Monday, October 29, 2018

NONFICTION NOVEMBER: Your Year in Nonfiction

Week 1: (Oct. 29 to Nov. 2) – Your Year in Nonfiction (Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness): Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions –  

First, the summary of the reading:

The first two years I participated, I had read hardly any nonfiction books (13 in 2015 and 16 in 2016), probably because while I looked at nonfiction books, I always defaulted to novels. So last year, I vowed to have nonfiction books to talk about come November, and I did, reading 53. It was a concerted effort to pick nonfiction books and I was proud of myself for finally reading all those nonfiction books I'd been meaning to read. 

This year, I have balanced out a bit, reading 26 nonfiction books. The majority (16)of my NF are audiobooks and new this year are a few ebooks (3). Each year, the YA Sync program of free audiobooks from May to August give me easy access to some nonfiction books that I might not normally read. 

1. What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

Best true crime: 

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer - Michelle McNamara (audiobook)

I listened to this great true crime book in March, just a few weeks before the Golden State Killer was caught. I had quite enjoyed the writing and the mystery, and then to have it solved just as I finished reading the book added to the whole experience. Sadly, McNamara died suddenly before she finished this book and realizing how much her research helped find the killer. Some of the chapters were finished by her husband and editors after her death.  I totally freaked myself out one night hearing 'a noise', and I don't usually get affected by the books I read, but this one got to me a bit.

Best humourous:

Canadianity: Tales from the True North Strong and Freezing - Jeremy Taggert and  Jonathan Torrens 

Ha, ha, this is for the bahds! Jonathan Torrens (CBC/television personality and actor) and Jeremy Taggert (drummer from Our Lady Peace) have a podcast and touring comedy show that this book has come out of. It's an ode to Canada and being a bahd - cool dude. I had a lot of fun reading this book. 
My review here.

Best historical /science/mystery:

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic - and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World - Steven Johnson

The Ghost Map is really the best of all worlds - historical (last cholera epidemic in London), science (how do diseases spread) and mystery (how to stop the outbreak). I wrote Johnson's name down as an author to read again, and I must get to that. my review here

Best memoir/middle age 
What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim: A Midlife Misadventure on Spain's Camino de Santiago de Compostela - Jane Christmas 

Did Wild by Cheryl Strayed make you want to hike 1000 miles? No? Me either, but walking the Camino in Spain sounded almost doable in this mid-life crisis memoir. 
My review here.

best memoir

Golden Boy - Grant Matheson (ebook

A harrowing read about opioid addition, written by a local PEI doctor. He is a guy I knew of in high school - a good looking, slightly older guy from a neighbouring high school. He became a doctor, and then ended up addicted to drugs. He lost his licence to practice medicine and is now recovering. His memoir was hard to put down, and scary to see how easily he fell and how hard getting out of addition was.

best re-read
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot (audiobook)

Just as good the second time. Cassandra Campbell is a narrator I've always liked, and she did a great job here, as expected. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is often cited in 'best audibooks'. This is as infuriating as it is compelling. The horrible way the family was treated, and the ethics of medical research leave lots to think about after reading. 

2. Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? 

No, my reading has been all over the place - memoirs, historical, crime, science, feminism. I like most everything. 

3.What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

The books I've listed as my favourite are all recommended, but none in particular from this year. However, after reading The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper and his mother Gloria Vanderbilt, it reminded me of how much I enjoyed Cooper's first memoir, Dispatches From the Edge.

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

The prompts help me look back on the nonfiction year, and are just the right amount of incentive to post some content to my blog. I also like getting the scoop on the new NF that everyone else has read this year. I appreciate the reccs.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Longest Books

This week's topic for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl, is Longest Books I've Read. I'm not a huge fan of immensely long books, but when you find a good one that you can just fly through, that absorbs you so completely, long books don't even feel long. The number of pages can vary depending on editions so I'll list the pages, but I realize that the number can change.

Come with me down this little ole memory lane...

Hey, remember when there used to be the Chunkster Challenge hosted by Bookfool ? The first challenge that drew me in was Booklogged's Classic Challenge, and then the Chunkster Challenge with Bookfool came along. It's hard to believe all this book blogging started over ten years ago. I was browsing around the Chunkster Challenge posts and bookfool mentioned that three participants would get her homemade booksmarks. I used that beautiful bird photograph bookmark for years!

Stephen King's It  
1120 pages
I'm trying not to just pick all the Stephen King's I've read, and even with 3 on the list, I'm sure there were other books by King that were long that I didn't list. Even with the length, nobody does a big epic novel like King. 

Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth
992 pages
Building a cathedral in the 12th century. Was worth the 900+ pages.

Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance
728 pages
I enjoyed it as I read A Fine Balance, but it was in the months afterward when I couldn't stop thinking about the characters and events that I realized the greatness in this novel. 

Stephen King's The Stand
1472 pages
The edition I read wasn't the uncut/author's version, but it was still very, very long and one of my favourite books.

Joe Hill's The Fireman
768 pages
Stephen King Jr writes just as engrossing novels as his dad. Post-apocalyptic tale of bad viruses, sounds a lot like The Stand.

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch
784 pages
The Goldfinch read quickly, but ultimately I was more frustrated with this one than any other on this list and I wouldn't recommend it.

The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillippa Gregory
672 pages
Epic Tudor historical history during Henry the VIII's days there was plenty of intrigue to keep me interested. I loved it at the time, but never did read another Phillippa Gregory book for some reason.

Neil Gaiman's American Gods
624 pages
Shortest book on my list, but is also one I could do a re-read of. I loved the premise and epic good v evil nature of the book.

Stephen King's Lisey's Story
688 pages
Really, this was just a baby Stephen King book.

Jean Auel's The Mammoth Hunters 
(all the books in the series are chunksters)
768 pages
Considering I've read six books in this series, and all the books were mammoth, it ends up being I've read a lot of Jean Auel. I always think of these prehistoric books along with The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldron at the same time (prehistoric sex books vs Scottish sex books were the descriptions as we passed them around the staff room) and I'm pretty sure the Outlander books were also Chiunksters.

Elizabeth George's A Place of Hiding 
(12th in the series, they were all quite long)
800 pages
The Inspector Lynley /Barbara Havers mystery books were tremendously long books but really good police procedurals. They used to take me forever to read, as along with the length, I found the prose dense and the vocabulary just beyond my usual words. I'm impressed looking back that I read twelve of them, but I see now the series is at 20 books and I know I wouldn't have the patience to read them now.