Nonfiction November Week 1: My Year in Nonfiction


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Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness is hosting week 1 of this years “Nonfiction November”  The topic this week is our “Year in Nonfiction,” where participants answer the following questions.  So here goes…

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?


Actually, my answer to this and the next question would be the same, so here I’ll mention that my 2nd most favorite nonfiction read of the year was. “Prisoner of Trebekistan” by Bob Harris, a chronicle of his time appearing on the show, Jeopardy!, returning for the tournament of champions and one other special tournament.  It was a really fun read, and written by someone who shows himself “warts and all” and doesn’t take himself that seriously.  If you watch the show but don’t remember that name, try googling Bob Harris Jeopardy.  I bet you’ll recognize him.  I read this book in Feb-Mar as I was “preparing” for an in-person audition for Jeopardy in Chicago.  I’m now in the contestant pool (which is probably 10 times larger than the number of people they need) but haven’t gotten a call so far.  One guy I auditioned with was on last week and actually won 3 games.

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?


“Deep Down Dark” by Hector Tobar.  It’s the story of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days a few years ago.  Coincidentally, a film version of the book is coming out next week I think.  It’s called “The 33” if I’m not mistaken.  Anyway, the book was a great read.  Even though I knew the outcome, I was still on the edge of my seat for most of it.

What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?

I want to read more scientific books for some reason.  I have a fair background in science, but there are vast areas of it I haven’t yet explored.  Also on my to do list is reading more about the history of my state (Indiana).  2016 is our Bicentennial year so I want to “participate” by reading and learning more about it.  🙂

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

I’d hope to connect with some new book blogging colleagues that I end up following (and vise-versa of course!) as happened last year.  I always feel like I don’t pay enough attention to my nonfiction reading (is it just because it’s “easier” to read fiction and I’m lazy?  Maybe…)

Anyway, that’s it for the first round.  What are you doing for Nonfiction November??

2nd Annual “Experiment in Bibliomancy” – Song of Ice and Fire Edition!

Two years ago, inspired by my fellow blogger Nina at Multo(Ghost) and by reading a short story by M.R. James, I decided to give Bibliomancy a try. (What exactly is Bibliomancy? In the simplest terms, Google reveals that it is “foretelling the future by interpreting a randomly chosen passage from a book, especially the Bible.)

For my original post, please look here. Also see my prior post just yesterday to see how I made my selections this time. I received no “at large” questions from my vast readership, so all three questions are my own personal enquiries of the oracle…
QUESTION 1: should I continue my chess “comeback” (ha! that sounds pretentious), and should its continuation be contingent upon how well I do at next week’s 74th Indiana State Championship?

BACKGROUND: Starting In August of this year, I started playing in a few chess tournaments again (and even doing a little chess study when time allows). I say “again” because from – as a kid in the 70’s until 2005 – I was once very active in tournament chess, earning the “Expert” title (just below master) in the U.S. Chess Federation. I even was editor of the magazine “Chess in Indiana” for several years. I’ve had some success (and only one really bad game) in the three tournaments I’ve played so far in this “comeback.” My friends and I even won the state team championship about a month ago in Terre Haute. I don’t really have the time to spend on chess that the game demands (at least if you want to be good, which I do) so I don’t really know why I’ve started playing again. Probably as an escape from the mental drudgery of my job is as good a guess as any.

TEXT (From A Feast for Crows)

Arya squirted past Greenbeard so fast he never saw her. “You’re a Murderer!” she screamed. “You killed Mycah! Don’t say you never did! You murdered him!”

On first glance, there’s not much here to work with. One thing I might take from this is that “don’t say you never did” could be seen as an exhortation that I cannot deny I was once a pretty respectable tournament player (well, for the chess backwaters of Indiana anyway). The more I think of it, the more I’m talking myself into it. Chess is also certainly not a violent sport, but one does sometimes say things like “oh, I killed him in that Budapest Gambit variation” and so forth. Also, I can focus on the name Mycah here. One of my main local rivals since 1993 (actually a friend and frequent teammate too) is named Mike, and his last name starts with an H. Though he’s a higher-rated player than I, when I was in my peak playing days I had two very memorable wins against him, one clinching a tournament win for me and the other one of the most “artistic” and picturesque attacks I’ve ever pulled off against a worthy opponent. The Fire and Ice bibliomantic oracle is essentially saying to me, “Don’t deny your nature. You were once a strong player – stop denying this fact and play!” I don’t know if I received any guidance on whether my continuance should be based on my performance either, but the gist of the message seems to say that doesn’t matter.

