What Non-Fiction are we Reading Now? (January-March 2022)

DiscussãoNon-Fiction Readers

Aderi ao LibraryThing para poder publicar.

What Non-Fiction are we Reading Now? (January-March 2022)

Jan 1, 2022, 8:40 am

Jan 1, 2022, 9:07 am

The King of Confidence, new one by Miles Harvey, about a pretty interesting scoundrel in the 19th century American Midwest.

Editado: Jan 3, 2022, 9:44 am

Finished Red Land, Black Land, Daily Life in Ancient Egypt by Barbara Mertz.

Jan 3, 2022, 9:47 am

I finished Murray Walker - Incredible! to start the year. Nothing really new in this, but a warm tribute to a well loved F1 commentator who shaped the sport he commentated on.

Jan 3, 2022, 11:18 am

Zelda: A Biography
by Nancy Milford
2.5/5 stars
This is the story of Zelda Fitzgerald, her life, her marriage to Scott Fitzgerald and her fight against mental illness. This was an awfully long book not helped by the extremely small print. It seemed to me that a lot of the information was repeated but the author was thorough in her research.

Jan 3, 2022, 1:34 pm

second time reading The Art of Not Being Governed--this time going cover to cover. one of my all time fav pieces of historical, ethnographic, and political writing

an area study, historical-theoretical program, and political ode all in one

Editado: Jan 5, 2022, 8:35 am

I read 101 Hymn stories This book has been a work in progress since last year. I've loved traditional hymns since I was a child--good thing as my mother was a choir director at church and she still currently plays the organ and piano at age 88. This book contained the history, libretto, and music of 101 selected hymns. I remember singing about 60 or so of the hymns. It was interesting! After I finished reading about the composition of each hymn, I went to Youtube to find the hymn and listen to it. I was able to find most of them. I will be giving this book to my mother for her enjoyment. 288 pages 3.5 stars

Also read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Not a slog as most philosophy books are. Great fodder for thought here. Next I want to get a bio of Aurelius. Translated by Gregory Hays. 256 pages 4 stars

Jan 5, 2022, 8:32 am

My first nonfiction read of the year is Paperbacks from Hell, a history of the horror paperback boom of the 70s and 80s.

Jan 7, 2022, 4:54 pm

>9 Julie_in_the_Library: I'm not a big horror fan. But Paperbacks from Hell sounds really interesting.

Jan 8, 2022, 12:33 pm

Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle
Mary J. MacLeod
5/5 stars
This was a wonderful recollection of a nurse’s time working on a Scottish Isle in the late sixties. There are two more books in this collection and I look forward to them. This reminds me of the writings of James Herriot’s books.

Jan 8, 2022, 9:30 pm

>11 nx74defiant: While I do read the occasional horror and horror-adjacent novel, I wouldn't read the type of books this was discussing, which were specifically mass market horror paperbacks. I go in more for suspense and gothic, myself.

But it was very interesting, anyway, especially the bits about how the publishing industry worked and how developments and trends in publishing affected horror paperbacks and their covers. And there was a wealth of art in the book, as well, along with segments about various cover artists from the era, which I really appreciated.

Genre, literary, and publishing history are topics that always interest me, which is why I picked it up while browsing in the first place.

Jan 9, 2022, 1:01 pm

My review of Paperbacks from Hell is up on my ClubReads thread. I rated it 3 stars.

Jan 10, 2022, 5:52 pm

Tinder Box subtitled HBO’s Relentless Pursuit of New Frontiers. A little dryly corporate, but fascinating.

Jan 16, 2022, 4:32 pm

Packing For Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
Mary Roach
4/5 stars
One of my favorite authors is Mary Roach and she does not disappoint in this book about the space program and living in space. She discusses the myriad of problems of living in space including living in confined quarters, eating, washing and toilet issues. This still holds up even though it was written in 2010. I would love to see her write about the space program from where she ended this book.

