What Non-Fiction Are We Reading Now (Oct. thru Dec. 2023)?

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What Non-Fiction Are We Reading Now (Oct. thru Dec. 2023)?

1Molly3028
sep 28, 2023, 7:37 am

Share details about your Q4 book selections here.

2LynnB
sep 28, 2023, 8:40 am

3sdolton
okt 4, 2023, 11:18 am

The Month That Changed the World - July 1914 by Gordon Martel

4varielle
okt 4, 2023, 6:55 pm

The Sailor’s Handbook because i have fantasies about learning to sail. I don’t think that’s ever going to happen though. ⛵️

5paradoxosalpha
okt 4, 2023, 8:14 pm

I've wrapped up my read of Letters on the Royal Art and posted a review of this translation of early 19th-century German occult instruction. Changing subject matter considerably, I've started in on Who Is the City For?: Architecture, Equity, and the Public Realm in Chicago, a collection of Blair Kamin's architecture criticism from the Chicago Tribune.

6JulieLill
okt 6, 2023, 10:39 am

Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way
by Richard Branson
4/5 stars
Richard Branson talks about his life, his businesses and making a fortune. This was a very interesting look at how he dealt with all of his businesses. This was published in 1998 so it would be interesting to read what has happened to him since 1998. Business

7paradoxosalpha
okt 11, 2023, 2:41 pm

Who Is the City For? was a very satisfying read, and I've posted my review. Now I need to go back and finish the Kenneth Anger bio that I left half-unfinished last month.

8JulieLill
okt 15, 2023, 12:16 pm

Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall
Alexandra Lange
3/5 stars
Lange writes about the history of the shopping malls and the high and lows of being in the business of building and running malls. Not the most fascinating book I have ever read but I learned a lot about malls! Business

9Molly3028
okt 17, 2023, 7:51 pm

Enjoying this eBook via Libby ~

Enough
by Cassidy Hutchinson
(four parts/Part one involves her childhood and her pre-DC years)

10JulieLill
okt 18, 2023, 12:33 pm

My Word is My Bond
Roger Moore
4/5 stars
Roger Moore, actor and James Bond portrayer talks about his life, family, his film career and his philanthropic endeavors. This covers his life up to 2008. He died in May 23, 2017. Very well written and he definitely led a very interesting life! Books About Film and Television

12LauriStrengell
okt 22, 2023, 5:35 pm

>1 Molly3028: I've struggled a bit with non-fiction books lately. I've started super-interesting books but found them written in a way that didn't carry me through, despite very good at the start. Is it me or the book?
Currently reading "Great Thinkers" (School of Life), a short introduction of great thinkers across our times, their key ideas and contributions to various areas of human life. Perhaps I need some bite-sized reading to rest my brain from Daniel C Dennett, Nassim Taleb and Vaclav Smil. (huh!)

I have ordered the following: Bill Bryson: Body, a guide to occupants, Sean Carroll: The Biggest Ideas in the Universe and Robert Sapolsky: Determined, Life without free will. That should do for Q4 2023.

13JulieLill
okt 23, 2023, 12:02 pm

>12 LauriStrengell: I do like Bill Bryson's books and I have read most of them!

14SChant
okt 24, 2023, 8:31 am

It's that time of the year, in my part of the world, where I see lots of amazing fungi springing up in woods and gardens, which has prompted me to start Merlin Sheldrake's Entangled Life, a fascinating look at the wonderful and often barely understood world of fungi.

15LynnB
okt 24, 2023, 3:16 pm

16JulieLill
okt 26, 2023, 1:22 pm

>15 LynnB: I would read that - how is it?

17LynnB
okt 26, 2023, 2:08 pm

>16 JulieLill: This is primarily a scientific investigation of periods, covering such topics as what purpose(s) they serve and what happens in the body across the menstrual cycle. It is written from a feminist perspective, both in terms of the kinds of scientific questions asked, and ranging into issues such as various cultural taboos around periods and the challenges faced by many women in securing the necessary supplies and space to deal with their periods. The book also looks at the environmental impact of current products to deal with or suppress menstruation.

