The Saga of Hugh Glass: Pirate, Pawnee, and Mountain Man

by John Meyers Meyers

The Saga of Hugh Glass: Pirate, Pawnee, and Mountain Man by John Meyers Meyers

How can a book be both fiction and non fiction you ask? Well, clearly, it doesn’t work, but I will get into that later. Let me just say… this was one of the worst books I have read in my life. Period. There were times when I debated finishing it at all. Ugh, it was awful. Do yourself a favor and never read it. Read More »

The Ghost Map: The Story of London’t Most Terrifying Epidemic-and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World

by Steven Johnson

The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson

So much about this book was truly wonderful, but the organization left a lot to be desired. Perhaps the scope of the entire project was just too large and the book would have been better served if Johnson had narrowed the scope, but more on that later. Read More »

Running Ransom Road: Confronting the Past, One Marathon at a Time

by Caleb Daniloff

Running Ransom Road by Caleb Daniloff

I used to be a runner. This is true. Since I had my son almost four years ago my running has been sporadic and at times a bit disappointing. During this, my third, pregnancy I vowed to read at least one running book a month in order keep my excitement level up to fulfill my goal of eventually running a marathon. I’d had this book on my radar for quite some time, and was very happy with the book overall. Read More »

The Only Girl in the Car

by Kathy Dobie

The Only Girl in the Car by Kathy Dobie

*Sigh. Where to begin? Sometimes I read a book and I just shake my head over it. This is one of those. Read More »

The Longest Race: A Lifelong Runner, an Iconic Ultramarathon, and the Case for Human Endurance

by Ed Ayres

The Longest Race by Ed Ayres

So, spoiler alert, I would like to one day run a marathon. Until I am back to my spritely running form, I have decided to read one book a month about running in order to keep my enthusiasm up and learn a thing or two. I don’t have a lot of runner friends that READ about running, so getting good recommendations has been mostly trial and error. As previously stated, I don’t like to read reviews prior to reading a book because I don’t want to taint my own feelings. I had already started this one when I added it to my goodreads.com profile. Unfortunately, I caught a glimpse of some negative reviews so this might feel like an apologist essay. If so, I apologize (do you see what I did there?). Read More »

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken by Laura Hilenbrand

Though I have vowed to cut back on my WWII reading, this book came highly recommended from nearly all my non fiction reader friends. I thought I’d read it before it became a movie and a weirdly watered down Hollywood version replaced the memory of the actual book. I am glad I did. Read More »

American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, and the Birth of Hollywood

by Howard Blum

American Lightening by Howard Blum

At first, and in the middle, and also at the end, many things about this book just bothered me. I didn’t like the style in which it was written. Read More »

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

Elizabeth McCracken

An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination by Elizabeth McCraken

I was pregnant when a friend suggested I read this one. When I bought it I was horrified to find out it was about a woman who has a stillbirth. I don’t consider myself over superstitious, but my pregnancy was already high risk and would need a c-section (something I’d never endured with my previous children) so I put the book aside to read later. Read More »

12 Years a Slave

by Solomon Northup

12 Years a Slave by Soloman Northrup

This book was written in 1853 about a free black man who was kidnapped and transported south to live as a slave for 12 long years. I’ve read other memoirs written in the same time frame, and I have to say that I don’t love the style of personal narratives written at the time. So that dislike of the way this memoir was written is reflected in how much I was able to enjoy the book as a whole, if one can enjoy reading about the utter misery of another human being. Read More »

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History

by Lewis Buzbee

The Yellow Lighted Book Shop by Lewis Buzbee

I like books about reading. And books about books. And books about loving books… Buzbee’s book about bookstores was right up my alley. I think all book lovers can relate to the themes he touches on, and as he takes his little walk down memory lane, a lot of what Buzbee remembers will be familiar. Read More »

Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson

by Raymond W. Thorp and Robert Bunker

Crow Killer by Raymond Thorpe and Robert Bunker

Though I don’t typically read mountain man books, this was a birthday gift that looked pretty interesting. Also, I know very little about any but the most famous mountain men and I am always interested in learning new things. Sadly, Crow Killer ended up being a little too folksy and not academic enough for me. Read More »

The Devil’s Gentleman: Privilege, Poison, and the Trial That Ushered in the Twentieth Century

by Harold Schechter

The Devil's Gentleman by Harold Schechter

Finally, a delightful non fiction about murder… just what you were all hoping for, I am sure. This book follows the poisoning murders of two people and the subsequent trials of Roland Molineux in the late 1800s.

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The Big Ditch: How America Took, Built, Ran, and Ultimately Gave Away the Panama Canal

by Noel Maurer and Carlos Yu

The Big Ditch by Noel Maurer and Carlos Yu

Finally! An academically written book about a historical event from an economics perspective! I have been hoping to read something of this nature for a while now and happily my kindly husband obliged with this little birthday gift. Maurer and Yu have all the academic credentials one could hope for which lead me to worry that the writing would be dry, it wasn’t. Read More »

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette

by Hampton Sides

In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides

I have a fascination with arctic (or antarctic) adventure biographies. It isn’t exactly that I wish I was born in a different time, I love my modern conveniences, but I have a great admiration for those who dared to venture out and discover the world that we know today. I’d heard a little about the USS Jeannette’s turbulent journey, but not enough to make the book uninteresting. Also, not enough to spoil the ending. Read More »

Death at the Priory: Love, Sex, and Murder in Victorian England

by James Ruddick

Death at the Priory : Love, Sex, and Murder in Victorian England by James Ruddick

I love a good true crime book as much (or more) than the next gal. I also enjoy reading about Victorian England. In theory this is the sort of book I love, but the execution did nothing for me, and Ruddick’s “investigation” left a lot to be desired. Death at the Priory seeks to illuminate the 1875 poisoning of Charles Bravo. Read More »

What W.H. Auden Can Do For You

by Alexander McCall Smith

What W.H. Auden Can Do For You by Alexander McCall Smith

According to the foreword on this book, I am the target audience. I like (not love) poetry and I am only familiar with W.H. Auden in a superficial way. I am a self proclaimed fan of all things Alexander McCall Smith, but unfortunately, his own love of Auden’s work does not translate well. It is the classic non fiction mistake. When the author is too close to his subject, it makes it challenging to remain unbiased and write something with a wide appeal for all. Read More »

Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water

by Mark Reisner

Cadillac Desert by Mark Reisner

I’ve talked about my youngest brother before. He is the type who would leave really horrible books hidden in your bookshelf. He is also the type to unload his old books on you. He is ALSO the type who is studying environmental law in law school. I generally have a queue of books that I am scheduled to read, but my little brother is a perpetual queue skipper. He came over with a book he’d read for one of his classes and wanted someone to discuss it with. As he knows I will read almost anything, I was an obvious choice. Read More »

Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus

by Carolina Maria de Jesus

Child of the Dark by Carolina Maria de Jesus

I was reluctant to read this book because I was worried at the emotions it might bring out. I lived in Brazil for a year and a half, and spent a fair amount of time visiting favelas and speaking to the poor and weary who were unfortunate enough to call those wretched places home. Read More »

You Were Always Mom’s Favorite! Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives

by Deborah Tannen

You Were Always Mom's Favorite: Sisters in Conversations Throughout Their Lives by Deborah Tannen

I wanted to read this book from the moment I read a review on NPR.com. I don’t have sisters, but I have always been fascinated with the dynamic. Having come from a home with three brothers and moving into an all girls apartment in college, I could tell you stories of culture shock! Read More »

