My favorite Fiction + Nonfiction pairing was one I enjoyed prior to the pandemic: Milkman + Say Nothing (and then I listened to Milkman for a reread.) One of my favorite reading experiences ever.
NF: Proud Shoes by Pauli Murray + Fiction: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet √
NF: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates + Fiction: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
One I always hoped to do but haven’t quite yet accomplished is to pair Barbara Demick’s NF Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea on my tbr since … 2103 when I read Fiction: The Orphan Master’sSon by Adam Johnson.
I do enjoy giving myself reading challenges with pairing a story with a truth perspective! I am looking forward to reading more posts for this week. Feel free to drop a note here with any recommendations.
Nonfiction November is here! This is an annual event focusing on sharing the love for terrific nonfiction reads. I thank my friend at Gulfside Musings for keeping me updated on the festivities (and not denying me from copying a bit of her post and links.)
Looking back at the year so far in my nonfic reading by answering the prompts for Week 1:
What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?
Weird but maybe not unsurprising, my favorite is a pie recipe book! A Farm Journal cookbook on pies and pastries that was a gift. It was originally a gift from my grandmother to my aunt, her daughter, my dad’s sister. It was published in 1965 and is in great condition. I will cherish this for sentimental reasons but also because it is quite an entertaining read, as well.
I’ve read 22 books that I label nonfiction so far this 2021. Quite a few of these are short audiobook memoirs that came free to me as an Audible subscriber. Most are by musicians so that is somewhat a theme.
The book I’ve recommended the most is Did That Just Happen? by Pinder-Amaker & Wadsworth. It was practical, instructional AND uncompromising with examples and how best to navigate and recognize situations to DO BETTER; to truly invite and support all people into the workplace. I read this book because I am in the corporate learning industry and we are striving to create a diverse and inclusive culture.
Though late to get my posts posted for this month, I’ve been active in my mind (and at Litsy); making lists and plotting to read more nonfiction. I hope to make more bookish connections while fully expecting to add too many books to my tbr. Always adding to the tbr!
I’ve started The Radium Girls, finally! I bought this after 2020’s #NonfictionNovember. Thanks JoAnn! I’ve got the book AND the audio from the library. I’m already incensed and outraged.
Count from the library = SIX, one book was for my monthly Audible credit and finished with Libby; five purchased, and another library for both eBook and Hardcover
My favorite read of the month is The Soul of Kindness by Elizabeth Taylor. [Link to Review]
These books took me on visits to Colorado, NYC and outer space. I saw the US and some views into Canada. I was in UK-fantasy land. USA again and a half century away in rural England. OPKS was where I lived in the first book (and I’ve lived there in my history, so YAY KANSAS) and ended up in Sweden for the last book of the month.
Five nonfiction – if I count the poetry?) One of the books I read this month is “loosely-based memoir” fiction: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeannette Winterson. SO GLAD to have enjoyed this which had been on my tbr for a long time.
Two featured LGBTQ+, three by POC, one in translation, four classics. Seven female-identifying authors (I might be guessing/assuming) to six by male-presenting.
and…… The Tournament of Favorites was fabulous! The winner is Tsar of Love and Techno over Version Control in the finals. Great fun, much fun, warms the heart and stimulates the brain. I love the tournaments as much as I love pie. Bring on the Long List! Any day now… I haven’t read too many on on the possibly contenders list. Books pub’d this year include: Fugitive Telemetry SF, Meet Cute Diary TransRomance?, Yoga Pants Nation MomLit, (oh yea, I read all the Summer Camp books, too!)
Pie! NINE books out of 13 mention pie.
I made Cranberry Pear Pie, Pumpkin, and some Dutch Apple crumb pies.
Thoughts by Fredrik Backman, Atria Books 2020,(orig 2019), 352 pages
Translated from Swedish by Neil Smith.
Challenge: Book Club choice for November
Genre/Theme: uh…. I don’t know. Where do these fit?
Type/Source: Hardcover / Library
What It’s About: It is essentially a down-on-your-luck story that interweaves an entire cast of these stories into a bank-robbery-attempt and then inadvertent-hostage-situation thing. While exploring what drives people to do desperate things while being good people. And maybe, aren’t we all just good people trying to survive? and wouldn’t it be lovely if we remember to be kind?
