So I participated in Non-Fiction November which I heard about from the Youtube channel A Book Olive whose also one of the people that run it. I generally like to read non-fiction books. But I’m very much a mood reader/whatever strikes my fancy and with being bombarded with so much other I felt like nonfiction was falling by the wayside.
All in all I didn’t do too badly this month.
The Professor and the Madman
By: Simon Winchester
This is one about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary and how someone who helped with that actually was an institutionalized murderer. It’s been on my list forever and turned up on Amazon for a $1.99 so I jumped on it.
Overall enjoyable and I felt there was a good mix of subjects. I would rather more about the dictionary but it was fine. I did think at the end the author was weirdly self-congratulatory. Like hey, let me pat myself on the back for writing this. He also brings up the victim but that poor guy was definitely forgotten throughout much of the book. I don’t know. Too much author. That being said Winchester also wrote another favorite of mine that I recommend: Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded
Recommend: Eh. I could take this one or leave it. If you’re interested in the dictionary or like case studies of madness from that time period otherwise I’d actually recommend Krakatoa.
The Only Pirate at the Party
By: Lindsay Stirling
Cheating a little but technically I did finish this on the 1st of Nov. So I’m still counting it. Stirling is a violinist and Youtuber and her music and videos tend to be something I turn to when my anxiety is high. The book is a pretty basic memoir but she’s just such a happy likable personality that I enjoyed it and it was a quick read.
I also appreciated her talking about her religion and how it affects tours and performances. I’m not a religious person myself (and I didn’t feel like it was preaching or in your face) but most celebrities don’t even touch it, understandably. So I couldn’t help but think good on her.
Recommend: Yes. Especially if you like Stirling or celebrity memoirs.
The Millionaire and the Mummies
By: John M. Adams
Theodore Davis was one of the first private citizens to fund digs in Egypt at the turn of the last century. Rich by mostly corrupt and questionable means his efforts in Egypt actually helped set up a system that generally improved on the digs and kept the artifacts in better safety by getting them into the right hands. (For the most part.)
Definitely an interesting tale. The Egypt stuff does tend to run together after awhile but it goes back and forth between that and his early life which was a fascinating portrait of corruption and pretty brazen lying. Davis also had a rather interesting personal life. Another sad touch- the way in which he was forgotten and generally written out of the history of the area, especially after Tut’s tomb was found.
Recommend: Yes. If you’re interested in archaeology, Egypt or business/financial history.
Gotham Writers’ Workshop: Writing Fiction
I thought this Writers’ Guide would be a good idea for NanoWriMo. (Don’t ask me how that went.) It’s definitely in:depth and it has lots of exercises throughout to help get the juices flowing. Bonus points for the Raymond Carver story Cathedral that’s included. Not so bonus points for that story pretty much being the example for everything (I’d read it first.)
Definitely can’t fault the book but at the same time if you’ve read a lot of these before there’s really nothing new in here.
Rrecommend: Yes. Despite being very familiar with the subject manner it felt very complete and detailed. Good for a beginner but also one to have for a reference.
Words Are My Matter
By: Ursula K. Le Guin
Sad to say I haven’t read any of her actual books when I picked up this compilation of writing, essays, speeches, reviews and book introductions. I’m a little torn on this one. It’s beautifully written and I appreciated the part with the book reviews. I picked up a few titles for my endless TBR to be honest. 🙂 But the only thing I can remember from the first section is a very long bit on the house she grew up in.
There are some interesting threads throughout. Politics overall and gender especially in writing and literature. I would have liked to read more about her views on publishing, history and genre. I go back and forth over whether she was being rightly defensive in protecting sci-fi or whether things are getting better in the areas of distinguishing, and not crapping all over, certain genres and writers.
Recommend: Unsure of this one. Mostly because I’m so unfamiliar with her other work. But I did give me something to think about and I’m intrigued to pick up more of her nonfiction.