A pretty comprehensive look at the issue. I was more interested in the cultural and social issues while this book is more focused on the science. I found the science writing a bit dry with some terms not explained for the general reader. The rest of the book was almost chatty at times. So a mixed experience reading this one.

18genesisdiem
okt 26, 2023, 3:07 pm

>17 LynnB: You might like this one, if you've not read it already. Flow

19LynnB
okt 27, 2023, 7:48 am

>18 genesisdiem: Thank you. I'll check it out.

20jhheart
okt 28, 2023, 9:26 pm

>12 LauriStrengell: Oh, I love Sean Carroll's podcast. Please let us know how the book is!

22paradoxosalpha
Redigerat: okt 31, 2023, 9:59 am

I did wrap up my reading of the biography Anger, and I also read the popular mathematics book Flatterland (which has a fanciful fictional wrapper). My reviews of both are posted. On deck is Emma Hardinge Britten's Ghost Land.

23vwinsloe
Redigerat: nov 1, 2023, 2:34 pm

I'm reading Waking Up White which is the memoir of a woman who does anti-racist speaking and workshops. Her approach is different, because as a very white person, she never thought of herself as even having a race. Although this book covers a lot of familiar ground, the author's perspective may be more relatable to some white people than other books on the subject. It might also be of interest to people of color to explain why some white people are so clueless.

24rocketjk
nov 7, 2023, 2:36 pm

I finished The Good Fight, Shirley Chisholm's campaign memoir about her run for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 1972. It was fascinating and well written, indeed, though it doesn't provide much personal information about Chisholm, the person. Chisholm the politician and activist is quite interesting enough and the book tells of a pivotal time in American history. You can find a longer review on my 50-Book Challenge thread.

25paradoxosalpha
Redigerat: nov 7, 2023, 2:56 pm

I finished A Dweller on Two Planets a piece of late 19th-century metaphysical science fiction packaged as occult non-fiction. Now I'm starting in on a correspondence collection Karl Germer: Selected Letters, 1928-1962.

26LynnB
nov 10, 2023, 2:11 pm

27JulieLill
nov 15, 2023, 3:28 pm

Desperate Hours: The Epic Rescue of the Andrea Doria
Richard Goldstein
4/5 stars
This is the story of the Andrea Doriaocean liner built in 1951, who was taking passengers on a cruise in 1956 when it was hit by the Swedish ship Stockholm during a dense fog and tells the aftermath of the disaster. Goldstein relates the ship's history, the sinking of the ship and the stories of the passengers on board. The collision killed 51 people—46 from the Andrea Doria and 5 from the Stockholm. Very interesting but sad!

28cmbohn
Redigerat: nov 16, 2023, 9:32 pm

I'm reading Lost Science by Kitty Ferguson. It's about scientists whose works got overlooked or forgotten. It's pretty interesting.

29vwinsloe
nov 17, 2023, 8:21 am

I'm reading The Peabody Sisters which is the biography of three sisters in Massachusetts in the early 19th Century. This book stands in sharp contrast to the works of other biographers that bog down with too much detail including many names and dates that don't add anything to the narrative. This book flows much better, and is a highly enjoyable read.

30cindydavid4
nov 17, 2023, 8:29 am

Ok I want to read this!

31JulieLill
nov 17, 2023, 11:36 am

Barbra Streisand: the Music, the Albums, the Singles
Matt Howe
3/5 stars
This large book details everything that Streisand sang, wrote and her collaborations with other famous musical artists. This was just okay for me. At times it just dragged. I can't recommend it but I am looking forward to reading her new autobiography.

32cindydavid4
nov 17, 2023, 12:16 pm

Ive got that on my reading table and hope to get to it very soon!

