#NonficNov: Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert

November 11, 2019 Uncategorized 59

Hello everyone and welcome to week 3 of Nonfiction November! I’ll be your host this week, so this is the post where you can link up your answers to the prompt and any nonfiction reviews you do this week. You can also check out what everyone has been posting in previous weeks, with the intro post hosted by Julz and Julz Reads and the fiction/nonfiction pairing hosted by Sarah of Sarah’s Book Shelves. And don’t miss the next two weeks discussion either, coming from co-hosts Rennie at What’s Nonfiction and Leanne at Shelf Aware.

Three ways to join in this week! You can share 3 or more books on a single topic that you’ve read and can recommend (be the expert); you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you’ve 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’m actually going to do both a Be the Expert and an Ask the Expert, since I’d like to provide some helpful recommendations and I’d love to get some recommendations from you! First, for my Be the Expert, I began the year by reading a bunch of books on the history of Silicon Valley, in part motivated by my recent move to that part of the US. Here’s what I thought of the books I picked up:

This book is largely a critique of the libertarian leanings of many company founders. Sometimes I agreed with it and sometimes I didn’t. It was thought-provoking, but felt more opinion-based than substantial. – review, 3/5 stars

This book goes the other direction, with an extremely uncritical approach to Silicon Valley. However, the oral history the author pieces together is an incredible, in-depth look at the history of the valley. It does what it does very well. – review, 5/5 stars

This book is a perfect complement to Valley of Genius. It was equally engaging and informative, but focused on fewer stories; gave more context; and covers some aspects of Silicon Valley that are completely missed by Valley of Genius, like the biotech industry. – review, 5/5

This was a fascinating but somewhat shallow look at the founding of Uber and AirBnB. – review, 3/5

I liked that this book highlighted the perspective of social workers, activists, and long-time residents. I wish it had done so in a way that felt less biased against people new to the area though (speaking as a Bay Area transplant myself!). The interviews were also somewhat disjointed. – review, 3/5

This isn’t as focused a history of Silicon Valley as the previous books on this list, but author Ellen Ullman’s memoir gives a fascinating, first-hand account of many of the most iconic moments in computer history. – review, 5/5


Second, for my Ask the Expert, I’d love to hear any recommendations you have for books on Technology and societythe formation of cities, life in cities, city planning, etc; and women in science. These are all topics I’d love to read more about!

And, last but not least, here’s a link-up where you can share your discussions and nonfiction reviews:

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

59 Responses to “#NonficNov: Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert”

  1. Angela

    I love that you read up on the area that you moved to! I’m going to keep an eye on this post and look for any recommendations you get on city planning.

    • DoingDewey

      I’ve really enjoyed learning about the area, especially when I come across descriptions of places I’m familiar with 🙂

      I’m just now catching up on everyone’s comments, so I’m excited to see what people have recommended!

  2. Rennie

    I love your theme! Troublemakers sounds really good. I think Bad Blood might be the only book I’ve read that involves Silicon Valley. The first thing that came to mind to recommend (and I haven’t read it yet but lots of people have recommended it to me) is Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Perez. It’s more around data than women in science, but maybe the tech aspect would be interesting for you? I keep hearing it’s really good.

    Have you already read The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World, by Steven Johnson? It’s about the cholera epidemic and how it the quickly growing modern city helped it spread. It weaves in a lot of historical elements around the development of cities in relation to medicine and a little about technology and infrastructure. I think you’d like it!

    • DoingDewey

      I don’t know how I’ve not yet gotten to Invisible Women! Several bloggers I follow have reviewed it and a co-worker has recommended it, but somehow it’s not made it to the top of my to-read list. I appreciate you thinking to recommend it too; it definitely seems like my sort of a book!

      I’ve not yet read The Ghost Map either, although again, I’ve heard good things about it and it seems like a great fit for me. Too many books, too little time!

    • DoingDewey

      I’m sorry to hear that! Some would say the same about the history of silicon valley too, I think, re gentrification, homelessness, etc, but that is at least balanced out by people who are excited about the innovations that have originated here.

