Tag Archives: nonfiction

Good reads: Book picks from the first half of 2014

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Six months into the year, I finally decided to end a three-month blogging hiatus to talk about that one thing I can always, always talk about: books. At the beginning of the year, I set a goal to read 40 books in 2014, with ambitions to read longer volumes like Lonesome Dove (which, to be fair, I did read in its entirety). But with just one full day left in June, my halfway mark, I’ve read a grand total of 26!

I really need some new hobbies.

Anyway, I wanted to call out a couple of my favorite reads so far this year, one novel and one nonfiction book. Beginning with the one I just finished this afternoon.

Home by Marilynne Robinson

Home“Weary or bitter or bewildered as we may be, God is faithful. He lets us wander so we will know what it means to come home.” –Home

I’ve had this volume sitting on my bookshelf for years now. This is a quiet, simple book that demands the reader’s full attention, so you definitely have to be in the right mood for it. But, boy, give it some time to let these characters and their troubles simmer around in your soul, and you will be pleasantly surprised by the magnitude of this story’s power.

Home is a beautiful, heart-shattering retelling of the prodigal son parable, a slow-paced domestic tale about the aging Rev. Boughton and his troubled relationship with his forever-rebellious son. Told mostly through the eyes of Glory, the minister’s middle-aged daughter who has returned home to care for her aging father after suffering a tremendous heartbreak of her own, we watch as now-grown Jack Boughton returns to the family after a painful 20-year absence, bearing the emotional and physical scars of alcoholism, a 10-year prison sentence, a history shadowed with thievery and lies, and a lifelong sense of alienation from his own family’s home and faith. Rev. Boughton loves his prodigal son deeply, despite his many misgivings — most infamously his fathering a child with a young, poor farm girl in his youth — but still struggles to accept Jack’s rejection of Christianity. In fact, it is probably Jack’s struggle to accept the idea of salvation that hurts Boughton most deeply.

The novel is also the companion piece to Robinson’s second novel, GileadHome takes place in the same small Iowa town (called Gilead), and the main characters float between that story and this one, especially the town’s two aging former ministers: Rev. Boughton and his lifelong best friend, Rev. Ames. I like that despite the obvious religious undertones in books about two preachers’ families, Robinson’s novels are never preachy. If anything, her novels are an honest depiction of faith, of its failings as well as its triumphs.

Glory, Jack, and their father shuffle slowly from scene to scene in this book, from the front porch to the parlor to the kitchen, completing tedious rural chores like weeding the vegetable garden, scrubbing down the laundry, and fixing up the run-down family car. Lighthearted moments of recreation include impromptu performances of Sunday hymns and a reasonable game of checkers. Nothing much happens. But each character carries a great deal of hidden burdens and inner turmoil as they slowly, lovingly try to piece their family back together, as well as their own dignity — before it’s too late.

This is a book with little plot, but much to reveal about humanity — about brokenness and hope, about sin and forgiveness, about regret and grace. If you trod along through this novel patiently, you will be rewarded with the best kind of weep at the end, I promise.

This author has a new novel coming out the day before my birthday this year (!!!), called Lila, about the rough upbringing and mysterious past of Rev. Ames young wife. I can’t wait to see what humble and beautiful prose Ms. Robinson has in store for us.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

Nothing to EnvyThis is an utterly gripping, terrifying nonfiction book about a real place deeply enshrouded in mystery to outsiders: North Korea. Journalist Barbara Demick follows six ordinary North Korean citizens who defect from their country, following their escape from the crushing dictatorship to the outside world.

I loved that this story reads a lot like a novel. When we are introduced to the main characters, they are young and joyfully being indoctrinated into the North Korean ideology. As their stories progress, and they begin to question everything they know — coming to some pretty shattering realizations — I got chills. Chills, I tell you!

The breadth and depth of North Korean propaganda is fascinating and eerie and horrifying all at once. It’s hard as an American to imagine a country in which the political leader goes so far as to eradicate all religions, rob such faiths of their powerful symbolism and mythologies, and utilize them to make his citizens unfailingly loyal to the state. North Koreans even refer to the current calendar year based on the birth year of Kim Il-sung. (I’m getting the chills again.) This book completely immerses the reader in that culture of utter obliviousness and forced patriotism. This is the kind of stuff I wish kids — and by “kids,” I mean high school students — were required to read in school. Totally eye-opening.

