Nonfiction November: New to My TBR

In Week 5 of Nonfiction November, our host is Katie at Doing Dewey, who asks:

It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book!

This year’s Nonfiction November has been my richest TBR haul to date. Thank you, good bloggers!

In fact, the recommendations were flying in so fast that I developed a new way to track my TBR. Instead of simply adding the books to Goodreads as “Want to Read,” I started adding books to the Google Sheet that I use to track my reading — at the bottom of the list, where I place upcoming reads. The advantage is that it allowed me to group all the Nonfiction November suggestions and add my own notes in an easy way. I’m kinda excited about this system.

So what’s on the list? Here goes…

 

In response to my “Become the Expert” request for books about becoming a better human:

Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life by Jessica Nutik Zitter — recommended by Kazen at Always Doing

Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi — recommended by Kelly at Stacked

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal — recommended by Kelly at Stacked

What If This Were Enough? Essays by Heather Havrilevsky — recommended by Michael at Inexhaustible Invitations

How to Be a Person in the World: Ask Polly’s Guide Through the Paradoxes of Modern Life by Heather Havrilevsky — recommended by Michael at Inexhaustible Invitations

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman — recommended by Michael at Inexhaustible Invitations

 

The other books that grabbed my eye…

Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi — recommended by Kelly at Stacked

Kitchen Yarns by Ann Hood — recommended by Rennie of What’s Nonfiction

From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein — recommended by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness and Sarah of Sarah’s Bookshelves and Tina at Tina Says

knitting books by Elizabeth Zimmermann — recommended by Lory at Emerald City Book Review

 

I’ve already begun reading one of the Heather Havrilevsky books (loving it) and can’t wait to find all these others on the shelves.

Thank you to all the wonderful book bloggers who make Nonfiction November such a fulfilling experience each year!

 

Book Bingo 2018: Completed!

 

It’s my 4th year hosting Book Bingo Blackout, and I continue to be surprised by the categories I find the most challenging to fulfill. They’re always the ones that seemed like low-hanging fruit.

This year my final category was Read the Movie, and I finally read a book that I knew was made into a movie only because I Googled every title on my immediate TBR to see if they’d been filmed.

As I look over the list, I’m disappointed in how few reviews I posted, but then I realized: it was an eventful year.

And I cut this girl some slack.

 

So… here’s the 2018 Book Bingo list of titles!

 

Reserved – Although you may reserve a book at the library and anticipate its arrival, a book can also be reserved in its tone and theme.
Educated by Tara Westover

 

#ownvoices – a book written by a member of a marginalized community that it depicts
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

 

Epic – A generational saga or transformational journey
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

 

Upgrade Your Life – Take things to the next level — mentally, physically, or spiritually
When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink  

 

Been There, Read That – A book set in a place you’ve lived or visited
The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine F. Weiss

 

 

My People – You identify with the characters based on your roots or sense of identity
Portage: A Family, a Canoe, and the Search for the Good Life by Sue Leaf

 

Psychological – A book that messes with your mind or heals your mind
The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

 

Fashion(able) – A book about fashion, a book about trends, or a book that is trending
Superforecasting by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner

 

Read the Movie – There’s a movie based on this book
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

 

Judge a Book By Its Cover – You love or hate the cover
Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks

 

The Help – A book about those who serve others. Or a self-help book.
Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

 

Timeless Classic – A book that’s stood the test of time
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

 

I Bought It – A book you bought, or a book whose premise you bought into
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

 

Time Travel – A character travels forward or backward in time
The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier

 

Cocktails – Alcohol is an ingredient in the book
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

 

Glamour – A book that portrays a glamorous life
West with the Night by Beryl Markham

 

Wealth – A book about finance, money, or life’s riches
The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

 

Urban – A book set in a city, or a book about a city
Going into Town by Roz Chast

 

Lost Generation – A book by or about the generation that came of age during WWI (born 1883-1900; e.g., Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Babe Ruth, Harry Truman)
White Houses by Amy Bloom

 

Audie Award – Listen to or read an Audie Award winner or finalist
We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

 

True Crime – Nonfiction book about a crime
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

 

South of the Equator – A book set south of the Equator, or written by an author from a country south of the Equator
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

 

Rock – Earth, a gemstone, music — however you want to define it
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

 

Outsider – The protagonist is alienated from her/his surroundings. Or, a stranger comes to town…
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

 

No More Waiting – It’s been on your TBR, on your nightstand, on your mind. Read it already.
No More Words: A Journal of My Mother, Anne Morrow Lindbergh by Reeve Lindbergh

 

If you’re doing Book Bingo this year, how’s it going? Any categories proving tricky?

