Mar/Apr 2019 ~ What non-fiction books are you surveying?

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Mar/Apr 2019 ~ What non-fiction books are you surveying?

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Fev 28, 2019, 6:22 am

It is time to spring into new non-fiction adventures!

Editado: Mar 31, 2019, 3:02 pm

Will be starting this Kindle eBook that Alexa can narrate for me ~

And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading in the Fast Lane
for My Own Dirt Road by Margaret Roach

UPDATE: a fave for the year!

Fev 28, 2019, 9:50 am

Just started Damnation Island about Blackwell island and the jaw dropping cruelty, abuse and inevitable closing of the institutions there. Now called Roosevelt island, it once was the place New York sent its inconvenient women mostly, but some men and anyone else they couldn’t manage like epileptics.

Mar 1, 2019, 11:29 am

Notorious Victoria: The Life of Victoria Woodhull, Uncensored
Mary Gabriel
4/5 stars
This is the interesting story of the life and times of Victoria Woodhull who attempted in 1870 to run for President of the United States. Victoria was a quite a character. Growing up poor but highly intelligent, she went on to do many things that women of that time period were not allowed to do. Married twice, she also worked in many areas-from being a clairvoyant and a prostitute to running a newspaper and a brokerage firm. She was also the first woman to address Congress. Gabriel did a nice job researching Woodhull and her life.

Mar 1, 2019, 3:09 pm

I'm at the halfway point of Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation by BBC correspondents Laura Silber and Allan Little. Given how complicated the whole tragedy was, this book is extremely clear about the chronology and the many separate conflicts. The book was written, in fact, in 1995, so was very close to the events. My wife and I visited Croatia two years ago, and this book has been on my shelf since then. I'm getting a lot of details filled in, of course.

Mar 1, 2019, 4:59 pm

Nearing the end of The Fifth Risk. Michael Lewis is a highly engaging writer. Good material about various federal agency missions and fascinating people who have worked in them.

Mar 2, 2019, 4:53 pm

The Greatest Stories Never Told
Here's a short one; a real fun collection of easy-to-read ditties about some of the more obscure events and personalities in history. The chronological order works well. Heck, I never knew Hedy Lamarr was practically a rocket scientist!

Mar 4, 2019, 3:28 am

Started Max Adams' Aelfred's Britain - I enjoyed his King in the North about Northumbria in the Early Middle Ages. He's a very engaging writer and also a lively speaker.

Mar 4, 2019, 6:31 am

>3 Bookmarque: My Great-Great-Great Grandmother was sent to the Almshouse on Blackwell's Island for three months beginning in May 1860. Her sons were sent to Randall's Island. I've done a lot of research on the institutions on those islands. Terrible places.

Mar 4, 2019, 10:43 am

I finished Born A Crime. Born of a white father and an amazing black mother in Apartheid South Africa. A revealing account of South African history and culture along with sometimes humorous, sometimes appalling account of his life. I wish the book had address how he turned from hustler to comedian, but perhaps that's another book.

Mar 5, 2019, 2:52 pm

I finished Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation by Laura Silber and Allan Little. This history by two BBC correspondents does a very good job of presenting the chronology and events of this massive deadly tragedy. The book deftly separates the many different threads of nationalism and nation building that led to the multi-faceted years-long conflict with horrifying atrocities that gave the world the term "ethnic cleansing." My more in-depth review can be read on the book's work page or on my 50-Book Challenge thread.

Mar 7, 2019, 2:10 pm

I finished Unique Eats and Eateries of Philadelphia. The book comments on over 200 eateries (some bars, groceries and miscellaneous), The focus of each short entry is on the history and people, with only a nod to the food. It's missing some I think should be there and including a few don't, but overall the author does a good job. Probably every person living in Philadelphia would have a few squabbles and they'd all be different.

Mar 8, 2019, 4:59 pm

Editado: Mar 31, 2019, 3:02 pm


Apparently The Mueller Report is being published by the Washington Post later this month. This morning I found it listed in my library system's OverDrive app and I clicked on RECOMMEND to reserve a copy of the eBook when they purchase copies of it. Amazon and B&N also have it listed.

UPDATE: there appears to be at least a one-month delay

Mar 10, 2019, 11:30 am

>15 Molly3028: Thank you for the heads-up. I just recommended it to my library, and I hope they buy it. If they do, I'll be on the wait list for it

Mar 11, 2019, 7:28 pm

Just finished The Urban Birder, an autobiography of David Lindo. Not much of a writer, but he's inspired me to seek some more books on UK birding. If just interested in the subject of "twitching" there are better books out there like The Big Year or something by the likes of Pete Dunne or others.

