What Non-Fiction Are We Reading Now (Jan. thru Mar. 2023)?

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What Non-Fiction Are We Reading Now (Jan. thru Mar. 2023)?

Editado: Dez 31, 2022, 9:22 am

~ Happy New Year ~

The Q1 thread is available for an active posting season!

Jan 1, 9:25 am

I'm starting 2023 with a memoir: Flora! A Woman in a Man's World by Flora MacDonald and Geoffrey Stevens.

Jan 2, 9:33 am

Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard
Tom Felton
4/5 stars
Tom Felton relates his acting career and the ups and downs of being a child actor, especially being in one of the most popular movie series of all times. Nicely written and very interesting!

Jan 5, 5:38 pm

I've just wrapped up The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is and posted my (positive) review. I was surprised that it was the first user review on LT. There are three published reviews on the Work page, though.

Next up: Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures: Orientalism in America, 1870-1930.

Jan 6, 3:13 am

I got Mad in America for Christmas, and it is quite shocking. Basically, it shows that the treatment of the insane in the USA is often no better and sometimes worse than in Nazi Germany or in the Soviet Union. Very well researched too.

Otherwise, (re)reading some books on the practicalities of embodiment: Focusing, Zen body being and The Myth of Normal. Still rereading McGilchrist as well.

Editado: Jan 10, 3:59 pm

Save Me The Plums: My Gourmet Memoir
Ruth Reichl
5/5 stars
I love Ruth Reichl and this book doesn’t disappoint. Ruth relates her life at Gourmet magazine from her beginnings there to when the magazine closed. The funny thing is that I remember when that happened because I was in charge of the magazine department at my library around that time. Gourmet was not the only serial to fold and we have lost a lot of magazines and it continues on as a lot of magazines have reverted to being online only. Reichl is an amazing author and I highly recommend her books!

Jan 19, 5:44 pm

Jan 22, 5:08 pm

Walk With Me: A Biography of Fannie Lou Hamer by Kate Clifford Larson

Kate Clifford Larson has delivered a stirring and extremely readable biography of an extremely important and inspirational--though I expect not well enough known at this point--figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. Fannie Lou Hamer was the children of tenant farmers, and became one herself, in Jim Crow Mississippi. With very little education but with a burning drive to learn and an iron-willed dignity that would not allow her to sit still for the horrific realities of 1950s and 60s Mississippi, Hamer gradually became involved in the grass roots efforts of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to help rural Blacks attain voting rights in the face of furious, violent and often deadly resistance by segregationist whites. The book begins with the story of Hamer's childhood and family life, of necessity intertwined with an in-depth description of the depravities and horror of Jim Crow oppression, which was brutal and ubiquitous. When, as an adult, Hamer went into town to attempt to register to vote, she came home to find that her white landlord was promising to evict Hamer, along with her husband and children, unless she promised to go back to town the next day to rescind her registration. Hamer replied, "I registered to vote for me, not for you," and her landlord followed up on his threat. Later, in a Winona, Mississippi, jail cell, Hamer and four of her companions received vicious beatings, and Hamer was raped, for the crime of trying to integrate a bus stop diner. The beating left Hamer's health compromised for the rest of her life. But Hamer, due to her articulate, passionate speeches, her inspirational singing and her drive and inclusiveness, nevertheless became a powerful figure in the movement, to the extent that she was the keynote speaker before the Democratic National Committee when the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, a Black party organized to fight the seating of the fiercely segregationist Mississippi Democratic contingent at the 1964 Democratic Presidential Convention in Atlantic City in 1964.

Jan 22, 7:26 pm

Just finished two short story/essay collections these precious days and Burning Questions

Jan 23, 7:41 am

>8 rocketjk: Kate Clifford Larson was also the author of Rosemary, a book that I enjoyed a few years back. I'll be on the lookout for the book on Fannie Lou Hamer. Thanks.

Jan 23, 12:30 pm

>10 vwinsloe: I read a review of Walk with Me in the New Yorker over a year ago, I think, and asked about it in bookstores both in California and NY/NJ but never found a store that actually had it on hand. I finally went to my local shop here in Mendocino County, CA, and had them order it for me. I say that in reference to your comment about "being on the lookout." Although, I'm more of a bookstore fan than a library fan, for some reason, so maybe you'd have more luck at your local library. You might not have any luck in stores, but the book is certainly good enough, in my view, to be worth taking the time to order it somewhere.

I noted Rosemary when I perused the list of Larson's other books on the inside back flap of Walk with Me and did think it looked interesting. Thanks!