Nonfiction November: Reads Like Fiction

This week’s Nonfiction November topic — Reads Like Fiction — is hosted by Rennie at What’s Nonfiction?

Nonfiction books often get praised for how they stack up to fiction. Does it matter to you whether nonfiction reads like a novel? If it does, what gives it that fiction-like feeling? Does it depend on the topic, the writing, the use of certain literary elements and techniques? What are your favorite nonfiction recommendations that read like fiction? And if your nonfiction picks could never be mistaken for novels, what do you love about the differences?

 

I love nearly all the nonfiction — even handbooks and manuals, if they have a sprightly tone. (Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes is one of my all-time favorite books, and I have a serious love of The Elements of Style by Strunk and White.)

And most of the self-improvement books I read (and there are lots of ’em) don’t follow a storyline, but I love them all the same. If there’s an engaging tone, I’m there.

So I don’t need a narrative drive to delight my nonfiction-loving heart.

That having been said… When you offer me something along the lines of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff or anything by Robert Kurson (I’m currently still in the afterglow of Rocket Men), I’m about as happy as I can be as a reader. Narrative nonfiction might well be the highest peak on my readerly mountain range.

In the past year, here are the narrative nonfiction books that most delighted me:

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

Fifty Acres and a Poodle by Jeanne Marie Laskas

Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly

The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine F. Weiss

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

 

I can’t wait to see everyone else’s lists.

What’re the best narrative nonfiction books you’ve read this year?

18 for 2018: fall update

We’re heading into the final 6 weeks of the year, and here’s one final 18 for 2018 update before the year-end reckoning…

Since the last update, here’s what’s happened around here…

Roast vegetables once a month

OK, so I outsourced this one. Or, as someone less charitable said, I cheated.  Here’s what happened… I’ve been running around trying to do my life for the past year, and grocery shopping only happened at the margins of life. And cooking? Ha! There was no cooking! Then the Dear Man and I moved into our new home, and he’s an expert vegetable roaster, and within the first two months, he roasted enough vegetables (which I ate) to count for the rest of the year. I asked him if I could borrow his labor to count for my goal, and he, being one of Earth’s best Earthlings, said, “Of course.” So we’re checking this one off the list. For those keeping score at home…

Vegetable roasting scoreboard

Unruly: 4

Dear Man: 8+

 

Complete 2 of the 3: Book Bingo, Read Harder, and Modern Mrs Darcy reading challenges

I completed the Modern Mrs Darcy challenge months ago, and I was almost done with our own homegrown Book Bingo except for that pesty “Read the Movie” category. I don’t really like movies so very much, and I can get stubborn about reading something I know is being made into a movie. But: Done and Done!

 

So here’s the full list for the year, with accomplished items in italics…

  • Call old friends on a regular basis
  • Buy typewriter key jewelry
  • Go on southern vacation with the Dear Man and Younger Sister
  • Go on northern vacation with the Dear Man and Older Sister
  • Roast vegetables once a month
  • Burn a candle when writing
  • Buy fresh flowers & watch a YouTube video to figure out how to arrange them
  • Invite friends for dinner
  • Begin meditating
  • Memorize 5 quotes
  • Visit 3 history geek places
  • Replace long wool coat
  • Bake 2 family recipes
  • Buy warm winter coat & boots
  • Remind myself to slow down once per day
  • Complete 2 of the 3: Book Bingo, Read Harder, and Modern Mrs Darcy reading challenges
  • Zipline
  • Do a deep decluttering of my house

This leaves the tough ones to achieve in these final 6 weeks:

  • Memorize 5 quotes  [I’ve got this one well in hand]
  • Buy typewriter key jewelry  [I got distracted and bought an actual typewriter. But I think I can still handle this one]
  • Invite friends for dinner   [This one still scares me! Hosting a dinner party: terrifying]

If anyone has tips for hosting a very small dinner party, please post them in the comments. I need some help.

Nonfiction November: Self-Improvement… Ask the Expert

This week’s Nonfiction November topic is brought to us by my talented friend Julie of JulzReads. (Hey, Julz!)

And here we have it…

Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert
Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

Last year I posted about self-improvement books, and guess what?