Okay, on to question 2:

QUESTION 2: Any ideas on the proper use of my recent modest inheritance windfall?

BACKGROUND: I had an uncle pass away much earlier in the year, and it turns out I am a beneficiary in his will, inheriting 5% of his estate. The money isn’t a life-changing amount to me, but it is enough to “do something with” if I just had an idea what that something is…

TEXT: (from A Feast for Crows again)

Aggo helped Dany down from her litter. Strong Belwas Was seated on a massive piling, eating a great haunch of brown roasted meat. ’Dog,’ he said happily when he saw Dany. ‘Good dog in Astapor, Little Queen. Eat?’ He offered it with a greasy grin.”


Woo boy. This is gonna be tough. Okay, so after a few minutes of thought, though, I may have come up with something. Strong Belwas offers something to Daenerys, but it is something “she’s had before” and doesn’t feel like eating it now because it reminds her of her Unsullied and ‘their stupid puppies.’ The key for my question here, I think, is what is offered maybe shouldn’t be accepted for her personal use. I actually have thought of, rather than using it myself, making some kind of donation with at least some of my inheritance since I’ve done nothing to really “earn” the money. thats probably about as good as I’ll do with this one. On a personal, nearly coincidental note, however, this passage did cause me to look up the word “haunch” to confirm its meaning. The reason I did so was because my Uncle Howard was always so fond of “drumsticks” whenever we were anywhere that served chicken. I wondered if a drumstick could loosely be considered a haunch, but alas no, not exactly. A drumstick would be the lower leg while a “haunch” refers to an upper leg. A near miss, though. 🙂

And, finally…

QUESTION 3: Should I pursue further involvement in the “literary scene” creatively or philanthropically, or both?

BACKGROUND: Probably like many bloggers, I often wonder if I should try some more creative writing. My few attempts along these lines have usually sputtered out or produced something for which the quality is not acceptable to even my low standards. With the annual NaNoWriMo coming up (actually starting today I guess), last week I went back and read the about five-thousand-ish words I got down on my last attempt. While reading I found myself thinking, “You know, this actually isn’t that bad…” (Completely objectively, of course) so once again I start to wonder… Regarding philanthropy, I’ve made some modest but not insignificant donations the past year and a half to some worthy local projects. One of which is a new anthology of “Mythic Indy” stories that I’m excited about. (I’m sure I’ll have more on this when the book is published soon)

TEXT: (from A Clash of Kings)

“‘Daughter?’ Catelyn was horrified.


Ouch. Really tough. I groaned when I saw I had selected this ultra-brief passage, but I can’t change the rules mid-stream because I don’t like the answer, can I? (As I’m randomly selecting a page for these, before I open the page I ’randomly’ decide “I’ll take the second paragraph on the left hand side, or the first “full” paragraph on the right, etc. And this is what I get?! But hey, no one said this was going to be easy.) I think the only way I can go is to use what I know from the context of the series. This scene is where Catelyn first meets Brienne of Tarth, the Amazon-like woman who fights like a man. Those familiar with the series know that Catelyn shows empathy for Brienne and her situation as one not accepted for who she is, in short, a misfit. A loose interpretation I could make is that I should take the role of Catelyn and support, in whatever ways I might be able to, those less accepted (“indie?”) local authors. I’ve read and posted about several small-press projects and authors in the past so, per my interpretation of the bibliomantic oracle, will continue to do so.

Just as I did the last time I tried this, I found Bibliomancy to be a fun exercise which forced me to think about connections and maybe stretch my imagination a bit in order to build bridges to make the passages chosen “fit” somehow into my questions. I urge you to give it a try yourself and let me know how you do. Do I believe Bibliomancy is an effective way to gain advice and foretell possible futures? No, I don’t. This exercise was for entertainment purposes only. 🙂

What about you? Have you ever tried Bibliomancy? What levelof success did you have with this practice?