Sept/Oct 2019 ~ Which non-fiction books are you harvesting?

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Sept/Oct 2019 ~ Which non-fiction books are you harvesting?

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Editado: Ago 31, 2019, 8:36 am

~our selections from the crop of non-fiction books~

ALSO: the Audiobooks group would welcome your input!

Editado: Set 26, 2019, 2:00 pm

Enjoying this OverDrive/Kindle eBook Alexa can narrate for me ~

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak (4+ stars)

Set 3, 2019, 3:31 pm

I finished No Simple Highway: A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead by Peter Richardson. This book was published in 2014, and Richardson attempted to differentiate his book from the (at a wild guess) dozens of previously published band biographies and musical histories of the Grateful Dead by, as the title suggests, writing a book about the ways in which the band shaped, and was shaped by, the important cultural events of their era(s). All in all, I'd say that Richardson succeeded in this goal quite nicely.

Richardson does a nice job of providing an overview of the background to and creation of the original Counter Culture/Hippie movement as it developed in San Francisco. It is fair to say that that movement and the Dead were organically joined, and that probably neither would have developed as they did without the other. As Richardson portrays it, the Dead's style of performance, in which they aimed to tear down the walls between musician and audience and to create music that would lend itself to ecstatic dancing in particular, placed them squarely at the center of the growing scene.

Set 3, 2019, 5:53 pm

I'm reading Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Set 5, 2019, 7:11 am

I finished The Yellow House. It is a memoir but also the story of a family, a house, New Orleans, and Katrina and its aftermath.

Set 5, 2019, 8:32 am

I'm reading Slide Rule by Nevil Shute

Set 8, 2019, 7:53 pm

Finishing Never look a Polar Bear in the Eye. Hilarious, snarky and fascinating.

Set 8, 2019, 9:16 pm

I just started in on a read of the third edition of The Mass Psychology of Fascism.

Set 8, 2019, 10:08 pm

Just finished The Battle of Lepanto. It is full of confusing contemporary etchings and lacks maps, modern illustrations and graphics. The description of the actual 1571 battle was exceedingly brief.

Set 14, 2019, 1:58 pm

Alice in Quantumland: An Allegory of Quantum Physics
Robert Gilmore
2.5/5 stars
This is an allegorical book that is supposed to help teach you the different aspects of quantum mechanics by following Alice around as she encounters the different theories. This got very high marks but this is not for everyone. I had taken physics many decades ago but had lost that knowledge since it was never my major field of study. I think someone studying beginning quantum physics now would benefit from reading this cleverly written and illustrated book.

Set 15, 2019, 7:54 am

I finished The Land that Never Was which was an account of a Scottish man who lived a life of fraud and deception with impressive audacity. He sold land and promoted settlement of a land that did not exist gaining converts on the basis of fake military prowess and an elaborate set of brochures and documents.

Set 18, 2019, 11:43 am

>13 LynnB: I like A.J. Jacobs.

Set 19, 2019, 3:49 pm

Unlocking the Cage Film
Fascinating true story of the animal rights lawyer-Steven Wise who with the help of others got the courts to acknowledge that “cognitively complex” animals have limited legal rights. While the film centers on chimpanzees, the law also envelopes whales, dolphins and elephants.

Set 21, 2019, 3:27 am

Just started Bad Girls by Caitlin Davies, a history of Holloway prison.

Set 23, 2019, 11:16 am

When I saw that Frances Ashcroft’s Life at the Extremes: The Science of Survival had a chapter section called “Eyeballs In and Eyeballs Out” I had to check it out. I rate her book four nuclear furnaces but with a caution flag for anyone impatient of scientific detail.

Set 24, 2019, 8:29 am

I seem to be having a bit of a phase on women and the law at the moment. Having just finished Bad Girls, an account of Holloway prison, I am about to start on Eve Was Shamed, Helena Kennedy's follow up to her 1990's indictment of the British legal system's treatment of women, which I suspect will find that not much has changed.