33rocketjk
Redigerat: nov 19, 2023, 11:19 am

I've recently finished Sappers in the Wire: The Life and Death of Firebase Mary Ann by Keith William Nolan. Sappers in the Wire is a detailed historical account of an American military debacle during the Vietnam War. It was late in the war, the spring of 1971, and the U.S. was gradually disengaging. The moral of the soldiers still on the ground was understandably low. Belief that there was any real purpose to what they were doing was scarce, and nobody wanted to die in a purposeless war. Drug use had grown, resentment of officers was often strong, and racial divisions affected the soldiers, as well. Firebase Mary Ann was a fortified encampment on the top of a hill in the jungle in the northern part of South Vietnam, put there to allow the U.S. and South Vietnamese forces to try to disrupt North Vietnamese supply lines into the country. The solders were still going on dangerous patrols in the surrounding jungle, inflicting and receiving casualties. But up on their firebase refuge, they felt safe, and between this feeling of safety and the enlisted soldiers' low morale, it became very difficult for the officers to impose security protocol standards. One night, after a confusion-inducing mortar attack, Viet Cong soldiers snuck past the camp's guards and ran through the camp tossing grenades into bunkers and shooting soldiers who tried to escape the explosions. Thirty U.S. soldiers were killed and 82 were seriously wounded.

The battle, especially when word of the lax security came out, became a scandal within and without of the Army. The Army conducted a thorough investigation of the battle (which Nolan describes in the book's final chapters) and the failings that led up to it, interviewing every surviving soldier in depth, and Nolan was able to access these testimonies. He also conducted phone interviews with dozens of soldiers willing to talk to him. Between the official testimonies and these interviews, Nolan was able to construct a minute-by-minute account of the terrifying action, and he does so, extremely effectively. He also does a very good job of putting the event in context.

34Bookmarque
Redigerat: nov 19, 2023, 11:19 am

What are you doing here? - subtitled A Black Woman's Life & Liberation in Heavy Metal.

Frankly eye-opening and sad, too. As a black woman she's so much the outsider in the worlds of Punk and Metal that she is often made to feel physically threatened by going to the shows that she wants to see. She's shunned and called a race traitor because she doesn't listen to Beyonce or Jay Z. Her parents forbade rock and roll in the house growing up and insisted she listen to "black" music. She feels boxed in and conflicted and has to constantly assert that, no, in fact she's not turning her back on her "blackness". Sad and crazy, but interesting.

It's also cleared up some of the reasons that black musicians walked away from rock and roll since their role in helping to create it. For me this phenomenon was always puzzling and one of the reasons bands like Living Color, Fishbone and what Lenny Kravitz did, are so much the odd man out. Even with guitar gods like Jimi Hendrix and Prince, they are both non-conforming in their musical decisions. Jimi more than Prince, but it's there. I'm about 1/2 way through.

35vwinsloe
nov 20, 2023, 7:42 am

>34 Bookmarque: Interesting! Sounds like a great Christmas gift for a friend (who will read it and lend it back to me.)

36Bookmarque
nov 20, 2023, 8:26 am

Yeah it's an interesting take on the very sharp musical divide along racial lines that we have. Written about 10 years ago if I remember rightly. Frankly, I'd LOVE to meet up with her at a metal show. We'd headbang like nobody's business!

In some ways I feel her pain, although being white, heavy metal is more accessible to me, but as a woman I've always gotten strange looks when the subject of music has come up. Those who don't listen to metal think it's all "screaming", but that's just ignorance. Still, it's difficult to have to constantly "defend" the genre in the face of it and that people basically close down when you try to explain or get them to listen. My first rock and roll crush was Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden (truth be told, I still have a crush on him) and that should tell you my style - clean vocals, lots of melody, great lyrics and very, very loud volumes. Sure that lots of harsh vocal styles are popular, but I only go so far with that (some Soilwork and Samael are about it). But anyway...yes, grab it if you can and borrow it when your friend is done.

38LynnB
nov 23, 2023, 9:07 am

I'm reading In the Form of a Question: The Joys and Rewards of a Curious Life by Amy Schneider. Jeopardy! fans will know she is the most successful woman ever to compete on the show.

39botch_snap
nov 26, 2023, 11:47 pm

I'm reading A City on Mars: Can we settle space, should we settle space, and have we really thought this through?.

