Nonfiction November Week 3 – Diversity in Nonfiction

cork w booksHappy week three of Nonfiction November! This week we are exploring diversity in nonfiction, hosted by Becca at I’m Lost in Books. Be sure to head over to Becca’s blog to add your links for this week’s post. Also, just a reminder that we’ll be posting about our readalong titles tomorrow!

The great thing about reading is that it gives us the opportunity to read about other experiences rather than just what’s familiar, but those books don’t just fall into our laps. We have to actively seek them out and make them a priority.

When it comes to reading diverse nonfiction, one thing that I have noticed is that I’ll pick up a book about a different culture or race or ethnicity and see that the author is white and, often, from the US. Those books, of course, still have value as being an opportunity to learn more about a country or culture, but at the same time, it’s also important to seek out nonfiction written by authors of color.

If diversity is important to you, you can’t just say it. You have to make a point to choose the books that reflect that. You have to pay attention, whether you want to focus on reading more nonfiction books by authors of a different race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender (or all of the above!). I wanted my reading for the second half of Nonfiction November to reflect that priority, so I put together a list of what I’ll be reading over the next two weeks:

 

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Unnatural Selection by Mara Hvistendahl – I’m a little bit more than halfway through Unnatural Selection, which focuses on sex selection in Asian countries starting with the cause of the problem (hint: the US had a lot to do with it), current ramifications that we’re already seeing in many of these countries that have had a skewed sex ratio since the 70s, and what it will mean for Asia and the rest of the world going forward. What I love about Unnatural Selection is Hvistendahl’s determined approach to debunking the idea that sex selection is solely based on cultural preference for boys and for calling out organizations for not taking a stand on sex selection because it is a complicated situation tied up in abortion rights. It is a complicated situation, but one that is going to cause more disparity, more unrest, and more problems over the next 20-40 years. Hvistendahl has lived in China for many years and interviews many women and family’s for this book, making it a strong choice if you’re interested in learning more about a complicated problem affecting China, India and other Asian countries.

 

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Capital by Rana Dasgupta – Okay, I’ll admit. I was drawn to  Capital on the library shelves because it has such a stunning cover. Then I was hooked when I saw Rana Dasgupta’s name. I read his novel Solo in 2011 and it still stands out to me as one of the more beautifully written novels I’ve read over the past few years. I’m looking forward to see what Dasgupta does with nonfiction. This book focuses on the history of Delhi and the new elite in India, people who made it rich after the opening of India’s economy. Dasgupta accomplishes this by interviewing a range of people in Delhi and combining the history of Delhi with their narratives and his own personal journey. It’s a book that’s garnered amazing reviews and I think it will be next for me to read!

 

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No Land’s Man by Aasif Mandvi – Aasif Madvi has been making the NPR rounds these past few weeks and I was immediately drawn to the way he talks about his experiences and about representation. When he was starting out as an actor, he was often asked to read for parts like the snake charmer or the voice of a terrorist. In fact, he wasn’t even interested in auditioning for The Daily Show because he assumed it was a role like those he had been offered in the past. Instead, it was for the role of Muslim Correspondent and Mandvi nailed the audition. No Land’s Man was described by the interviewer on NPR today as at turns hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking. It sounds like an honest, fascinating memoir from a person I’d really like to know more about. I received a free copy of the audiobook and I can’t wait to listen on my drives this week and next.

Do you have any diverse nonfiction titles you’re hoping to read in the second half of Nonfiction November?

Nonfiction November Week 2 Roundup!

cork w booksWell, Be/Become/Ask the Expert week has come to a close and I’m of course in awe of how widely read and curious all of you are. We had such a wide range of topics this week! Everything from nonfiction on becoming a parent to fairy tales to several takes on food! This was my favorite week last year and this year did not disappoint. Thank you so much for participating, tweeting, sharing, commenting, and chatting about nonfiction this month.

I’ve tried to link to everyone who shared links with us, but I apologize in advance if I missed anyone! If you don’t see your link here or you didn’t get a chance to add it to the linky before today, leave it in the comments or add it to the linky on my previous post.

Before we get into the links:

  • Just a reminder that next week’s topic is all about diversity and nonfiction and will be hosted by the lovely Becca at I’m Lost in Books. Be sure to head over to her blog on Monday to check it out.
  • We’ll also be posting about our readalong this week on 11/19. If you’ve been reading along with either Cleopatra or The Restless Sleep, be sure to check to post next Wednesday.
  • If you’re on Twitter, join us in discussing nonfiction all month using the hashtag #nonficnov!

Expert Lists: Be sure to check out these amazing expert lists to keep your TBR pile growing exponentially!

Lori is the expert in “unconventional biographies” at The Emerald City Book Review.

bookmammal is an expert in oral histories and an expert in books about the Kennedys at Musings from a Bookmammal.