Jan 18, 2022, 9:12 am

I started The New Jim Crow yesterday. It is the 10th anniversary of the publication of this important book, and while the ideas contained in it are becoming much more understood and accepted in some places, sadly, there has been little change to mass incarceration and its legacy in the US.

Jan 18, 2022, 11:58 am

Published today is the betrayal of Anne Frank, an academic title from HarperCollins:


It's on my list to read when I can buy a copy.

Editado: Jan 19, 2022, 9:52 am

I'm loving Humans by Brandon Stanton.

Jan 19, 2022, 11:50 am

Jan 20, 2022, 1:18 pm

Forever Dobie-The Many Lives of Dwayne Hickman
by Dwayne Hickman
4/5 stars
This was a wonderful autobiography of Dwayne Hickman who starred in the TV series The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis which aired from 1959-1963. He talks about his life on the show, his career as an actor and life after being an actor including running a Las Vegas resort and later as a CBS executive where he managed comedic shows like MASH and more. Highly recommended!

Jan 23, 2022, 3:49 pm

>20 vwinsloe: I've got that same edition of The New Jim Crow on hand and I'll finally be reading it sometime within the next month or two.

Jan 23, 2022, 3:49 pm

I finished the excellent American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783-1850 by Alan Taylor. This is a very readable and detailed account of the growth U.S. and, to a lesser extent Canada and Mexico from just after the American Revolution to just before the American Civil War. I've read a lot of U.S. history over the years, but I derived a lot of new information, or at least new perspectives in Taylor's book.

The first, and one of Taylor's central themes, is that the idea of Manifest Destiny that all Americans learn in school--that is, the concept that Americans always believed (or at least said aloud as a rationalization for their actions) that it was America's God given "destiny" to eventually control the entire continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific, is a vast simplification of the attitudes, desires and fears of the country as it evolved after the Revolution.

The second is the importance of the War of 1812, not in and of itself, but as part of a series of conflicts within that decade, what Taylor calls the "War of the 1810s," that included Andrew Jackson's ruthless but successful incursions
into Spanish held Florida, and that "shifted the geopolitics of North America."

Taylor goes into great detail showing the cruelty of slavery. The perceived Southern need to protect slavery winds through every political development and conflict throughout the country's history. But also, Taylor is clear that White supremacy was far from a Southern only concept. The cruelty to and treachery against Native Americans is described in detail as well.

Jan 30, 2022, 1:01 pm

I finished The Man Who loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett last night (review is up on my Club Read thread), and now I'm starting The 99% Invisible City by Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt.

Fev 1, 2022, 11:04 am

I am still reading The Matter with Things, and I probably will be busy with it for some more time.

It also suggests many other books; the books below are just some that spoke to me especially.
I'm getting into foundations of biology again with Everything Flows.
Finally reading some William James.
And Christian books such as Silence: A User's Guide and The Experience of God. I am not a Christian myself, especially now I finally found a Buddhist sangha that actually helps, but that does not matter, this God is bigger than the difference between Christianity and Buddhism.

Fev 2, 2022, 12:44 pm

I finished Minnesota's Notorious Nellie King: Wild Woman of the Closed Frontier (True Crime).

Lot of side information. Pictures and quotes from newspapers of the time. I didn't really feel like we got to know Nellie.

Fev 2, 2022, 1:14 pm

How do people approach, or think about, what I think is described as a fictional memoir? I'm currently reading Black Mamba Boy and it is written in a non-fiction style, but is presented as fiction. The introduction you are introduced to Jama, the author's grandfather and the main character throughout the book is called Jama. It seems to be Jama's childhood migration across Africa. I struggle to know how to process this style of writing.

Editado: Fev 2, 2022, 3:27 pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Editado: Fev 2, 2022, 3:34 pm

>32 Helenliz: I just consider a book like that a novel with a first person narrator. A really good author can make a novel read like a memoir, which, to me, is cool. But if the author tells me a book is fiction, I believe it. But maybe I misunderstood your question.