Mar 12, 2019, 7:39 am

I jut finished Knocking on Heaven's Door. Yes, perhaps I am bit behind in reading "popular" science books! It was a good complement to what I already knew about particular physics and cosmology, filling in the details on many of the concepts of which I have heard, such as supersymmetry.

Mar 12, 2019, 9:12 am

I'm reading Blackkklansman by Ron Stallworth. It's not very long and not especially well written, but I wanted to read it anyway before I see the Spike Lee movie. I lived in Colorado Springs at the time of this story, and had no idea the KKK was so entrenched there. Pretty interesting and disturbing stuff.

Editado: Mar 12, 2019, 8:03 pm

Currently reading The Unwinding of the Miracle, a memoir by Julie Yip-Williams about living and dying from colorectal cancer.

Mar 14, 2019, 12:31 pm

I’m nearing the end of my travels in France, Columbia, Nicaragua, Panama, and the U.S.A., trying to find and follow The Path Between the Seas.

Mar 14, 2019, 10:47 pm

Currently reading Fire and Fury which apparently covers similar ground as Woodward's Fear.

Mar 17, 2019, 7:53 am

Back in college I read a history of cities that introduced the idea of the city as an important entity in human culture. I've remembered it all these years and decided to reread it. I found it in the "Forgotten Books" press. Babylon is Everywhere: The City as Man's Fate was written in 1960 and so is somewhat dated. It gives a thorough look at man's created artificial environment across history and cultures. It included more history of conquests, wars, and the such than I remembered. It was intriguing to see how many of the predictions made had played out in the intervening 70 years.

Mar 17, 2019, 6:19 pm

I'm reading Parkland by Dave Cullen, the author of Columbine. This talks about what happened at Parkland but rather than trying to delve into the mind of the killer, it concentrates on how the kids started their own movement to stop gun violence. I like that Cullen never mentions the killer's name. We need to remember the victims, not the perpetrators.

Mar 17, 2019, 9:39 pm

I'm reading The Unwinding of the Miracles: A Memoir of Life, Death and Everything that Comes After by Julie Yip-Williams. It is a very fast read -- it reads like the series of essays from her blog combined with some other unpublished material from her life.

Editado: Mar 19, 2019, 11:58 am

>24 TooBusyReading:

Cullen's Columbine was really eye-opening. I might have to read Parkland at some point.

My current reading is Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci-Fi Exploded, a study of genre in 70s mass culture by Jason Heller. I was tipped off to it by the article Hijack the Starship, Major Tom.

Editado: Mar 20, 2019, 7:40 pm

>25 eo206: I finished The Unwinding of the Miracle a few days ago. What do you think of it? Yes, I read that that the book was fashioned out of her blog that she kept through her illness.

Mar 20, 2019, 6:30 pm

I've just started Gilbert and Sullivan: A Dual Biography by Michael Ainger. Very enjoyable so far. G&S have been favorites of mine since my mother turned me on to The Mikado when I was about eight.

Mar 21, 2019, 11:34 am

I finished a LTER book, Behind Putin's Curtain. I found it a fascinating look at Russia, the ordinary people and their attitudes. Particularly interesting was the breadth of his travel revealing a wide range of micro cultures and numerous large cities I had no idea existed. Other reviewer had reservations which I can't say I quite understand. I could never travel as he did, but I'm thankful that he did and wrote about what he saw and discovered.

Mar 24, 2019, 5:34 pm

Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos
Lucy Knisley
3.5/5 stars
Knisley, a graphic novelist and author, relates her pregnancy trials in a no holds barred look through pictures and words. Well done!
Book Published in 2019

Mar 25, 2019, 11:56 am

In an unusually vigorous month of reading for me, I've just wrapped up Learning to Die in the Anthropocene (review posted) and started in on American Cosmic.

Mar 25, 2019, 1:05 pm

Listening to Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter and am alternately hopeful and despairing. How much we have utterly ruined in our greed and ignorance, and how much we have learned and how some people are so dedicated to righting wrongs.

Mar 25, 2019, 1:14 pm

>32 Bookmarque: That sounds fascinating. Can I trade book bullets with you? A related title I read last year is Saving Tarboo Creek.

My review:

It’s about the restoration of wetlands, including the process of re-meandering a salmon spawn creek. Isn’t that a lovely concept? Beavers moving in complicated the process of re-forestation, but they were accommodated and of course made the ecology that much richer.

