It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas: Adult Nonfiction

I’ve already uploaded posts with some suggestion for great picture, middle-grade, and YA books (click on the colored word to read those posts). Now I’m moving on to nonfiction. It’s a genre that I’m just dipping my toes in, but I’ve come across several nonfiction books that I enjoyed. Here goes:

For the Love of Books: Stories of Literary Lives, Banned Books, Author Feuds, Extraordinary Characters, and More by Graham Tarrant

Image result for For the Love of Books: Stories of Literary Lives, Banned Books, Author Feuds, Extraordinary Characters, and More Graham Tarrant

The only thing I don’t love about this book is its ridiculously long title. It’s full of the most interesting facts about everything literary. For example: apparently, Norman Mailer feuds with almost everyone. This is a book I’ll come to again and again. It would make an excellent gift for any reader.

The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers

This is the story of a Yemeni man who learns the history of coffee and how his people are involved. He leaves the U.S., traveling to Yemen, to see the roots of this history with the end goal of becoming a coffee entrepreneur. However, he becomes trapped in Yemen as war engulfs his homeland. This book read like a thriller and I was engrossed. This is one worth reading!

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

In 1986, the Los Angeles Public Library caught fire. Thousands of books were destroyed, including one-of-a-kind treasures. This book examines the tragedy. What happened? Was it purposeful? While the book-lover in me winced over the loss of all those wonderful books, it was an absolutely fascinating book. It was written with such enthusiasm that I couldn’t tear myself away. This would be a great gift.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: a Sortabiography by Eric Idle

This book is so much fun! It’s full of possibly-true reminiscences by the hilarious Eric Idle. He does drop names liberally, but it’s very true to brand. If you want a nonfiction that will give you a laugh, this is a good choice.

Dragon Art: Inspiration, Impact, and Technique in Fantasy Art by Graeme Aymer and John Howe

In case this book doesn’t give it away, I love dragons. If you have a fantasy-lover in your life, this would be an amazing gift. The art is incredible and many fantasy art greats have been included in this book: John Howe and Larry Elmore, to name a few.

Well, here you have it. Are you planning on giving some nonfiction books this year? Do any of these catch your fancy?

The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

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This is one of those many books that I decided I wanted to read…then never got around to. I finally did, but only after seeing the movie  by the same name. I rarely read a book after seeing the movie (I prefer to do it the other way around), but the movie was so well done, I was dying to read the book and compare. My wonderful husband kindly let me read his copy while he was also reading it.

The book did not disappoint. It’s about Tommy Wiseau, the writer, director, producer, and star of the cult classic movie The Room. I haven’t seen The Room, and I probably never will. Based on the few clips I’ve seen, it’s embarrassingly terrible. That’s what makes The Disaster Artist so compelling. As much of a train wreck as the movie was, it’s become a phenomenon. And Tommy Wiseau is fascinating. Despite having some serious scumbag moments, I couldn’t help but like him. He’s an incredibly private person, and there are so many mysteries to unravel. Where is he really from? How on earth does he have so much money to throw away on a passion project? How old is he actually?

Another interesting thing is the unlikely relationship between Greg Sestero, the co-author, and Tommy. It’s engrossing. One difference between The Disaster Artist book, and the movie by the same name, is that Dave Franco portrays Greg as a naive, kind, boy-next-door character. In the book, Greg came across as manipulative, self-centered, and lazy. I wonder if he’s aware that he seems that way.

This book will stay with you long after you finish it. I ended up looking up acting clips of the real Tommy Wiseau, searching to see what the main characters are doing now, and basically dissecting the entire thing over and over in my mind.

The verdict: Read this book! Put it on top of your “to be read” pile! Once you’ve read it, see the movie with James and Dave Franco. Tell me in the comments what your thoughts are. I would love to discuss this book!

One Day: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America by Gene Weingarten- ARC Review

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On New Year’s Day 2013, two-time Pulitzer Prize–winner Gene Weingarten asked three strangers to, literally, pluck a day, month, and year from a hat. That day—chosen completely at random—turned out to be Sunday, December 28, 1986, by any conventional measure a most ordinary day. Weingarten spent the next six years proving that there is no such thing.

That Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s turned out to be filled with comedy, tragedy, implausible irony, cosmic comeuppances, kindness, cruelty, heroism, cowardice, genius, idiocy, prejudice, selflessness, coincidence, and startling moments of human connection, along with evocative foreshadowing of momentous events yet to come. Lives were lost. Lives were saved. Lives were altered in overwhelming ways. Many of these events never made it into the news; they were private dramas in the lives of private people. They were utterly compelling.
 
One Day asks and answers the question of whether there is even such a thing as “ordinary” when we are talking about how we all lurch and stumble our way through the daily, daunting challenge of being human. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. It will be available on October 22nd.

I was immediately drawn to the idea of this book. I love things that remind us that, although the world is big, we are all part of it and we affect each other’s lives- often in ways we never even know about. When it comes right down to it, the world isn’t as big as it often seems. We all love, fear, grieve, and hope. This books is an excellent reminder of that.

At the beginning of the book, the author lamented the day that was picked. It was during what is normally a slow news week, and nothing of note was known to have happened on that day. However, as this book proved, there is no such thing as an unimportant day.

This isn’t a light read. It will make you think. It will make you question every interaction you’ve had during the day. Was that smile you gave a stranger what gave them the courage to call a suicide help-line? How do “insignificant moments” affect lives down the road? We will never know what’s going on with others around us behind closed doors, what people keep private, but we aren’t islands. This book was a reminder of that.

The writing was superb, the lengths the author went to in order to get first- hand accounts was astonishing, and the book was wonderful. This would make a great Christmas gift. While you’re at it, pick up a copy for yourself.

Food, Culture, Latin America by Matt Simkin


A love for food and travel, but riddled with apathy from a mundane routine; surely there’s a way to be happier and combine the things you love in life?

The dull working life inspired this enticing travelogue on how food and culture influence the varied regions across Latin America with a backpacker’s voice. Travelling from Mexico down to Patagonia in Argentina, Simkin takes a profound look into the Latino culture with enthusiasm and pragmatism. Stepping away from the gringo trail and exploring everything from islands to jungles, mountains, beaches, favelas and cities.

Simkin recounts his adventures with vivid detail and honesty through the journey, whilst reflecting on his life and girl back home, affectionately called the GBH.

The story of how food reflects the culture across the continent makes this a relatable and unique story for food, culture and travel lovers alike. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Matt Simkin and the publisher for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available for purchase now.

I haven’t traveled much at all, and I’ve been asked to stay out of the kitchen on numerous occasions, so I came into this book a little unsure what to expect. I found it highly enjoyable. Matt Simkin decides to leave the daily grind behind him as he heads across Latin America, immersing himself in the food as well as the culture.

I liked how honest this book was. While it was overall an amazing experience for the author, he also mentioned when it was…slightly less than amazing. I laughed a little at his comments regarding a group of self-righteous, hypocritical hippies. I felt like I was traveling along, albeit from the comfort of my home.

The headers of each entry were fantastic: “Tikal- Best served with termites, and Ushuaia- Best served at the end of the world” were a couple of my favorites.  There was a sense of humor as well as a genuine appreciation for each part of his adventure that was refreshing to read.

Oh- I need to mention that Matt Simkin was trekking all over the place with a broken foot! That was impressive! All in all, I quite liked this incredibly unique and entertaining book.