This year: more self-improvement!

 

Only this year, I’m asking the experts. (That’s you-all!)

Now that my life is a much happier thing overall, and now that I have some additional margin due to that much shorter commute, I find myself stretching in some new ways.

Here’s the thing: I’ve got the time management and efficiency pieces pretty much under control. I’ve upped my decluttering game.

And this can only mean one thing… we’re getting into serious Brene Brown be-brave territory. And also some facing of the Enneagram dark side issues.

We’re talking: becoming a better human.

So here’s my question to all of you good people:

What book made you a better person?

I’m looking for some books that’ll take me into the tough territory of really looking at the areas that have been neglected in favor of the easier tasks of getting more done in an efficient way. I’m talking: addressing one’s full humanity. It’s gettin’ real around here.

Nonfiction November: Nonfiction / Fiction Pairing

This week’s episode of Nonfiction November is hosted by Sarah of Sarah’s Book Shelves.

 

And this week’s topic is…

Pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.

 

Knowing that I was going to read Beryl Markham’s memoir West with the Night for an upcoming book discussion, I first dove in to Circling the Sun by Paula McLain–an historical novel about Markham’s life.

 

And while both are lyrical in style, with vivid descriptions of Markham’s free-spirited, adventurous life, Circling the Sun delves into the complicated relationships of Markham’s life. If you read only West with the Night, you’d have no idea of the messy love triangle among Markham, Denys Finch Hatton, and Karen Blixen (aka Isak Dinesen). The fictionalized account, based closely on the facts, takes a good, long look at the underbelly.

 

It’s a bit like reading an autobiography and a biography of the same person, and getting the glossy version from the person’s own pen, while the outside account lays it all bare. Only when the outside account is a novel, there’s also some judicious editing that creates a better story arc. And I’m OK with that.

 

I found the reading of West with the Night all the richer for having spent time with the fictionalized Markham in the pages of the novel. And I was struck again by the remarkable ways in which fiction, too, can speak truth.

Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction So Far

It’s Nonfiction November, and that always makes me get all wiggly with excitement.

Plus: the streets around me look like this…

…so what’s not to like about this time of year?

We’re starting the month with a question from Kim of Sophisticated Dorkiness, one of my favorite bloggers. This week, she poses this series of questions…

Your Year in Nonfiction So Far
Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Favorite of the Year

Fifty Acres and a Poodle: A Story of Love, Livestock, and Finding Myself on a Farm by Jeanne Marie Laskas

Every time I think of this book, I smile. It’s one of those. A definite comfort read, and especially lovely when times are good.

 

Topic

Memoirs! Oh my goodness… this year, the memoirs. I’ve been vicariously living lots of other people’s lives this year and it’s been a year of personal expansion in all kinds of ways. And reading about people experiencing terrific and terrible things has expanded my worldview. It’s one of many factors that make me feel like I’m becoming my better self.

Here are some of the life stories that have inspired me…

Most Recommended

Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly

It’s short, it’s clever, it’s succinct, it’s personal. It’s quite perfect. If you like tiny snippets of story, memoir in bite-sized pieces, poetic and perfect writing, and humor… this one’s for you.

 

Hopes for Nonfiction November

More great nonfiction recommendations by other bloggers. I can’t wait. Based on last year’s Nonfiction November, I read and enjoyed Sloane Crosley’s I Was Told There’d Be Cake (recommended at Books Are My Favourite and Best) and Michael Strahan’s Wake Up Happy (recommended by Kristilyn at Reading in Winter). I’m excited to learn about great nonfiction books that made other bloggers’ favorites lists.

Book Club Update: Nonfiction Spree

Book club commuter… my new role! Previously, I lived in the same town as most of our book club members. Now I’m 45 minutes away — a totally worthwhile drive to spend time with friends, discussing books. But still: a change. And most recently, I got to host, so the good people of book club made the long trek south.

In recent months, another interesting shift: it’s been all about the nonfiction. And I love the nonfiction.

Here’s how it’s gone…

 

The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride by Daniel James Brown

Discussibility Score: 4

Because: While we didn’t love the book (and I thought at least two of us would love the book — me because of my adoration of Brown’s The Boys in the Boat and my fondness for true tragedy, and my good friend because of her ghoulish tastes), we had a solid discussion of what we liked and didn’t. And how the writing and the structure of the book led us to those conclusions. I expected to feel a little bit more than I did, but I can’t fault an author for restraint, especially when writing about cannibalism.