Fev 5, 2022, 12:23 pm

Nurse, Come You Here!: More True Stories of a Country Nurse On A Scottish Isle
by Mary J. MacLeod
This is the second book in the series of MacLeod’s life as a nurse and mother. In this one the family, re-locates to California due to her husband’s new job. She talks about life in the USA compared to life on the Scottish Isle they lived on but unfortunately she was unable to work as a nurse since she did not have a license to practice in the US. I am enjoying her books. There is one more book in the series that I look forward to reading.

Fev 5, 2022, 1:28 pm

>34 rocketjk: I suppose I struggle with the knowing the base is fact, and wondering which of the details are fact, which are embroidered and which invented entirely. Its a genre I struggle to make sense of.

Editado: Fev 5, 2022, 4:34 pm

>37 Helenliz:"Its a genre I struggle to make sense of."

I guess what I was trying to say is that in such cases, we bring to the reading of a "fictionalized memoir" the knowledge that the author has a particular credibility in terms of the subject matter being portrayed. But other than that, I just treat the book as a novel and let it stand or fall on that basis, not worrying about where the "facts" end the the "invention" begins. Personally, I feel that's the best strategy, though of course we each have our own individual approaches to such things and I would certainly agree that sometimes the approach I've described is easier said than done.

Another way to look at the issue is: in the case of the sort of book you're talking about, I just assume every incident described is fiction, or a version of a "real" event fictionalized to serve the narration better. The author is freeing himself or herself from having to be a slave to actual events in order to tell a better, perhaps a more universal, story. My goal, as a reader, free myself in the same manner.

Fev 5, 2022, 5:41 pm

I'm reading Livy's The War With Hannibal

Editado: Fev 5, 2022, 6:11 pm

I'm hitting my stride in Cult and Controversy: The Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass, and glad to have bothered so far. Meanwhile, I've also started reading the novel The Overstory, and I'm learning some decidedly nonfictional things from it.

Fev 8, 2022, 3:22 pm

I finished the fascinating book, The Dawn of Everything. It is not only an examination of the latest discoveries in archeology and anthropology, but an attempt to synthesize those findings. With the realization that present information does not fit beliefs as to the inevitability of our present social systems, the authors suggest that numerous options have existed for ages and any of them or something new should be possible now.

Fev 12, 2022, 2:53 pm

I finished The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power. Power has led a very interesting life, to put it mildly, and her memoir is well worth reading, although at 554 pages it presents something of a time commitment. Power was on the spot as a war correspondent during the siege of Sarajevo and at other tragic hot spots. She won a Pulitzer Prize for her book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, in which she was strongly critical of what she saw as the U.S. government's lack of response to genocidal campaigns around the world. She went to work as an advisor to Barack Obama during his time in the U.S. Senate and worked in his presidential campaign until she had to resign following an unfortunate incident in which she allowed a reporter who was interviewing her overhear her referring to Hillary Clinton as "a monster." Once Obama was elected President, however, he wasted little time bringing Power into the administration. At first Power was a middle-level official in the National Security Counsel, but eventually she was appointed to the much higher-visibility position of U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Power is a good writer, so her descriptions of all of these absorbing periods, in addition to her childhood and personal life, kept my attention throughout. Details of what it was like to be a mid-level government official were enlightening, in terms of learning from the inside how government works. But, not surprisingly, it's her time as Ambassador to the U.N., and her accounts of the many battles she fought there, that are the book's true anchor. As I mentioned above, this is a long book, but one I found well worthwhile.

Fev 13, 2022, 2:02 am

I've just laid in Putin's People, by Catherine Belton, which is about my fifth book on Russia and Putin, but I'm not sure how soon I'll tackle the sizeable tome.

(Looks like the touchstone isn't getting picked up.)

Fev 13, 2022, 2:25 am

>45 Meredy: Putin's People. I don't know why your touchstone didn't work either, mine had no problems.

