What Non-fiction books are we starting 2017 with?

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What Non-fiction books are we starting 2017 with?

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2lilithcat
jan 1, 2017, 12:19pm

I'll likely finish off today a book begun last year, Michael Lenehan's Much Ado: a Summer with a Repertory Theater Company. Then I will pick up Ethan Michaeli's The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America.

3Rayaowen
jan 1, 2017, 12:28pm

I'm readingThe organized Mind by Daniel Levitin before moving on to his A Field Guide to Lies

4LyzzyBee
jan 1, 2017, 1:23pm

I'm reading Iris Murdoch's letters, officially a non-fiction book but of course letters straddle genres, don't they ...

5ABVR
Redigerat: jan 1, 2017, 9:13pm

I'm continuing Peter Chapman's Bananas, a brief popular history of the United Fruit Company and its (vast, corrupting) influence on the Caribbean and Latin America. It was recommended by a friend who spent most of her working life abroad, and feels like a good introduction to a piece of world history I know far too little about . . .

I've also started Hidden Figures, Margo Lee Shetterly's history of African American women "calculators" at NACA and NASA at the dawn of the space age, with a view toward finishing it before the film adaptation shows up at my local single-screen.

Looking back, 2016 feels like a lackluster year for non-fiction books -- some solid reads, many disappointments, but very few standouts. I'm hoping for better results in 2017.

6jfetting
jan 1, 2017, 10:06pm

I'm reading In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin. I've heard good things about it and I'm looking forward to it.

7ThomasWatson
jan 2, 2017, 9:21am

Starting the New Year by indulging in my interest in astronomy: Annals of the Deep Sky, Volume 4. The previous volumes were well-written and accessible, so I've been looking forward to the release of the fourth. An interesting blend of science and science history that discusses celestial objects constellation by constellation.

8qebo
jan 2, 2017, 10:29am

I finished Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer yesterday. And after a negligent 2016, I've optimistically started a fresh thread for 2017 in the Non-Fiction Challenge / Journal group.

11lorax
jan 3, 2017, 4:11pm

>8 qebo:

What did you think of Gathering Moss? I've been eyeing it for my Dewey challenge.

12bluepiano
jan 3, 2017, 5:45pm

>5 ABVR: I was luckier than you as I think I abandoned halfway through much more fiction than non-fiction in 2016. Possibly my favourite book of the year--certainly one of the few that has lingered in my mind--was the beautifully designed SQM The Quantified Home, all of it save a few pages non-fiction. (contents http://www.spacecaviar.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/SQM_toc.pdf)

Am starting the year with Dot Dot Dot No. 20, the final issue of an unclassifiable sort of journal. Thought-provoking in a vague way rather than informative.

13qebo
jan 3, 2017, 6:25pm

>11 lorax: I put a brief review on my NF thread here. If it fits a category for you, go for it. It's short, and essentially a series of essays, each with information embedded in a narrative. I'm now reading another book about moss that is more of a how-to, and realizing how much basic information I'd already absorbed.

14waitingtoderail
jan 3, 2017, 6:36pm

I'm reading Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution which so far is fascinating. Focusing on the business of the leagues rather than the players.

15LyzzyBee
jan 4, 2017, 3:00am

I've started Eat, Sweat, Play. which is a powerful book about women and sport - highly recommendable so far.

17ghr4
jan 4, 2017, 12:40pm

Just started In the Land of the Giants: A Journey Through the Dark Ages by Max Adams - a walking travel adventure exploring the British landscape to discover its lost early medieval past.

18indigorising
jan 5, 2017, 5:48pm

I've already started one of my Christmas gifts, Foy's Finding North: How Navigation Makes Us Human, which is excellent. And I'm looking forward to starting one of the books I got myself during my holiday kindle shopping spree, Fire in the City: Savonarola and the Struggle for the Soul of Renaissance Florence. I've really been on a history-and-exploration kick for a while...

19JulieLill
jan 5, 2017, 6:09pm

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club
Phillip M. Hoose
4.5/5 stars
This actually is a YA Non- fiction book and fairly short but nevertheless a fascinating story of a group of Danish teenagers that refused to accept Nazi occupation during WWII while most of the adults accepted the occupation and went along with it. Most of the books that I have read on WWII did not discuss Denmark so I found this very interesting.

212wonderY
jan 9, 2017, 12:10pm

On audio, in the car, listening to Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South.

On paper, trying to finish up The hidden half of nature : the microbial roots of life and health. Good stuff. Lots of basic science updates that I've missed since leaving school in the 70s.