 

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder

Discussibility Score: 3

Because: Our book club loves discussing sociological trends, so this book opened up a good line of conversation about what’s going on with the middle class and the former middle class. And also about alternate lifestyles (people living in campers and traveling to seasonal jobs) due to reduced economic circumstances.

 

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser

Discussibility Score: 5

Because: We actually discussed the book for more than an hour. And we were only discussing the first half of the book! (We split it into two meetings, because the thing is 600+ pages long.) We were fascinated by the way Laura’s early years make up so little of this biography. And how itinerant she was as a young adult. We’d just gotten to the part where Laura’s relationship with her daughter was getting kind of weird, to our minds. And now we can’t wait to read the rest. (Thanks to Bybee for the rave review on this one, which strongly influenced our decision to read it.)

 

So… for our next book club: more Laura Ingalls Wilder biography reading, as we finish the book. And for me… a real-life trek across the prairie to book club.

What I’ve Done with 10 Extra Hours Per Week

My life these days reminds me of a ComEd commercial from the ‘90s. It showed an older couple slow-dancing while listening to the radio, and the tag line was, “What do you do with your power?” I tried to track it down, but found this one about monsters instead.

The idea of “What do you do with your power?” is resonating with me these days.

With 10 fewer hours of driving each week, I suddenly have so much margin I hardly know what to do with myself. Except I know exactly what to do with myself. I’ve known for years.

Here’s how I’m spending my newfound power…

 

Cooking

Apple crisp (America’s Test Kitchen)

While I haven’t exactly achieved domestic goddess status, I’ve been actually chopping vegetables, mixing them with other food items, adding spices, and applying heat. People, I’ve been cooking! And except for a couple of notable failures that first week (they were magnificent, if I do say so myself), the results have been pretty darn good.

My go-to cookbooks:

Pretty Simple Cooking by Alex and Sonja Overhiser

Love Real Food by Kathryne Taylor

Also: Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines — for the ricotta pancake recipe, which I’ve already made twice

And occasionally the interwebs, for things like the skillet apple crisp recipe

 

Reading

My reading life is different! I’ve returned to mostly reading printed books. And while I’ll always love audiobooks, I truly adore the comfort of sitting down with a book. And the speed! I read so much faster with my eyes than with my ears. But mostly it’s just a return to my natural state… book in hand.

 

Sleeping more

Waking up to these windows!

I much more consistently meet my sleep target these days, and my Fitbit and I are happy. That later wake-up time is life-changing.

 

Organizing shelves and drawers

Open this…

…and find this! (drawer dividers… I might like them too much)

I dearly adore organizing, so this is one of the pleasures of settling in — especially when I slow down to let myself just enjoy the process.

 

Preparing a house for sale

Selling a house is so much work, I can hardly believe I got it done. But with the help of our crackerjack team, I did, and it sold, and thank goodness.

 

Buying flowers

In my new domestically blissful state, putting flowers in a vase and then letting my eyes be drawn to them every time I’m in the kitchen… this is some good stuff.

 

Hanging out with this guy

The best part: I love the ease of spending unscheduled time with my favorite human. Not only is he the best person I’ve ever met, but he also makes me laugh.

 

So tell me… have you ever gained some extra time in your weekly schedule, and if so… what did you do with it?

Bookish Tourist: The Bookshop in Nashville

The Bookshop – Nashville, Tennessee

3 words: bright, lovely, well-curated

Our recent visit to Nashville had a single mission: attend the wedding of the Dear Man’s dear nephew and his dear fiancée. Mission accomplished! The wedding was one of those really, really good ones — where the couple are so right for one another and it’s truly a blessed occasion.

Rehearsal dinner & amazing BBQ

Plus, at the reception, there were s’mores.

 

When we weren’t spending time with family, we did some history geek tourism and we stopped by a bookstore whose Instagram feed delights me.

The lightness of those white bookshelves! Those light fixtures!

And the bookshop is every bit as pretty in person (though my photo doesn’t do it justice).

We browsed a good while, and I finally selected two books to buy for my home library:

 

 

 

 

So we’ve got some fiction (such a favorite!) and a new nonfiction book about a president, by an author whose writing I adore.

Here they are in our living room, because the Unruly home library is not yet open for business. (The move! The boxes! Thank goodness there’s a public library less than a mile away.)

 

Anyone else doing any bookstore tourism this fall? Any great finds?