Tag Archives: Nonfiction

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Favorite Nonfiction Authors

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

There’s something about summer that makes me want to read nonfiction. I still read science fiction, fantasy, and similar genres, but I really enjoy learning about things that really happened.

Here are several of my favourite nonfiction authors. How many of them have you all read?

Barack Obama.

Example: Dreams From My Father.

Why I liked it: President Obama had an interesting childhood for more reasons than I should put into a single blog post. To mention just one of them, I would have been hurt if my father had played such a small role in my daily life when I was growing up. I was impressed by how understanding he was about the role his father did play in his life.

Stephen Hawking.

Example: A Brief History of Time.

Why I liked it: Physics is one of those topics I have a hard time wrapping my mind around but still enjoy reading about quite a bit. Please don’t ask me to give you a full explanation of why time doesn’t always move consistently (especially when those pesky black holes get involved), but I did always enjoy hearing his thoughts on this topic when he was still alive.

Barbara Ehrenreich

Example: Nickle and Dimed: on (Not) Getting By in America

Why I liked it: Ms. Ehrenreich has a conversational writing style that works well for her investigative approach to nonfiction, social justice, and social class. I’m also impressed by the fact that she’s spent so much time literally walking in other people’s shoes while researching her books.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Example: We Should All Be Feminists

Why I liked it: The older I get, the stronger my preferences becomes for writers who know how to get to the point as succinctly as possible. Not only does Ms. Adichie do this, she manages to pack a lot of important information into the things she writes without simplifying it too much. I also appreciate her inclusive approach to social justice. It’s so much more effective to call people in to caring about injustice than it is to call them out for not using exactly the right term(s) while trying to make the world a better place.

Stephen Colbert

Photo credit: Montclair Film.

Example: I Am America (and so Can You!) 

Why I liked it: Satire is such an underrated form of comedy, especially when it’s done well. I adore Mr. Colbert’s tongue-in-cheek approach to everything, especially once I learned that he apparently teaches Sunday School in real life and allegedly has been banned from acting like the persona he plays on television when he’s at home relaxing with his wife. Seriously, how funny is that? She must be such a patient woman.

Michael Pollan

Example: In Defence of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

Why I liked it: I always appreciate Mr. Polland’s simple and intuitive approach to eating. No food or food group is forbidden. Instead, we’re all encouraged as much as is possible to eat the sorts of unpackaged ingredients that our ancestors would have recognized.

That is, roast a whole potato instead of eating french fries. Pack an apple instead of an apple-flavoured fruit rollup.  The closer something is to the way it was when it was still growing in the field, swimming in a pool of water, or running around in a pen, the better it is for you in the majority of cases.

This is the sort of healthy eating that really speaks to me. I’m always excited to see what he’s written next.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question. The image below is the list of upcoming prompts for this blog hop.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Summer 2019 TBR

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

As I mentioned in last week’s Top Ten Tuesday post, my TBR list depends a lot on when I reach the top of the request list for the various library books I’m in queue for.

Based on the ratio of requests to library copies of these books, I believe they will all become available for me over the next two to three months. There is a lot of nonfiction coming my way this summer if all goes as planned. I’m excited about that.

You’ll notice that a few of these titles won’t be available until September. I decided to count anything that I expect to have my hands on before the official end of summer at the autumn equinox since southern Ontario typically remains quite hot, humid, and summer-like until late September or early October.

Title: They Were Her Property: White Women and the Economy of American Slavery by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers

I hope to have it: Any day now.

Why I want to read it: I don’t know much about the role wealthy white women played in slavery in the American south. I’m incredibly curious to learn more about that.

 

Title: 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do by Amy Morin

I hope to have it: In the first week of July

Why I want to read it: I’m intrigued by the feminist spin to this self-help book and would like to see what connection she makes between the #MeToo movement and taking charge of your own destiny. Those aren’t topics that I’d necessarily ever think to join together.

 

Title: On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

I hope to have it: In the second week of July.

Why I want to read it: I loved her first book, The Hate U Give, and after mentioning this one on several Top Ten Tuesday posts I’m quite excited to finally see if On the Come Up will be as thought-provoking. It’s been such a long wait that I can hardly believe I’m finally almost at the top of the library queue for it.

 

TitleOnce a Wolf: The Science Behind Our Dogs’ Astonishing Genetic Evolution by Bryan Sykes

I hope to have it: In the second week of July

Why I want to read it: Sometimes when I see someone walking around with a tiny little dog here in Toronto I like to imagine how a wolf would react to being stuffed into a purse or dressed in a tutu.  On a more serious note, I love dogs and have often wondered how humans took something as gigantic and fearsome as a wolf and gradually bred that gene pool into toy poodles and chihuahuas. Learning more about this is going to be a great way to spend part of my summer.

 

Title: Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

I hope to have it: In the first week of August.

Why I want to read it: Psychology fascinates me in general. I studied attachment theory in a few of my college courses, and I’m curious to see if there’s any new research on the various types of attachment and how they affect you in adulthood.