22JulieLill
Redigerat: jan 9, 2017, 12:23pm

Now reading Not Just Batman’s Butler- The Autobiography of Alan Napier by Alan Napier with James Bigwood.

23rocketjk
jan 9, 2017, 3:12pm

I finished The Incredible Human Journey, Alice Roberts' very readable and interesting account of what is known (or was known, circa 2008) via paleontology and archeology of the human species' evolution in Africa and many ancient migrations to eventually inhabit every continent on the planet other than Antarctica.

24Seajack
jan 9, 2017, 9:51pm

How to be a Heroine - I was leery going in as the book is described as "feminist", but it's well written and interesting so far.

25JulieLill
jan 10, 2017, 3:01pm

>24 Seajack: Sounds like something I would like-adding to my list.

26AnnieMod
jan 10, 2017, 5:27pm

Jackson, 1964: And Other Dispatches from Fifty Years of Reporting on Race in America is very good. No non-fiction reading at the moment for me - back to fiction for a bit :)

27Book-Dragon1952
jan 10, 2017, 5:33pm

So far this year for non-fiction:
1. Pearl Harbor: Final Judgement by Henry C. Clausen and Bruce Lee
2. All The Gallant Men: The First Memoir by a USS Arizona Survivor by Donald Stratton with Ken Gire

Reading now: Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari and When Books Went to War byMolly Guptill Manning

282wonderY
jan 11, 2017, 7:15am

>27 Book-Dragon1952: Your touchstone for Sapiens goes to a Jared Diamond book.

29wester
jan 11, 2017, 3:20pm

30Book-Dragon1952
jan 11, 2017, 3:31pm

>29 wester: Thanks I am not sure I could have fixed that my self.

31Bookmarque
jan 11, 2017, 3:34pm

I have The Hare with the Amber Eyes going at the moment, but it's less captivating than I expected. I will keep on with it because I want to know what happens. It's one of my early morning books...I read it in very low light on my iPad.

33framboise
jan 14, 2017, 7:56pm

>31 Bookmarque: Funny, I just saw that book in the museum gift shop today. Never heard of it before, but it sounded interesting.

I finished my ER read, my first nonfiction of the year, the memoir You Carried Me. I wouldn't recommend it.

34Sandydog1
jan 14, 2017, 9:31pm

'Just finished a really great book, The Swerve. I've moved on to The invention of Nature which is almost as good.

35JulieLill
Redigerat: jan 17, 2017, 9:03pm

Not Just Batman’s Butler: The Autobiography of Alan Napier
by Alan Napier with James Bigwood
3/5 stars
Alan Napier is probably best known as Alfred,the butler in Batman the TV series but he had a very fascinating life and career outside of Batman. Born and raised in England, he was related to the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain on his mother's side. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and then spent his whole life acting on the stage, in movies and on TV. The book discusses his life, family and working in the entertainment field.

Originally written by Napier, James Bigwood took over finishing the book and adding comments to the sections written by Napier. At times this was hard to put down especially when his family was being discussed and his life growing up in England. Some of the discussion of his numerous roles was a little overwhelming but overall I enjoyed this book and I learned a lot about him.

36Seajack
jan 17, 2017, 9:40pm

Just finished Three Sheets to the Wind, traveling around the globe to compare beer cultures. Worked well as a general travel narrative, though folks who don't drink beer might not get into it much.

372wonderY
jan 18, 2017, 8:00am

>36 Seajack: Book bullet!

38slug9000
jan 18, 2017, 9:11am

2wonderY - I just finished Our Man in Charleston and liked it a lot. How is the audio version?

nrmay - I think I need to buy Abandoned Places for a friend! How do you like it?

I finished Our Man in Charleston a few weeks ago and then read Sleepwalker last week, which I did not really like. I had such high hopes for it, too. Now I am working on Hidden Figures and I am really enjoying it so far.

392wonderY
jan 18, 2017, 9:22am

>38 slug9000: The audio version is excellent. The book is third person and essentially factual, but the author manages to bring Robert Bunch to life. Antony Ferguson, while not speaking as Bunch, conveys that steady, reasoned, British personality that must have been essential in the man.

40Bookmarque
jan 18, 2017, 9:31am

Have relegated The Hare with the Amber Eyes to the DNF pile. I just couldn't care about ancestor Charles, his gobs of family money and its influence on the art world. One chapter would have sufficed for the paroxysms of lament over lost Renoirs, Monets and Degases.

41qebo
jan 18, 2017, 10:25am

>40 Bookmarque: I had the same reaction when I tried to read it a few years ago, and IIRC gave it up at about the same stage in the family saga.

42Seajack
jan 18, 2017, 4:46pm

I don't know what "book bullet"means?