I read this after reading the novel The Orphan Master’s Son for my book club, which is a novel that takes place in North Korea and which was pretty good, especially insofar as it made me desperately curious to know more about the real North Korea. I also watched two documentaries about North Korea, National Geographic’s “Inside North Korea,” which was like a crash course to North Korea, and “A State of Mind,” which follows two North Korean schoolgirls as they prepare for their gymnastics routine in the Mass Games, the world’s largest choreographed performance held in honor of Kim Jong-Il’s birthday each year. Did I mention it’s UTTERLY TERRIFYING?

“Inside North Korea” has a whole plot line about some kind-hearted doctors giving free cataract-removal surgery to North Koreans and then they have this big “unveiling” of the newly healed eyes, and each person hysterically thanks the “Most Glorious Leader” (that’s Kim Jong-Il, in this case) for their restored vision and cries and does praise-dances like they’re a bunch of born-again Christians getting baptized in the Mississippi on an Easter Sunday. Except they’re talking about their dictator. The guy who starves them, manipulates all their media and education, and… well, there come those chills again…

Mass Games

Lots of people doing things in unison at the Mass Games to celebrate the “Most Glorious Leader.” Giving me nightmares, and stuff.

So basically I went on this really big “learn everything about North Korea” kick for a few months, and now I’ll never sleep peacefully at night again.

Sorry to end on such a depressing note. What’s your, uh, favorite uplifting read you’ve finished lately?

 

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Favorite nonfiction reads of 2013

I’ve read 46 books so far this year, toward my goal of 50. I’ve been challenging myself to read longer books, classics, and especially nonfiction this year, so although I don’t think I’ll reach the same book total as last year (52), I have read more pages in less time! This year I participated in two book clubs: the mail-based one with college friends and a neighborhood book and pub club, which have both motivated me to delve into titles I might not otherwise choose on my own.

My main reading goal this year was to read 20 nonfiction books, and I’ve read 18 so far! I haven’t been a big nonfiction reader since high school and college required textbooks made nonfiction seem dull and tedious, although I have remained quite the news junkie and a devoted subscriber to various newspapers and magazines. Not to mention that my entire career revolves around nonfiction!

This year I discovered some truly great nonfiction reads: gripping, moving, inspiring, well-written stories that resonate all the more because they are true. I’ve learned about things I would have never imagined: the astronaut selection process, the intricacies of mountaineering, the social strata of Mumbai slums, the symbolism of street art, the security levels in mental hospital wards. I got a lot of suggestions from the book The New New Journalism, which is an anthology of interviews with contemporary non-fiction writers about their research and writing processes. Highly recommended for writers and readers alike.

Here are my five favorites from this year:

1. Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in The Bronx by Adrian LeBlanc

510TA2HMBJLWow. I cannot say enough good things about this incredible family saga. This is the kind of book that sinks into your skin and stays with you for a very long time after. Random Family is the sprawling tale of three generations of a Puerto Rican family and their intertwining stories as they navigate all of life’s triumphs and obstacles in the South Bronx, one of the nation’s most notoriously rough urban neighborhoods. This book reveals a hidden world of gang culture, state prisons, drug rings and addictions, the welfare and food stamp system, teen pregnancy, and all other intricacies of poverty…right here in New York City.

LeBlanc won all sorts of journalism awards for this work, and with good reason. The portraits of her characters are rich and honest: I found myself rooting for somewhat naive, optimistic teenage Coco and her various children, clinging to every hope that they would just survive. But some of the other characters I absolutely loathed. Yes, there are welfare queens and crack addicts in this book, but there are also just people. It helps the reader understand the crippling hopelessness and insurmountable challenges of poverty in a way that mere statistics and headlines can’t capture. I raced through this book in three days and didn’t want to let go…and I still can’t, really. Read more about Random Family here.

(P.S. The New York Times just published an absolutely wonderfully written, LENGTHY expose on the current state of homeless children in the city, focusing on a portrait of one girl, Dasani, and her family. It’s like a crash course for Random Family. Check it out here. Hope for print journalism!)

2. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

emperor-of-all-maladiesConfession: I’ve never been that interested in science. It has never fascinated or enthralled me the way it has a number of my peers. But I think if a book like Emperor of All Maladies had existed when I was studying, say, high school biology, my entire outlook would have been transformed for the better.

This is an incredible feat of historical and scientific research: a massive biopic of cancer from its first recorded victims, throughout the constant battle for a cure, to modern-day medicine’s astonishing abilities — and shortcomings. What I loved about this book is that it wasn’t just about the development of chemotherapy or experiments conducted on childhood leukemia victims, it also analyzed the intersection of the disease with culture. Mukherjee, an oncologist himself, delves into the origins of cancer’s first poster child, the foundation of the American Cancer Society, the explosion of fundraising for breast cancer research. It is all truly, truly fascinating. A book for everyone because I am certain that everyone has had their life impacted by cancer, in one way or another. Read more here.

3. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

220px-DWCityI love books that focus entirely on one specific moment in history and really dig deep into the details. This book juxtaposes the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect in charge of constructing the 1893 Chicago’s World Fair, and H.H. Holmes, America’s first known serial killer. The biographies intersect only slightly — Holmes constructs a “murder hotel” to lure in his victims who are visiting the nearby World’s Fair — so the construction of the book is a little odd, but as Larson explains, he chose these two contrasting stories to highlight the stark contrast in how men choose to live their lives. There are men who live to illuminate the world (literally, in Burnham’s case) by sharing their genius, and there are men who live only to bring darkness and death.

The H.H. Holmes chapters were obviously edge-of-your-seat material, and the kind of thing that infiltrated my nightmares for a bit after, but I really enjoyed the World’s Fair bits, too. Burnham and his team — which included Frederick Law Olmsted, the genius who gave us Central Park in New York — were racing against the clock, limited resources, an uncooperative climate and landscape to construct a miniature city so magnificent and inspiring that it would put all the nay-sayers in NYC and D.C. (two much more developed and reputable American cities at the time) to shame. A treat for all history buffs. Read more here.

4. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

urlI wrote a lengthy post about this book earlier this year after reading it. I would still heartily recommend it. So, so, so powerful. After you read it, watch this CBS story about Louis Zamperini, see what a humble and grateful man he is and his relationship with the author of his biography, and cry all over again. GAH.

You will have a lot of feels from reading this book, but the good feels outweigh the bad ones, I promise. Zamperini is incredible, his story is incredible, this book is incredibly put together and well-researched. It has also sparked my interest in reading Seabiscuit (Hillenbrand’s other bestseller) and other military nonfiction, like Flags of Our Fathers, which is awaiting me on my bookshelf. Check out Unbroken here.

5. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

urlThis darling little gem is a must for book lovers! This is the record of letter-based correspondence between Ms. Helene Hanff of New York, an avid reader, and stodgy bookshop employee Frank Doel of London that begins as purely business relationship and blooms into a charming long-distance, long-lasting friendship. (Warning: Quite a bittersweet ending.) It’s almost too whimsically wonderful to be true. Check it out here.

What are your favorite non-fiction reads?

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Five-star read: Unbroken

I just finished — seriously, 15 minutes ago — one of the best books I have read in a long time. And I know it’s only February so this might be a moot point, but easily the best books I have read yet in 2013.

bookcoverThis book was recommended to me many times, especially when I asked friends for nonfiction suggestions for my New Year’s Reading Resolution. I know that it was a NYT bestseller and Time magazine’s Best Book of 2010, but for some reason, I just couldn’t quite believe the hype.

And the thing is, of all people, I should have some personal interest in a biography about a U.S. Army bombardier who, by an unfortunate twist of fate, becomes a Japanese POW during WWII. I lived in Iwakuni, Japan when I was in first grade, as my dad served in the Marine Corps (he still works with the Department of Defense and travels there often). My paternal grandfather served in the Pacific Campaign of WII, and later in the Korean War, with the U.S. Navy. I studied the story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes when I lived in Iwakuni, and even helped fold paper cranes to mail to her memorial statue in Hiroshima as a peace offering. So. What. Was. Wrong. With. Me?!?! WHY DIDN’T I WANT TO READ THIS BOOK?