 

TitleInvisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Pérez

I hope to have it: In the second week of August

Why I want to read it: As a short and petite woman, I’ve had some struggles adjusting to stuff that is designed for “average” people that are much taller and bigger than me. For example, some chairs are too big and high off the ground for me to sit in while also touching my feet to the floor. I’ve had issues with seatbelts not quite fitting me properly, too, which could be really dangerous in a crash. It’s going to be super interesting to find out why so many designers make cisgender men the standard instead of taking a wider variety of body sizes and shapes into account.

 

 

TitleWhy We Elect Narcissists and Sociopaths—And How We Can Stop! by Bill Eddy

I hope to have it: In the third week of August.

Why I want to read it: With a federal election coming up here in Canada this autumn and another federal election coming up the United States, my birth country, next year, I’m quite interested in why voters in many different countries can become so enamoured with Narcissistic politicians.

 

TitleCharlotte: A Novel by David Foenkinos and Sam Taylor

I hope to have it: In the first week of September

Why I want to read it: World War II was such a horrific war. This book of poetry was written about one of the many innocent people who died in a concentration camp during the course of it. I’d never heard of this painter before, and I’d like to know who she was before her life ended far too soon.

 

TitleThe Ghost Garden: Inside the Lives of Schizophrenia’s Feared and Forgotten by Susan Doherty

I hope to have it: In the second week of September

Why I want to read it: While they don’t have this specific diagnosis, there are a few people in my life who live with serious mental illnesses that have very negative impacts on their daily lives. I’m always on the lookout for books that talk about this topic, especially if they explore the lives of people who are not high functioning.

This is a sensitive and difficult issue, but I think there needs to be much more awareness of the many different ways mental illness can impact someone’s life. Some people absolutely can and do cope well with their illnesses. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for everyone.

The Evolution of My Reading Habits

My reading habits have evolved a lot over the years. In today’s post, I’m going to start with my earliest memories and share some stories about how my interests and habits have changed over time.

Most of these genres are still things I like to read at least occasionally. With that being said, I do not read the older ones as often as I once did.

Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales

“A Fairy Tale” by J. H. F. Bacon

The first genres I ever fell in love with were nursery rhymes and fairy tales.

My uncle had a book of fairy tales that he left behind when he went off to college. I read that collection every time I visited my grandmother’s house, and it made me yearn for more stories about dragons, royalty, and people who were rewarded for the good things they did when they thought no one was paying attention.

The tales in my uncle’s collection were the sorts of things you’d see in a Disney movie. They were missing the dark endings that they’d often originally had.

A few years later, I began stumbling across fairy tales that didn’t always end happily ever after. For example, the original version of “The Little Mermaid” ended with the main character’s death instead of her wedding.

I did go back to preferring the more cheerful spins on these stories after a while, but I appreciated having those glimpses into what had happened to them before they were cleaned up for modern audiences.

30 Books in a Month

As I’ve mentioned here before, I was homeschooled for the first several years of my education. One of the best parts of that experience was being able to read after my lessons were finished. There were times when Wyoming was far too snowy and cold of a place for a child to be wandering around outside in, so I read the entire afternoon and evening away on some of those wintry days.

All of this reading time had an interesting effect on me once I started public school and people who weren’t my parents or siblings began noticing my habits.

My fourth grade teacher once gave us an assignment to read three books a month. We were supposed to turn in little slips of paper with the title and author of what we read to her so she could keep track of them for us.

Reader, I didn’t finish three books that month. I read thirty of them.

Those three slips of paper we’d been given were almost immediately replaced by notes from my mother listing everything else I’d read after I fulfilled the original requirements.

When our teacher announced the number of books each student had read that month a few weeks later, most of my classmates were in the single digits. It was pretty funny to see how they gasped when they realized I’d quietly blown everyone out of the water.

A Passion for Poetry

I no longer remember which genres I read during that thirty-book month, but I do remember the genre I became obsessed with shortly after that: poetry.

My fifth grade teacher did a unit on the many different types of poems out there, and I took to this topic  immediately. A lot of the stuff she had us read reminded me of the nursery rhymes I’d loved a few years earlier.

Shel Silverstein was the first poet I loved, but I quickly moved on to poets who wrote for adult audiences like Emily Dickinson and Langston Hughes.

The thought of compressing what could be an entire story into a few short lines impressed me. I was always excited to find poets who could create strong imagery of what they were describing to the audience while using as few words as possible.

There was about a decade there when poetry was regularly part of what I read for fun. For a long period of time after that, I still returned to it regularly when I needed a break from other genres.

I’m slowly losing interest in this genre, and that makes me a little sad. I wish I could find the same thrill in it I did twenty years ago.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

“Martians vs. Thunder Child” by Henrique Alvim Corrêa.

My interest in the science fiction and fantasy genres has always been intertwined with the other things I’ve read. Long before I entered high school they became genres I returned to over and over again.

While I do take breaks from science fiction and fantasy to recharge sometimes, those feelings have remained constant to this day. No other genre has managed to keep me coming back for more for as long or as consistently as these two have.

