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Marjane Satrapi, on the Persepolis brohaha in Chicago:
TO THE administrators I would say: Find your brain again. Stop lying, stop being hypocritical, and trust the young people. Read the book first and don't just be shocked by one picture. Read it first, and then, if you really are shocked, don't teach it. But I'm sure these people didn't even read it.
I would say to the children that I trust them--and I really trust that they will make a better world. I think they are very intelligent, and I really believe in young people.
To the teachers, I would say that I respect them more than anyone in the world because this is really not an easy job to do. Thanks to people like them--they saved my life.
*Post title pulled from the interview, obvs.
...(brace yourself, because this is depressing)... Jane Goodall:
Jane Goodall, the primatologist celebrated for her meticulous studies of chimps in the wild, is releasing a book next month on the plant world that contains at least a dozen passages borrowed without attribution, or footnotes, from a variety of Web sites.
...I was listening to an interview with one of the authors of Big Data, and it made me realize that I'm turning into my father.
Author: If Big Data correlations identify me as a 44-year-old male who's a journalist and who has grand eyes for things I can't afford, it may think that I'm going to be susceptible to embezzlement, and maybe I will get a knock on the door by the police, who say, 'We have reason to believe that you're about to commit a crime.' This is sort of like pre-crime in Minority Report.
Interviewer: Oh, that Tom Cruise movie from a few years back.
Me, bellowing: IT WAS A BOOK FIRST, YOU DINK!
And now I'm all het up.
When I tell him, Dad will be so proud.
Well, either that or he'll tell me that I shouldn't get so worked up about these things.
To which I'll respond: I LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING YOU, DAD. I LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING YOU.
I'm not the nonfiction reader in this household: Josh is. So I'll be passing Bomb over to him just as soon as I've finished writing about it, though I LOVED IT SO MUCH THAT HE'S PRETTY MUCH ALREADY READ IT, SINCE I FELT THE NEED TO READ BITS OF IT ALOUD TO HIM EVERY SINGLE TIME I TURNED A PAGE.
I'd feel guilty, but I'm still recovering from that one week eight years ago when he read Salt: A World History. Or, as I like to call it, THE BOOK THAT MADE ME SO CRAZY THAT IF I EVER MEET MARK KURLANSKY, I'M GOING TO KICK HIM IN THE SHINS FOR SUBJECTING ME TO SEVEN DAYS OF NEVER-ENDING FACTS ABOUT SALT.
Huh. I haven't even had any sugar or caffeine today. Let's move on.
Bomb, as you've probably deduced from the title, is about the Manhattan Project and the spies who well, spied on the Manhattan Project. It begins and ends with the moment that Harry Gold realizes that the jig is up—that his years of acting as a courier for the KGB are not only at an end, but that he'll be lucky to not be executed for his role in stealing secrets for the Soviets. The middle of the book is organized chronologically, and follows three major threads: the efforts of Oppenheimer and Co. to build the atomic bomb, the attempts of the Soviets to steal information about the project, and what the Allied Forces did to impede Germany's progress in building their own bomb.
It's got loads of entertaining facts, has colorful portrayals of the personalities involved:
The thirty-seven-year-old Eifler already had a reputation for reckless bravery. Wounded by flying metal scraps earlier in the war, he'd pulled out his pocketknife and dug the steel from his thigh. His idea of fun was to shoot cigarettes out of his friends' mouths.
and is full-to-the-gills of fabulous quotes and stories:
This kind of stuff infuriated Leslie Groves. "Here at great expense," he moaned to Oppenheimer, "the government has assembled the world's largest collection of crackpots."
In Bomb, Steve Sheinkin takes already-fascinating subject matter and spins it out in such an engrossing manner than I, a devoted fiction reader, read the entire thing in one sitting. The first two-thirds of the book captures and conveys the excitement, curiosity, and tension of the physicists as they pursue their goal, while the last third will doubtless give you that awful stomach-twisting feeling as they experience the oh-what-have-we-created feeling upon completion of the project.
Like I said, I loved it. Sheinkin takes a massive piece of history—one that spans years and countries and careers—and condenses it down into just under 250 pages... but without sacrificing intellectual, political, or emotional complexity. And, for those who want to read further, in addition to a couple of indexes, the book ends with a 5-page bibliography.
Lastly, if you didn't already have a crush on Richard Feynman due to his cameo in The Green Glass Sea, you will after reading this book. BECAUSE HE WAS AWESOME.
Book source: ILLed through my library. This book is a 2012 National Book Award finalist.
Well, this was one of the more depressing books I've read this year.
My Friend Dahmer is an account of Jeffrey Dahmer's teen years—the years just before he began killing—written in comic book format by one of his high school classmates, Derf Backderf. As Backderf draws heavily from his own recollections of and interactions with Dahmer, it works, in part, as a memoir, but he also spoke with former classmates and did a huge amount of research—there are pages and pages of notes at the end* in which he lists all of the various places (books, news reports, interviews) he pulled details from—so it works as a work of nonfiction as well.