I'm a skeptic on the concept of 'settling space' so this book is interesting to me. So far it's an easy, amusing read and seems more accessible than other books on the topics. (Like the brilliant Space Forces: A Critical History of Life in Outer Space)

Looking forward to cracking into it more.

40JulieLill
nov 27, 2023, 11:49 am

Iceman: My Fighting Life
Chuck Liddell
This is the autobiography of Chuck Liddell who is a mixed martial artist. I am not a big sports fan but I learned a lot about wrestling and being a mixed martial artist! I thought this was very interesting!

41LynnB
nov 30, 2023, 11:48 am

42Karen5Lund
nov 30, 2023, 9:22 pm

Currently reading:

Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin I'm nearly finished.

The Library Book by Susan Orlean Just starting.

Olmsted from the Library of America--won as a door prize; I am reading one short segment most days.

The Indians of New Jersey : Dickon among the Lenapes by M. R. Harrington, purchased in the gift shop at the National Museum of the American Indian (NYC) Thanksgiving weekend. Another one I'm reading in short chapters.

I have also (finally!) gotten around to sorting out our late parents' books. There are a lot of them and this will be a project, but I've already put aside quite a few I want to read--or at least dip into. Dad's books on the Brooklyn Dodgers my brother will have to fight me for, but we'll certainly be willing to share them for reading. (He can have all the football books.)

I was inspired by a friend who leads nature walks and arrived at our last walk with a trunk full of books from his parents. Of course I took one! But I need to unload some of ours. My brother told me his girlfriend is cleaning out her books. And I may try to give some of our unwanted books to a local second hand shop, where I will undoubtedly buy a few books. It's really going to be a big circular exchange.

43Karen5Lund
nov 30, 2023, 9:30 pm

>4 varielle: I know lots of people (myself included) who read travel books and books about distant places even though they may never get there. Heck, because we can't do or visit everything we might want to, but books are the next best thing.

44cindydavid4
dec 1, 2023, 8:44 am

yes, Ive always traveled vicariously through reading! btw any chance that Flâneuse has been translated into English?

45Karen5Lund
dec 1, 2023, 6:58 pm

>44 cindydavid4: It was written in English. The author is from Long Island in NY; she just lives in France.

But I do appreciate your belief that I can read French fluently.

46cindydavid4
Redigerat: dec 1, 2023, 8:20 pm

>45 Karen5Lund: hee, the title was in frence so wasnt sure, besides I always assume others know more languages than I! will have to look for that; travel books are always welcomed in my house! Ill wait for your review

I hope you loved the library book as much as I did. Have read a lot of her work, and like how respectful she was in her research and interviews

47Karen5Lund
dec 3, 2023, 7:21 pm

>46 cindydavid4: Totally understandable! It's not even a "real" French word: the author invented it based on a word for a *man* who walks because there is no word for a *woman* who walks.

It's not a travel book in the usual sense, although the author has lived in several cities and writes about them. There's a lot of literature in it. Quirky, which appeals to me.

I've only just started The Library Book but so far I'm enjoying it, as much as a book lover can enjoy the account of a library burning.

48cindydavid4
Redigerat: dec 3, 2023, 8:22 pm

>47 Karen5Lund: wait a minute, I think I read that book. remember the name and the author explaining it, and vaguely remember her travels. Cant remember if I liked it, but its not on my shelves which means I didn't like it enough to keep it. I should check out a copy and see if it rings any bells

49LyzzyBee
dec 5, 2023, 8:06 am

I'm really enjoying Eve, such a fascinating read!

50LynnB
dec 5, 2023, 10:12 am

>49 LyzzyBee: That's up next on my TBR pile.

52LyzzyBee
Redigerat: dec 8, 2023, 6:40 am

>51 LynnB: It's amazing, isn't it, a new-to-me fact on every page!

