Sunday, February 4, 2018

UPDATE: January Nonfiction Reads

Still keeping a good percentage of nonfiction books into 2018. A couple of perfectly fine memoirs that  were engaging and entertaining and made me look up information as I read.

Lion by Saroo Brierly, which the movie was based on covers a little boy who gets majorly lost in India, and eventually adopted in Australia. He uses what little he remembers to eventually search for his family in India. So many good people in this one, very hopeful and the author maintained such a good approach to life even after surviving as a five year old on the streets of Calcutta.
(7 h 29 min, narrated Larry Buttrose)

Similar to Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the story of Nike. It's hard to believe that Nike was once considered an underdog. A tad too much business information and money battles, but it was fascinating to see how an empire was built based on a few guys and a dream. I remember when the waffle sole sneaker came out in the late 70s. The afterward addresses somewhat the sweatshop factories in Asia.
(13 h 22 min, narrated by Norbert Leo Butz)

Two books were carry overs from 2017, and still took a long time to finish.

Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate - Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben was okay. Wohlleben's love of trees was clear, but the anthromorphication of their behaviour was a stretch for me. (They feel pain? They send messages? Not buying it. All I could think was what will the vegans eat?) I felt like I had read some of this before; maybe from Lab Girl? I guess it mainly felt too long, and repetitive. I get it, trees are amazing.
(288 pages, library)

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson also needed a bit of editing. I got it for the Marconi/radio story but it bored me far more than it should have. Larson does impeccable research and seems to not want to leave out any minor fact after learning it. The parallel story, about a murder in London was much more interesting. I could not figure out why the stories were paired, but once I realized (far too late - editing!) it was a very good pay-off.
Poor Erik Larson - the first book I read was by far his best (Devil in the White City) and each time I read another one of his, (Dead Wake, In the Garden of the Beasts) am slightly disappointed.
(480 pages, own book)

My final nonfiction was Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay, a real gut-wrencher. Gay writes heart-breakingly about when she was raped as a teenager, and the subsequent weight gain, so she could feel unapproachable to men. She is brutally honest and it was a difficult read, but seeing inside someone's head is always an aware-making experience. The stream of consciousness style led to, for me, some contradictions. Is everyone looking at you and judging you, or are you invisible and not paid attention? Clearly can be both on different days but still felt weird. I will read more Gay.
(320 pages, read on e-book)