  3. trav

    I love your topic of Silicon Valley. There are some good stories coming out of there nowadays. So much has happened there in the past 30 years and it all touches pretty much every aspect of American life. One of my favorite tech/society books is Nicholas Carr’s “The Glass Cage”. Have you read that one? It’s a fast read and all about how software automation is changing society and the plusses and minuses of those changes. I’ve only read on book on the formation of cities, but it dovetails nicely with your tech leanings as it highlights the effects the car, the phone, the post office, etc. had on how cities grew in America versus other parts of the world. “City Life” by Witold Rybczynski is not the most compelling read, but very interesting. You’ve got a great site. Thanks for hosting this week.

    • DoingDewey

      It’s true! I didn’t include Bad Blood on my list, because it’s much more recent than the other books and didn’t fit together as nicely as the others, but that recent story was one of my favorite reads in a long time.

      I’ve not heard of The Glass Cage or City Life, but I’m interested in both! Thanks so much for the suggestions 🙂

  4. Stacie @SincerelyStacie

    Well, I’m sure you’ve read it, but Lab Girl is great for women in science. I don’t know much about Silicon Valley, technology or science, so that is really all I can offer. Another women in science recommendation is Working Stiff by Judy Melinek, a female medical examiner in NYC. Thanks for the link-up!

    • DoingDewey

      I did read Lab Girl, but it’s a great recommendation! I enjoyed it so much. And I’ve not yet read Working Stiff, so I’m excited to check it out 🙂 Thanks!

    • DoingDewey

      I have, but it was not for me I couldn’t stand the protagonist and the plot felt pretty predictable to me. I was surprised, because I remember liking one of Eggers’s earlier books much better!

  5. Lisa notes

    I’m definitely not an expert on any of the topics you mention, so I’ll just sit back and read what others are saying. 🙂 Thanks for hosting us. I’m loving this challenge!

  6. liz

    I have a few recs for your request for more titles in the Women in Sci category:
    * The Madam Curie Complex: The Hidden History of Women in Science – Julie Des Jardins
    * The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: Rebecca Skloot
    * Thunder and Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future – Lauren Redniss (sequential art/arty book on atmo science).
    * Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout – Lauren Redniss (as above, a graphically interesting take on this science couple)
    * For her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts’ Advice to Women – Barbara Ehrenreich and Deidre English

    And author Mary Roach has plenty of really good titles, both about science in and of itself as well as about the people involved with the study of it… (Funny.)

    • DoingDewey

      Ooh, what a wonderful list! The only one of these I’ve read is Skloot’s book on Henrietta Lacks. And I love Mary Roach! But I’d like to get to all the rest of the books on you suggested. Thanks!

    • DoingDewey

      Ooh, I’d like to get to Reset too! I have a little bit of a hard time making myself pick up books about sexism, because I know they’ll be infuriating, but this does seem worth a read.

  7. Liz Dexter

    That’s a really good set of books on Silicon Valley, a brilliant mini-guide and very useful.

    On technology and society, a book I really enjoyed recently was Robert Phillips’ “Futurekind” which is about how technology both simple and complex is being used in social projects around the world. A short piece on my blog here https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2019/09/26/shiny-linkiness-and-incomings/ also links to my longer review on Shiny New Books.

    On women and technology, I’m sure you’ve seen the film, “Hidden Figures” and there is also a book, which is on my TBR but looks very good (it’s a non-fiction book so more true to exact life than the excellent film).

    I’m looking forward to looking through everyone else’s posts now! Thank you for hosting!

    • DoingDewey

      I’m adding Futurekind to my to-read list and will be checking out your review as well. I have read Hidden Figures, but I haven’t seen the movie, so I’m glad you reminded me that’s a thing! Thanks for the suggestions 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      Haha, because I’m slow getting to comments, I’ve already spotted your review and this does seem like a the prefect read for me 🙂 Thanks for the suggestion!

