one could teach anybody anything.

The absolutely icing on the cake, for me, was Bill Nighy’s narration. Yes, ole Davy Jones himself reads the book and he reads it masterfully. He can read to me, anything, anytime. Loved it.



Nonfiction November – Book Pairings

November 12, 2015 Books 14


Let’s play a little game of read this? Read that. Shall we?

Beryl Markham

Beryl Markham was one interesting lady. I haven’t read Circling the Sun (yet) but West with the Night is fantastic. I read it all the way back in 2008 and I’ve never forgotten it. Markham was truly a revolutionary of a woman, becoming the first licensed female horse trainer in Kenya, marrying several times (and having a couple affairs besides), and became the first person (not woman, PERSON) first to fly solo and nonstop across the Atlantic from east to west, which is against the wind. You guys, trust me when I say she was one of hell of an interesting woman.

I plan to read both of these in January for a project I’m doing. More on that later.


I read In the Heart of the Sea earlier this year and dude. It is EDGE. OF. YOUR. SEAT. Made all the more so because it’s a true story AND the story that INSPIRED Moby Dick. About 14 years ago, I tried to read Moby Dick. My eyes cross just thinking about it. I made it through 200 pages and, while it hurt to do it after all that work, I had to put it down. I just couldn’t go any further. Now, I surprise no one more than myself when I say I’m tempted to try again. Now that I know the story that inspired it, I can’t help but be more interested.

Have you read any of these books? Do you maybe want to now?



It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

November 9, 2015 Books, Meme 5


It is official. I am Nonfiction November Obsessed. I added over 40 nonfiction recommendations to my want to read list last week. I also read two nonfiction books and am halfway through two others.

I love November.

Since I stayed home yesterday with a migraine (it is much better, thank your for all the comments!) I managed to get a little reading done. I made it over halfway through Hold Still by Sally Mann (read by the audio, I listened to it during the hide in the dark part of the migraine) and then over halfway through Leaving Orbit by Margaret Lazarus Dean once I could come out into some light and it not kill my eyes. Both are good, but I find myself wishing Hold Still would hurry up and savoring Leaving Orbit.

Up next I have Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff and American Bloomsbury by Susan Cheever out from the NC Digital Library. I hope to listen to both this week. And I still have a lovely pile checked out from the library. I may read The Perfection of the Paper Clip by James Ward from it.


What’s going on in your reading world today?

It's Monday What Are You Reading

It’s Monday, What are you Reading is hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.




Nonfiction November – My Year in Nonfiction

November 4, 2015 Books 16

Your Year in Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions…..

Before questions, I want to look at what I’ve read!


Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger by Ken Perenyi
The Man Who Touched His Own Heart by Rob Dunn
The Soloist by Steve Lopez
Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow by Tara Austen Weaver
Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey
A Card from Angela Carter by Susannah Clapp
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Feeding a Yen: Savoring Local Specialties, from Kansas City to Cuzco by Calvin Trillin
Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson
It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario
Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles M. Blow
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness by Sasha Martin
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl
March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
The Dead Ladies Project by Jessa Crispin
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

21 nonfiction so far! I’m not sure, but I think this may be a record for me and I am absolutely delighted by that.

So. What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

Oh my gosh. That’s like saying which day was my favorite. THERE ARE SO MANY. The first one that comes to mind is the one I’m going to go with. It is…. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. But I do this reluctantly. Because it could just as easily be H is for Hawk, which surprised me to no end with its charm, or Fire Shut Up in My Bones which I loved from cover to cover. Or even Girl in the Dark or The Soloist, which touched my heart in so many ways. And then there’s The Dead Ladies Project which has inspired me to no end. And, oh God, Furiously Happy just killed me with its heart and its wit. Died laughing I tell you.

See, I knew I’d figure out how to work more in there.

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

The most? Probably It’s What I Do by Lynsey Addario or Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson.

What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?

All of them? There is always more to learn!

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Lots and lots of nonfiction recommendations. It’s like a whole new genre is opening up for me. I used to never read nonfiction. Now I can’t get enough!



It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

November 2, 2015 Books, Meme 4



Vermilion is a holdover from RIPX. So good, but slow going. And it sort of got pushed aside by Leaving Orbit. I could not put that down yesterday and read almost 80 pages! So good! Thanks to the time change, I woke up at 1:30 WIDE AWAKE so I put my earbuds in and started Into the Wild. What an enigma Christopher McCandless seems to be.

