Master List of all the books mentioned in My Favorite Murder! #murderino #SSDGM #MFMRead More
Nonfiction November is winding down and I’m walking away with a ton of new books on my TBR list. Nonfiction is interesting. I find that I end up really enjoying it or abandoning it- I’m really not sure why I didn’t read more before.
This month, I started two nonfiction books that I did not finish. I stopped Lady Killers after about 25%. I loved the feminist angle- hey, women can be psychopaths, too!- but the killers presented were from a long time ago and I just wasn’t enjoying it. The other one I quit on was a case of not the right time for the book. JD Vance grew in in the Appalachia and made it out of poverty to become a Yale educated lawyer. A lot of people loved Hillbilly Elegy- from the little I did read it was leaning toward the self congratulatory and if I’m being honest, I didn’t care to spend my time reading about another white dude. (I know. I don’t want to read in an echo chamber, but I’m not quite ready). If I am going to read a story about a person who came over extreme odds to become successful, I’ll read Tara Westover’s memoir, Educated.
I finished 2 nonfiction books this month and loved them both. Bad Blood was an incredible. Elizabeth Holmes is one of the youngest unicorn’s Silicon Valley has ever seen. Her company, Theranos, alleged to be able perform over 200 blood tests from just a finger prick… but the technology never worked. John Carreyrou does a fantastic job investigating the story and synthesizing all of the information into an incredible narration. Highly recommend on audio!
Speaking of recommended on audio… I’ve spent the last week listening to Becoming by Michelle Obama, and it was exceptional. She has the best speaking voice and I so enjoyed hearing her story, from her childhood on the south side of Chicago, to her time at Harvard Law, to meeting Barack, and their time in the White House. It moved me and I can definitely see myself reading this again.
Here are other peoples’ picks from Nonfiction November that made their way to my TBR list!
New to my TBR (Hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey) It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book.
The Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls | An author’s incredible story about growing up with selfish parents and the siblings that learned to fend for themselves. This is a book that’s been following me around forever, but Allison at Mind Joggle pushed me over the edge. That, and I was recently out at dinner with a friend and she couldn’t believe I haven’t read it yet- and neither could the woman at the table beside us. Message received!
The Stranger in the Woods (on audio), Christopher Knight | A man lives alone in the forest of Maine without talking to another person for 27 years. Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves called this one of her favorite audiobooks of all time, so I’m sold.
A Beautiful, Terrible Thing, Jen Waite | Another Sarah's Book Shelves recommendation. This is Waite’s memoir about being married to a cheating sociopath, when “that could never happen to me” actually does.
Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI, Robert Ressler | The subtitle tells you everything you need to know about why it made it on my list. Somehow, I’ve never heard of this! Thanks to Kazen at Always Doing and her Serial Killer Summer for this recommendation!
Speaking of books that are so in my wheelhouse I can’t believe I’ve not read them yet: Bloodsworth, by Tim Junkin. It’s the story of Kirk Bloodswood, the first death row inmate exonerated by DNA. Thanks to Dee at Dees Book Blog for the rec!
Finally, Maggie O’Farrell’s I Am, I Am, I Am wins the award for the most mentioned (tied with Educated, which was already on my list, and I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, which I’ve already read). Thanks to Sarah's Bookshelves, Bibliobeth, and Reading Beyond for listing!
That’s it! I’m delighted to know that #NonfictionNovember is hosted yearly, because I think knowing that it’s a thing will affect my reading next year. Not that I need more recommendations- but I’m excited to see what everyone else added!
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This week’s Nonfiction November prompt is all about expertise. Julie at Julz Reads posed the following…share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).
I’ve chosen to share a list of books that I’d like to read so I can become more of an expert in one of my favorite things- wine! I love wine tasting, but whenever anybody asks what kind of wine I like to drink, my typical response is all of it? with a shrug. After all, I am still working my way through the leftover Aldi wine we served at our wedding (hey- they’ve got good stuff…) but I would like to get to the point where I am able to have a more specific conversation about the type of wine I enjoy.