Ok, the first half or so is tedious. People being tedious and professionals NOT being professional and a lot of the author talking to the reader and LOTS of repetition. Hey this is about a bank-robber! Wait, is it? HEY!! this is about people standing on a bridge!!! Ten years ago! OH, but don’t think about then yet; think about cookies.
Um… OK. Can we get on with this, please?
Eventually, we get to know the hostages and figure out all the details that support what we (the readers) think probably happens/happened. Chapter 58 was good – it had a lot of book references…
Laughter is expressing your defiance against despair.
Rating: Three slices of pie. No pie mentioned. (Unless pizza pie will count? This has pizza!)
Thoughts by Ralph Ellison, Random House Audio 2010 (orig 1952, 624 pages), 18 hours 36 min
Narration by Joe Morton. Five slices of pie on performance.
Challenge: Classics Club second list of 50, Litsy #BookSpinBINGO!
Genre/Theme: US Black Experience/History
Type/Source: Audiobook/Audible and eBook / Kindle via Libby
What It’s About: OK, this is a complicated plot, if ever there was one. In fact, I wondered, though I’m hardly experienced to even suggest such a thing, if this is an Odyssey-like parallel. (I have NOT read the Odyssey and barely know any mythology). May I say that this is a SERIES of ADVENTURES? (maybeperhaps, Gulliver’s Travels? I haven’t read that, neither. Maybe it is its OWN dang odyssey/travels?!) Anyway. Our narrator begins with an explanation and example of how he is ‘invisible’. Then, he goes back to the beginning, but really it starts with his grandfather, then his yearning to be an educated and worthy person, and wowza,…. ALL the stuff along the way that influences or subverts this dream.
In trying to be “good” to the white man, Mr. Norton, who is a benefactor at his college, and importantly tasked with being his driver while in town (but obviously naive), he takes Norton to the dark sides of town. This gets our college-boy expelled and he still, in trying to do “right”, … yea, NO…; the forces are against him. And this jumps over the “HOW” he got to college story! THAT was not a comfortable experience and once, in NY –> just more NOT-comfortable experiences over and over again.
“But that’s a hundred-dollar bill. I take that an’ try to change it and the white folks’ll want to know my whole life’s history.” She snorted. “They want to know where I was born, where I work, and where I been for the last six months, and when I tell ’em they still gonna think I stole it.
This is a powerful work of literary art.
Rating: Four slices of sweet potato pie. Should I be giving it 5 out of respect and uniqueness/”same-as-it-ever-was” and importance? But golly, is it long. (BOOO! suck it up, buttercup!)
“…hot sweet potato pies… HOT FRIED PIES, I thought sadly, moving away. I would probably have indigestion if at one…”
Some lady in NC successfully got this book banned in a 2013 NC school district because it lacked innocence and was not appropriate for her 11th grade child. ELEVENTH GRADE!? Read article –>here<<–
On the other hand, a commenter to the YouTube Thug Notes for this novel, suggests that this text is perfect for writing AP lit essays and I find this an interesting factoid. Why, I wonder? Hmmmmm. I do appreciate Professor Sparky Sweets.
Thoughts by Elizabeth Taylor, Hachette Digital 2010 (orig 1964), 223 pages
Challenge: Classics Club second list of 50
Genre/Theme: Six Degrees of Separation?
Type/Source: eBook / Kindle sale
What It’s About: This is about connections and people who influence by those connections though some never meet. It’s about how ‘nice’ isn’t really nice, after all. There is SO MUCH going on and yet, there is little plot. My jam, for sure.
She always brought Alice from her pram or cradle when Ba and Meg called, behaving, with self-conscious generosity, like a nice child with a special toy to share.
Flora is so nice and she just wants everyone to be happy. She, of course, knows what is the best for everyone and believes the best for everyone and just knows, that if this-then-that, then all would be happy. Yet, she also believes that she is the sun and all should revolve around her in her magnificence happy-attention sunshine. Life doesn’t work that way, however, and some planets orbit a different rotational path.
…the book by Henry Miller Patrick Barlow had lent her, which she was reading with such mild surprise. (‘What does this word mean, Richard?’ ‘Truly? Well I suppose it had to be called something.’ How had she lived so long without knowing? he wondered.)