Set 24, 2019, 6:26 pm

Alphabetical: how every letter tells story by Michael Rosen is a good read with all kinds of facts and stories. Some of the subtitles are a stretch (O is for OK). Another book by Bernie Clark, a yoga instructor, From the Gita to the Grail : Exploring Yoga Stories & Western Myths. Something of a Hindu slant, but engrossing.

Set 25, 2019, 11:36 am

Master of Dark Shadows: The Gothic World of Dan Curtis
You have to be a person of a certain age to remember Dark Shadows, the supernatural soap opera that debuted in 1966 and ended in 1971. But there are still a lot of fans around that remember the show and this fun -(non-fiction) documentary on the show covers the origin of the show, who created it, the stars and the demise. Recommended!

Set 26, 2019, 1:57 pm

Set 27, 2019, 9:48 am

Just about to start Edward Snowden's Permanent Record. Interested to see what he says.

Set 28, 2019, 11:03 pm

I'm reading an apparent Chick-Lit classic, Wild

Set 29, 2019, 1:49 pm

Finished A WOman of no Importance, a story of Virginia Hall, a spy in France in WW2. Apart from a rather annoying style point, it was a very interesting book. Could have done with being slightly more balanced or critical of its subject, it relied on a fair amount of reminiscence, which felt to be through rose tinted specs at times.

Out 1, 2019, 5:00 pm

I finished the new book, The Accidental Homo Sapiens. This book presented 4 or 5 interesting and even important points but gave way more background than necessary, particularly since their presentation of the background science was not simple to follow (even for a science major). In the end I was glad I read it even though there were times I considered chucking it.

Out 1, 2019, 5:10 pm

I'm reading Too Dumb for Democracy?: Why We Make Bad Political Decisions and How We Can Make Better Ones by David Moscrop. I'm hoping it will help me choose wisely in the upcoming federal election!

Out 2, 2019, 10:11 am

Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness by Doug Peacock.
A Green Beret combat medic in Vietnam, Peacock returned home from that havoc and spent years camped in wilderness where he could be awake and awakened amongst grizzlies. His book is a document of tremendous passion and commitment.

Out 2, 2019, 10:37 am

Wow, that one sounds great, dypaloh.

I'm reading Our Living Ancestors by John Bates who I think I met last year on a guided tour of a State Natural Area. The book is subtitled The History and Ecology of Old-growth Forests in Wisconsin and Where to Find Them.

OMG the destruction was so vast, but once people accepted reality (no, Northern Sconnie is NOT a good place for traditional farming) and started to understand the importance of forests, things have improved. What they still don't get is that planting acres and acres of one variety is not an ecosystem. But the guide to the best forests to go look at is the real treasure in this book. Luckily most of them are in neighboring counties.

Editado: Out 8, 2019, 6:57 pm

iTunes audio ~

Autumnal Tints by Henry David Thoreau

(HDT's classic essay)

Out 9, 2019, 2:49 pm

When he read the book I'm reading now, Lime Spouse gushed over how good it was. The historical content, the writing, the subject, and the feminist slant to the material. Lime Spouse is a very secure male.

I'm already nearly finished with Code Girls by Liza Mundy and agree with Lime Spouse down the line. This is a thoroughly researched narrative history of the young women recruited by the USN and USA during WW II from the Seven Sisters, initially, and various mid-western colleges, primarily institutions devoted to preparing teachers. From these young women were selected candidates to work in the field of cryptanalysis. Successful candidates were briefly trained in various analytical techniques, then immediately set to work cracking codes to aid the war effort primarily in the Battle of the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceanic theaters.

Nearly the entire American WW II cryptology work was performed by women; they cracked German Enigma codes after the Germans added a fourth wheel to it, and they cracked Japanese codes that controlled merchant shipping supplying the far-flung Japanese armies. These women codebreakers were the egg from which the NSA was hatched, yet they never received the benefits nor recognition from the government that was their due.

Mundy crafts a book for code nerds, general WW II buffs, and for readers interested in women's studies. She merges the stories and anecdotes of many individual women with the societal constraints, prejudices, and employment taboos these women overcame. She exposes the misogyny, rivalry, and enmity between the nation's two major military branches. And she manages to convey how deeply patriotic, diligent, and unacknowledged the codebreakers were during wartime and thereafter.

