Non-Fiction November!

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Non-Fiction November is hosted by Kim at her blog “Sophisticated Dorkiness,” and I learned of it via Katherine’s excellent blog “The Writerly Reader.” I always beat myself up about not including enough non-fiction in my reading, so maybe participating in this meme will help with my focus. For the first week, this is our directive:

“Your Year in Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?”

And here are my responses. 🙂

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

Probably Richard Storr’s “The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science” I’ve been trying to write a blog post about is one for six months and each time I keep going off on some related tangent. There was just so much fascinating material in this book, and though I didn’t quite trust the author’s own ‘scientific cred’ I learned for the first time about a lot of (apparently common) belief systems that are really out there. Maybe the most interesting parts to me were the physiological reasons often behind why we act and think the way we do. For the goodreads.com summary of this book click here https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18114379-the-unpersuadables

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What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

I honestly don’t get too many requests from non-fiction readers for reading suggestions. One book I’ve recommended to several friends is Bill Polian’s “The Game Plan.” Polian was the President of the Indianapolis Colts for almost fifteen years and as a fanatical (yes, really) fan of that team I’ve been recommending to my fellow crazies that they read this account of how Polian built several championship teams including my Colts. The Buffalo Bills are his other main success story.

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

Probably history or science. I’ve been solicited to review a couple books on our economic future because of a post I wrote some time back about the book “The End of Growth” by Richard Heinberg It was a book about a subject so sobering I’m not sure I want to explore it any further, though. :-). For history, I’ve been chewing on a book about the history of The Ottoman Empire (“Osman’s Dream”) for quite some time now. I just can’t seem to make a sustained effort to stick with it.

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

Just to meet some new book bloggers and to learn about some more great non-fiction books (that will probably also fall victim to my inveterate procrastination)

That’s me. What non-fiction treasures have you encountered in your 2014 reading?

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May Reading – The Month Ahead

I used to post fairly regularly near the start of a month about what was on deck for my reading but have kind of fallen out of the habit in recent months (years?). BUT, I was sitting here this morning thinking about my May plans (reading and otherwise) and thought I’d jot down what’s on my reading docket…

Books:
“The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science” by Will Storr
I actually just passed the halfway point in this book. It’s been fascinating reading thus far, especially the more “sciencey” sections discussing how the brain often conspires to delude us in our thinking. Storr, a journalist, seems to earnestly attempt to understand the thinking of a wide range of belief systems that fly in the face of facts and traditional evidence. Storr asks himself the question, “Why don’t facts work?” and the answers are unsettling thus far.

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2. “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen and “Northanger Abbey” by Val McDermid

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A friend just completed reading my copy of Jane Austen’s classic about the same time I heard of this new treatment of the story. I thought it might make for good blogging to read both and write about them in comparison. Oh, and it would be a good excuse to read some Austen for the first time in many years too. 🙂 This feels a little ambitious to read both, and I’m not sure I’ll find the time, but my instincts tell me it might be fun. We’ll see.

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3. “If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? – Advice for the Young” by Kurt Vonnegut
This book is a collection of graduation speeches by the late author, and it is the May selection for the book clubl at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library here in town. It includes an introduction by author (and friend of Vonnegut) Dan Wakefield, who is scheduled to join us at our meeting. Can’t wait to read this one.

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4. “Scapegoat of Shiloh: the Distortion of Lew Wallace’s record by U.S. Grant” by Kevin Getchell
I went to a lecture by the author a couple weeks ago. As a fan of Lew Wallace, I am interested in reading this.

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(above: two new purchases in April – see? I don’t only buy e-books, so get off my case!)

Reviewing books I’ve previously read:
A couple book clubs I (irregularly) participate in are discussing books that I’ve already read. Twice. The Carmel Clay Public Library is discussing Booth Tarkington’s “The Magnificent Ambersons” (set in Indianapolis) next week, and the relatively new book group at Indy Reads Books book store is discussing Carson McCullers’ “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” toward the end of the month. I won’t read these a third time, but I will certainly review them and revisit my “incisive underlinings” (ha ha) in my copies.

There’s also a new edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Welcome to the Monkey House” short story collection that I picked up at a book signing by author Gregory Summner, whose non-fiction work, “Unstuck in Time” has become a reliable reference work for me when dealing with Vonnegut’s novels. This new edition has some background info on how many of the stories came about, which I look forward to reading.

Other items:
Of course I’ll continue reading a short story a week for Deal Me In 2014, but fate determines which stories those will be. I have a strong roster, though, so I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.

I want to get refocused on increasing my vocabulary. For several months starting back in October, I was creating monthly “bundles” or sets of flashcards on my iPad and reviewing them fairly frequently. Yeah, that only lasted through January, though. Seems my laziness knows few bounds. It was a good system, and I need to return to it(, dammit).

I also have a big backlog of blog posts to write or finish about books (-not short stories)  I’ve read. I’ve let my blog’s focus drift too heavily toward short stories and would prefer it to be more balanced. I need to post about some of these books(!)

Well, those are my reading/literary plans for May. What are YOURS? I’d love to hear about them…