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mindmonkey
Mindmonkey  (Level: 270.8 - Posts: 295)
Sun, 4th Nov '07 9:13 PM

ANY NEW NON-FICTION READS?

For those of us who like non-fiction, what is everybody reading now? Any good and exciting books?

For myself, being sort of an uber-nerd, I've got two on the burner. The first is: Mussolini's Italy: Life Under the Fascist Dictatorship, 1915-1945 by R. J. B. Bosworth and it's quite good. I'm really surprised at the role returned Italians from the U.S. played in the dictatorship. The other is a recent biography of the Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi (late 19th century) that is so bad, I'm just reading it to see how many more things the author can get wrong--a strange fascination, to be sure. It shall remain, mercifully, nameless!

Any pearls out there?

rowlanda
Rowlanda  (Level: 70.0 - Posts: 2856)
Mon, 5th Nov '07 4:24 AM

I'm reading The Best Life Diet by Bob Greene.
Sick of Peanut Butter!!!!

geophile
Geophile  (Level: 159.5 - Posts: 1521)
Mon, 5th Nov '07 10:49 PM

I just finished Ike, An American Hero, by Michael Korda. Very well-written.

Is it just me or does anyone else find David McCullough's books boring?

mindmonkey
Mindmonkey  (Level: 270.8 - Posts: 295)
Mon, 5th Nov '07 10:54 PM

I find them long. Really long. I'd much rather read David Halberstram. Sad, he's gone now. Love his books.

texlewee
Texlewee  (Level: 34.1 - Posts: 601)
Mon, 5th Nov '07 11:23 PM

I am reading "The Jesus I Never Knew" by Phillip Yancey. It is a perspective on Jesus from a Jewish point of view.

smoke20
Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Tue, 6th Nov '07 12:18 AM

After a summer of novels about history, music and art, I've got three non-fictions lined up next:
A Dog Year (12 Months, 4 Dogs, and Me) by Jon Katz
The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson
Word Myths (Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends) by David Wilton

Currently reading a wizard book (first in a series) for grownup noir fans called Storm Front - Book One of the Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher, a gift from a trivia player. Sort of like if Harry Potter grew up to be Mickey Spillane, played by, say, John Cusack. Amusing. I'll report back.

rnmorg
Rnmorg  (Level: 128.2 - Posts: 690)
Tue, 6th Nov '07 9:46 AM

(Homer Simpson moment)

Mmmmmm...Lost Continent....

That's one I gotta have; I love me some continents! Or continence. Whatever, I love them both.

I'm still reading "Below the Convergence" by Alan Gurney, about the history of Antarctic discovery and exploration. I am a huge Antarctaphile; I should have a Tshirt made or something "I Shackleton" or "Go Scott! Beat Amundsen!" (Geek humor!)

I'm also STILL reading "An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves and the Creation of America." I have to say that this is a rather difficult read. This is one of those books that makes me ashamed for my entire genealogical background as an American and a Mayflower descendant. I can't figure or imagine the mindset that made slavery "okay" even 200 years ago. If this wasn't enough cultural self-mortification, I am also RE-listening to "Mayflower" by Nathaniel Philbrick, which covers not just the voyage and the settlement, but the Indian conflicts that arose in New England after the colonists arrived. I highly recommend any of these to the avid non-fiction buff. Some of them are a bit dry unless you're truly hardcore!

rnmorg
Rnmorg  (Level: 128.2 - Posts: 690)
Tue, 6th Nov '07 10:01 AM

D'oh! Scratch that...I had that "Lost Continent" book and didn't like it. Of course, NOTHING is ever going to rival his "Short History of Nearly Everything."

smoke20
Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Tue, 6th Nov '07 10:26 AM

I love all Philbrick's books. Speaking of Antarctica, have you seen this one? I read it a few months back and thouroughly enjoyed it.

http://www.nathanielphilbrick.com/seaofglory/index.html

rnmorg
Rnmorg  (Level: 128.2 - Posts: 690)
Tue, 6th Nov '07 10:52 AM

I have read "Sea of Glory" but I am afraid to say that I did not finish it. I got to a certain point in the book and I felt the synapses in my head start to buzz and realized I wasn't going to absorb anymore, no matter how hard I tried to stuff it in. I do have to say that the passages on the race to discover Antarctica were VERY suspenseful for a non-fiction book; almost made you feel like a spectator on the sidelines! I guess I should have expected a letdown after that!

smoke20
Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Tue, 6th Nov '07 2:05 PM

Gotta change that avatar.

mindmonkey
Mindmonkey  (Level: 270.8 - Posts: 295)
Tue, 6th Nov '07 2:37 PM

Some pretty interesting books here.

geophile
Geophile  (Level: 159.5 - Posts: 1521)
Tue, 6th Nov '07 4:40 PM

Robin - Then you can start on a book about Marian Anderson and her deal with the Daughters of the American Revolution! Another defining American moment.