In addition to book recs, I also have an app recommendation- Vivino. Have you ever been at dinner, ordered a bottle of wine, and wish you could keep track of what you ordered for later? Vivino is for you. I haven’t used it a ton yet, but basically you take a photo of the label and the details, including price and taste characteristics, comes up.
Here are the books I’ve chosen to help me become the expert!
From the cover: Rocket science is complicated, wine doesn't have to be! With information presented in an easy, illustrated style, and chock-full of the fool-proof and reliable knowledge of a seasoned oenophile, Wine Isn't Rocket Science is the guide you always wished existed.
I own this one, thanks to a thoughtful Christmas gift from my husband from last year. This would make for a great coffee table book. It’s got beautiful illustrations and information about how to best buy wine for a party, how to taste wine, how wine is harvested, the basics of food and wine pairing, and buying wine. Sign. me. up!
From the cover: Does the thought of having to buy wine for a dinner party stress you out? Is your go-to strategy to pick the bottle with the coolest label? Are you tired of choosing pairings based on your wallet, instead of your palate? Fear not! Bon Appétit wine columnist and Wine. All The Time. blogger Marissa A. Ross is here to help.
Here’s the thing about learning about wine. I don’t find it to be all that interesting, and if I have to listen to you about legs and tannins and whatnot, you better be serving me something to taste. I liked this option because it seems completely relatable. Its goal is to help you describe what you’re drinking and to get better at knowing what you like.
From the cover: Wine Folly: Magnum Edition is the must-have book for the millions of fans of WineFolly.com and for any budding oenophile who wants to boost his or her wine knowledge in a practical and fun way. It's the ultimate gift for any wine lover.
This is probably the most detailed book on my list. This is an expanded version of Wine Folley: The Essential Guide to Wine. I hadn’t heard of it, but it’s got a ton of great reviews on Amazon. This gets into detail about grapes, regions, and tips to become a worldly wine expert. This would be a great gift for someone who already knows their wine and wants to take it to the next level.
From the cover: Professional journalist and amateur drinker Bianca Bosker didn’t know much about wine—until she discovered an alternate universe where taste reigns supreme, a world of elite sommeliers who dedicate their lives to the pursuit of flavor. Astounded by their fervor and seemingly superhuman sensory powers, she set out to uncover what drove their obsession, and whether she, too, could become a “cork dork.”
Cork Dork reads the most like fiction. Some have compared this to Kitchen Confidential of the wine world. It’s a little bit gossipy, a little memoir, and totally informative. I’ve known about this for awhile, but this prompt finally prompted me to put it on hold.
Do you have any recs for me?
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It’s Week 2 of Nonfiction November!
Nonfiction / Fiction Book Pairing (Hosted by Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves)
This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.
I absolutely love this prompt, but damnit if it wasn’t a hard one! When reading, I’m always Googling to see which parts of the story are true, where people are not, and to find out as much as I can about the “true story” that inspired the book, so I’m surprised that it took me a minute to come up with one a duo I wanted to share.
There were a few books I considered but could not find a paired book to go with them.
Tinderbox, Robert Fieseler- I’m reading this ASAP. I read a couple of pages this morning and it had me in tears. It’s the true story of the arson at the Up Stairs night club in 1973, that prior to the 2016 Pulse night club shooting, was the biggest massacre of gay people in the US. I didn’t pick it for today, though, because I couldn’t find a fiction pairing that felt right enough.
The Good Nurse, Charles Graeber- This is a bananas story that I wanted to fit into Nonfiction November somehow, but again this is a case of real life being stranger than fiction. Charles Cullen was a nurse, who, over the span of a 16 year career, is (allegedly) responsible for the deaths of up to 400 people. These are not mercy killings; they’re random and ruthless. I really enjoyed reading this- it makes for a great, lesser known, true crime recommendation.