Highly recommend!

Out 10, 2019, 3:18 pm

>31 Limelite: Great review-guess I am adding this book to my reading list!!

Out 10, 2019, 4:56 pm

I finished The Liberation of Mankind: The Story of Man's Struggle for the Right to Think by Hendrik Willem Van Loon. This is an interesting and very well written history, originally published in 1926. As Van Loon tells us very early on, "This is not a handbook of anthropology. It is a volume dedicated to the subject of 'tolerance.' But 'tolerance' is a very broad theme. The temptation to wander will be great. And once we leave the beaten track Heaven along knows where we shall land." It should be noted that, as it turns out, by "mankind," Van Loon means, essentially, Europeans. Also, as per the book's publication date, we are not surprised to find that basically every single person of influence or note was male.

Van Loon starts with the Greeks and then moves through the Roman era and then through European history up through the French Revolution, describing the movements, institutions and individuals who have the most to do with, in turn, enhancing or curtailing the cause of tolerance in society. The book's second half is composed of short biographies of influential individuals, either via politics or philosophical writing, over the ebb and flow of the idea of tolerance in Western society. Erasmus, Spinoza and Montaigne get particularly interesting treatments, as do the figures of the French Revolution. Van Loon describes the repression in the Puritan settlements, but, disappointingly, misses the admirable Roger Williams. The final chapter, "The Last Hundred Years," is only a few pages long, and Van Loon concludes with a hopeful passages that beg for patience and perseverance in the struggle for overall societal tolerance. He writes with an uneasy eye backwards toward recent history (World War One and the Russian Revolution). But as he was writing in 1926, he could not be expected to be able to see what was coming. I don't know how historically accurate all of his descriptions and observations are. Nevertheless, I think he's well worth reading even given, or possibly because of, the book's vintage of close to 100 years old. Van Loon's sense of humor, as already noted, is enjoyable and quite dark. For example, while the book's dust jacket, as pictured above, is certainly benign, the cover of the book itself, a book, remember, about tolerance and liberation, depicts a guiilotine!

Out 12, 2019, 3:23 pm

I'm currently reading Albion's Seed by David Hackett Fischer.

Out 12, 2019, 4:50 pm

Albion's Seed was a book that has had a major impact on my view of American society. I found it fascinating and insightful.

Out 14, 2019, 12:08 pm

The Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World and the Rebirth of New York
by Tom Roston
4.5/5 stars
This is the history of the restaurants in the Windows on the World which resided in the Twin Towers/ the World Trade Center in NYC and was created/developed by the restaurateur, Joe Baum. Roston gives the readers a behind the scenes look at the restaurants in the WTC and the people who ran them. He also talks about the history of the city during that time period and the tragedy that still affects people today. Sad but a compelling read. For a better synopsis of this book – check out this website-

Editado: Out 27, 2019, 1:50 pm

Enjoying this OverDrive eBook ~

The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea (4 stars)

(well-known, and not so well-known, women making life on this planet better for all)

Editado: Out 21, 2019, 11:51 am

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Out 21, 2019, 9:35 am

>31 Limelite: I'll trade you book bullets. You got me with Code Girls. I recommend Between Silk and Cyanide, which is tangentially related.

Out 23, 2019, 2:46 am

>41 2wonderY: I'm bullet-proof. I hope. Have so many books in my TBR pile that two literate lifetimes are too few to read them all. But. . .I'm intrigued. Between Silk and Cyanide, you say. Hmmmm. . .

Out 23, 2019, 1:25 pm

>41 2wonderY: My resolve crumbled. I'm wounded by your bullet. But I expect to get better as soon as Between Silk and Cyanide arrives from Abe Books.

Editado: Out 23, 2019, 2:16 pm

I'm endlessly fascinated by WW2. Some of us have been talking and sharing titles for five years HERE.

Though I note that Limelite has been reading along there since at least 2016.