That was probably a more long-winded explanation than you needed, but I always find it annoying that "graphic novel" is used as a catch-all term for the format, even in the instances in which the book in question isn't a novel. Anyway.
It's an outstanding book. The story isn't sensationalized, and there's no exploitation of Dahmer or his victims. It's a sad story about a tormented person set during a weird time in an everyday place. Backderf's inclusion of scenes featuring his own family and friends serve as a striking parallel to Dahmer's experience at home and at school, and in addition to the partial biography of Dahmer, the book also serves as a very specific portrait of a small Ohio town in the 1970s.
There's a big difference between searching for the reasons behind something—trying to understand—and making excuses. This book falls firmly in the former category. Backderf stresses in his introduction that he doesn't sympathize for Dahmer-the-monster, but that he has pity for Dahmer-the-lonely-kid. And that comes through: he successfully separates the pre-killings Dahmer from the post-killings Dahmer, and he makes it really easy to feel for the pre-killings Dahmer. In My Friend Dahmer, he's a kid with no one to turn to—if adults didn't even notice his rampant alcoholism, it's hard to imagine him turning to any of them for help—struggling against violent, ugly urges that he knows are wrong.
Ultimately, he gives into them, and we all know where the story goes from there.
Blerg. I need recommendations for a happy book, please.
*Which are easily as interesting as the rest of the book.
Book source: ILL through my library.
...365 Conspiracy, by Gabrielle Lord.
I'm not sure if that means to the series as a whole—it was released in twelve parts over the course of a year—or one specific installment.
Also of note (to me!) was the Biography award, which had co-winners this year: Anh Do, for The Happiest Refugee, and Paul Kelly, for How to Make Gravy.
And we all know how much I love Paul Kelly.
The rest of the list is available through the APA website.
And it isn't really a timewaster (Educational! Historical! Anthropological!), so it's OKAY if you lose an hour or two while you're messing with it!
...for one of the most depressing stories in history: Nick Abadzis played What If? with Laika the dog.
Try to write an entertaining—yet respectful—trivia quiz about Anne Frank.
Believe me, it's not easy.
Try your hand at today's Kirkus QRank quiz and let me know how you think I did! (And, of course, how you do!)
...I've got a Qrank quiz up about Education Reform, of all things.
Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots.
It sounds completely bananas (in the best possible way).
From the NYT:
On a trip that Mr. Waters said took him eight days and about 15 hitchhiked rides to get him from one end of the country to the other, he has accumulated numerous anecdotes for a book he has tentatively titled “Carsick” and which will be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
If I'd been one of the lucky 15 to have picked him up, I'd totally have driven him as far as he wanted...
...then again, that probably would have made for a less interesting book.
ETA: Josh says that he'd have brought him home like a stray animal. "Honey! I found a John Waters on the side of the road!"
And the rest of the royal wedding party.
(via Melissa, through Julian's awesome message-passing-on-skillz.)
I'm not asking that rhetorically. And I'm not asking it as a way of segueing into some freakout about the fact that they're adding LOL and FYI and heart (as a verb) and OMG.
No, I'm asking because I'd like to know what you think.
My take? I think the OED is there to compile and explain the words that make up our language. And guess what? Heart? Gets used as a verb. Like, a lot. By me, even. I've been known to OMG on occasion, even. The others, not so much. But that doesn't mean they aren't in regular use.
I don't think the OED is trying to stay hip. And I don't think it's supposed to be a "watchdog of language". I think it's there to be a watchER of language and to make a chronicle of it.
And I heart that.
You can all breathe easy, because Dori Butler's My Mom's Having a Baby will continue to be available to patrons young and old.
And the winners (?) are:
1. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: Homosexuality, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Offensive language, Racism, Sex Education, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group, Violence
3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Reasons: Insensitivity, Offensive Language, Racism, Sexually Explicit
4. Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
Reasons: Drugs, Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit
5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group, Violence
6. Lush, by Natasha Friend
Reasons: Drugs, Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group
7. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
Reasons: Sexism, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group
8. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America, by Barbara Ehrenreich
Reasons: Drugs, Inaccurate, Offensive Language, Political Viewpoint, Religious Viewpoint
9. Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit
10. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint, Violence
I've read 6/10. You?
...about this whole Greg Mortenson debacle.
But it's only available for a few days, so if you want it, download it now.
...here's a pattern to knit a Cthulhu penguin.
Just, you know... because.
"The breast size and cleavage factor of Betty and Veronica changed through the years," Yoe says. "I wasn't able to precisely correlate the rising and the falling of these matters to the stock market or I'd be a wealthy man instead of a cartoonist and comics historian.
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They're running a Who Had the Best Civil War Facial Hair? survey.
I had to go with Alpheus Williams, but it wasn't an easy decision. (I mean, the most obvious pick would be Burnside, of course, and J.E.B. Stuart's looks the thickest and most lustrous, but Williams' look Brings The Awesome in a way that surpassed all others.)