Christina is an expert on food politics and shares eight great books you should read at Ardent Reader.

Julie put together a list of books all about the Tudors at JulzReads.

Sarah also posted about the Kennedys at Sarah’s Bookshelves.

Jay recommended three books by historian Daniel Boorstin and also asked us to recommend great author autobiographies or biographies at Bibliophilopolis.

Heather posted a list of science and medicine books at Based on A True Story.

Trisha of eclectic/eccentric posted a list of books about freak shows and a list about fairy tales.

Trish has an amazing list of nonfiction recommendations for nonfiction beginners at Love, Laughter, & a Touch of Insanity.

Caro, as a PhD student herself, posted a list of books about science at A Girl that Likes Books.

Katherine posted a truly fascinating list of books about exposing fraudulent mediums at A Writerly Reader. I’ve researched the Spiritualist movement for a novel, too, and all of these books are going on my list!

Andi at Estella’s Revenge shared a list of books about the Victorian era.

Sherry at Semicolon asked us to recommend books about the US Presidents and books about Africa for two of her ongoing reading projects. Any suggestions?

Sophie shared a list of books about animals at Paper Breathers.

TJ posted a list of books that make you glad to be where you are at My Book Strings.

Travis at Head Subhead listed three books about book covers. Such a cool list!

Melissa posted a list of books about abortion at Feminist Texican Reads.

Jancee shared books about geeky nonfiction reads, including books about gaming and fandom at Jancee Reads.

Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf posted all about language learning. There were definitely a few I wanted to add to my TBR!

Shannon posted an amazing list of books about making the choice to become a parent or not at River City Reading.

Holly and Amanda shared books about 20th Century American History at A Gun in Act One.

Leila shared a list of memoirs by Iranian women at Reader’s Oasis.

April put is an expert on books about buddhism and wants to become an expert on historical events and people at Bookishly Speaking.

Bex shared her favorite books about food and self-sufficiency at An Armchair by the Sea.

Olduvai also posted a list about food at Oludvai Reads. This is a popular topic, but each blog has had such different picks!

Ann was inspired by Veterans Day and posted a list of books about WWI at her blog Books on the Table.

Jess posted a list of books about the Salem Witch Trials at A Book Hoarder. So fascinating!

Guiltless Reading has a list all about food and puts the call out for recommendations from readers.

Kelly asked for recommendations on American Politics, a topic I’m really interested in, too! Check out all the recommendations and recommend your own favorites at A Well-Read Redhead.

Jennifer shared a list of books about lost places at The Leaning Stack of Books and it’s absolutely fascinating. I definitely want to read all of these books!

Kristin posted a list of books about 20th and 21st century war at my little heart melodies.

Florinda shared a list of nonfiction about television, which I’m definitely going to be reading closely! Check it out at The Three Rs Blog.

Ellie is the expert on modern technology and wants to become the expert on whales and dolphins (me too!) at Book Addicted Blonde.

Carrie shared a list of WWII books she has read and is planning on reading at Other Women’s Stories.

CJ posted a list of books about Shakespeare at ebookclassics.

Brona shared her Year in Nonfiction survey and her list of books about the Holocaust at Brona’s Books.

Elisabeth posted books about creativity at The Dirigible Plum.

Amelia shared a list of books about Jane Austen and her fans at Little Thoughts About Books.

Sarah at The Everyday Reader requested recommendations for nonfiction about WWI. There are a few lists you will definitely want to check out, Sarah!

Caroline posted a list of books about the Berlin Wall and life in the GDR at More Thoughts, Vicar?

Co-host Becca shared a difficult, but important topic: human trafficking. Read more at her blog I’m Lost in Books.

Co-host Kim posted a list of football books at Sophisticated Dorkiness. Even though I have no interest in football, some of these books sound great!

Reviews!

The Lost Book of Mormon by Avi Steinberg (Reader’s Oasis)
Lost in Tibet by Richard Starks and Miriam Marcutt (JulzReads)
The Republic of Imagination by Azar Nafisi and Our Declaration by Danielle Allen (River City Reading)
Does Santa Exist? by Eric Kaplan (Jancee Reads)
Magic & Mystery (The Writerly Reader)
Running Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley (Paper Breathers)
The Story of Ain’t by David Skinner (Melissa F)
The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg (Readers’ Oasis)
Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E Frankl (James Reads Books)
As You Wish by Cary Elwes (Based On A True Story…)
Lives in Ruins by Marilyn Johnson (Reading the End)
Sarah shared her all-time favorite nonfiction reads (Sarah’s Bookshelves)
Without You, There Is No Us by Suki Kim (Sarah’s Bookshelves)
French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon (Olduvai Reads)

Thanks again for making this week so great! I hope you get a chance to visit a few (or all!) of the blog post and leave a quick comment. I know that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend!

