Skip to main content

Some Writer! and Other Non-Fiction

I've read more non-fiction during the first few months of this year than I usually do. I'm not sure how that happened. Usually I "get acquainted" with some non-fiction titles so I can recommend them, do a little speed reading of a chapter or two, and leave it at that. But I dove deeper earlier this year and feel smarter for it (kidding). Here, in the order of preference (most liked to least), are the books I read cover to cover:

Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet
I loved this book. It's a children's biography of noted writer and style guide producer E.B. White, and it's so well done. Interspersed with the narration are examples from White's writings, personal papers, anecdotes and much more. The layout is gorgeous. Every bit of text is interesting. And White's life is worth reading about.

Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper
After reading Stamper's book, I now know that I am not careful enough to become a lexicographer. There are so many steps involved in making dictionaries. There is intense parsing that could drive a sane person crazy. And there are so many meanings and usages of the word "but." If you're a word person, try this book out. It's not a simple or fast read, however, because there are many details explained. Stamper makes it fun (though she curses a bit much for my taste) -- she's a very smart cookie, loves her work, and it shows.

Unf* Your Habitat: You're Better Than Your Mess by Rachel Hoffman
Funny story -- at least to me. For many months, I thought the title was Unf* Your Habit and I was a bit offended at that. Some people have habits that need professional help! And why the f-word!? When I revisited the book before typing this post, I discovered HABITAT! Well, that makes so much more sense. I still don't like the Unf* part, but I'm much happier with title in general. Despite all that, this is a good book if you need help making your life (and house) tidier. The book is even organized well, which tells you a great deal about how good the organizational advice will be. I loved the one non-negotiable rule: Make your bed every day. It really does make a difference (and my cats prefer it that way).

But What If We're Wrong: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman
Klosterman has written an insightful book that explores the idea that in the future, things we believe now may prove false. I enjoyed reading his musings on topics like gravity and how we define rock music. And the chapter on what makes a book a book was of special interest to me, naturally. However (said with a huge sigh), once Klosterman makes his point, the rest of the book seems a little repetitive. Still, he brings in experts on each topic explored to pad it out a bit and those experts make the topics more enjoyable.

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
I may have to turn in my nerd card when I admit this wasn't as good as I expected it to be. It was fun. It was OK. But from the reports of how wonderful a writer and how funny Fisher was supposed to be, I expected more.

How Not to Die: Discover the Food Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Dr. Michael Greger
I know someone who reads every health book that comes out, recommends them wildly, and doesn't care how much quackery they contain. In my humble opinion, this one isn't junk. Dr. Greger's book is organized by disease and while I don't have any that are covered, I don't want to die so I read it. The bottom line is one you'll find in many other places: Eat mostly plants. If you have one or more of the diseases covered (heart disease, liver disease, prostate cancer...), I highly recommend it. Dr. Greger gives good advice and explains the reasons for his recommendations.

I Hate Everyone, Except You by Clinton Kelly
I wasn't expecting such high levels of snark. Maybe I should have known better? But I thought, oh, Clinton Kelly! Long Islander! What Not to Wear! This should be nice. It's not. It has touches of humor, but mostly it's snarky. There's no other word.

Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City's Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case That Captivated a Nation by Brad Ricca
Don't let this first part of this title deceive you: It has nothing to do with Sherlock Holmes (though Arthur Conan Doyle make a visit to New York in the introduction). Rather this is about Grace Humiston, a lawyer and a very keen investigator. She was not only instrumental in helping to find the missing girl, but also helped to disrupt some white slavery rings in the south and other crimes I don't remember. I did not love this book. I may not even have liked it. There was too much repetition and parts in the narration that seem to contradict other parts. It's a dense book with lots of background, but not enough action.


Popular posts from this blog

"Beartown" by Fredrik Backman

I’m about to be overly effusive: I loved Beartown by Fredrik Backman and I think it is one of the best books I’ve ever read. (See Tangent 1.)

Backman lured us into his Swedish world of curmudgeons and the neighbors who love them with A Man Called Ove and his other novellas. But this isn’t A Man Called Ove. This book has a much larger scope. This feels like the book Backman has always wanted to write but had to wait to give to us until he developed an audience. You got it, bro. I will read whatever else you write in the future. This book more deeply develops his ideas about communities. It is also about parenthood and all the responsibilities that go along with it. It’s about family and best friends who are like family. It’s about belonging. It’s about sorrow and happiness. And there’s some hockey. (Tangent 2.)
You will hate some of the parents (Kevin’s, William’s). You will love some of the teens (Amat, Maya, Ana, Benji, Bobo, Leo...). Be prepared to feel emotions. The characters – a…

What I Haven't Read in 2017

I made an odd sort of promise to myself this year: Read fewer books. The past few years, I been reading at a pace of about 100 books per year – a mix of children’s (but not counting picture books), young adult, and adult – and I felt as if I was reading too quickly and perhaps forgetting what I was reading. (Thank goodness for Goodreads.)
However, I consider it a very important part of my job as a librarian to keep up with what’s published, even if it’s a daunting task. Hundreds of thousands books are published each year in this country, so obviously it’s beyond even a superhero librarian (and I’m not one of those) to keep all those titles straight. But I try to at least know something about some books. We have two public-facing desks in my library – one is called the information desk; the other, reference. If you are working at the information desk, you will be asked for book recommendations. You will be asked, have you read this book? You will be asked to help select a book for a r…

"Nightblind" by Ragnar Jonasson