Here is the Fiction/Nonfiction Book Pairing that I did choose!
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, Bryn Greenwood
Before I begin- let me say right off the bat that this book is not for everyone. It features a a very, very nontraditional romance and it’s going to put a lot of people off right away (I get it. And it should.) However, Bryn Greenwood is an exceptional storyteller and her writing allowed me to get past the point of being uncomfortable and feel happy that these two characters that I grew to love found each other. An integral part of this story was the unimaginable home life that forced Wavy to grow up fast. Her mother was addicted to meth and her father was a drug dealer. They lived in a low income, rural community and had few resources. At 8, she was the only “adult” around to take care of her baby brother and had to bear witness to things no one should ever see. Addiction and drugs played a huge role in this town, and would have been all too easy for our protagonist to stay in the cycle of poverty and develop an addition of her own.
Dopesick, Beth Macy
The abject poverty and depraved home life due to drugs was such an integral part of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, so I wanted to find a nonfiction book that examines the drug crisis in America. The title, Dopesick, is in reference to the crushing physical and psychological pain that comes from withdrawal- the factor that often drives people to keep using. I thought it worked here because it takes a look at all of the factors that contribute to the huge drug problem in the U.S.- fault does not lie squarely on the shoulders of those with low income and addiction problems. The book includes points from many angles- from rural Appalachia, to rich suburbs, the medical industry itself, and to prisons. It shares stories of families that are affected by addiction and first responders who have to deal with the aftermath. It gives you context as to the real people (and there are so many), who are affected by the drug crisis. And- it is a crisis, especially since our country is seemingly unable (unwilling) to provide adequate access to healthcare for everyone, and Dopesick is a really important book.
I’m definitely looking forward to see what other people come up with this week! The rest of the posts are linked over at Sarah’s Book Shelves.
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I haven’t had the best nonfiction year. I’ve only read 8 nonfiction books out of the 80 I’m up to so far- which doesn’t make sense. When nonfiction is done well, its not uncommon for the book to end up on my favorites list. However, for some reason, I read far fewer non fiction books than fiction. When I saw that a group of bloggers were doing dedicated posts about nonfiction for the entire month of November, I wanted to participate! This week we’re taking a look back at our year in nonfiction so far.
Week 1 (Oct. 29 to Nov. 2)
Your Year in Nonfiction So Far (Hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness)
Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?
My favorite nonfiction for the year was I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. The book itself is incredible, but I also had a really unique experience while reading it that solidified its spot on my favorites list. I’m into true crime, but I had previously been unfamiliar with EARONS- the East Area Rapist/ the Original Night Stalker. He is a serial killer and rapist that terrorized parts of Northern California in the 70s and 80s. For 30+ years, the case had been unsolved. Michelle McNamera, the author of I’ll Be Gone In the Dark, dubbed EARONS the Golden State Killer. She ran a very popular true crime blog and was obsessed with the case, pulled police records, conducted interviews on those involved, and made connections that had previously been unmade. Sadly, she died suddenly before the book was published, but her book kept the story in the public eye. What made reading experience so powerful was that while I was reading the book, the Golden State Killer was caught. Thanks to updated DNA technology, law enforcement was able to identify the criminal and tie him to the murders and rapes. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is incredibly well researched and absolutely chilling- I would I would definitely recommend this to fans of the genre. It’s got to be such a different reading experience reading it after his identity was uncovered, to see how much of what McNamara hypothesized was correct. Full review here.
When thinking about this post, I took a look at the books I’ve read so far this year. Of the 80 books I’ve read so far, only 8 were non fiction. Only 10%!! And crazily enough, all of the books I read I rated at least a 3.75. I also had four 5 stars! I clearly enjoy the genre, but for whatever reason, I don’t come around to reading it nearly as often as I’d like.
