Nonfiction November 2019 ~ Week 5

Week 5: (Nov. 25 to 30) – New to My TBR

Hosted by Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction:

It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book!

Oh, man. In week three, I asked for recommendations for true crime & books about true crime and you all OBLIGED. Mostly, I added recs to my TBR that sounded appropriate and were available at one library or another. I’m sure I’ll be returning to that comment section in the future though.

So, lets start off with our host this week, Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction? who suggested Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession by Rachel Monroe (which I immediate put in a hold request for) and The Trial of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson.

Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession The Trial of Lizzie Borden Why We Love Serial Killers: The Curious Appeal of the World's Most Savage Murderers

Since it was immediately available, I checked out Why We Love Serial Killers: The Curious Appeal of the World’s Most Savage Murderers by Scott Bonn suggested by hmsgofita. Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out recommended The Killer of Little Shepherds by Douglas Starr and If I Tell You . . . I’ll Have to Kill You by Michael Robotham, among a bunch of other books with lots of focus on forensics and writing crime fiction.

The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science If I Tell You... I'll Have to Kill You Columbine

Julie @ JulzReads pointed me to her whole expert page from 2016. This sparked off my noticing Columbine by Dave Cullen all over the place (The Lowery Library and Never Enough Novels that I bookmarked, probably others too). I checked it out and am about 50% finished reading it. It’s heavy stuff.

Therefore, I needed some other reading too. Plucked from the Stacks posted about Broadway flops. I am fascinated by behind-the-scenes stories of movies and theater. There are so many people and so many things can go wrong! So, Song of Spider-Man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History by Glen Berger and Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops by Ken Mandelbaum are definitely going to be reprieve reading.

Song of Spider-Man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops

So many good books! It’s been another great Nonfiction November.

Nonfiction November 2019 ~ Week 4

Week 4: (Nov. 18 to 22) – What Makes a Favorite?

Hosted by Leeann at Shelf Aware

We’ve talked about how you pick nonfiction books in previous years, but this week I’m excited to talk about what makes a book you’ve read one of your favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone? Let us know what qualities make you add a nonfiction book to your list of favorites.

I like stories that are told (or topics that are explored) within wider context.

Erik Larson’s books are prime examples of this. In The Devil in the White City, for example, it’s not not just the story of the Chicago World’s Fair or just the story of H. H. Holmes, but the combination of the two—and how one enabled the other.

Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear The Magician and the Cardsharp: The Search for America's Greatest Sleight-of-Hand Artist

Even within my favorite topic, magic history, the best books aren’t the ones about the doings of a single magician. Jim Steinmeyer’s Hiding the Elephant looks at the golden age of magic through the lens of a single trick: Houdini’s disappearing elephant. One of my favorite biographies, The Magician and the Cardsharp by Karl Johnson, is about Dai Vernon and his search for a gambler who could deal cards from the center of a deck of cards.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age

One last example: I’ve read quite a few biographies of Nikola Tesla and some of them are quite good, but my favorite is W. Bernard Carlson’s Tesla: Inventor of the Electric Age, which puts Tesla’s major inventions in the context of the wider political and economical world. It also goes deeper into electrical engineering than I’m comfortable with, but I respect that about it.

Nonfiction November 2019 ~ Week 3

Week 3: (Nov. 11 to 15) – Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert

Hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey

Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert)

I’m going to participate this year in an Ask the Expert fashion.

At the moment, I may or may not be writing a historic true crime book. Since I’m using NaNoWriMo as a effort blitz on back-burner project, I’m very early in the process and don’t quite know what it is yet. But I realized I’d like to learn more about the true crime genre.

I’m not asking for true crime recommendations, per se; it’s more like I’m looking for books that discuss the genre and what true crime fans get out it. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark does this somewhat because it’s also about Michelle McNamara’s involvement as an amateur  investigator. Why do we enjoy books like I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, TV shows like Making a Murderer, and podcasts like Serial?

And, heck, if you feel super strongly about a really good true crime book, especially on the historical end, tell me about those too!

