Category: non-fiction

Reading Style

June 24, 2014 non-fiction 12

18847887Title: Reading Style
Author: Jenny Davidson
Source: from publisher via NetGalley
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Summary: Sometimes this book was too academic for my taste, but at other times I enjoyed sharing the author’s passionate love of a beautiful sentence.

Author Jenny Davidson is both an English and Comparative Literature professor and an inveterate reader. She reads everything from classics to old but forgotten books, from high-brow literature to popular novels. Reading Style is a mix of all of these things. Although it refers to some literary theory, the author explains early on that what informed her decisions to talk about specific books was not a desire to”[make] an argument about style” but to share passages that “speak to [her] strongly.” Read more »

Divider

It’s Complicated

June 23, 2014 non-fiction, Psychology 17

18342787 (1)Title: It’s Complicated
Author: Danah Boyd
Source: from publisher via NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Summary: Even though this book had an academic bent, everything was explained clearly and the mix of research with anecdotes and ethical questions made for some fascinating reading.

Being a blogger means I use social media quite a bit, something which often highlights for me how technologically behind I’d be if I didn’t blog. This has made me curious about how more technologically savvy people use social media, so I was excited to see how teens who grew up with social media use these sites. In  It’s Complicated, the author takes a look at teen use of the latest social media sites over the past decade, from MySpace to Facebook to Twitter. The author systematically questions the stereotypes about social media-using teens. These include the assumption that all teens are good at and potentially addicted to technology to the idea that technology has fundamentally changed the way teens interact. She supports her conclusion with facts and figures, as well as hundreds of interviews with teens and parents. Read more »

Divider

Divider

Assassination Vacation

June 15, 2014 History, Humor, Memoir, non-fiction 12

3110Title: Assassination Vacation
Author: Sarah Vowell
Source: library
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Review Summary: Despite Vowell’s enthusiasm and interesting content, her disorganization and focus on her own political opinions made this only an ok read for me.

For a unique and morbid vacation experience, Sarah Vowell decided to travel the country by visiting locations where politicians have been assassinated. In this book, she shares interesting anecdotes, both from history and her own experiences, as well as a ton of fun facts. I really liked this approach to the story because, as I mentioned in my review of The Map Thief, I like when authors of nonfiction insert themselves into their work. It’s one way of adding immediacy to a story which is mostly about the past. I also enjoyed the historical information which the author presented in a fashion suitable for a cocktail party. This was often enjoyable but something about her light tone sometimes rubbed me the wrong way. Read more »

Divider

Divider

Divider

The Romanov Sisters

June 4, 2014 Biography, History, non-fiction 16

18404173Title: The Romanov Sisters
Author: Helen Rappaport
Source: from publisher via NetGalley
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Summary: Parts of this book were interesting or moving, but most of the time so many details of the sisters’ monotonous daily routines were included that the story dragged.

Even during the lifetime of the four beautiful Romanov sisters, their mysterious personal lives lead to much speculation and idolization. This book uses many diaries, letters, and other first person accounts to bring the sisters to life. The book starts when their mother journeys to Russia, a lonely bride in a strange land. It then follows the rest of the sisters’ lives, through the beginning of the first world war and their eventual murder by Bolshevik soldiers. Read more »

Divider

The Map Thief

June 1, 2014 Biography, History, Narrative Non-Fiction, non-fiction, Psychology 29

18693681Title: The Map Thief
Author: Michael Blanding
Source: from publisher for review
Rating: ★★★★★
Fun Fact: Because mapmakers continued to depict California as an island after it was known not to be, Ferdinand VII of Spain issued a law which simply stated “California is not an island.”
Review Summary: This is a well-researched story which included both interesting personal details and awesome fun facts written in an engaging way – everything I want from narrative nonfiction!

To most people who knew him, E. Forbes Smiley III appeared to be a respectable, well-to-do map dealer. However, there were some who suspected otherwise, noting his sometimes bounced checks and less than friendly business practices. Nothing could be proven until he dropped a razor blade while visiting a rare book collection, raising the librarians suspicions. The Map Thief tells Smiley’s story, from his childhood through his arrest, as well as the history of map-making and map collecting. The author shares bits of an exclusive post-arrest interview with Smiley and is able to share other personal stories from interviews with friends. He also addresses clues that Smiley might not have been entirely forthcoming about how many maps he stole. Read more »

Divider

Divider

Save the Date

May 22, 2014 Humor, Memoir, non-fiction 6

18754866Title: Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest
Author: Jen Doll
Source: from publisher via LibraryThing
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Summary: This memoir was like a collection of short stories which were hit-or-miss for me, with some funny or thought-provoking and others which were simply unrelatable.

Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, Jen Doll has been to a lot of weddings. As a bit of a party girl willing to do anything for a story, her wedding-going antics have given her many wild stories to tell. She uses these stories to thoughtfully ponder what weddings mean to us and what she wants out of life, while relating many humorous anecdotes.
Read more »

Divider