I’m only sorry I did not read this book sooner. Yes, it is a military history book in the sense that there is a lot of information about the planes (B-29s) and military tactics of WWII. But it is SO. MUCH. MORE. Specifically, it is the detailed life story of this man, Louis Zamperini:

WK-AV921_COVER__DV_20101110182743If I were to summarize this man’s incredible story to you, it would sound like a cross between Forrest Gump and The Life of PiOnly, guys. It really happened! Louis — or Louie, as he is more often called — not only endures his plane crashing into the Pacific Ocean, surviving for more than a month on a raft smaller than a bathtub with two crew mates (oh, by the way, fending off man-eating sharks along the way), but THEN has his raft shot down by a Japanese bomber. Then endures two years as a POW in Japan, where he is starved, beaten, and tortured to the brink of death. Not to spoil anything for you, but, um, history: the Allies win, and Louie makes it back to the States, where he must face the personal demons of PTSD, alcoholism, and depression and a plaguing hatred for the Japanese.

As the title of the book, Unbroken, might give away, Louie is a victor in all battles.

Louie embraces his mother, Louise, upon his post-war homecoming.

Louie embraces his mother, Louise, upon his post-war homecoming.

Did I mention that in his pre-Army days, Louie broke all kinds of running records, nearly achieved the four-minute mile and competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics (where Hitler personally congratulated him on his athletic finesse)? Did you know he’s still alive and well today, in his 90s? That you might have seen him in, oh, five Olympic opening ceremonies in the past as he carried the famed torch?

I didn’t, but I’m so glad to know Louie now. What an incredible story about the importance of human dignity and perseverance. I was expecting an exhilarating, harrowing survival story, but what I learned is that it takes so much more than food, water, and shelter to remain truly alive.

This quote from the book really resonated with me: “Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen. The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man’s soul in his body long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it.”

It was so interesting to read about the little ways the POWs kept their sanity and dignity, even by doing little things like stealing pencil boxes or teaching the dumber, unknowing Japanese guards vulgar English. This book also illustrated how sometimes the existence of hope can truly mean the difference between life and death.

To be honest, some parts of the book were very emotionally challenging to get through. In American public schools, much of what happened to the Allied soldiers in Japan and the atrocities commited by the Japanese military and government are not openly talked about, at least in substantial detail. You’d be hard pressed to find a U.S. teenager who could correctly explain the Rape of Nanking as opposed to, say, Auschwitz. I have read numerous fictional and nonfictional works depicting life under the Nazis’ control of Germany and the horrors of concentration camps, but I had no idea just how nightmarishly the Japanese military treated their POWs.

For example, at one point Louie injures his ankle and can no longer contribute to the hard physical labor the POWs endure in coal mines and the like, so “the Bird,” a sadistic camp leader, forces him to tend to a camp pig, forcing him to clean the stall with his bare hands or else endure a brutal beating. Louie is so malnourished he resorts to stealing handfuls of slop from the swine’s trough for extra sustenance. This is just one example of the abuse he endures.

unbrokenNeedless to say, it is hard not to become quite emotionally attached to the book’s heroes. After seeing men at their weakest and most vulnerable, you can’t help but feel you know them most intimately. I cried at several points in the book, like when an American pilot signals to the POWs that the war is finally over and they are free. Oh, and at the above passage. After witnessing so much suffering, it was hard not to share in the soldiers’ elation and joy, too.

I recommend this book to, well, everyone, but especially Americans. Why do we not read these kinds of things in schools?!? It’s hard to read something like this and not care deeply about our country’s history, about the sacrifices of our military and the hardships on the homefront of decades past. What’s even more mind-boggling to me is that this book focuses mainly on ONE man’s story. Just one. One man out of so many who served their countries during the war. It’s hard to grasp the untold stories that were lost forever in men’s unmarked graves.

Also, big, huge props to writer Laura Hillenbrand for tackling this epic of tale. She spent more than seven years on this project, interviewing Louie more than 70 times (in addition to countless other witnesses and sources), and poring over Louie’s pack-rat scrapbooks, one of which weighed more than a whopping 60 pounds. It is quite a feat to compile so much research, so much information, so much history, into one book and make it so readable, so human…and so addicting. It was hard to put this down at the end of my bus rides or lunch hour. Let’s say I pushed back my bedtime a few times to finish this read.  (At one point, I was racing through, thinking “OK, they’ve got to drop the atomic bombs on Japan soon! And then the war will almost be over.”)