53LynnB
dec 8, 2023, 9:13 am

>52 LyzzyBee: Yes, it's certainly fascinating and I'm learning a lot. Another interesting read which focuses on male bias is Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez

54jillmwo
dec 8, 2023, 2:00 pm

Currently reading Prairie Fires. The harshness of the actual life she lived as a child is striking and Fraser's writing is excellent.

55vwinsloe
dec 9, 2023, 7:17 am

>54 jillmwo: I have that one sitting on my TBR shelf, and I'm happy to hear that it is a good read.

56ricko800
dec 9, 2023, 4:00 pm

>49 LyzzyBee: Eve is on my Christmas list, i can't wait...nice to know its a good read...

57ricko800
dec 10, 2023, 1:12 pm

I just started " Barbara "...so far so good..900 pages to go...

58JulieLill
dec 12, 2023, 11:57 am

Vacuuming in the Nude: And Other Ways to Get Attention
Peggy Rowe
4/5 stars
Peggy Rowe is the mother of Mike Rowe host of Dirty Jobs. She is also a talented writer and has written other books. She talks of her life with her family. This was very enjoyable and I look forward to reading her other books.

59rocketjk
dec 12, 2023, 2:25 pm

I finished Early Latin America: A History of Colonial Spanish America and Brazil by James Lockhart and Stuart B. Schwartz. This is a textbook, the major part of the reading for the course I audited at Columbia University this semester, Latin American Civilization I: (Early Latin America, 16th-18th centuries), taught by an excellent lecturer, Catarina Pizzigoni. The book was first published in the 1980s, and is what we think of as a traditional history textbook: very dense and more than a little dry. But when considered with the course lectures and the supplemental readings we were assigned, Early Latin America provides a fairly comprehensive and, for me at least, quite illuminating look at the more than 300 years of Spanish and Portuguese colonial rule in Mexico and Central and South America. I wouldn't recommend this for leisure reading, but as a textbook for an interesting course with a terrific professor, it filled the bill just fine.

61vwinsloe
dec 13, 2023, 8:45 am

>60 LynnB: That looks good. Sounds like the kind of people that David Foster Wallace described in his short story Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.

62cindydavid4
dec 13, 2023, 5:39 pm

finally getting around to reading manifesto and enjoying it quite a bit. Its a memoir and an explanation of what started her creative juices flowing. I first read her girl woman other which won the Booker prize in 2019. I had been meaning to dive into her earlier work, then I found this. I highly recommend both of these. and now to explore her other work

63JulieLill
dec 19, 2023, 12:13 pm

Born to Run
Bruce Springsteen
3/5 stars
This is Bruce's autobiography about his family and his career as a musician. This was published in 2016. Very interesting but it is a long book.

64LynnB
dec 20, 2023, 4:32 pm

65JulieLill
dec 22, 2023, 11:14 am

Finding Chika: A Little Girls, An Earthquake, and the Making of A Family
Mitch Albom
5/5 stars
What a wonderful but sad story about Mitch Albom who with his wife befriend an orphan girl named Chika in Haiti at their Have Faith Haiti Orphanage. Unfortunately, she becomes quite ill and Albom and his wife try to get her treated medically and hopefully cured of her condition.

66LynnB
dec 22, 2023, 7:02 pm

I'm reading All the Way: My Life on Ice by Jordin Tootoo, the first Inuit player in the NHL.

67snash
dec 23, 2023, 7:49 am

I finished the LTER book, Snapshots of a Life. To read his stories is as if you were sitting in a diner listening to a friend tell stories of his life. While most are not soul searching, they do portray a snapshot of a life as the book's title promises.

68cindydavid4
dec 25, 2023, 3:58 pm

snapshots of a life heres the right touchstone. the other one was about Einstien

69snash
dec 25, 2023, 7:09 pm

>68 cindydavid4: Sorry I thought I'd corrected to the correct touchstone but obviously missed it with this post.