Nonfiction November 2019 ~ Week 2

Week 2: (Nov. 4 to 8) – Book Pairing

Hosted by Sarah of Sarah’s Book Shelves)

This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.

Every year this prompt gets a little harder. It might be because overall my reading has been narrower, but I’m not sure. I did come up with a “pairing” though:

Scripting Hitchcock: Psycho, The Birds, and Marnie Psycho The Birds and Other Stories
  • Scripting Hitchcock: Psycho, The Birds, and Marnie by Walter Raubicheck & Walter Srebnick
  • Psycho by Robert Bloch
  • The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier

Scripting Hitchcock provides a behind-the-scenes look at the writing of three classic Alfred Hitchcock movies. All three were based on existing works. I haven’t watched or read Marnie, but I’m pretty familiar with Psycho and The Birds. Both are very different from their subsequent movies, which makes the stories outstanding in both medias.

Nonfiction November 2019 ~ Week 1

The end of the year is so great. After two months of spooky Perilous reading, it’s time for another one of my favorite blogging events: Nonfiction November! There’s a new prompt each week. (All the details!)

Week 1: (Oct. 28 to Nov. 1) – Your Year in Nonfiction

Hosted by Julz of Julz Reads

Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – 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 is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

As usual, the largest topic of my nonfiction reading (4 of seventeen books) has been magic. Also, not shockingly, two of my favorite reads—ones that I would absolutely recommend are of this subject:

Spectacle of Illusion Conjure Times: The History of Black Magicians in America

A couple of true crime books also captured my attention this year. Both focused on the length and complexity of serial killer investigations.

The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

And lastly, a book I’d certainly recommend (and it was recommended to me!):

Poe: A Life Cut Short

So, here we go. I’m sorry, books I added to my TBR last year that I haven’t gotten to yet. You’re about to have so many new friends…

#NonFicNov 2018, Week 5 ~ New to My TBR

Week 5: (Nov. 26 to 30) – New to My TBR (Katie @ Doing Dewey): It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book!

The biggest lesson I learned during the first year I participated in #NonFicNov was to bookmark/clip to Evernote every time I added a new title to my TBR. Pro tip of the year, right there. 😉 I was maybe a little more on the conservative side this year. There are so many books I want to read! New additions:

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
by John Carreyrou

This one is on a lot of lists, but I first was reminded of it on Week 1 by Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness.

Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Detective Writer

Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World’s Most Famous Detective Writer
by Margalit Fox

A best-of-the-year biography from Words And Peace.

Continue reading “#NonFicNov 2018, Week 5 ~ New to My TBR”

#NonFicNov 2018, Week 4 ~ Reads Like Fiction

Week 4: (Nov. 19 to 23) – Reads Like Fiction (Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction): Nonfiction books often get praised for how they stack up to fiction. Does it matter to you whether nonfiction reads like a novel? If it does, what gives it that fiction-like feeling? Does it depend on the topic, the writing, the use of certain literary elements and techniques? What are your favorite nonfiction recommendations that read like fiction? And if your nonfiction picks could never be mistaken for novels, what do you love about the differences?

Weirdly, this is not a thing I think about before, during, or after reading nonfiction. I have a tendency to see narrative everywhere and also have a tolerance for information-driven info dumps in fiction (in contrast to plot info dumps). So, I feel that the majority of nonfiction I read has some narrative fiction qualities to it. Even a books like NeuroTribes or The Turk use story as example or to relay history.

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity The Turk: The Life and Times of the Famous Eighteenth-Century Chess-Playing Machine

Lately, though, I have noticed that organization is very important, in both “narrative” nonfiction and more didactic nonfiction. It’s probably the difference between a nonfiction book being readable and it just having lots of (good) information. One of the things that Erik Larson does very well is weaving histories and information together. On the poorer end of this is Heaven’s Ditch. Jack Kelly’s book has a lot of story, but the chronology of events was difficult to keep track of. (I’d still recommend it, but it’s not best of class.)

Thunderstruck Heaven's Ditch: God, Gold, and Murder on the Erie Canal

All in all, “does it read like fiction” is probably a question I’m going to give more thought too!