Inspiring, phenomenal, amazing. All the cliches apply here, and rightfully so. Do yourself a favor, and read Unbroken. I swear it’s not the military brat in me speaking.

urlP.S. As of December, there is talk of a film adaptation, to be directed by Angelina Jolie. Whatever. Read the book.

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Book & Pub Club and other literary explorations

As part of an effort to meet people who are not my co-workers nor accountants (a.k.a. Sean’s co-workers) nor Aggie transplants, last Monday I attended my first Upper East Side Book & Pub Club meeting. It’s basically a traditional book club for younger people that keeps it young by meeting in various neighborhood bars during happy hour. Yes, really.

I found out about the group on Meetup.com, which I was really skeptical about at first, but my friend, fellow Aggie New Yorker, and former Battalion-er Jeff suggested I check it out. He met some great people through a craft beer club he found on the site, and while anyone who knows Jeff knows he becomes instant BFFs with everyone he meets, I figured it couldn’t hurt to check it out. I mean, it’s not as intimidating as online dating, or anything.

If you haven’t heard of Meetup.com, it’s a site where people can organize groups of people who may or may not know each other previously who then get together to indulge in common interests, from cocktail hours and early morning runs to nerdy board game marathons and crochet circles.

For my first UES Book & Pub Club meeting, we all read this recently published book, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

gone-girl-review_320This is not my usual reading material, as it is a suspense/thriller/crime novel, but I surprised myself and really enjoyed it. Ms. Flynn is a great writer — not just an engaging storyteller — and it makes all the difference. I felt that the book jacket synopsis was horridly written, so I’ll summarize the novel for you here: A married couple moves from NYC after losing their print media-related jobs to the husband’s dying hometown in Missouri, where wife Amy quickly grows bored and dissatisfied. Then on the day of their fifth anniversary, she mysteriously disappears. And husband Nick isn’t really coming off as totally innocent either. So what happened, and why?

Let me be frank with you: This book is MESSED. UP. There wasn’t really much to debate or argue about over this book, so most of the meeting was everyone just excitedly reliving the book because it’s one of those books that is SO. MESSED. UP. you can’t help but want to talk about it. We spent at least five minutes marveling at the jacket cover photo of the fairly normal looking young lady who wrote this book. This book that was SO. MESSED. UP. yet so brilliantly planned out. (I give it 4 out of 5 stars.)

We spent the first hour of the book club discussing said book, the next 15 minutes casually dividing up into smaller groups still sorta-kinda discussing the book, and then spent an hour discussing Downton Abbey, the Life of Pi film adaptation, and the disturbing phenomenon that is the widespread use of a nanny for child-rearing in the UES. In short: I found my people.

I have always thought joining a book club would be right up my alley, and I did participate in the mail version of such this year with Lech-brary, but I felt like most in-person book clubs were aimed at retirees, seeking an outlet between volunteer work and doctors visits. What about those of us in our 20s and 3os, out of college, but still eager to learn, to discuss?

I found these people, my people, in the Book & Pub Club: about a dozen women (all young, except one friendly, maternal middle-aged lady who came off to me as a high school English teacher) and two clearly gay men. There was a disproportionate number of young newlyweds, including one UT graduate who moved here a year ago from Dallas. There were people with 9-5 office jobs, a waitress, a bartender, a stay-at-home mom. And everyone loves to read. So, basically, it was the best. I can’t wait for February’s meeting!

The group alternates between reading fiction and nonfiction books each month, so next month we’re reading this, The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University by Kevin Roose:

the-unlikely-disciple-cover-570x863

I’ve already read about 70 pages of it, and it’s really great. Witty and observant, but also surprisingly…non-biased. This is a journalistic endeavor of a fairly agnostic college student from liberal Brown University who spends a semester “study abroad” at Liberty University, a fairly new Baptist college in Virginia founded by a mega-successful televangelist. It’s almost uncanny how much the student culture of LU reminds me of A&M, although fortunately, our professors were typically anything but conservative. I’m sure the discussion for this one will be interesting, as anything concerning religion and education ought to be.

