Nonfiction Shelfies: Aviation, Presidents, Adventure

The home library tour rages on!

Last week we toured my fiction shelves.

Today’s bookshelf tour brings us to the right side of the Glamour Wall…


…which houses Nonfiction!

Actually, it houses a few specific categories of nonfiction, because my nonfiction collection is by far the largest component of my home library — and that means it’s spread throughout the house.  [small shiver of joy]

The living room holds some of my perennial favorite categories of nonfiction: aviation, presidential history, and true adventure.

 

On the top shelf: Aviation (because it seemed suitable to place it nearest the sky)

 

Aviation Favorites

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

Carrying the Fire by Michael Collins

Rocket Men by Robert Kurson

The only thing missing is my pilot logbook (that’s in next week’s installment).

 

Then we segue into Presidential History. (Here I fudge a little and include general political history, too.) This area is heavy on biography and autobiography.

 

Presidential History Favorites

No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin

The Death of a President by William Manchester

All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

 

 

And that brings us to True Adventure. I actually placed these books in the living room simply because I want them near to me. I just like looking at them and knowing such books exist in the world. And while I don’t think I ever conceptualized this section as True Adventure in so many words, the term more or less fits.

 

True Adventure Favorites

Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

 

All of the favorites I’ve listed are books I’d be completely delighted to re-read. (Some of them I’ve already re-read more than twice.) In this world, which never spares enough reading time, it’s significant to feel compelled to do the re-read. And this area of the shelves is full of them.

 

My fellow readers… What books do you feel most compelled to re-read?

Fiction Shelfies

So how about we tour my bookshelves? Yes, let’s.

This is Part 1 of a series of posts about all my bookshelves… every last one of them. Here we go…

Today we’re talking fiction, and I’m taking shelfies.

We’re starting with the first bookshelf a person sees upon entering my house, and weirdly enough (given my nonfiction-y ways), that’s fiction.

Here’s the wide view…


…and the fiction is on the left. (We’ll hit the right side next time. Stay tuned.)

So… fiction. Recently I weeded my collection, and I merged the mysteries into the general fiction. Still not too sure how I feel about that, but that’s how it currently sits.

So after the Big Fiction Weeding of 2018, the only books that remain are the ones I truly love (along with a few I haven’t read yet). It’s normal for me to stand in front of this shelf and coo.

Here we’ve got the top two shelves…


And the bottom two shelves…

Since it’s fiction, of course the books are arranged alphabetically by author’s last name. Because: librarian.

So while I love all of these books, I’m gonna highlight some of my most favorite favorites, just because I want to.

 

The thing that always strikes me about fiction is the way it makes my mind and my heart expand. And so often, I learn as much from fiction as I do from the most practical nuts-and-bolts nonfiction book out there. It makes me nearly get verklempt to think about it.

And of course science has proven it now, so we don’t have to feel all touchy-feely when talking about the power of fiction. There’s science to back it up.

So let’s pause and pay tribute to the beautiful fiction shelves this week.

(There. Didn’t that feel good?)

 

Next week, we’ll be looking at some of the nonfiction that fills the Unruly home… because reader cannot live by fiction alone.

 

In the meantime, please tell us…

When you look at your fiction shelves, which books make you happiest to see there?

Book Club Update: Summertime and the living is gory

It’s book club in the summertime, and in the past sometimes that’s meant short stories or children’s books or novellas. This year it means nonfiction about unpleasant topics. Plus a small dose of time travel.

 

Kidnapped: The Tragic Life of J. Paul Getty III by Charles Fox

Discussibility Score: 3

Because: While none of us liked this book, and all of us were frustrated by its style and structure and the intrusion of the author all over the place, we had a reasonably spirited discussion of how much it irritated us.

 

The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier

Discussibility Score: 4

Because: Yowser, the discussion! The key point: Was this book a time travel story or a cautionary tale about the psychedelic drug scene of the 1960s? This part of the conversation was extremely lively and thought-provoking. While we adored Rebecca, this book didn’t do it for us. (I flat-out despised it.) But the discussion made the reading displeasure worthwhile.