Nonfiction November Week 2: Become the Expert

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Wow! Week one of Nonfiction November just amazed me. You are the best! Seriously. It was so exciting to see how many people were posting about their year in nonfiction and reviews. At the end of the first week we had 62 posts linked up. That’s so wonderful! Thank you for making this such a great start to Nonfiction November. I’m so excited to read your posts this week! Is anyone else’s TBR going crazy? I created a tag on GoodReads specifically for books I’ve discovered during Nonfiction November.

This week’s topic is Be/Become/Ask the Expert. Share a list of titles that you have read on a particular topic, create a wish list of titles that you’d like to read about a particular topic, or ask your fellow Nonfiction November participants for suggestions on a particular topic. Last year, I blogged about my favorite nonfiction books about gardening and farming and I also blogged a list of books I’d like to read to become even more of an “expert” on this topic. If you’d like some more examples of this, check out last year’s amazing posts! This was one of my favorite weeks last year and I can’t wait to read your book lists.

This year, I’d like to become the expert in language and linguistics. I was a Spanish major in college and I took a lot of linguistics classes in both English and Spanish. I miss learning about language and the science of language. Most recently, I read Trip of the Tongue by Elizabeth Little. It was a great exploration of all the different languages in the United States, which are often forgotten about and in danger of disappearing. I need more books like this!

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Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: The Amazing Adventure of Translation by David Bellos – I first heard of this book through Nonfiction November participant Wendy. Before I ended up leaving academia, I thought I’d like to become a translator. I’m fascinated by the way words work differently in each language and how translations can be effective. Is That A Fish in Your Ear? explores the world through the lens of translation and tries to answer the questions that a world full of translations creates.

Reading in the BrainThe New Science of How We Read by Stanislas Dehaene – We are all here because we are readers, but we probably don’t often think about the mechanics of it. Reading and the written word are amazing things and Reading in the Brain sounds like a fascinating exploration of everything from the science of how we read to the origins of written language and our understanding of it.

In the Land of Invented Languages by Arika Orkrent – There are a lot more invented languages than Esperanto and Klingon. Apparently! This book is going to tell me all about them. There are nearly 900 invented languages and I hope this book not only goes into why they were created, but also how.

Talking Hands by Margalit Fox – There is a bedouin community within Israel with a high frequency of deafness and there, in this isolated place, a native sign language has developed over the years, virtually uninfluenced by other spoken, written or signed languages. It’s an amazing opportunity to study the way a language develops. Sign languages are so interesting and this book, recommended by Nonfiction November participant Hillary of A Horse and A Carrot, sounds like one I would just devour.

The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language by Christine Kenneally – Controversial! Compelling! Those are the words used to describe Christine Kenneally’s primary focus of her book The First Word. Essentially, most linguists decided it was a waste of time to study the evolution of language. Christine Kenneally thinks most linguists are wrong. I love a good debate, but this also sounds like a good introduction to the world of linguistics and behavioral studies.

Have you read any of these books? Do you have a favorite book about language? Let me know in the comments!

Now share your lists! Place your link to your Be/Become/Ask the Expert book list in the linky below. If you post any nonfiction reviews or other nonfiction related posts this week, please also include those here. I’ll be adding as much as possible in my round up of this week’s posts on Friday, so be sure to check back then. I can’t wait to read your lists!

 

Nonfiction November Week 1 – My Year in Nonfiction

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Nonfiction November is here! While I’m sad to see October go, with its mild weather and spooky reads and beautiful leaves, Nonfiction November makes the approaching cold a little bit more bearable. I can’t wait to read all your posts this month!

One of the main reasons that I wanted to start Nonfiction November last year was because I don’t really feel like I spend enough time reading nonfiction, even though I typically enjoy it. I don’t seek it out. So, in my standard fashion, my year in nonfiction has been pretty slim.

So far, this year, I’ve read:

  • Things I Learned from Dying by David R. Dow
  • A Matter of Life by Jeffrey Brown
  • Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole J. Georges
  • Marbles by Ellen Forney
  • Busted by Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • Wild Ones by Jim Mooallen

Okay, typing that out, it’s actually a lot more than I thought! Graphic Novel February is also great for my nonfiction reading, since three of these (A Matter of Life, Calling Dr. Laura, and Marbles) are all graphic memoirs. Now, to answer some questions!

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

It’s so hard to choose! I really liked Wild Ones and I think Marbles is such an amazing account of Forney’s struggle with bipolar disorder, but the winner this year so far is Things I’ve Learned from Dying by David R. Dow. I think Dow is an underrated writer and more people should be reading his books. Dow is a death row lawyer who does not believe in the morality of the death penalty. He spends most of his time trying in vain to get his clients off death row, whether they are innocent of their crimes or not, rarely succeeding. Things I’ve Learned from Dying is a meditation on life and death that is beautiful and poignant and while it was often heartbreaking or difficult to read, I can’t recommend it enough.