After I read Ike, I wanted to know more about Field Marshal Montgomery - Surreyman says Nigel Hamilton has a biography on him...anyone read it?

pafork
Pafork  (Level: 132.0 - Posts: 537)
Wed, 7th Nov '07 3:56 AM

Robin I love your geeky t-shirt idea. You should so do that. =)

I really liked Lost Continent - but I love all his books. I have his "Shakespeare: The World as Stage" waiting for as soon as I finish my current two, Neal Karlen's "The Story of Yiddish" and Oliver Sacks' "Musicophilia" (enjoying both) but I might have to put it off 'cus I really wanna read the new Nick Hornby.=)

rowlanda
Rowlanda  (Level: 70.0 - Posts: 2856)
Wed, 7th Nov '07 6:11 AM

I don't normally care to diverge from the subject at hand, but....
going to do it anyway!!!!
SMOKE that book you recommended, reminded me that originally all
maps of the world were made from painstaking measurements done
by sailors and cartographers....they couldn't even stand on top
of a mountain to see the "edges" of the countries, whose coastlines
they were mapping.
I am therefore OFTEN IN AWE of their accuracy and detailed knowledge
when I see pictures of the Earth, taken from Space!!!!

mindmonkey
Mindmonkey  (Level: 270.8 - Posts: 295)
Wed, 7th Nov '07 4:41 PM

The Montgomery book sounds interesting--anyone have it's name? I saw an interview with an author (don't remember who) who just did a biography of Eisenhower. I'd like to read that too. As I grow older, I become more and more impressed with Eisenhower and think he has received undeserved bad press from historians (espcially in the 60s).

suzer22
Suzer22  (Level: 165.6 - Posts: 1982)
Wed, 7th Nov '07 11:31 PM

I am not usually a non-fiction reader, but I am currently reading "Flower Drum Songs: The Story Of Two Musicals" by David H. Lewis. I am producing the 2002 revival version at my high school this year (just had auditions today!) so I am fascinated by the history of this American musical!

mindmonkey
Mindmonkey  (Level: 270.8 - Posts: 295)
Thu, 8th Nov '07 1:06 AM

Suzer, you are reading about musicals? --so out of character!

geophile
Geophile  (Level: 159.5 - Posts: 1521)
Thu, 8th Nov '07 1:11 AM

Hey Mindmonkey...The "Ike" author is Michael Korda. I think you will enjoy it.

mindmonkey
Mindmonkey  (Level: 270.8 - Posts: 295)
Thu, 8th Nov '07 2:02 AM

Thanks much--now over to the Powells Bookstore site to put it into my basket.

surreyman
Surreyman  (Level: 261.2 - Posts: 2770)
Thu, 8th Nov '07 9:35 AM

For polar addicts Fleming's "Barrow's Boys" is superb.

And I'm about to start "The Faber Book of Exploration", an anthology by Benedict Allen, which looks terrific. I was at a talk by Allen a couple of nights back and snaffled a signed copy!

larefamiliaris
Larefamiliaris  (Level: 135.2 - Posts: 877)
Thu, 8th Nov '07 2:01 PM

Just started (again!) 'Library: An Unquiet History' by Matthew Battles.
The guy is the rare-books librarian at Harvard and goes from Mesopotamia to Alexandria, the Qing Dynasty to book burning, fitting in Dewey Decimal and the Internet in a little over 200 pages. It's breathtaking.

smoke20
Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Thu, 8th Nov '07 3:52 PM

Sounds wonderful, Martin! Making a note!
Is that David Hasselhoff in a Speedo, or are you just happy to see me?

rowlanda
Rowlanda  (Level: 70.0 - Posts: 2856)
Fri, 9th Nov '07 5:50 AM

Love your dogs Smoke....high energy though
Glad you got rid of the Loonie Lady....