70cindydavid4
dec 25, 2023, 7:12 pm

no worries, I do that all of the time. checking the author on it helps then going to others to find the right one. If you cann :)

71rocketjk
dec 27, 2023, 11:45 am

I finished The Massacre at El Mozote by Mark Danner. In December 1981, during the fierce civil war in El Salvador, members of an elite strike force of the Salvadoran Army arrived at the village of El Mazote in a mountainous section of the country mostly controlled by leftist rebel forces and proceeded to murder somewhere around 800 villagers: men, women and children in the most horrible ways imaginable. The point was to demonstrate to the surrounding areas that the consequences of supporting for the rebels could be dire, even though even the most cursory investigation of El Mazote would have shown the army leaders that these villagers were doing their best to have nothing to do with either the rebels or the government's armed forces. Cruelty and viciousness was the point.

New Yorker reporter Mark Danner does an excellent job of setting up the background of the atrocity, geopolitically and internally. And then, using survivor testimony as well as the testimony of those few soldiers who were willing to talk to Danner anonymously, he walks readers step by step and atrocity by atrocity through that horrible afternoon. Danner's subtitle for his book is "A Parable of the Cold War," and he does a very good job of setting up the pressure put on Congressmen, including Democrats who should have known better, not to cut funding and thus be responsible to "losing" El Salvador to Communism, especially coming so soon after the victory of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Although the term is never used in the book, "plausible deniability" was the dominant paradigm as far as the U.S. administration was concerned. Reports of the massacre, or of the horrifying number killed "could not be confirmed." Danner's writing is clear and concise, and his reporting (the book is an expanded version of his writing for the New Yorker) is excellent.

72Karen5Lund
dec 30, 2023, 6:44 pm

Hooray! I wanted to finish Flâneuse before the end of the year and I just squeaked in... Finished reading it on December 30.

Coincidentally I also went on a nature walk at a park (one of the few in my borough I've never been to before) and got into a short conversation with another woman about how she doesn't feel safe walking in parks alone. I do, most of the time, although I prefer to make my first visit with a group to scope out the place. Thinking about women walking...

73vwinsloe
dec 31, 2023, 7:26 am

I just finished The Glass Summit, and it was really an exciting read. The book chronicles the author's high altitude skiing and mountaineering adventures, usually with teams of men, and notes how different her feminine approach is to these challenges. Jan Reynolds is also the author of a series of children's books on the vanishing cultures that she met during her expeditions, and her interest in this subject is also noted.

74rocketjk
dec 31, 2023, 4:22 pm

One more book under the wire for 2024. An Old Guy Who Feels Good, originally published in 1978, is the memoir of Worden McDonald, who had led a very interesting and event-packed life. McDonald was born in 1907 in a small Oklahoma town, the fifth of five siblings (and his father's 10th child, counting McDonald's five older step-siblings from his father's first marriage). His father was a Presbyterian minister. When McDonald was 6, the family moved from town onto a farm his father had purchased. And although McDonald loved farm life when he was a boy (and describes it here glowingly), he left home while still in his teens, riding freight trains and otherwise making his way around the country, working at a wide variety of jobs for greater or lesser periods of time, including, among other pursuits, ranching, mining and factory work. It wasn't until later in life that McDonald married, settled down to raise a family, and went to work, for over a decade, for the phone company in California, and began to develop a left-week political sensibility.

McDonald wrote with an off-the-cuff humorous voice. He seems to have been more or less setting down events and anecdotes as they came to him, and those stories are very entertaining in the telling. We normally think of people "riding the rails" during the Depression, and I found it interesting to read that McDonald was doing so in the mid-20s, years before the Depression began. He has a fun sense of humor, as in this example:

"We lived in town, if you want to call Sallisaw a town, tunnel I was six. Tom and Dick {a pair of horses} pulled the fire truck. When the bell rang they charged in place and waited for their suspended harness to fall on their backs. They took off in a big gallop--once so fast that they overturned the fire truck and broke the driver's leg. But usually they arrived in time to watch the house burn down."

Folks of a "certain age" who grew up in America in the 60s may be amused to learn that Worden McDonald was the father of Country Joe McDonald of "Country Joe and the Fish" fame. This is a fun, obscure bit of Americana.

This book has been on my shelves since before I first posted my books on LT back in 2008.