  8. Rachel

    Hi! I think one of the obvious books about women in science is Hidden Figures. But you’ve probably already read that one!

    • Naomi

      Wow. There are a lot of books about Silicon Valley. The best thing about Be an Expert is that someone else has already done all the reading and I just get to choose the book that sounds best to me! 🙂

      • DoingDewey

        Haha, it really is amazing how many books there are on this topic! And you make a good point – it’s great to get a set of curated recommendations and just pick the one you’re most excited about.

    • DoingDewey

      I have read that one and I loved it, but I appreciate you suggesting it! I’m afraid there are several other books I’d consider ‘obvious’ that I just haven’t made it to yet, so I’m glad you asked 🙂

  9. Tina

    I was such a slacker this week and couldn’t get it together enough to create my post! But I do love your topic. There’s just something about that area that intrigues me! For a fun fiction pairing, I’d recommend Sourdough by Robin Sloan.

    • DoingDewey

      I’ve been considering picking up Sourdough. I didn’t love Mr Penumbra’s, but the idea and the setting of Sourdough definitely have me interested. Plus I’ve heard good things from several bloggers about it. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  10. Alison

    I just finished my blog post for this week’s Nonfiction November prompt, as well! You are welcome to check it out here: https://thelowreylibrary.wordpress.com/2019/11/14/nonfiction-november-be-the-expert-ask-the-expert-become-the-expert/

    Personally, I know basically nothing about Silicon Valley. I live in the Midwest, which, while not geographically as far away as you can possibly get, feels like it basically in another galaxy. However, I did find myself interested in this area when I learned more about the Elizabeth Holmes scandal. I may check a few of these out!

    • DoingDewey

      My family’s in Ohio, so I know what you mean about it feeling completely different! One of the biggest things I notice when I go home now is how large all the yards and parking lots are, haha.

      I’m guessing your mention of Holmes means you’ve already read Bad Blood, but if not, I’d definitely recommend it 🙂
      DoingDewey recently posted…#NBAwards Longlist Review: Race For ProfitMy Profile

  11. raidergirl3

    I’m finally getting here to comment, and I second the Ghost Map book by Steven Johnson. It was one of my favourite reads last year, and it is so many things. One of the side effects of solving the cholera epidemics was that it allowed cities to get bigger.
    Johnson has a few other books that might be tech related. His books are varied but seem to have a sociology/science related vibe. I read Everything Bad is Good for You – how the internet and television have evolved to more complex ideas. I see another book of his is called Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software. I haven’t read it, but it might fit your criteria, and I find his writing easy to read.
    I also second Lab Girl, another favourite book of mine.

    • DoingDewey

      Ooh, thanks for the recommendations! I’m definitely sold on Ghost Map; everyone has had such good things to say about it! and Everything Bad is Good for You seems like a really interesting take on tech. I really loved Lab Girl and would be excited to read more books like that 🙂
      DoingDewey recently posted…#NBAwards Longlist Review: Race For ProfitMy Profile

  12. Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out

    Thanks for sharing these titles, Silicon Valley is a unique community it seems.
    My women in science rec for you is Forgotten Women: The Scientists by Zing Tsjeng,
    and for something different related to cities and urban planning Sh*t Towns of Australia by Rick Furphy

    Thanks for hosting this week!

  13. CurlyGeek

    I love Northern California, lived out there for a few years and miss it terribly, so thanks for the book recommendations! I haven’t read much about city planning or women in science, although two interesting books I read about city governance are the memoirs by Pete Buttigieg and Mitch Landrieu.

    • DoingDewey

      I’ve been debating reading some of the memoirs by the Democratic candidates! I’ve been a little daunted by how many there are, but perhaps as the field narrows, I’ll actually do this. Buttigieg seems like an interesting type and I like the idea of learning more about cities from people who’ve governed them. Thanks for the recommendations!

    • DoingDewey

      Oh wow! I’ve never run out of space in one of my free link-ups before, so this is a first. Thanks for sharing your link here instead! I’ll definitely check it out 🙂

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