mindmonkey
Mindmonkey  (Level: 270.8 - Posts: 295)
Fri, 9th Nov '07 10:27 PM

Surreyman, I think I see a few new quizes coming up from that book of exploration!

frannie
Frannie  (Level: 96.2 - Posts: 68)
Mon, 12th Nov '07 7:40 AM

Robin, Your reaction to the arrogance of our founding fathers in their attitude toward slavery was so similar to mine when I visited South Dakota this fall. As I read about the treatment of the Sioux and the Wounded Knee Massacre, I was filled with sorrow and guilt not only for what had happened but for what I didn't know about it. The book I was reading at the time was "The Story of The Wounded Knee Massacre from the Indian Point of View" by James H. McGregor. I read several others but they all tell the same sad story. Frannie

mindmonkey
Mindmonkey  (Level: 270.8 - Posts: 295)
Wed, 14th Nov '07 12:18 AM

The library book sounds good. I like libraries.

rnmorg
Rnmorg  (Level: 128.2 - Posts: 690)
Wed, 14th Nov '07 10:12 AM

I finished "Mayflower" on Audio, which was very interesting. I had started listening to it before, but it hadn't held my interest and I would find that whole chapters had gone by and I hadn't absorbed a thing. Since I only have a little teeny 1gb ipod, I couldn't rewind, so I'd just go ahead and halfway through the recording I couldn't tell you what had happened. This time, it was like listening to something entirely new (since I was actually paying attention, I suppose) and I was fascinated. Now I am listening to an autobiography of Timothy Leary. VERY extensive and I was pretty interested up until they got to the part where he starts his experimentation with psilocybin and now it all seems very silly. I'll stick it out.

I finished reading "An Imperfect God" last night. I was absolutely shocked about some of the things I learned about George Washington and his slave ownership throughout his presidency. For example, he would shuttle them back and forth between Pennsylvania (the capital at the time) and Virginia to avoid a local law which stated that slaves that lived in the area for 6 months had to be emancipated. I got the idea that he was a rather henpecked husband; when he amended his will, mandating that all of his personally owned slaves should be granted emancipation, he kept it entirely secret from everyone in his family, including his wife. Although it was difficult to read some of these things, the book itself was quick and engaging. Very informative.

I think my next read is going to be fiction. I just received an Elizabeth Berg book, so I'm putting that one next.

rnmorg
Rnmorg  (Level: 128.2 - Posts: 690)
Tue, 27th Nov '07 4:27 PM

Just finished Dying Dreams, which is about Paula Sims who claimed that a masked gunman kidnapped her infant daughter (who was later found dead) then a few years later claimed that the same thing happened again with another infant! I think Ann Rule wrote a book that came out just after this happened, but this book contains a lot more of the back story behind the incidents.

Still plodding through Below the Convergence. It's a good book, but contains a lot of detail that I don't want to miss.

On Audio: I just finished a biography on Timothy Leary by Robert Greenfield. WOW. That's about all I can say. I was too young to really know anything about him when he was popular, but I always got the vague impression that he was someone "dangerous" or a revolutionary of some sort. Turns out he was sort of a poser and hanger-on. Very complex and obviously brilliant, but not what you'd call a true warrior for social change.

smoke20
Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Tue, 27th Nov '07 5:54 PM

I've never been able to absorb any book on tape; too easily distracted. Ironic, because years ago I used to record books for the blind. I don't remember much of them, either. I was so bent on reading aloud with clarity and feeling that I often forgot it as soon as I closed the book. They weren't my choices, either, so that's part of it I suppose. Half a dozen Dick Francis mysteries are forever blended in my brain.

But put a book under my nose and the world goes away and I'm lost in whatever I'm reading (unless it's deadly boring, in which case I soon chuck it - life's too short and the libraries too full). Now I often read aloud for the enjoyment of it, especially something beautifully written, and the dogs LOVE it! I can't pick up a book to put it away without getting mobbed by happy hounds rushing to flop at my feet!

I love Nathaniel Philbrick, have all his books, and I think Mayflower was about the best. Matter of fact, I strongly suspect the Thanksgiving Pilgrim word puzzle came from it - the ones I got sounded really familiar and when I checked the books, the facts were all there, though phrased very differently, I think. I'm now halfway through Bill Bryson's Lost Continent, and enjoying it, lots of LOL, but I find it a bit more mean-spirited than other things I've read of his. Next up: A Dog Year by Jon Katz.


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