Jan 24, 8:18 am

>11 rocketjk:. Thanks. I generally shop at library sales or used bookstores. Thriftbooks.com and secondsale.com both have a new ones for sale; I'll put it on my wish list and see if a used one becomes available there.

Jan 24, 8:22 am

I'm currently reading A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds by Scott Weidensaul. So far it's both very interesting and well written.

Jan 24, 1:30 pm

I finished Sketches from Life of Men I Have Known by Dean Acheson. Acheson was a high-ranking U.S. diplomat throughout the WW2 war years and into the years immediately afterwards. He was Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations and International Conferences from December 1944 through August 1945, then Under Secretary of State until June 1947 and finally returned to government service to become Secretary of State in the Truman administration from 1949 through 1953. Acheson was Secretary of State between George Marshall and John Foster Dulles.

This book contains a series of reminiscences/portraits of the diplomats and politicians he worked with (or, in some cases, against) and/or under during his time in the diplomatic corps. The book opens with chapters about Ernest Bevin and Robert Shuman, Acheson's opposite numbers for England and France, respectively, during the years at the end of, and immediately after, the war, when the large Western democracies were figuring out how they wanted to administer Western Europe and how to negotiate with Soviet Russia and create a united front against what they saw as Soviet plans for further expansion. There is a chapter, also, on Acheson's dealing with several Russian diplomats and their negotiating tactics. The chapters cover negotiations around the establishment of the United Nations, the administration of the post-war occupation of Germany and the establishment of the western alliance that became NATO. Of particular interest to me were the deliberations that led to the decision to bring West Germany into the alliance (i.e., to rearm them, a development that was viewed with some alarm, as I've learned from other reading, in many parts of Europe). While there was serious reluctance to take this step in some quarters, in the end the West Germans were seen by the U.S. and the Western European powers as a pivotal member of any alliance that would be able to stand up to Stalin and his successors.

Other politicians Acheson profiles here include Winston Churchill, Arthur Vandeberg (a Republican leader in the Senate whom Acheson describes as a tough opponent of the policies of the Truman administration who could nevertheless come around to support individual initiatives if he saw that the administration was, in fact, on the right track), George Marshall and Conrad Adenauer.

Jan 24, 7:27 pm

>5 wester: On the same topic, if you'd like more, I can recommend Cracked James Davies, The Lobotomist Jack El-Hai; I thought American Psychosis Torrey boring and dry, and Manufacturing Depression Greenberg of bad writing and boring too; know of but haven't read Ten Days in the Mad-House. The first two, if I recall correctly, referenced articles, studies, and others' books, like the infamous Rosenhan experiment.

That aside, I'm reading/am going to read: Them Jon Ronson, The Morning of the Magicians Pauwels, The Dawn of Everything Graeber, and Manias, Panics, and Crashes Kindleberger. The with is gonna be just okay; second has ben decent-to-almost-good, only a third in still; the third is a wealth of knowledge and references to other materials, but is also dense and damnably long; the last is gonna be swell and a thing to reread every 4--5 years.

Jan 26, 12:52 pm

Ghostbuster’s Daughter - Life With My Dad Harold Ramis
By Violet Ramis Stiel
4/5 stars
This was a very interesting book on her family and her father Harold Ramis who was probably best known as one of the Ghostbusters but was also involved in writing and directing. She relates her unusual rearing and also talks about her children and partners along with talking about her father’s many films.

Jan 27, 1:31 pm

I finished American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy's Forgotten Crisis by Adam Hoshschild. This is an excellent but horrifying (again!) history about an extremely violent and repressive, but mostly (as per the title) forgotten 4-year period in American history, from 1917, when the U.S. entered WW I, to 1920. Woodrow Wilson became president in 1913 as a liberal reformer, and many like-minded politicians and other figures joined his administration to help with the project of making life better for laborers and helping to reduce the large wealth gap that had formed between the working class and the owners of industry. (Sound familiar?) In many important ways, however, Wilson was no bargain. Although he'd served as governor of New Jersey, Wilson was a Georgia native and a firm proponent of Jim Crow. For example, he went about resegregating the areas of the federal government that had made progress in that area. At first he was opposed to U.S. involvement in WW I, running for reelection under the slogan, "He kept us out of war." But as the war progressed, and the allies became hard pressed, they turned to the U.S. for armaments and other supplies, going into huge debt to the U.S government and munitions companies, among others, to the extent that an Allied defeat in the war would have occasioned massive defaults and extensive losses to U.S. creditors. Well, that couldn't be allowed. That's not the only cause that Hochschild provides for the U.S. entry into the war, but it is an extremely significant one, and something I'd never realized.