This weekend we meet to discuss The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride by Daniel James Brown. And man, do I have thoughts about this one… Stay tuned.

 

In the meantime, for more book club goodness, check out the Unruly Book Club Central for a list of our most discussible books ever.

 

And please tell me… What books have you read lately that you’re aching to discuss with someone?

The Woman’s Hour: I vote yes

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

3 words: stirring, detailed, political

Anyone else look at the pictures in nonfiction books before starting to read? (I always, always do.)

I knew I’d love this book when I got completely verklempt looking at the photos while standing in line at the Apple Store. The heroism and the teamwork and the long, long wait for success… it got to me. And this was before I’d read a word of the book. And then the feeling got stronger.

Looking at the final battle in the fight to win the vote for women, it’s astonishing to consider how long these women had been doing this work. I mean, they were already in the second generation!

The opening to this book is downright riveting: women from across the country are boarding trains to converge on Nashville, and they know they’re heading into a serious political battle. It made me goose-bumpy.

When we were in Nashville last year, we saw some of the important suffrage sites: the state capitol and the hotel where the key players stayed and lobbied. It’s pretty amazing to be in the room where it happened.

 

This is one of the rooms!

 

And we visited the recent statue to honor the strong women who helped give half of us Americans the right to vote. (I dearly love to vote.)

 

 

What surprised me about the story: learning just how difficult it was for women to win the right to vote, and learning how racism was a key factor in granting women the right to vote. There was a contingent that opposed enfranchising women because it would meant women of all races could vote. It’s appalling. And it makes it all the more significant that women were granted suffrage, because it was a win in more than one way.

If you enjoy reading about political movements and learning the behind-the-scenes maneuvers, this book is for you. And especially if you like books where the good gals win… pick this one up.

 

Give this book a whirl if you like…women’s history, the complexity of social movements, strong women, history writing that puts you in the moment, heroic women

 

What book got you all stirred up about politics?

Essays on the reading life

The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

3 words: literary, conversational, amiable

 

I didn’t think I was in the mood for bookish essays, but the good Citizen Reader announced an Essay Project, beginning with Nick Hornby, and I can’t resist a reading-related Project.

Then I got a few pages in and started praising Hornby and Citizen for the delightful reading experience. Turns out I was in the mood for bookish essays (at least Hornby-style bookish essays) after all.

It’s weird: I wasn’t particularly interested in the books Hornby writes about, but his comments on the reading life were quite perfect.

I kept marking lines that made me smile, and before I returned the book to the library, I captured my three favorites. Here they are:

  • “A couple of months ago, I became depressed by the realization that I’d forgotten pretty much everything I’ve ever read. I have, however, bounced back: I am now cheered by the realization that if I’ve forgotten everything I’ve ever read then I can read some of my favorite books again as if for the first time.” (p. 43)

 

  • “Books are, let’s face it, better than everything else.” (p. 58)

 

  • “Being a reader is sort of like being president, except reading involves involves fewer state dinners, usually. You have this agenda you want to get through, but you get distracted by life events, e.g., books arriving in the mail/World War III, and you are temporarily deflected from your chosen path.” (p. 63)

(that last one!!!!)

 

My fellow readers, he’s one of us. (Except he also writes the kinds of novels that lots of people love, but never mind that)  He’s our readerly kin.

Thanks, Citizen, for the reading suggestion. This stuff’s worth quoting.

 

Give this book a whirl if you like… literary essays, a self-deprecating tone, reading about books and the reading life, a touch of humor

 

Anyone else a fan of Hornby?

Currently: summer’s heating up

It’s mid-summer, and things are busy in the very best way.

Reading (books) | It’s summer, and of course that means reading about cannibalism. My book club’s chosen The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride by Daniel James Brown as our next book, so it’s getting fascinating and darn grim. Not perfect for before-bedtime reading.

Listening | The excellent Bybee of Blue-Hearted Bookworm sent me the audiobook of Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard, and I’m completely engrossed.

Watching | I’m re-watching 30 Rock, which I first watched what feels like a lifetime ago.

Learning | After beginning to read Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam, I watched her TED Talk about time management, and it opened up my brain in a new way.