43lesmel
Redigerat: jan 18, 2017, 4:57pm

>42 Seajack: You see a book mentioned, you realize you would like to read it, you add it to your growing pile of to be read titles...you been struck by a book bullet...

ETA: In this case "you" = ">37 2wonderY:" Heh

442wonderY
jan 18, 2017, 5:02pm

>42 Seajack: It's an "Owie" moment, but you kinda smile through the pain.

45Daniel.Estes
jan 19, 2017, 12:22pm

Today I started Steve Martin's Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life. So far it's excellent.

46paradoxosalpha
jan 19, 2017, 5:31pm

>45 Daniel.Estes:

My family has been watching the three-DVD set Steve Martin: The Television Stuff (checked out of the public library) and really enjoying it. So far it's really a period study of 1970s entertainment, but still funny even so.

47JulieLill
jan 19, 2017, 6:43pm

>45 Daniel.Estes: I would watch that and my library has it!

48LynnB
jan 20, 2017, 12:53pm

I'm reading Farley Mowat: Writing the Squib, which is a biography by John Orange.

49Bookmarque
jan 20, 2017, 3:23pm

Am reading Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick. This one deals with George Washington & Benedict Arnold during the American Revolution. As always, it's well-researched, focused and written in a very engaging style. I also love that many maps and battle diagrams are placed in the text where they belong instead of just clumped in one section.

50bluepiano
Redigerat: jan 20, 2017, 5:49pm

>49 Bookmarque: Yes indeed, re placement; relevant page is often best place for illustrations, especially of course in the case of diagrams, charts, graphs. Ideally there is a table of contents listing illustrations on page after TOC with chapter headings, with separate listings for general 'illustrations' and then 'graphs', 'maps' etc. so that they may referred back to readily.--Some art books have full-page illustrations clumped in the centre of the book but numbered; discussion of one of them in the text will then refer to (plate 12)--which is handy dandy.

Have finally got round to reading all my Granta journals, all mostly non-fiction. Have just read article in the one I'm at now about a Swiss maker of woodwind instruments who made the best-seller list with a memoir of being in Auschwitz as a child. He wasn't.

51john257hopper
Redigerat: jan 21, 2017, 7:41am

I'm reading Alicia Jurman's Alicia: My Story, her account of her childhood during the Holocaust. I have read a few Holocaust memoirs, but this is having even more impact than others. It may be because i have just heard a survivor speak at an event at work, but also I think due to her incredible courage and resourcefulness in escaping starvation and death repeatedly.

53Daniel.Estes
jan 23, 2017, 2:27pm

>46 paradoxosalpha: and >47 JulieLill:

The book is both charming and hilarious, with little pockets of the kind of sadness a comedian knows only too well. Also, it's very quotable. This one's my favorite, and apparently the internet thinks so too since it's already a meme:

"Despite a lack of natural ability, I did have the one element necessary to all early creativity: naïveté, that fabulous quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do."

54Seajack
jan 26, 2017, 6:28pm

Thanks for the followup on "book bullets" folks -- the beer book I mentioned turned out better than I'd expected, author seems like a nice guy.

55ThomasWatson
jan 27, 2017, 1:49pm

Next up is The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene.

56LynnB
jan 30, 2017, 9:34am

I'm about to start Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges.

57john257hopper
feb 5, 2017, 8:14am

I'm now reading Venice by Jan Morris. It's very densely written, almost stream of consciousness in places. A lot of interesting information, but presented disjointedly.

58lsg
feb 7, 2017, 2:29pm

Just finished Valiant Ambition which is more than anything else the story of Benedict Arnold, told in a more nuanced format than I have heard it before. It doesn't come off as admiring - other than for his courage - but his eventual treachery is not as unexpected. There's also some good insights into George Washington and his early leadership in the war as well as the problems with Congress. It's really pretty amazing that we won.

59cindydavid4
mar 15, 2017, 1:05pm

>57 john257hopper: oh I love her travel books and this is one of my favorites.

602wonderY
mar 15, 2017, 1:12pm

Highly recommending The Shepherd's View, third volume of essays and photos by James Rebanks, who farms in the beautiful and still wild Lake District of England. For a taste of what he's about, you can access his Twitter account from the author page.

61john257hopper
Redigerat: mar 18, 2017, 8:19am

Reading novels at the moment, but a couple of weeks ago I read Cicero by Antony Everitt, a very good biography, as was his one of Augustus I read years ago.

62dpevers
Redigerat: mar 17, 2017, 9:54am

"Book Bullet": Guilty as charged. Every good book leads to three more on the 'To read' list!