Fev 13, 2022, 12:00 pm

Things My Son Needs to Know about the World
Fredrik Backman
4/5 stars
This non-fiction book revolves around the author Fredrik Backman, his relationship with his son and what he wants to teach him. I have always enjoyed his books and this non-fiction doesn’t disappoint. Short but very sweet!

Editado: Fev 15, 2022, 11:58 pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Editado: Fev 15, 2022, 11:58 pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Fev 15, 2022, 11:53 pm

I have a couple others going already, but today I started Putin: His Downfall and Russia's Coming CrashRichard Lourie.
I was cataloguing books after a long hiatus, and came across it, and, thinking this one timely, decided to read it.

Fev 15, 2022, 11:56 pm

I have a couple others going already, but today I started Putin: His Downfall and Russia's Coming Crash.
I was cataloguing books after a long hiatus, and came across it, and, thinking this one timely, decided to read it.

Editado: Fev 16, 2022, 12:01 am

I have a couple others going already, but today I started Putin: His Downfall and Russia's Coming Crash by Richard Lourie.
I was cataloguing books after a long hiatus, and came across it, and, thinking this one timely, decided to read it.
(Forgive me. This is the first time I've played with this "touchstone" thing. After three tries, I think I got it right, but I'm not sure.)

Fev 17, 2022, 12:29 pm

Just finished:
Immune : a Journey Into the Mysterious System That Keeps You Alive / by Philipp Dettmer. New York : Random House, 2021.
A very good popular science book, that's quite topical at the moment. It is well explained (but with an odd, very informal style).

I'm now reading:
A Taste for Poison : Eleven Deadly Molecules and the Killers Who Used Them / by Bradbury, Neil.
Which I am also finding quite good.

Fev 18, 2022, 11:36 am

>54 geophile: That Bradbury book sounds interesting.

Fev 20, 2022, 4:57 pm

Putin: His Downfall and Russia's Coming Crash

I finished it a few minutes ago. Copyrighted in 2017, five years ago, but it could have been written yesterday. It's all there. Ukraine, NATO, and all the things we hear about in our news media. But there's a lot there that we never hear about. Like the threat from China, simmering ethnic tensions in Chechnya, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan; the desire of Siberia for independence; the absolute dependence of the Russian economy on gas and oil, and declining revenues from them; the history of the region; and much more, especially the question of what happens when Putin is gone.

What impressed me the most is how many of the challenges facing Russia are never reported in the US media, and hence few have any awareness of them. This does not make today's situation less precarious, but it DOES remind us that our concerns are not Putin's, and Russia's, concerns. The fact is, Russia, and Putin, are not enjoying a time of economic and political stability. Ukraine is only part of the picture.

Richard Lourie's book, and I'm sure many others like it, will not solve whatever problems are inherent in the current situation, but it will make the reader aware of its complexity. Books like these should be on everyone's reading list!

Fev 21, 2022, 9:00 am

>56 Retired-book-addict:. Thanks, I'm putting that one on my wish list.

Fev 22, 2022, 12:44 pm

Welcome to Dunder Mifflin: The Ultimate Oral History of The Office
Brian Baumgartner and Ben Silverman
4/5 stars
I loved The Office and when I found this book at the library, I put everything else down to read this wonderful book told by everyone who acted, produced, wrote and worked on the series. If you haven’t seen the series -don’t read this book but definitely see the series then read this book. Highly recommended for fans of the series!

Fev 22, 2022, 9:20 pm

Just finished 'The Folly and the Glory' by Tim Weiner. A quick look at the history of political warfare between Russia and America since world war two. I found it exceptionally relevant to the current escalating conflict in eastern Europe.

Editado: Fev 22, 2022, 9:30 pm

I am about to finish rereading "American Nations' by Colin Woodard, which feels just as timely to me as when I read it a decade ago. The notion of the rival regional cultures of North America still resonates with me.

I have also started 'The Longest line on the map', which is a history of the idea and eventual development of the Pan-American Highway.

Fev 23, 2022, 4:18 am

Finished A is for Arsenic by Kathryn Harkup. Interesting and informative look at 14 of the poisons used by Agatha Christie in her books.