Wow. I must read everything now.
Rating: Five slices of gooseberry pie. LOTS of pie mentions!
Today would be the longest time she had ever spent with him, and her happiness brimmed over. It was bliss to have this lying ahead of her – the train journey, his company all the time, the Vivaldi records perhaps, and Mrs Clarke’s cold game pie.
Thoughts by Sarah Vowell, Simon & Schuster 2002, 197 pages
Challenge: Litsy Book Spin Bingo
Genre/Theme: Nonfiction / Politics and Citizenship, History
Type/Source: Hardcover / used book store $1
What It’s About: Essays on politics, former presidents and their libraries, some travel, some celebrity commentary, some US to Canada comparison, and more.
Thoughts: I have read two more of her books – her first was published prior to this: Take the Cannoli in 2000 and the second one after The Wordy Shipment 2008 having somehow missed Assassination Vacation from 2005. She produces a new collection every 2-4 years, it seems. She is on the radio and probably is a guest on bunches of podcasts? maybe? but otherwise, I don’t know what she’s up to. She’s not on Twitter, which is a shame but I totally understand.
Reading about voter restrictions, election fraud accusations, assaults on democracy… and realizing she is referencing the political climate of the turn of the decade (century!) into the 2000s — makes me both annoyed and fearful and weirdly relieved; things never change, nothing is new.
Thoughts by Lewis Carroll, Aerie Books Ltd 1992 (orig (1871), 112 pages
Challenge: Litsy Book Spin! #DoubleSpin, actually
Genre/Theme: Children’s Book
Type/Source: paperback / used book store $1
What It’s About: A little girl has fantastical adventures with talking animals, size-alternating mushrooms, nonsensical tea parties, and games of croquet with moving parts and beheadings. Yikes!
Thoughts: I really wasn’t all that keen on reading this having attempted it once and for whatever reason just didn’t appeal. But that nagging thought that “I *REALLY* should read this” and maybe even a touch of FOMO had me put it on my second Classic Club 50.
It was better than I thought it would be.
Rating: Fours slices of pie.
” I passed by his garden, and marked, with one eye,
How the Owl and the Panther were sharing a pie”
Ok, so let’s talk Litsy: I’m doing all the things this October! (If you want to know the details of it, I can give you the person who hosts and how to find her explanation page. It’s difficult to find by searching for some odd reason.) The photo above shows my October Book Spin Bingo card. My next post will feature the other spin number that I’ve read. I read the DoubleSpin before the Spin Spin, by mistake.
Once I finish my current audiobook of Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison — I’ve got over 6 hours yet to go — I will have BINGO! and if I can get Ask Again, Yes! by Mary Beth Kean completed, I’ll have another BINGO! woot, woot!
Explore the Goodreads > Groups –> Tourney Folder HERE <– (not sure if you have to join? I don’t recall how that works but I think it is set to public-view)
I’m so excited!
So far, Pachinko advances over The Animators, Skippy Dies defeats Idaho, Version Control over Girl.Woman.Other (I *hate* commas in book titles), and Homegoing wins over There.There!
That was last week.
This week, so far, A Tale for the Time Being triumphs over Never Let Me Go and The Tsar of Love and Techno narrowly escapes over Nothing to See Here‘s Fire Kids.
This is getting GOOD. All of the judgments have been wonderful to read and cheer for. I can’t argue with any of them. According to my favorites in order (see below), I should be a bit disappointed but let’s remember – -these are FAVORITES! so I can’t be upset.
(Honestly? I had forgotten that I had place Tsar the top of the top. I made this list before the bracket was announced.)
The Tsar of Love and Techno, Milkman, Life After Life, Version Control, A Tale for the Time Being, Nothing to See Here, Homegoing, The Animators, Pachinko, Idaho, Never Let Me Go, Girl♥Woman♥Other, Stephen Florida, Skippy Dies, Exit West, There♠There
For the rest of the week, I hope Life After Life prevails and Milkman conquers.
*** Updated: Stephen Florida wins over Life After Life.. 10/20/21
*** Updated: Milkman is selected over Exit West 10/21/2021
Then… we’ll just have to see what happens! My vote for top 8:
Which is your favorite?
Are you going to drop everything once the TOB Long List is announced for 2022?!?!?! I will…