For What It's Worth

Friday, October 12, 2018

the friday 5: Reality Bites



I rarely read non-fiction and when I do it takes me FOREVER to finish them. I read a bit here and there, set it aside for a month, and come back to it because there’s no driving plot to keep me engaged.

Even so, I did pick up a few non-fiction books at ALA and the library and I figured I’d share my thoughts so far. I did finish and few – while the others are still in progress.

1.

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Fantastic Failures: True Stories of People Who Changed the World by Falling Down First by Luke Reynolds


Source: ALA18

~ Reynolds, formally a 7th grade English teacher, noticed that many of the children he taught felt pressured do do everything perfect all of the time and didn’t know how to deal with failure.

In writing Fantastic Failures, he hopes to show that even the most successful people have failed before picking themselves back up and getting it right.

Told in short, 2-3 page chapters, he profiles a subject (& it’s quite diverse! including people from different backgrounds,, ethnicity, sexual orientations, the famous & non-famous, and even a horse (Seabiscuit) by starting with a made up bio of how everything went perfectly right from the start and then NOPE – this is how it really went down.

There are also mini snippets for people related to the main subject and references included at the end of each chapter.  Reynolds uses the persons struggle to relate it to something that may be going on in the readers life and how they could learn from it.

This is meant for younger readers (ages 6+) and at times had a repetitive style (I skimmed over the fake bios for example) but it was written in a quick, humorous style and should appeal to it’s intended audience.

2.

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The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Carlton Abrams (translator)


Source: Purchased

~ I’ve been reading this book for what seems like forever lol I think it’s been at least a year. I kind of pull it out when I’m feeling down and need a kick in the pants to get out of that negative thought spiral.

The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu have the best rapport and it’s so adorable to eavesdrop on their conversations about finding joy or when the Dalai Lama makes Desmond Tutu blush talking about sex lol

I have dozens of quotes post-it tabbed so far but the reason I’m struggling to finish is that there is that Abrams (the translator) often interjects himself into the text to discuss the science of happiness and honestly... I don’t care. I just wanted to feel the joy of the men conversing.

If you are interested in the science of happiness or just need inspirational quotes to get through difficult times, I highly recommend The Book of Joy.

3.

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My Mother’s Kitchen: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and the Meaning of Life by Peter Gethers


Source: Publisher

~ I lost my mom to cancer when I was 16 years old but I have fond memories of her cooking her famous spaghetti sauce every weekend. There’s something about food that brings people together and creates special moments. My husband’s grandmother is a more recent memory, and why I picked this book up. While my mom had a few special dishes – she wasn’t a great cook. Sorry mom lol and didn't care that much about it. Now Kevin’s Granny… she always had her special lemon bars or molasses cookies at the ready for a visit. And you HAD to eat them. ALL of them or it was a great insult! Even if she made dozens and you couldn’t fit even one more. When she was older and knew she wasn’t going to be around much longer, she hand wrote all the recipes in a little book for me. I can’t cook like her at all but I treasure that memento from her. She was also the person who bought all my first cookware when we got married. And I still have it all!

So anyway – that was a long winded way of saying that this book – about a son trying to give his aging restaurateur mother, Judy Gethers, the gift of her favorite meals but ends up learning about his mom’s past and become closer than ever - brought back my own fond memories.

I’m still reading this one too. The stories about Gethers mom are wonderful but he often makes it about himself so I drift off.
4.

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Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens


Source: ALA18

~ Unbroken is a YA Anthology of short stories featuring disabled teens, written by #ownvoice authors.

I feel like there’s been a huge step forward in representation in so many areas of YA – but disability is not one of them. Hopefully this book helps push in that direction.

I’m just starting this one now and hope to have a review coming soon.

5.

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Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay

Goodreads


~ I'm listening to this one on audio right now on audio and I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying it.

I've always enjoyed Gay's thoughtful responses on social media and in interviews and Bad Feminist is a collection of essays where she tries to reconcile her enjoyment of problematic pop culture and feminism.

To be honest, most of the book wasn't about her personal feminism - more an indictment of certain entertainment. She discusses Chris Brown and his violent past yet acknowledges his songs are catchy but she doesn't listen to him because of it so not exactly a bad feminist. 

Gay covers topics from 50S0G (& I laughed so hard at this one), Twilight, Girls, The Hunger Games and oddly...Scrabble. Some chapters start with one train of thought, drift, and then come back to the original topic - leaving the narrative disjointed at times.

Then other chapters punch you so hard in the gut that you want to cry and take a break from reading. Her essays on rape, body image and race are incredibly powerful.

She doesn't offer answers but poses the question - can you enjoy problematic entertainment? So far I've found the title a bit misleading but this is still an interesting critique of pop culture and  it's, occasionally, it's relation to feminism.

Do you read non-fiction? Do you have any books to recommend?

34 comments:

  1. Like you, I very rarely read nonfiction. I want the plot, I want the characters - basically, I want escapism and enjoyment. But there are a few rare exceptions (my last was Clinton's What Happened on audio which was excellent).

    I like the sound of The Book of Joy. I can't pinpoint exactly why, but I have had a special part in my heart for Desmond Tutu. I cannot imagine a kinder, braver, more compassionate man. He has a quote that has stuck with me for years: "Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." I love that.

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    1. He is so sweet and kind and has an incredible sense of humor too.

      That is an awesome - much needed - quote.

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  2. I would like to see disability covered more in horror, apocalypse and urban fantasy especially discovering how people overcome these challenges in a zombie apocalypse or summer camp massacre scenario.