Fev 23, 2022, 8:53 am

I'm currently reading Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles. It's slow going so far. I have a lot of issues with the book, but I also find it very interesting and definitely want to finish it. This one will be interesting to review once I'm done.

Fev 23, 2022, 12:29 pm

>59 LynnB: I love that title - what an interesting subject for a book!

Fev 23, 2022, 5:21 pm

I have slowly been reading Stalin's war by Sean McMeekin since last July, having ordered it before its actual publication through Amazon. I have enjoyed all of McMeekins previous books and have found myself a little disappointed in the scholarship of this particular tome (831 pages), something I never felt reading his earlier works. Perhaps he should have stuck to world war one as his focus. That said this is still an enjoyable and informative read, i simply had very high expectations

First try at using touchstones.

Fev 24, 2022, 6:37 pm

>61 skid0612: I read American Nations this past year and also found it very interesting and seemed to all make sense to me also.

Fev 24, 2022, 6:38 pm

I finished Bunch of Amateurs. The book investigates a variety of amateurs involved with pursuits from astronomy, to biology and more, acknowledging their unschooled unpaid nature allowed them to pursue things that the professional could not justify and often with greater creativity. Through a number of unique characters the author revealed some interesting efforts going on

Editado: Fev 27, 2022, 9:41 am

>55 JulieLill:: I quite enjoyed A Taste for Poison : Eleven Deadly Molecules and the Killers Who Used Them. It was a quick read, but very interesting.

Mar 3, 2022, 4:02 pm

I have finally read The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander twelve years after its initial publication. The New Jim Crow is an excellent, essential, infuriating, heartbreaking examination of the harms done to the black community, and by extension to America as a whole, by the War on Drugs. Alexander's writing is clear and direct, and her points well supported. It is only the subject matter that makes this book extremely difficult, but extremely important, to read

Mar 4, 2022, 5:17 am

Reading Adam Rutherford's Control: The Dark History and Troubling Present of Eugenics, which gives an overview of the ideas pounced upon by those in power to control and even eliminate those who they deem inferior, starting with Galton in the 19th century and running up through the Nazis to some present-day exponents. An illuminating study.

Editado: Mar 4, 2022, 7:10 am

I finished the LTER book, The Art of Self Research. The book is a description of a project involving painting a self portrait, using an analysis of that portrait to paint another etc. The first 100 pages was an extremely repetitious description of the process. The analysis of the paintings was more interesting but since each attribute, from color, to materials, to words could be interpreted as a quality and its antithesis, that section too became repetitive. All in all it was a book I would not have slogged through to the end if it hadn't been an Early Review book.

Editado: Mar 6, 2022, 8:55 am

Temples, Tombs & Hieroglyphs by Barbara Mertz. I bought the book when I was in Egypt in January. I have read her fiction books under the name of Elizabeth Peters.

Mar 8, 2022, 11:30 am

Mar 8, 2022, 12:17 pm

Citizen Hearst: An American Experience Special
Documentary, Biography, History DVD
"William Randolph Hearst's media empire in the 1930s included 28 newspapers, a movie studio, a syndicated wire service, radio stations, and 13 magazines". But it also talked about his life and relationships. This was so interesting. I knew some facts about him but this went more in depth than anything I knew about him. Highly recommended.

Does anyone know of a good biography on him?

Mar 8, 2022, 2:45 pm

>75 JulieLill: If you ever get to California, the Hearst Castle is something to see. I have been there two times.
Hearst Castle
750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452

Mar 9, 2022, 12:34 pm

I just finished Dayton's: A Twin Cities Institution.

Brought back memories of Dayton's being such an important institution here.

Mar 10, 2022, 1:04 pm

>76 mnleona: I would love to go see Hearst Castle. Maybe one day!

Mar 14, 2022, 10:16 am

>77 nx74defiant: I married a Minnesotan (I was raised in Texas) and remember my mother-in-law always shopped at Daytons. It was THE store and Donaldsons was second. I will have to check on the book.