Loving | I’ve been deep-purging my house, and it feels amazing to see space opening up. The question is: Can I sustain the openness, or will I fall back into gathering mode? Stay tuned…

Indulging | Oh, my land. During a recent trip to Toledo, we ate Hungarian style hot dogs. Life-changing.

 

They even cater to vegetarians!

 

Celebrating | After some recent dietary restrictions, I’m easing back into normal food. And in our world, that means pizza.

The Dear Man and Pizza #112

 

Anticipating | We’re planning our next long weekend, and it’s gonna be super geeky and amazing cuz that’s our superpower.

 

What’s your summer looking like?

Royal weddings — what’s not to like?

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

3 words: sparkling, sprightly, romantic

 

The only thing that’s shocking about my liking this book is that it took me so long to read it. It’s only in the aftermath of the most recent royal wedding that I picked it up, so late to the party.

Which brings us to the following short story…

Why It Shouldn’t Have Taken Me So Long, or, My Lifelong Royal Wedding Watching Credentials

 

Royal Wedding #1

Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer

I was in elementary school, and thankfully, Charles and Diana were married in the summer, so my mom had no qualms about honoring my request to be awakened in the wee pre-dawn hours to watch the wedding on the telly. I believe I took notes (cuz that’s precisely how geeky). Then I proceeded to coax my mother into purchasing large coffee table books containing gorgeous photos of the blessed event.

Then we learned what a skunk of a husband Charles was, and so much for all that.

 

Royal Wedding #2

Prince William and Catherine Middleton

Ahhhhh… the defining moment for me was watching Kate walk down the aisle, and seeing the view from above. There were trees in the sanctuary!* It was so lovely I cried.

This marriage I have a good feeling about. I know much was made of “Wait-y Katie,” but I find it wise that they knew each other well before marrying.

This is the relationship that was the inspiration for The Royal We, although the American commoner element in the novel was eerily prescient of the arrival of Meghan Markle on the scene.

 

Royal Wedding #3

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

All I can say is: thank goodness for YouTube. Because when this wedding took place, we were on vacation in a television-free, Internet-free log cabin in the woods. The place had been reserved well in advance of a wedding date announcement, so I forewent viewing in real time. Because we live in a splendidly modern era, I watched the thing the following week, and, as a bonus, got to skip the dull preachy parts and boys’ choir. (I know: wrong. This is wrong.)

They’re a beautiful couple who had a gorgeous wedding, but I gotta say: makes me a little nervous that they knew each other less than 2 years before the wedding. Who knows? It might work. (I wish them well, but I have my doubts about this one.)

 

So if you mash up William/Kate and Harry/Meghan into a single storyline, you basically have The Royal We. A young American college student attends university in England and meets the Prince of Wales. They chum around, and then they fall in love. And the American commoner marries the prince, but only after the usual boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl business plays out.

 

It’s sparkly, it’s light, it’s stylish, it’s fun, but it’s not silly. You can read this novel and have just a hint of the guilt but all of the pleasure.

 

Give this book a whirl if you like… royal weddings, rom-coms, unlikely love stories, the success of the girl next door

 

Anyone else a fanatical watcher of royals committing matrimony?

 

*there’s not a public domain photo available, but if you Google Prince William wedding trees, you can see it

18 for 2018 update

Mid-year approaches, and it’s time for a check-in on the 18 for 2018.

Since the last update, I’ve knocked off a few more items.

Here’s photographic evidence of the latest conquests…

 

Go on northern vacation with the Dear Man and Older Sister

The Dear Man, his sister and her husband, and I trekked to Minnesota and Canada to visit my dad. And it was a spectacular trip. Here’s some scenery and a photo at Betty’s Pies…

 

Begin meditating

Just this morning, I was listening to episode 49 of the Typology podcast, in which Julianne Cusick (a fellow Enneagram One) spoke about how horribly difficult it is for Ones to be still.

Truth, sister!

I’ve been meandering my way through the delightful book Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, resisting every step of the way.

Despite being certain that I’d have a mediation habit firmly established by now, I will report that I’ve meditated exactly twice. For one minute each time.

And I intend to try it again at least weekly for the rest of the year. I’m saying this counts.