Lately, the two topics that are catching my eye the most are true crime and contemporary memoirs by authors of color. True crime has always been something that I’m interested in, but I think my interest in memoirs by authors of color has grown. It’s so important to read widely and listen to different people’s stories. The white perspective is the default, but there are so many more human stories out there. With everything that goes on day to day in the US and in the world, it feels especially important to pay attention to this.
The nonfiction recommendation that I would make to everyone is Just Mercy. It’s a memoir from Bryan Stevenson, an activist lawyer who worked to create the Equal Justice Initiative. EJI is an organization that is dedicated to racial justice and challenging wrongful convictions. There are many stories told throughout Just Mercy, but the case of Walter McMillian serves as a through line to illustrate the flaws in the US criminal justice system. Despite having a house full of people who served as McMillian’s alibi, he was still charged with killing a white woman in their community. Stevenson’s book brings faces to the wrongfully convicted and serves as an example as to the difference one extraordinary person can make.
All in all, I wanted to participate in Nonfiction November so I can finally get around to crossing off some of the non fiction books that have been on my to read list and to see what stories other people are recommending. I’m also always interested in connecting with new book bloggers.
What’s your favorite non fiction? Is there one you would recommend to everyone?
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I'm always up for an inspiring non-fiction book. I tend to trend toward memoir (Trevor Noah's Born a Crime was a favorite of mine last year), but recently books the books that have been catching my eye have been books about increasing productivity or wellness. I'm totally that person who buys into the fresh start new year stuff. In case you're that way too, I wanted to share four books that I think would help kick off a productive new year, no matter what your goals.
I love books that use a bit of science to back up their points. Grit has an interesting origin story; Duckworth is the daughter of a scientist who frequently pointed out her lack of "genius". She grew up to become a psychologist and hypothesizes that success is not necessarily a byproduct of genius, but a particular combination of passion and persistence. Grit is applicable to any industry or life situation. She interviews people in various situations that require this grit and shares insights from her interviews of dozens of high achievers. Success isn't completely due to skill; it's a result of what a person does after they fall. I can't wait to read this!
I got this for Christmas and can't believe I hadn't heard of Timothy Ferriss before this. He's an author, public speaker, and entrepreneur. The premise of this book is simple, but the execution is impressive. Ferriss came up with 10 questions to ask inspiring people and recruited some of the best mentors in the world to answer. Theres such a wide range of people in this book- chefs, authors, athletes, investors, artists, etc... the list goes on. I couldn't help but underline passages in this book- there's too much good stuff here. I'm planning on bringing in to work with me and reading a chapter a day on my lunch break. As an aside, the book is beautiful in person and would make a great gift.
I won't lie- I literally know nothing about meditation but I added it to my list because I would like to be 10% happier. The science behind meditation caught my eye in this one- apparently, if you meditate enough, your brain rewires itself. For the better. My favorite part about this is is that it isn't one man's opinion and expository essay about meditation- he and a friend go cross-country in a tour bus to survey people and find out what they think about meditation, if they think it would help them, and why they feel they don't have time to do it. I'm totally skeptical, but that the book acknowledges that people might be skeptical and seems to not be too serious has me intrigued.
Finally, a book about being bored. A piece of me figured it would be an anti social media/live in the moment preach-y book, but then I started to think about the times that I feel my most creative. Typically, my most creative moments are those where I am forced to focus (such as when showering or driving) and when I'm not distracted. Like many, I consider multi-tasking a strength of mine and it's very hard for me to not be doing something. Turns out, there's something to letting yourself be bored and space out. Zomorodi advocates for allowing time to space out and discusses what happens when your mind wanders. My big plan for 2018 is to work smarter and not harder, and if spacing out for 10 minutes every hour will make things easier for me in the long run, I'm all for it.
(Side eye to Gretchen Rubin, who's blurbed on both Bored and Brilliant and Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics).
Are you a non-fiction/self-help fan? What books do you have your eye on this year?
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