Heroes on Horseback: A Life and Times of the Last Gaucho Caudillos

by John Charles Chasteen

Heroes on Horseback by John Charles Chasteen

This is another gift from my younger brother, and I suspect it was a remnant from his university days. The name Chasteen looked familiar, and sure enough, I have Born in Blood and Fire and Problems in Modern Latin American History from my university days. I double majored in Political Science and Latin American Studies, so lets just say Chasteen and I crossed paths quite a bit in the form of required reading. Read More »

Wish You Happy Forever: What China’s Orphans Taught Me About Moving Mountains

by Jenny Bowen, founder of Half the Sky Foundation

Wish You Happy Forever by Jenny Bowen

I really shouldn’t read books like this when I am pregnant. Sure, orphans get to me any time, but when I am pregnant I have no control over the tears. Whenever I find anything particularly sad, or touching, my eyes turn into sprinklers. This book was both touching, and sad, in spades. Read More »

The Butterfly Mosque

by G. Willow Wilson

The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson

This book came highly recommended, by someone whose opinion I trust. That in and of itself can be dangerous. It is hard to read a book that has been talked up so much because I want something amazing. Well, The Butterfly Mosque wasn’t amazing, but it was certainly good. Read More »

Yes Sister, No Sister: My Life as a Trainee Nurse in 1950s Yorkshire

by Jennifer Craig

Yes Sister, No Sister by Jennifer Craig

The title of this book pretty much sums up what is about. I wonder if I would have enjoyed it more if I had not read the Call the Midwife Trilogy beforehand. This memoir seems to have a lot less heart than the Midwife books, though I did learn more about the mechanics of training to be a nurse. Read More »

The Men Who United the States: America’s Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics, and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible

by Simon Winchester

The Men who United the States by Simon Winchester

I wanted to like this book. I did. I’ve been a fan of Winchester and simply LOVED The Professor and the Madman. Unfortunately, The Men Who United the States suffered from a classic mistake made in nonfiction: the author was too close to the subject. Read More »

Farewell to the East End

by Jennifer Worth

Farewell to the East End

Farewell to the East End is the last book that Worth wrote concerning her time in London’s East End working as a midwife in the 1950s, but interestingly not the last book she wrote about nursing. I am planning to read those as well. Once again Worth splits up parts of the narrative telling stories about her fellow midwives, Trixie, Cynthia, and Chummy. Read More »

Shadows of the Workhouse

by Jennifer Worth

Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer Worth

This book is the second book of the Midwife Series Trilogy on which the BBC drama Call the Midwife is based. Whew, that was a mouthful. Suffice it to say that this book is every bit as sad as the title suggests, in the very best possible way. Read More »

Call the Midwife: A True Story of the East End in the 1950s

by Jennifer Worth

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

Once upon a time I stumbled upon the BBC series Call the Midwife on Netflix. I generally enjoy what the BBC has to offer and I devoured this entire series in a matter of a few weeks. I cried every single episode. Perhaps I should preface all the crying with the fact that I am pregnant, and tend to be easily touched into tears when I am pregnant. Read More »

A Mormon Mother: An Autobiography by Annie Clark Tanner

by Annie Clark Tanner

A Mormon Mother by Annie Clark Tanner

My little brother got me this book for Christmas. I suspect that it was heavily discounted from the $1.50 price tag that graced its cover. Though I love free books, AND love my little brother for providing so many, it is often hit and miss with his gifts. It was with trepidation that I started this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. Read More »

The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks

by Amy Stewart

The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

Disclaimer: I do not drink. So why read a book about drinks? I must say, I have a fascination with the science behind the making of alcohol. I visited a Whisky distillery in Scotland and a Pisco distillery in Chile, so I am a bit of an enthusiast. Read More »

11 Days in December: Christmas at the Bulge, 1944

by Stanley Weintraub

11 Days in December by Stanley Weintraub

I know I promised a break on non fiction WWII books, but this has been on the shelf since I married my husband (it came with him) and it was Christmastime so I thought, why not? Mistake. Read More »