Once the U.S. was involved, Wilson's Attorney General and other high-ranking figures went to town, using the war effort as an excuse for furious and violent repression. The so-called Espionage Act of 1917 made it a crime punishable by long prison terms to criticize the war effort or the government, or to complain about war profiteering. A nationwide civilian vigilante organization called the American Protective League was organized and given carte blanche for violent and even often deadly activities. People got lynched for refusing to buy War Bonds. Massive, coordinated, roundups of draft-aged men took place, and woe betide anyone who couldn't show a draft card. This was all a cover for nativist, rightwing politicians who wanted to hound immigrants, the labor movement, conscientious objectors, socialists, Jews, Catholics and, it goes without saying, Blacks.

Jan 31, 9:22 am

Jan 31, 11:19 am

>18 LynnB: oh, so sorry! I hope the book provides solace and comfort to you

Jan 31, 2:36 pm

I finished Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America: A Biography by William E. Gienapp. This is a very enjoyable, well written and relatively brief (200 pages) biography of Abraham Lincoln. The title infers that the book describes only Lincoln's term as president, but in fact it is neatly divided, pretty much in half. The first 100 pages provide a description of Lincoln's childhood and then his career in law and politics leading up to his Civil War administration, from his farm-bound childhood through his early adulthood working any odd job to keep afloat, to his apprenticeship in the legal field, his coming into his own as a lawyer and his career in Illinois state politics. It was interesting to learn that the upshot of the famous Lincoln-Douglass debates was that Lincoln lost the subsequent election to Douglas.

The second half of the book covers Lincoln's presidency and the war years. I already mostly knew the details of the progression of the war and Lincoln's struggles to get the commanders of the Army of the Potomac (from McClellan onward) to go on the offensive against the Confederate armies in the east, but Gienapp also did a fine job of filling in the political details of Lincoln's presidency, as he strove just as hard to hold together the coalition of extreme and moderate Republicans and Democrats.

Jan 31, 7:00 pm

>18 LynnB: Sorry to hear. Having lost my spouse 2 years ago, I can assure you that it does get more tolerable to deal with in time.

Fev 2, 9:07 am

I'm reading An Immense World, and it truly is a fascinating look at how other creatures perceive our planet.

Fev 5, 4:13 pm

I recently read this book too. Checked it out from the library and going to get on the waiting list again.. so much to read and re read! wonderful book!

Fev 8, 6:21 pm

In on the Joke: The Original Queens of Standup Comedy
Shawn Levy
4/5 stars
Levy relates the fascinating tales of how these female comedians made it into show business. He includes Moms Mabley of the Black vaudeville circuit, Jean Carrol, Minnie Pearl, Sophie Tucker, Phyllis Diller, Elaine May, Totie Fields and Joan Rivers. He goes fairly in depth about their lives and careers.

Editado: Fev 8, 8:58 pm

oh Id love to read that! on my list Interesting that the author is male.

Editado: Fev 18, 10:59 am

>26 JulieLill: just started it and am already impressed with how the author is writing about his subjects and his honesty at realizing he is a male author, but telling us pretty clearly how much he is in awe of his subjects, and wanting to make it right for them

Also his definition of different styles of comedy are interesting, I was wondering why the likes of Lucille Ball and Ethel Merman were missing. He deferentiates between the subject here, of stand up comedy, radio and tv comedy (aka Ball) or musical comedy aka Merman What I am hoping it that he continues this theme by writing about the women who started in the two other catergories

Fev 18, 12:21 pm

>26 JulieLill: That looks really good. A few years back I read one of Joan Rivers' memoirs, Still Talking. I came away extremely impressed with her a as a person and with the professional and personal struggles she was able to rise above or at least persevere through.

Fev 19, 8:54 am

>28 LynnB:. I've added that to my wish list. Thanks.

Fev 19, 1:16 pm

Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World
Mark Kurlansky|
3.5/5 stars
Kurlansky is one of my favorite writers and in this book he writes about the history of the Cod fish and the cod fish industry in this book. Though this was not my favorite of all his books it was quite interesting. I learned a lot of information about Cod fish and industrial fishing. There is also a section on cod recipes.

Fev 19, 9:16 pm

I'm still reading Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures: Orientalism in America, 1870-1930, where I'm wrapping up the scholarly essays and moving on to the exhibition catalog notes. I've also just snagged an imminent read from the public library: Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World.

Fev 22, 1:20 pm

>31 vwinsloe: I finished The Right to Sex yesterday.