Mar 25, 2019, 1:38 pm

Interesting and you may get me with that one.

right now in the book the writer is talking about the totally misguided concept that nature needs us to manage it. That without us, the salmon wouldn't be able to survive with beavers around. How ever did they do it for thousands of years before we stuck our noses in? I wonder!! Groups in Canada, the US and Europe active block beaver relocation/restoration projects because they think that they destroy ideal salmon spawning habitat. Absolute crap.

I'm especially disappointed in Wisconsin - a state very smart about some wildlife and nature projects and so stupid about beavers. Some of the things that farmers have to do to irrigate could be reduced or entirely eliminated if there were more beaver ponds which actively replenish aquifers.

Mar 25, 2019, 2:36 pm

Isn't the beaver Wisconsin's state mammal?

My daughter has a beaver family in her rear garden in Kentucky. Flooding washes their work out every year, but they persist.

Mar 25, 2019, 2:53 pm

Nope, we're the Badger state...and I've never seen one.

Mar 25, 2019, 3:06 pm

Oh, right!

Editado: Abr 3, 2019, 4:57 pm

Enjoying this OverDrive kids audiobook selection ~

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
(about 1 hour and 45 minutes/40 women/YA lit)

UPDATE: a fave for the year/an inspiration to girls and women everywhere!

Mar 29, 2019, 9:07 pm

Finished Fire and Fury. Entertaining, like watching a train wreck into an orphanage...

Mar 30, 2019, 12:06 am

I've finished and reviewed American Cosmic, on "UFOs, Religion, Technology," and I've started the counter-culture biography The Wizard and the Witch.

Mar 31, 2019, 1:47 pm

I finished The Well-Tempered City. Viewing cities as complex organisms, the book presents solutions and problems of cities throughout time. It includes numerous suggestions as to how cities can become healthy and resilient.

Abr 1, 2019, 2:17 pm

I finished Gilbert and Sullivan: A Dual Biography by Michael Ainger. While there is too much detail offered about individual quarrels over business and procedure, due to the author's over-reliance on the troves of correspondence he had access to, and not enough information for me about the inner lives of these two famous artists, all in all this was an interesting dual biography of one of the great music/libretto writing teams of the English stage.

Abr 1, 2019, 2:22 pm

Buzz : the nature and necessity of bees by Thor Hanson - a book that focuses more on wild bees than non-US-native honeybees. I'd already been considering setting up a habitat for masons, miners, leaf-cutters, sweat and other non-colony bees, but now I'm going to do it for sure.

Abr 4, 2019, 3:01 am

I'm very much enjoying the history of Riot Grrrl and wallowing in early 90s music and feminism reading Girls to the Front.

Abr 5, 2019, 12:40 pm

I finished Quiet. As an introvert much seemed rather obvious but interesting nonetheless. i was surprised to hear how much things have tilted to reward the extrovert in recent years; schooling and working in teams. In a nation enamored with image, I shouldn't be surprised.

Abr 5, 2019, 1:42 pm

Japanese cinema has held my attention for some while, and I've done reading to enhance my understanding of it, even though I know I'll never really get it. Currently I'm reading Something Like an Autobiography by Akira Kurosawa, of The Seven Samurai and Rashomon fame.

Abr 5, 2019, 3:33 pm

I finished Guerilla Days in Ireland: a First-Hand Account of the Black and Tan War (1919-1921) by Tom Barry. Commandant General Tom Barry was the commander of the West Cork Flying Column of the I.R.A. during the days of the Irish guerilla war aimed at expelling the British from Ireland. Guerilla Days in Ireland is Barry's memoir of that campaign and his role in it, written and published 25 years after the events described. Barry chronicles in detail the ways that the decidedly outgunned (even when they had enough guns to go around, they rarely had enough bullets) and outmanned IRA forces carried on an effective enough campaign to eventually force the British government to offer truce terms in 1921.

Abr 7, 2019, 3:40 pm

Abr 10, 2019, 11:15 am

The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film
W.K. Stratton
3.5/5 stars
Stratton writes about the making of the film The Wild Bunch, the time period surrounding and influencing the making of the film and of course the director Sam Peckinpah and his new darker version of the western genre. This is definitely for film buffs and people who have seen the film. I enjoyed it.