Editado: Mar 14, 2022, 10:23 am

>77 nx74defiant: You also might like to read The Lager Queen of Minnesota. I won the book a long time ago. It may be fiction but I remember a good read. I should find it and re-read.

Mar 16, 2022, 5:08 pm

I just finished the Kaisers pirates

Mar 17, 2022, 6:01 am

Reading 2 non-fiction books highlighting aspects of how humans live in the world:
God: An Anatomy, a study of how the Bronze Age religions of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle-East developed into monotheistic Biblical religious practices. Very interesting, and with a wry sense of humour;

Islands of Abandonment, a somestimes lyrical, sometimes despairing look at how nature can recolonize spaces that were once occupied by humans.

Mar 17, 2022, 8:41 am

I'm reading From the Puritans to the Projects, an enlightening study of how the homeless have been considered in the USA since colonial times.

Editado: Mar 20, 2022, 5:11 pm

The Country Nurse Remembers: True Stories of a Troubled Childhood, War, and Becoming a Nurse (The Country Nurse Series, Book Three)
by Mary J. MacLeod
5/5 stars
This was the third book in the series but chronologically it is the beginning of her life story and the beginning of her career in nursing during WWII. She discusses her life, the death of her mother and her problems with her stepmother. I really enjoyed this book and the rest of the series. Highly recommended!

Editado: Mar 21, 2022, 7:45 am

Temples, Tombs & Hieroglyphs by Barbara Mertz. I bought the book when I was in Egypt in January.

Mar 21, 2022, 2:03 pm

I finished The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution by David Quammen. In The Reluctant Mr. Darwin, David Quammen has delivered a well-written and researched, but relatively short, biography of Charles Darwin that also provides clear explanation of his work and famous theory. Quammen also makes clear the revolutionary nature of Darwin's findings, particularly within the context of Victorian England, where all scientific belief was firmly rooted in Anglican creationist theory to greater or lesser degree. Quammen tells his tale in an engaging, sometimes even breezy, style, upon occasion inserting himself into the narrative to mention his decisions about what to include or leave out, about his research, and about what he knows from his close readings of Darwin's diaries and other works and what, instead, he feels "we can conjecture." (I should point out that these "conjectures" are on minor matters only, such as what Darwin might have been thinking of when he made particular notations in those diaries.) I suppose some readers would find this style annoying, but on the whole, I appreciated this manner of telling the story (although were were isolated spots where I felt Quammen did cross the line from "breezy" to "glib").

Mar 27, 2022, 4:52 pm

I finished the LTER book, Roar of the Sea. It was a very readable and interesting account of the man, Henry Elliott, who championed the fur seals of the Bering Straits from capitalist corporations, governments and pirates over some 50 years. Culminating in the first international treaty written to save endangered wildlife, a model for many such treaties thereafter. The book also profiles one of the more notorious pirates of fur seals.

Editado: Mar 30, 2022, 2:04 am

I'm working on Masha Gessen's The Future Is History. It's the best work I've encountered so far for imparting essential aspects of Russianness, along with social and political history, to a Western audience, with particular focus on how that plays out in the twenty-first century. The fact that other experts quote Gessen inspires confidence. I'm only a quarter of the way through a 500-page tome, but what I'm reading is shedding light on what I see in the newspaper right today.

Mar 30, 2022, 7:35 am

I listened to Letters of Note: Art edited by Shaun Usher, in the Letters of Note series. It aims to highlight examples of the dying art of letter writing. This edition focussed on artists (including writers). each letter is prefaced with a short introduction as to who the author was, the times and what prompted the correspondence. They are always an enjoyable listen.

Mar 30, 2022, 2:12 pm

I'm reading The History of Philosophy by A.C. Grayling

Mar 30, 2022, 10:59 pm

I've finally wrapped up Cult and Controversy (and posted my review), and moved on to Solomon's Memory Palace.