Update: Kevin’s name sounded so familiar. Turns out he is currently a staff writer for New York magazine, whose website I obsess over daily, and is also a New York Times alum. Go figure. I should have gone on an undercover journalism mission in college, too.

In other reading news, I recently finished my first non-fiction book of the year, working toward my goal of 20 nonfiction books in 2013. I read a book that was already on our bookshelf and that Sean recommended, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson.

9938498This is a nonfiction account of the American Ambassador to Germany, Dodd, and his family during Hitler’s rise to power. Through the outsiders’ perspective, Larson attempts to answer the question of “How could the world sit by and watch such evil spread? How did no one see this coming?” It is a deeply fascinating tale that reads rather novelistically. Although we all know how this unfortunate story ends, it is intriguing nonetheless to watch the plot thicken.

Did you know that Ambassador Dodd’s daughter, the free-spirited and flirtatious Martha, dated a number of young Nazi officers? Did you know that Dodd was mercilessly teased by his fellow diplomats in Germany for his modest automobile choice of a Chevrolet (and later, a Buick)? Did you know a number of Americans, including the Dodds, openly expressed anti-Semitic beliefs prior to the outbreak of WWII and the Holocaust?

Chances are if you are anything like me, you hadn’t even heard of Dodd until you heard of this book. It’s definitely worth a read to discover a new chapter of often overlooked American history. My only complaint is that I am horrid at imagining the proper pronunciations of any of the German names.

I’m also attempting to read the entirety of the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the thousandth time. I’m about halfway through The Fellowship of the Ring, and oh my goodness … I cannot believe I am writing this … but. But. I am really, really enjoying it. I totally understand why there were entire college courses devoted to Tolkien. You have to be in the right mood to read thorough descriptions of all of the hobbits’ meals and bathing-songs, but there’s no denying it’s a classic.

NenyaGoldFotRBookCoverCoEP.S. I need more hobbies.

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New Year’s Reading Resolutions

large2012 is almost over! So much has happened, but one of the things I am most proud of (besides that whole getting-married-moving-to-NYC-getting-an-editing-job-adopting-a-cat-daughter ordeal) is actually keeping my New Year’s Reading Resolution. My goal was to read 40 books — any 40 books — and I surpassed my goal. As of today, having finished Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of A Funny Story, I’ve read 52 books! That’s one book for every week of the year.

This is also 16,623 pages, as calculated by Goodreads, which isn’t the best estimate because a number of these were Kindle ebooks. I got a good mixture of stuff in there from “serious” literature reads like The Color Purple and The God of Small Things to absolute fluff like the Gossip Girl prequel (hahaha) and Confessions of A Shopaholic. Some were really short, like The Law and Here Is New York, which are technically essays but are published in book-form, so THERE. The only book I’d read before was Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, which is to say I’ve read it at least a dozen times so it shouldn’t count but I did include it anyway. You can see the full catalog of my 2012 readings here.

For 2013, my goal is to read more non-fiction books. 2012 was the first full calendar year of my life since I learned to read that I wasn’t in school, so I had no idea how much time I would be able to dedicate to reading, especially with all of those major life changes listed above. It turns out, a reader is a reader is a reader. I can read a lot, so this next round I’m going to try to break out of my English lit major mode and get in touch with my journalism side by reading more narrative/long-form nonfiction, including about subjects that don’t usually interest me as much.

Here’s a list of books I’m hoping to read this next year, but I’m setting my measurable goal to 20 nonfiction books. Some of these are ones on our bookshelf at home already, some I’ve been pining after for ages, and some were the helpful suggestions of my Facebook friends. (:

Nonfiction books I’m finally (hopefully) going to read:

This should all keep me very busy. I also try to keep up with my weekly Time magazine, and now I will be getting New York magazine each week, thanks to a Christmas gift subscription! I think my brain will be full of knowledge, that’s for sure.

If you have a favorite nonfiction book (long-form journalism, biography, memoir, a David Sedaris book I haven’t yet read), please suggest it in the comments! I’m open to all suggestions.

kurt-and-cat glam  book shots

Kurt Cobain…with a book! And a kitten!

P.S. If you, too, are a reader, check out the lovely photographs at Underground New York Public Library, of fellow bibliophiles getting lost in a book while on the subway.

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