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

Probably Parasite Rex. I read it with Aarti last year and every time anyone mentions anything to do with parasites, I bring this book up. I loved it.

What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?

History!!! I read a lot of memoirs and some science nonfiction books, but I definitely want to read more books about history. I don’t know as much as I’d like and I want to know more! About all kinds of history.

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

I’m really looking forward to reading a lot of good nonfiction and getting great recommendations from other bloggers. Y’all know all the good books, after all.

I can’t wait to read your posts! Remember, this month’s linky will be hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, so please head over to her blog to share our post this week before Friday! Also be sure to check out my other cohosts and their posts this week at I’m Lost in Books and Doing Dewey!

Nonfiction November Readalong Announcement

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The new addition to this year’s Nonfiction November celebration is a readalong, in an effort to encourage non-bloggers to participate in a discussion in addition to bloggers. Last week we asked you to vote on what that readalong title would be. We each picked a book we were interested in reading and in the end, you decided! There were two winners throughout the week that were pretty close in votes: Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff and The Restless Sleep by Stacy Horn.

Since everyone has such varied nonfiction tastes, we thought we’d give you an option to read one or both of these books along with us. Kim and I will be reading The Restless Sleep and Rebecca and Katie will be reading Cleopatra.

We will be wrapping up the readalong on November 19th, before the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, with discussion posts on our blogs and a link-up. You’re welcome to include your links to posts where you talked about the books or to join in the discussion of the book in the comments section. We’ll also be chatting about the books on Twitter, using the hashtag #nonficnov.

I’m looking forward to reading The Restless Sleep with everyone!

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

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I first downloaded The Raven Boys on audio because I thought it was a different book. It was an excellent mistake.

I first fell in love with The Raven Boys because of the narrator, Will Patton. The particular lilt of his voice is beautiful, the cadence like poetry or song. It calms me. I always keep an audiobook from The Raven Cycle downloaded on my phone so I can pick a point in the middle of the story and listen if I’m feeling nervous. I especially like to listen to it on airplanes.

It was more than just the narration of The Raven Boys that made it great, of course. I do think that Will Patton could read me the phone book and I would be happy, but Stiefvater’s prose is like magic, effortless and intricate and lovely and surprising. Sentences that shouldn’t work do. Things that should sound cheesy instead just sound right and like there is simply no other way to describe it.

It’s everything else that keeps me coming back for more. The characters are complex. Good and bad. No one is wholly evil and no one is wholly good. The characters surprise and charm  Now that I’m back in Virginia, I’ve been enjoying the setting even more. I’m originally from Virginia and I’ve been spending a lot of time in the area where Henrietta is supposed to be. It’s just fun to read about places and landscapes you recognize, people you could know.  I’m looking forward to more explanation of the magic, but oh how I love the combination of folklore and psychic powers and traditions.

When I first got The Dream Thieves, I read it much too quickly. I didn’t want to make that same mistake with Blue Lily, so I savored it and it is everything you have come to expect from this series. It is much less like a series than one continuous novel that has just been broken up into chunks, which is not a complaint. I’m looking forward to reading them all cover to cover one day.

We spent The Raven Boys getting to know our characters. The Dream Thieves was all about the magic of Cabeswater and two different dreamers. Blue Lily, Lily Blue is much more about moving the plot along to some kind of conclusion, though not without character development (so much Noah!) and more exploration of the magic that lives on the ley line. I loved that we got to know the women of Fox Way a little bit more in this installment.

It’s just nice to find a story to get lost in again.

I received a promotional copy of Blue Lily, Lily Blue from the publisher.

What I’ve Been Up To

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My new job is near the mountains. This was where we had our annual party celebrating the founding of our company. I can’t get over how beautiful the mountains are.

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I’ve long wanted my own kayak, but I wasn’t sure if it was just something I was holding onto, so I thought I’d take a kayak tour of the Potomac. It ended up being a rainy day and everyone else canceled, so it was a private kayaking adventure with just me and the guide. It was the best, and yes, I do still want a kayak. Time to start saving up. (And figuring out where to keep it…)

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IMG_20141004_141241We went to a bbq festival in Richmond a few weekends ago and it was a perfectly beautiful, warm, lovely blue day. The neighborhood we walked through had some amazing flowers and front porches. Plus this adorable fairy garden.

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Finally, this weekend we went to the Farm Festival at Sky Meadows Park. It was a gray, cold day, but perfectly lovely for taking tours of old houses and learning about beekeeping and staring at the beautiful colors on the trees.