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    1. I agree. I've just started this one so I'm not sure what genres each story covers but all representation should be across the board. Not just in sad contemporary stories about pain.

      Also - Kristen from Metaphors and Moonlight has a comprehensive list of books with disability from all genres that you might want to check out - https://blog.kristenburns.com/books-with-disability/

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  3. ...like one a year and I fear no so far this year. i need these mindblowing sad ones

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  4. I think that's a great idea to make a book that shows kids it's ok to fail and how to handle it! We do tend to, especially in the school system, indoctrinate children with the idea that any failure at all is unacceptable and a complete catastrophe, and then we take that idea to heart, but that's unrealistic expectations. the second book sounds sweet. Yep, disability often gets left out when talking about representation, so it is great to see more of it!

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    1. There is so much pressure on kids right now! I was talking to a few mom's and all of their kids are taking college courses while in HS - basically HS is done even though they haven't graduated yet and your grades have to be the best because the competition is so fierce. And there's no way we're all going to be #1 or get it perfect the first time every time.


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  5. I haven't heard of any of these, but Bad Feminist sounds right up my alley! I'll have to check it out. I also enjoy non-fiction on rare occasion!

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  6. Loved Bad Feminist! I listened as well and thought it was really good.

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  7. My Mother's Kitchen sounds good. I have a little book that I plan on putting all of my recipes in too.

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  8. I don't read a lot of non fiction anymore, although I did read some before blogging. I still like to read a bit of history occasionally, just to learn more. These sound pretty good, especially The Book of Joy. We need more Books of Joy I think. :)

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    1. All I read was non-fiction before blogging. So weird!

      I picked up a fee history related books at ALA because I've really been into history podcasts lately.

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  9. I want to be one of those people who reads non-fiction for fun, but like you I finish a short non fiction book in months. I think I would love My Mother's Kitchen though. And maybe Fantastic Failures. Thank you for sharing :D

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    1. You would think they would be quicker reads lol

      i think because there's no narrative or plot to get a resolution to, it's easy to set aside and then forget about it.

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  10. I'm not a big non-fiction reader but when I do dive in I tend to read history books. Lately I've bought a couple of books written by parent bloggers... Essentially, they're compiled blog posts with some words setting the scene and they're so funny that they're addictive.
    I think the appeal of non-fiction is that you can pick it up and put it down whenever and not 'lose your place'. You just slide back into them. :)

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    1. That's what happens to me. I set it down and then forget it. For months lol There's just no urgency to finish or if it's something funny - I save it for when I need it.

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  11. I don't read too much non-fiction either for the same reason. I just get bored after a while. I need excitement and action, otherwise I tune out after a while. However, I think they are great to have when you don't really have the time to read a book but you want to learn or absorb something through someone else's experiences.

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    1. I think audio is going to be best for with books that I wouldn't' normally read otherwise.

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  12. I haven't heard of any of these, but I'm also not a big non-fiction reader. However, there was a book I stumbled across the other day that I'm waiting for from my library. The wait list is insane! The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally. They read the introduction together and it was hilarious. I'm sure the audiobook will make me laugh out loud, and I cannot wait!

    Jacob listens to a lot of non-fiction, so I can ask him for recs if you want! He recently listened to one about Malala that he really enjoyed.

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?

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    1. I have quite a few non fiction books from ALA. It will probably take me 30 years to finish them lol

      Nick does podcast on Amazon that's pretty funny. I can't think of the name but something about bedtime stories I think.

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  13. I hear you Karen! I read very little non fiction because of that! It takes me forever to finish a book. I usually just read memoirs. I DNF Bad Feminist because I found it too repetitive. Glad to hear you are enjoying it :)

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    1. I didn't think Bad Feminist was actually about being a bad feminist so that was weird lol but overall I liked it. But I listened to it on and off so I didn't notice the repetitiveness.

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  14. I do like non fiction but they tend to be memoirs or self-help type of books. I have read Bad Feminist and I really like that one. I need to read more by Gay; I own her book Hunger. Another non fiction book I really liked was Cinderella Ate My Daughter. :)

    -lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. When it comes to non fiction, I need for it to be in short bites or at least something that I can set aside and come back to.

      Or maybe it's because I haven't found any compelling enough to read from start to finish in one sitting.

      I did read some years ago that I enjoyed - like Kitchen Confidential.

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  15. I rarely read non fiction but when I do, they're typically feminist reads as well. I'm really curious about Roxanne Gay. I love her social media quips and social commentary but haven't read any of her books as yet. The last non fiction I read was Fight Light A Girl by Clem Ford. She's an Australian feminist and one of the best books I've ever read. It's eye opening and rage inducing and one that I recommend to every woman. Looking forward to seeing what you think of Bad Feminist Karen! ♡♡♡

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    1. I like her SM too and that's why I gave it a shot. It's lighter in some respects but then there are really powerful essays too.

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  16. These sound good. I will have to get the Fantastic Failures and read it with my son. I usually alternate between fiction and non-fiction, especially after I have read a really good fiction book. Otherwise it is hard for me to get into another fiction book right after it because my mind is still swimming with the characters I just left. I definitely prefer fiction though.

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  17. I have to admit nonfic is a genre I have only just got into this year and I am actually really enjoying it. I can't wait to read a Roxanne Gay book because I have actually heard a lot about how good they are supposed to be! I really like the idea of Fantastic Failures. I hadn't heard of it before but I think that's a very true observation as well...

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    1. I just finished Hunger by Gay and it was so good.

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