Editado: Out 23, 2019, 4:40 pm

WW II novels, especially about Americans' and the British military and espionage ops have flooded book stores and libraries for decades.

But truth to tell, I'm a bigger fan of WW I stories and those WW II stories written by Asian writers about their experiences in the Pacific theater.

Of all the war stories I've ever read my two favorites are A Very Long Engagement by Sebastien Japrisot, a heartbreakingly beautiful combination love story and anti-war novel set in France during WW I. The other is Tan Twan Eng's lyrical yet brutal novel about a Malaysian man's look back at his boyhood during WW II and his youthful friendship with a Japanese diplomat who teaches him akaido. The Gift of Rain.

These shouldn't just go into your TBR pile; the should head your Bucket Reading List.

Out 24, 2019, 12:51 am

I'm reading Brazen a graphic history of some mould breaking women. I'm going to gift it to my 14yr old god-daughter, that seems to be it's target market. Not to say I'm not learning something, but not really my style.

Editado: Out 24, 2019, 4:17 pm

For All the Tea in China: Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula for the World's Favourite Drink
by Sarah Rose
5/5 stars
This is the story of the lengths that England and the British East India Company went about to monopolize the tea industry and take it away from China. Robert Fortune, gardener, botanist and plant hunter was sent by England to secretly gather plants from China to send to India (where England had British Rule). Aiding him in the transplantation of the plants (besides some Chinese citizens) was the newly invented Wardian case, a predecessor of the terrarium. This was definitely a hard to put down book. So interesting!

Out 27, 2019, 7:59 am

I finished The Botany of Desire, a very readable exploration of man's relationship to nature, particularly with our efforts to domesticate plants thereby forming a reciprocal relationship. The book includes a little philosophy, history, and psychology as well as biology.

Out 29, 2019, 4:01 pm

I just finished Nathaniel's Nutmeg about the 17th century spice trade. It's got pirates and naval warfare and so much colonialism. It's pretty brutal in parts, so be warned.

Out 30, 2019, 11:46 am

>49 cmbohn: Sounds interesting! Will add to my list.

Out 30, 2019, 7:42 pm

I'm reading 'History of Western Philosophy' right now (actually I've been on and off about it for the last three years), trying to finish it by today.

Out 31, 2019, 3:40 pm

The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers
Maxwell King
4/5 stars
This was an enjoyable and interesting biography of the wonderful Fred Rogers. The author takes us through his life discussing his family and his work on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. He also discusses his strong religious faith and his unwavering sense of the belief that children should be valued and heard.

Nov 2, 2019, 3:24 pm

I am almost finished with Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It is wonderfully written, but heart-breaking. I truly believe that every American should read this relatively short but extremely powerful book about being black in America.

Nov 5, 2019, 7:08 pm

My husband and I dined there while we were on our honeymoon a few decades ago. Surely no one who served us or cooked for us then was still there on 9-11 when the terrorists took out the building and then others nearby as it fell. I felt the loss of something that gave us such pleasure during a landmark moment in our lives and mourned all those who perished or were injured, and all their families, not just at the restaurant but throughout the entire area. It was such a small tie to NYC in my life. Being from the Midwest we were not personally affected by all that took place that day, and knew no one directly who suffered. Yet, the loss of that space and others we had visited, and the people we met then, some of whom I still remember, stabbed at the heart even so.

Nov 6, 2019, 3:19 am

I just read Lovers and Strangers by Clair Wills which was vital reading, interesting and a different take on history. She looks at the history of immigration just post-WWII in the UK.

Nov 6, 2019, 12:01 pm

>54 DonnaPerpetua: I think that anyone who lived through that will never forget that national tragedy.

Nov 7, 2019, 4:11 am

Reading The Missing Lynx by Ross Barnett - mainly about some of the larger Ice-Age fauna that have gone extinct from Britain, but also discusses the possibility of re-introduction, re-wilding, and even resurrection of some species. I heard him talk at a book event last month and he was very interesting.

Editado: Nov 7, 2019, 8:42 am

The end-of-the-year thread is here ~

Nov 12, 2019, 5:38 am

I've got that on my wishlist. Hope it's good!