There is something so interesting about taking a modern trend and extrapolating it to some distant future where robots really do run the world or when climate change has altered our planet so much that future generations can no longer imagine what life was like in a cooler, more stable climate.

I’ve come to prefer hopeful speculative fiction over the darker, apocalyptic stuff, but I think I’ll continue reading some sort of sci-fi or fantasy for many years to come.

Leaning Towards Nonfiction

Over the last decade or so, I’ve found myself gradually becoming more interested in nonfiction than I ever was before. My favourite high school English teacher used to talk about how much she enjoyed reading about things that really happened.

I didn’t understand why she’d say that at the time, but now I relish the opportunity to read books about history, astronomy, archeology, ecology, medicine, the biographies or autobiographies of people who have accomplished all sorts of things, and many other topics.

We live in a world that is filled with more information than any one person can digest in a lifetime. I accept the fact that I can’t learn everything, but I also want to be exposed to as much knowledge as possible in this lifetime.

How have your reading habits evolved over time? If anyone decides to borrow this topic and blog about it, I’ll edit this post to include a link to your response if you’re interested in that.

Edited on May 5 to add Bjørn Larssen’s response.

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Non-Fiction Releases for the First Half of 2019

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

When I’m not reading the science fiction and fantasy genres, non-fiction is something I love diving headfirst into. Thus far, it looks like 2019 is going to be an amazing year for all sorts of non-fiction titles, from biographies to sociology and so much more!

1. Influenza: The Quest to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History by Jeremy Brown

Release Date: Today

2. Womanish: A Grown Black Woman Speaks on Love and Life by Kim McLarin

Release Date: January 15

3. What We Talk About When We Talk about Rape by Sohaila Abdulali

Release Date: January 26

4. No Beast So Fierce: The Terrifying True Story of the Champawat Tiger, the Deadliest Animal in History by Dane Huckelbridge

Release Date: February 5

5. Becoming Emily: The Life of Emily Dickinson by Krystyna Poray Goddu

Release Date: February 5

6. Louisa on the Front Lines: Louisa May Alcott in the Civil War by Samantha Seiple

Release Date: February 26

7. Bats: An Illustrated Guide to All Species by Marianne Taylor

Release Date: April 9

8. Beyond Words: What Elephants and Whales Think and Feel by Carl Safina

Release Date: April 23

9. The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas.

Release Date: May 21

10. Dissenter on the Bench: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Life and Work by Victoria Ortiz

Release  Date: June 4

Are you planning to read any of these books? What books are all of you looking forward to over the next six months or so?

Saturday Seven: Books That Might Give You Cravings

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

I’m a pretty quiet person in real life. One of the topics that I always like to talk about with anyone who is interested, though, is food. For example, I might ask you what your favourite food is or talk about a delicious meal I made last week. This week’s list is all about books that gave me cravings when I read them.

1. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan.

I could almost do an entire Saturday Seven post on Michael Pollan’s books alone. I really appreciate the fact that he takes such a well-rounded approach to figuring out what and how humans should eat from a nutritional, environmental, and cultural perspective. Then you also need to factor in any medical restrictions (diabetes, food allergies, interactions with certain drugs, etc) you might have on what you can eat.  The answer won’t be exactly the same for every person or geographical region on Earth. I like the flexibility of that. It makes me hungry! Hehe.

 2. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver.

Imagine spending an entire year trying to eat nothing but food you’ve either grown or bought from people who lived nearby. It’s not something I could do year-round in Canada without risking vitamin deficiencies from barely having any vegetables or fruit to eat for months on end, but I do follow many of this author’s principles when the weather allows for it. And now I’m craving Ontario-grown strawberries. They’re mouthwateringly delicious, and they’ll be in season in a few short months.

3. Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky.

Salt is common and inexpensive now, but it used to be so valuable that it was used as a form of currency. This is the kind of book I’d only recommend to people who are extremely interested in this topic. It wasn’t a light, fluffy read at all, but it did make me crave salty foods like homemade soft pretzels.

4. French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano.

I loved the common sense messages in this book about moderation, fitting walking and other forms of exercise into your daily routine, and never being afraid to enjoy what you eat. There’s something about this easy-going approach to life that makes me look forward to my next meal regardless of what it happens to be.

5. Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World by Dan Koeppel.

When I first read this a decade ago, I wondered if I’d live to see the day when the Cavendish banana went extinct. It hasn’t happened yet, and I sure hope it never does. Doesn’t the banana on the cover make you wish you could eat a banana right this second? That sure was my reaction to it.

6. Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit by Barry Estabrook.

This actually made me seek out one of those old-fashioned tomatoes that hadn’t had so much of its flavour bred out of it. It was really good. If only that kind of tomato wasn’t in season for such a short time. I could go for one of them right about now.

7. Tea: The Drink That Changed the World by Laura C. Martin. 

I drink a decent amount of caffeine-free herbal tea, especially during the winter when I want to warm up. If caffeine didn’t make me so jittery, I’d branch out and try more of the teas that this author talked about. They sounded delicious.

Do you read nonfiction books about food or beverages? What are you craving right now?