 

Visit 3 history geek places

The Dear Man and I recently hit about 6 historically geeky sites in one day. I really should’ve raised the bar on this one. During our recent canoe trip in Ohio, we saw the airplane that served as Air Force 1 for JFK and LBJ — the one that carried Kennedy’s body home from Texas, Simon Kenton’s grave, the site of four forts, Wright Brothers historic sites, and the birthplace of Tecumseh. Not to mention Erma Bombeck’s grave (literary! I loved dipping into her books from my mom’s bookshelf when I was growing up.)

Verklempt!

 

Remind myself to slow down once per day

I set up a Google Calendar alert that pops up on my phone and buzzes on my Fitbit, and invariably it happens at a moment when I’m whirling around like a pint-sized tornado. Then I take a deep breath. A really deep breath. And I actually slow down. For just a moment.

 

And I’ve made a mid-year substitution to the list, after hearing on the Happier podcast that this is permissible. (Dear heaven. I needed permission from a podcast to change one of my goals. Such a One.)

Off the list: Paddle board a second time.

While I really liked paddle boarding in Costa Rica, I seriously don’t feel like trying to wedge it into this summer’s activities. It was stressing me out. So off it goes.

New on the list: Do a deep decluttering of my house

Just when I thought I’d KonMari’d to my full potential, I realized I’d barely scratched the surface. During my most recent Goodwill delivery, the trunk and back seat of my car were packed to the gills. And it feels so good I can hardly believe it. My new sport is entering a room of my house, looking around, spotting the next thing to go, and tossing it into the Goodwill pile. Not to brag, but I’m pretty sure I’ve reached Olympic qualifying status.

 

And there are several projects in progress… calling old friends, following flower-arranging hashtags on Instagram, and roasting vegetables. And my reading challenge progress is respectable.

So… based on what remains on the list, the second half of the year is going to be domestic in the extreme. Here goes…

Here’s the full list… Items in italics are Done!

  • 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
  • Bake 2 family recipes
  • Replace long wool coat
  • 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

 

So, my fellow list makers… What’s on your list of goals for the year?

Educated in pain

 

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

3 words: unsentimental, graphic, dramatic

 

I’m a queasy reader. Anytime there’s cruelty in a book (I struggled with the first parts of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Jane Eyre), I tend to bail out.

And Tara Westover’s memoir almost had that effect on me. I was appalled by the abuse she suffered at the hands of her family. And I mean, appalled.

Her father repeatedly put her in terribly dangerous situations, her brother flat-out abused her physically and emotionally, and her mother stood by and let it happen.

The thing that kept me reading was the knowledge that she’d make it out. Otherwise, I would’ve stepped away. It was just that painful.

Her family claimed to be hardcore Mormons, but there was no godly love happening here.

And while Westover, having escaped via education and strengthened via therapy, appears to have forgiven them, I’m still ticked on her behalf.

But she truly used her talents and worked ridiculously hard to succeed academically. After never having attended school, she started university coursework and eventually earned a doctorate from Cambridge. Darn impressive.

So this book was an emotional roller coaster. Westover takes us with her through her journey, and it’s not an easy one.

I suffered while reading it, but I’m glad I did (even though it’s haunted my dreams).

 

Give this book a whirl if you like… memoirs of unconventional and violent childhoods, stories of overcoming the odds, memoirs of breaking free from an abusive family, stories of  the importance of education

Great audiobooks

June is Audiobooks Month, and today we’re gonna celebrate by taking a look at some standouts. I’ve narrowed down the best audiobooks I’ve listened to in the past 12 months.

I’m a fussy listener (I bail on audiobooks that don’t work for me), so this list is Only The Best Stuff.

Let’s start with great audiobooks expertly narrated by their authors…

We’ve got 3 celebrity memoirs

And one celebrity-penned short story collection

 

And in the realm of audiobooks read by professional narrators…

Some amazing nonfiction

  • Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
  • Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

 

Some magnificent fiction

 

And here’s a look back at last year’s and the previous year’s celebrations of Audiobook Month.

 

My fellow listening readers… What’s the best audiobook you’ve listened to this year?