Category: non-fiction

The Sports Gene

August 28, 2013 non-fiction, Science 5

16171221Title: The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance
Author: David Epstein
Source: from publisher for review
Rating: ★★★★★
Fun Fact: One in two hundred men share a common male ancestor, thought to be Genghis Khan
Review Summary: Scientifically accurate but easy to follow and with topics of interest even if you don’t love sports.

Pop culture has long used the phrase “nature vs nurture” to ask whether genetic or environmental factors are more important. As science has discovered, the truth is far more nuanced. David Epstein explores this fascinating topic in the context of extreme athletic performance. The questions he address include whether there are people who are just naturals and whether or not everyone could be equally good at sports with the same amount of practice. He also addresses more sensitive topics, such as the influence of race and gender on athletic prowess. Read more »

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The Emperor of All Maladies

August 22, 2013 History, non-fiction, Science 22

emperorofallmaladies1Title: The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
Author: Siddhartha Mukherjee
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★★
Fun Fact: In 1953, American adults smoked on average 10 cigarettes a day
Review Summary: Elegantly written, with both scientific precision and human empathy, both historical interest and fascinating stories about people.

This “biography of cancer” starts with the first documented cases of cancer, continues through initial attempts at cures, and finishes with descriptions of the most recent discoveries. Intertwined with the historical narrative are the stories of the author’s patients, giving us just a glimpse of what it’s like to live with cancer. Read more »

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Soundbites About The Raven Boys

August 18, 2013 Biography, History, non-fiction 4

downloadTitle: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Narrator: Will Patton
Rating (Story): ★★★★☆
Rating (Narration):★★★☆☆

Accompanying her clairvoyant mother, Blue has never seen a spirit before – until Gansey. As someone who lacks the ability to see spirits, the only reasons for her to see Gansy are if he’s her true love or if she’s the one who will kill him. Determined to avoid either fate, Blue tries to avoid Gansy but is inexplicably drawn to help with a quest in which he’s involved. Read more »

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True Crime

August 15, 2013 non-fiction 13

16129250Title: True Crime: Real-Life Stories of Abduction, Addiction, Obsession, Murder, Grave-robbing, and More
Editor: Lee Gutkind
Source: from publisher for review
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Summary: A generally insightful and well-written collection of true stories.

True Crime is a collection of true short stories, almost all of which are about a particular crime with one or two that are more philosophical thoughts on crime. Many of these stories are written by the people who lived them, although a few are instead written by journalists. As the slightly over-dramatic subtitle indicates, the content of these stories varies widely. Read more »

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Very Recent History

August 13, 2013 non-fiction 6

15818106Title: Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City
Author: Choire Sicha
Source: from publisher for TLC book tour
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Summary: One part humorous imagining of how people in the future will view our society to two parts confusing and muddled narrative.

The narrative moving this narrative non-fiction forward is the story of a group of interconnected young men, most of whom are homosexual and several of whom seem to be bankers or stock brokers. This is the story of their struggle to navigate a big city (never specified, but I’d bet it’s New York) and the vagaries of their financial and romantic situations. Interspersed with this narrative are sections describing society in 2009 as though to someone so far in the future that even the most basic of terms need to be explained. Read more »

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Soundbites About Bossypants

August 4, 2013 Biography, non-fiction, Soundbites 14

9418327Title: Bossypants
Author: Tina Fey
Narrator: Tina Fey
Rating (Story): ★★★★☆
Rating (Narration):★★★★☆

Given how much I loved How To Be a Woman, Bossypants was an obvious choice for my next audiobook. Both are written by a woman who has done well in the entertainment industry; are autobiographies mixed with some strong opinions and advice; and both are narrated by the author. This book was less specifically focused on feminism and being a woman, but that was definitely one of the themes of the book. Read more »

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The King’s Speech

July 30, 2013 Biography, non-fiction 7

9755737Title: The King’s Speech
Editor: Mark Logue and Peter Conradi
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★☆
Fun Fact: Stammering was referenced three times in the book of Isaiah and the Egyptians had a hieroglyph for it.
Review Summary: The amazing use of primary sources made this a moving story and a fascinating historical account.

As the Duke of York a stammer was difficult to live with so a speech therapist was essential. However, many were consulted without results until Lionel Logue, who attributed his progress to the Duke’s hard work and the rapport they established. In fact, the two became not only patient and therapist, but friends. This friendship lasted when the Duke’s older brother unexpectedly abdicated and he became King George VI. Logue’s help was invaluable in allowing the King to perform his duties and both men treasured their friendship throughout their lives. Read more »

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The Society of Timid Souls

July 24, 2013 non-fiction, Psychology 0

16085444Title: The Society of Timid Souls: or, How to Be Brave
Author: Polly Morland
Source: from publisher for review
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Summary: I feel like the subtitle and description of this book overhyped the amount of advice given on how to be brave, leaving me disappointed with the focus on storytelling without analysis.

The Society of Timid Souls was inspired by a society of the same name which existed during World War II and helped members overcome stage fright. Inspired by this society and her own desire to be brave, the author interviews a variety of people who have been brave in an equal variety of ways. She also asks a lot of interesting questions about the nature of bravery and whether people can learn to be brave. Read more »

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The Civil War in 50 Objects

July 17, 2013 History, non-fiction 8

16158513Title: The Civil War in 50 Objects
Editor: Harold Holzer
Source: from publisher for review
Rating: ★★★★★
Fun Fact: Mississippi didn’t ratify the 13th amendment until 1995.
Review Summary: Both a very broad look at the feel of the Civil War era and a very personal look at the lives of individuals, this book really had it all.

This book takes a fascinating approach to civil war history, progressing generally chronologically but with each chapter focused on a particular artifact. As the goodreads description states, the objects include everything “from a soldier’s diary with the pencil still attached to John Brown’s pike, the Emancipation Proclamation, a Confederate Palmetto flag, and the leaves from Abraham Lincoln’s bier”. Each chapter talks about both broader themes and personal stories that the artifacts connect to. Read more »

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