Abr 11, 2019, 1:20 pm

I finished Shamrocks & Salsa, the self-published memoir of my friend, Jerry Cox. By the time I met Jerry Cox, he was in his mid-80s. He died in February 2018 at the age of 93, so I got to be friends with him for that length of time. Jerry was one of the most admirable people I ever met. The son of Irish immigrants who retained a love for that history and culture, Jerry became a Catholic priest. As a priest, first in Oakland and then in Sonoma County, California, Jerry developed a passion for working with the disadvantaged, particularly among the Mexican community. In addition to supporting and starting many social programs designed to assist in this cause, Jerry became involved in the politics of that world, as well. He was an early supporter of Cesar Chavez, for example, and took part in many protests and marches in support of the United Farm Workers. Then, after close to 25 years as a priest, Jerry fell in love with Kathy Snyder, a nun 20 years his junior with whom he'd been working. In relatively short order, the two left the Church and married. They had two daughters (now grown) and continued to work as educators, counselors and organizers. In time, they moved to Anderson Valley, an area of Mendocino County, CA, where my wife and I now live, and where we met Jerry and Kathy. Kathy was teaching and Jerry working as a part-time counselor at the local high school, where my wife was the full-time counselor. Eventually, Jerry and Kathy moved in right up the road from us. Now that Jerry has passed away, naturally, I wish I had spent more time talking with him. My wife and I can both say that Kathy Cox is one of our best friends.

Shamrocks & Salsa is Jerry's self-published memoir, which he worked on intensely with his friend and editor, Mary O'Brien, over the final years of his life. It chronicles the many roads of Jerry's life, the many people he worked with and tasks he undertook. It is good to be able to hear his voice while reading his words, as skillfully edited by Mary, over the past week. There are times one wishes for a bit more depth, and where the memoir seems to become basically of a list of projects and jobs and the people who took part, each only two or three paragraphs long. But Jerry and Mary were racing the clock, as it were, as Jerry was already in his 90s when this work was being done. Overall, even those details help create a tapestry of impressions, painting a vivid picture of a singular man making a breadth and depth of solid and truly moving contributions to the world, all while maintaining a true humility and a devilish sense of humor. Viva Jerry!

Abr 12, 2019, 10:01 pm

Just started The Medici. A violent start, indeed.

Abr 13, 2019, 8:46 am

not surprising, Sandydog1! They are a fascinating family. Let us know what you think of the book.

Abr 13, 2019, 9:41 am

Just started The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian People. Interesting and well-written, but I've been to all the Nordic countries and often come home feeling depressed and can't help but think the author couldn't get past living in such a cold climate. Because those Scandinavians and Nordic people really did hit the jackpot of life.

Abr 14, 2019, 5:46 am

After enjoying Max Adams' Aelfred's Britain I'm now reading Viking Age Yorkshire, one of the books from the bibliography. It's very detailed and absolutely engrossing, piecing together a picture of the area from near-contemporary accounts, archaeology, and place-names.

Abr 17, 2019, 10:05 pm

>53 LynnB: So far so good. LT reviewers said it drags a bit. But how can a bunch of raucous, knife-wielding Italians in tights, be boring?

Abr 18, 2019, 8:46 am

I'm reading The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery.

Sandydog1: Who knew octopuses are as interesting a Italians in tights?

Abr 18, 2019, 9:50 pm

LOL! I've heard that cephalopod book is fascinating!

Abr 18, 2019, 9:59 pm

It is wonderful, but it's a very personal n-f book, not exactly high / dry science. It's about her interactions with octopuses and her love for them. I was so jealous of her when I read it.

Abr 19, 2019, 4:56 am

>58 LynnB:, >59 Sandydog1:, >60 Bookmarque: - if you want something with a bit more science to it try Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith - more about trying to understand "alien" minds.

Abr 19, 2019, 3:53 pm

I'm starting Republic of Lies by Anna Merlan, and I know already it's going to be bad for my blood pressure.

I didn't like The Soul of an Octopus although I know I'm in the minority. The author seemed to lack empathy. She found octopuses to be intelligent and inquisitive creatures, but didn't seem to care that they lived in barrels with nothing else but water, nor that claws were ripped off a live crab to feed to an ailing octopus. Too many incidences of such actions and lack of reactions. It was painful for me to read.

Abr 21, 2019, 11:00 am

I finished King Leopold's Ghost, an excellent, well-researched, even handed history of the Belgian Congo under King Leopold. I appreciated his attempt to present the black voice, the various characters as persons, and to place events in perspective.

Abr 21, 2019, 5:39 pm

I just finished The View from Great Gull. Short, idyllic and reeking of good ol' seventies conservationism. Why this out-of-print, obscure book? I may soon have the opportunity to visit that pile of glacial rubble out in Long Island Sound.