And, of course, THIS is going on:



I’ll be starting it tonight, hopefully with kids in tow. I’ve been holding out for them.

What are your plans for the reading week? Reading anything good this week?

It's Monday What Are You Reading

It’s Monday, What are you Reading is hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.




Nonfiction November 2015

October 29, 2015 Books, Lists 5


I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am that Nonfiction November is here. Along with my Harry Potter Binging (see previous post), I will also be binging nonfiction. All kinds of nonfiction. I have a varied pile on my table, in my iPad, and my phone (the audiobooks are there). So, any bets how many books I can read this month? I think I’ll go for 15 again.

So. Oh, yes. My nonfiction list. So many excellent sounding books!

From the library:

  • American Bloomsbury : Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau : their lives, their loves, their work by Cheever, Susan.
  • Galileo’s middle finger : heretics, activists, and the search for justice in science by Dreger, Alice Domurat
  • Murder by candlelight : the gruesome crimes behind our romance with the macabre by Beran, Michael Knox,
  • A reader on reading by Manguel, Alberto.
  • The woman who would be king by Cooney, Kara.

On the iPad:

  • On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads by Tim Cope
  • Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story by Michael Rosen
  • The French House: A quirky and inspiring memoir about turning a ruin into a home by Don Wallace
  • Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of the Plot to Poison the World’s Greatest Wine by Maximillian Potter
  • The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession by Susan Orlean
  • A Perfect Red by Amy Butler Greenfield
  • Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc by Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies by Alastair Bonnett
  • Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann
  • A History Of The Wife by Marilyn Yalom
  • Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art by Carl Hoffman
  • This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All Marilyn Johnson
  • Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands by Michael Chabon
  • Tracks: One Woman’s Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson
  • Curse Amazon and their sales. There are more. And I may read one of them. But I’m tired of looking. I think you get the idea. I have a lot of nonfiction I want to get through next month.

Have you read any of these? Which do you recommend?



That Feeling When One of Your Favorite Authors…Disappoints You?

October 28, 2015 Book Reviews, Books 10 ★★★½

That Feeling When One of Your Favorite Authors…Disappoints You?The Rest of Us Just Live Here
by Patrick Ness
Published by Walker Books
on August 27, 2015
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.


Okay, no, not crushed, but I am at a loss for words because…I didn’t love this book. I was….I was…I was all…


I DID LIKE IT. Do not get me wrong. I did like it. But I have become accustomed to a certain level of…complete and absolute adoration…when it comes to Patrick Ness’s work that, when I don’t feel it, I’m left feeling confused, bereft, and severely lacking in my mental acumen. In other words, I am at a loss for words. I’m left wondering what is wrong with ME, that I don’t like this like I should? It had all the usual Ness-excellent writing. The characters were fun. I liked the story-within-a-story aspect. The INDIE kids and how the world was ending for them (again) and how the normal, regular kids, were worried about love, and school, and graduating before the high school blew up (again).

Or, well, yeah. It DID feel a little gimmicky, I’ll give you that. And no, I didn’t really feel engaged with any of the characters. I never felt…connected…. Despite their being “normal” and “not the Chosen ones,” I didn’t identify with them at all. And I don’t feel like that’s because they are all teenagers and I am most assuredly not a teenager any more. Still, I was a teenager once. I remember what it was like. It has not prevented me from identifying with teenagers in other books.

No, upon closer examination, it was determined, by me, that my standards are set impossibly high. Certainly I can’t expect this brilliant, impossibly engaging man, to hit them all out of the park. Can I? No. I cannot.

And, just to prove that the writing is still awesome:

Not everyone has to be the Chosen One. Not everyone has to be the guy who saves the world. Most people just have to live their lives the best they can, doing things that are great for them, having great friends, trying to make their lives better, loving people properly. All the while knowing that the world makes no sense but trying to find a way to be happy anyway.

Feelings don’t try to kill you, even the painful ones. Anxiety is a feeling grown too large. A feeling grown aggressive and dangerous. You’re responsible for it’s consequences, you’re responsible for treating it. But Michael, you’re not responsible for causing it. You’re not morally at fault for it. No more than you would be for a tumour.

Have you read this book? What did you think? What was I missing????