What a great read...challenging at times, but so thought-provoking it is worth the effort. The author examines many feminist issues (consent, porn, prostitution and others), and explores differences in feminist thought about such issues without being judgmental. She explores ideas and perspectives within feminist thought and challenges the reader to do the same.

I liked her exploration of how a patriarchal society defines so many issues and responses. For example, she explores the politics of sex and desire and how mainstream preferences affect people of colour, disabled people, fat people, and others who don't confirm. Are our desires innate or shaped by the patriarchal society we live in? A patriarchal society also leads to systemic harms to consensual sex, in the case of male professors having relationships with female students.

By exploring differing feminist views and the context in which they are formed, the author has made me think in a deeper, more nuanced way about such issues. Recommended.

Fev 23, 7:52 am

>34 LynnB: Thanks for the more detailed review. Definitely looking forward to it.

Editado: Fev 23, 9:39 am

I’m reading The Penguin Book of Witches edited by Katherine Howe. I meant to read it at Halloween but just now got around to it. She signed it for me. I was in a law school seminar about the legal marginalization and persecution of certain groups of people. Specifically the “witches” being persecuted were largely poor, uneducated women often with mental or cognitive disorders.

Fev 27, 11:59 am

For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts' Advice to Women
Barbara Ehrenreich and Deidre English
"First published in 1978, this classic history, now revised and updated, brilliantly exposes the constraints imposed on women in the name of science. Authors Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English have never lost faith in science itself, but insist that we hold those who interpret it to higher standards. Women are entering the medical and scientific professions in greater numbers but as recent research shows, experts continue to use pseudoscience to tell women how to live. This edition of For Her Own Good provides today's readers with an indispensable dose of informed skepticism." from Goodreads.

Lengthy read but so very interesting!

Fev 27, 12:02 pm

>38 JulieLill: I read that in 2008....fascinating is right.

Mar 6, 11:32 am

Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show
Daniel de Visé
4/5 stars
Daniel de Vise writes a fascinating book about the relationship between Andy Griffith and Don Knotts as he follows their lives and careers and especially their time on The Andy Griffth Show. Highly recommended!

Mar 9, 6:27 pm

I finished An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America by Andrew Young. Andrew Young's memoir of his life and, most importantly, his experiences working alongside Martin Luther King in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, is extremely detailed and, at 531 pages, takes a while to get through. However, the journey is very much worthwhile for anyone interested in reading a comprehensive history of the Civil Rights Movement in America. Since this is a memoir rather than a straight history, Young is able to provide, also, a personal dimension that frames the events extremely well.

Mar 12, 6:20 pm

I've started The Sot-Weed Factor but the book was too big to carry with me on my week's trip to Florida so took My Broken Language which is a memoir written by a Philadelphia Puerto Rican about her struggle to cope with two languages, two cultures, and two religions and two financial and educational realities.

Mar 16, 1:16 pm

The Amityville Horror
Jay Anson
4/5 stars
In 1975 the Lutz family has moved to Amityville, New York because of George Lutz's new job. However, things go terribly wrong when they moved in. Strange and horrible things were happening in the house. They were never informed that the son of the previous family, Ronald J. DeFeo Jr. killed his family. As much as they tried to live there, they eventually had to move out. What a fascinating story. Several film versions were made of the events. 1977

Mar 17, 10:37 am

All about Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business
Mel Brooks
4/5 stars
What a great book about all the films that Mel Brooks wrote and filmed! He also writes about his life growing up, his time in the military in WWII, how he got into show business and how he met his wife, the lovely Anne Bancroft and their relationship. Definitely for film fans!

Mar 17, 1:07 pm

I finished reading Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World and posted my review. Given my own persistent past attention to the topic, I wasn't introduced to much in the data that Burton treats there, but I found her classifications and theories to be productive.

Now I have to get back to the exhibition catalog part of Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures.

Mar 17, 2:04 pm

I'm reading Lady Justice by Dahlia Lithwick, which has portraits of several women lawyers whose work in the USA had a huge impact during the years 2017-2020. Some of them handled very well known cases such as the "Muslim Ban" and the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, others worked on sexual harassment in the federal courts. I'm enjoying the behind the scenes detail and analysis that was missing from major media accounts.

Mar 25, 12:04 pm

River of the Gods: Genius, Courage and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile
Candice Millard
4/5 stars
Millard relates the tale of English explorers Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke, along with the guide/slave Sidi Mubarak Bombay as they try to find the source of the Nile River in the 19th century and reap the rewards from the Royal Geographical Society who was offering a prize for those who found it first! However, the two men clashed, and this undertaking would prove too much as they separated. Fascinating!