Abr 22, 2019, 3:30 am

Reading Invisible Agents, which I bought in great excitement after reading the book reviews when it was published - and then left sitting on a shelf.

Editado: Abr 23, 2019, 10:12 am

I read Other Minds, SChant, but it was mixed for me. Good ideas and science in it, bad writing.

Oh and I just took delivery of Bees : An identification and native plant forage guide and am thinking about ways to encourage my local bees to stay longer. It will be a combination of nesting sites (mostly wood and logs with holes drilled in them) and native plants. My traditional perennial gardening has been hit and miss so maybe using more native plants will score me more hits.

Abr 23, 2019, 11:42 am

A Natural History of the Senses. The first time I tried reading this one I didn’t get even half way through before quitting. Just didn’t seem to get on with it very well. So it sat on the shelf, rebuking me for the investment made buying it, until a quarter century later when I gave it another go. This time it clicked. I like how that is, the ways some books seem to change as we ourselves do.

Abr 24, 2019, 5:45 am

In Calgary we have mini-used book islands set up throughout the city. They maybe hold 20-30 books in a small weather tight wooden box on a pole and are serviced by the locals on a take-a-book/give-a-book basis. I have found great discoveries when I have looked in them and this book is one of them.

I found what I thought was a manual by the look of it at first titled Command and Control by Eric Schlosser. This book was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and I can see why. It details the USA close calls, accidents and the behind the scenes view regarding the safety of its nuclear missiles. This is not a dull, academic read.... far from it as the book reads like a fiction novel. Very nice writing style and quite detailed. I have just started it today and knocked off 50 pages in a couple of hours.

Not exactly a book to "like"... talk about scary but the 600 odd pages will be eagerly devoured.

Abr 25, 2019, 7:33 am

I finished the LTER book, With Walt Whitman, Himself. It was primarily a picture book with commentary and excerpts from Whitman's poetry and prose. As such it provides a good sense of the man and his times but does not allow for the greater depth a biography.

Abr 25, 2019, 7:58 am

I wanted to re-visit Thomas Cahill on audio. The only one available today for me was Heretics and Heroes. Cahill reads it himself, so I'm trying to treat it as a college lecture. He's an excellent writer, only a middling narrator.

Abr 26, 2019, 11:32 am

Al Capone and the 1933 Worlds Fair
William Hazelgrove
4/5 stars
This book is about the end of Capone’s career as a gangster and the building of the 1933 World’s Fair that took place in Chicago during the depression. Not a long book but a fascinating look at the time period, though in this book Capone and the World’s Fair weren’t really linked together but were events occurring at the same time. This reminded me of Erik Larson’s fascinating book The Devil in the White City which was about a serial killer who lured and killed visitors from the 1893 Exposition in Chicago.

Abr 30, 2019, 5:15 am

Started Natives : race and class in the ruins of empire by rapper and poet Akala. It's a powerful study of race and class in the UK, with whistle-stop tours of the rest of the world, using personal memoir to lead into analysis of empirical data and political processes. It sounds dry, but is told with humour, anger, and perspicacity.

Abr 30, 2019, 7:07 am

I abandoned Cahill and went on to the very good The End of Loyalty, an historical perspective of labor/management relations since WW2 in the US.

Maio 1, 2019, 11:10 pm

I am 1/2 way through Command and Control..... shaking my head...developing a very low opinion of the USA military and their disregard for civilian life and shaking my head about missile silos being manned by boys under 22 years old for the most part.

If I read a similar book on the Canadian military I would probably have a similar opinion of them.... It seems to be the nature of the beast.... they live for war and don't care who gets in their way....including their own citizens.... Acceptable civilian losses....ppppffffttthhh!!!!

Maio 11, 2019, 2:48 pm

Well I finally finished Command and Control... it was a real eye opener on the development of the nuclear bomb and really how crude some of the first weapons were. also it was interesting to learn how many B-52 bombers loaded with one or two nukes crashed and burned in the 1960's and beyond. It is amazing that the USA did not annihilate their own country. It was how empty some of the bravado of the day was only a balloon that could be easily popped if one knew how.

The final 100 pages or so were boring as it simply documented each B-52 bomber crash naming who died and who didn't and then there was the resolution of the Damascus incident.

If you are really into this subject, there are almost 200 pages of bibliological references to support everything that Schlosser says.

Not a fun read but certainly food for a conversation with certain individuals.