Tag Archives: non-fiction

Bad-Ass Librarians – Book Review

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts

3 out of 5 stars

Somehow the jacket of this book thoroughly confused me in the beginning. Did anyone else think that this was going to be fiction based on the summary? It sounded like a make believe romper about librarians fighting Al Qaeda. Turns out it’s a true tale of librarians resisting and rebelling against Al Qaeda. Perhaps I was just far too sleepy when I first read the synopsis.

Anywho my darlings, it was definitely interesting. I learned a lot about Timbuktu, something I honestly knew very little about, and also about the war fighting Islamic extremists. To be perfectly honest, most of the time it felt like the story focused solely on the hostile takeover, with librarians peppered in here and there. That doesn’t subtract from how awesome the librarians are, however I do think it takes away from the magic of the subject that the book is supposed to be based on.

Middle of the ground read. You need to be interested in books/manuscripts, history, war, and rebellion to enjoy this one. I’m coming away from this informed but in no way exhilarated about what I just read.

Cannibalism – Book Review

Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History

4 out of 5 stars

“I also learned that normal behavior or not, sometimes cannibalism in the animal kingdom can get downright weird.”

Is anyone else a little hungry right now?

No?

Hmm.

Ninety percent of my reading is fiction but every once in awhile I get an intense itch to learn something and the weirder, the better. Problem is, sometimes I know way too much about the weird things to learn anything new. When it comes to cannibalism, this was not the case.

While highly informative, I was never bored and for me, that is an important factor in a non-fiction novel. I enjoyed the scientific research in every aspect of the book, even when bringing to light that sometimes, scientists can be a little too close-minded.

This probably isn’t for the queasiest of stomachs, I’ll admit to only getting nauseous over one section, human placenta eating. To be fair though, I have a pretty iron stomach and the subject matter doesn’t skeev me out like a lot of people.

So the moral of the cannibal story is, if you like facts and taboo subjects, this is definitely for you.

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Life in Light of Death – Book Review

2 out of 5 stars

We deny the need to look at death honestly, and we even deny that we are denying death.”

Turning 30? Read a book designed to make you more comfortable with dying!

The first half of this book contains very valid points that really do make you take another look at dying. For example, let’s pretend you gain immortality, then the planet dies. Let’s pretend science becomes advanced enough that you can just move planets, but now the sun is dying. Move to another galaxy (if feasible), but eventually the Milky Way galaxy and Andromeda are going to collide. You can try to keep running but eventually death will claim you one way or another.

Then, about half way through the book, the author decides to attempt to explain away ethical vegetarianism. I was immediately skeptical of why this was even brought up, and it turns out I was right to be. In a nutshell, in his reasoning, animals don’t experience existential dread and what is more cruel, a bullet in the head (quick death) or nature’s way of starvation, injury or old age? Here’s a short list of why these points are fucking stupid:

1. Science has not proven, in any shape or form, that animals do NOT experience existential dread.

2. He clearly doesn’t understand factory farming because the animals are not simply put out of their misery with a quick bullet to the skull.

3. He doesn’t know anything about hunting either because you don’t shoot animals in the skull.

The point of ethical vegetarianism is to not cause unwarranted suffering to animals for the purpose of one’s food. Even this isn’t 100% ethical because anything to do with the dairy industry produces suffering and death. Nay, the only people who can truly claim to be innocent of causing any animal suffering and death are vegans.

But I digress, because I still don’t understand why the author bothered to bring this up except maybe perhaps to try to make himself feel better about not understanding vegetarianism/veganism whatsoever, despite his attempt at being both.

The last half of the book is redundant. He essentially goes, YOLO, YOLO, YOLO, YOLO, YOLO, YOLO. (You may only live once but you can repeat the same shit until the end of the book.)

Finding Me – Book Review

Finding Me: A decade of darkness, a life reclaimed – A memoir of the Cleveland kidnappings.

4 out of 5 stars

The struggle to rate this is real. How do you rate someone’s torture? How do you rate their suffering? How do you rate a monstrous human experience? This is every person’s worst nightmare. Held captive and used as a sex object. Beaten and starved. Not for days, not for weeks, not for months but for eleven goddamn years.

I will settle with four stars for this reasoning: I reserve five stars for my favorite books. At no point ever will this be a favorite book, because I cannot favor these disgusting acts even in the face of this woman’s incredible strength and courage. She deserves all the stars for surviving, enduring what she did and holding her head up high and refusing to let it define her.

I think most people heard about this story when it broke, but here you hear the worst of the worst of the details. It’s dark, it’s horrifying, it legitimately gave me nightmares. Yet it is awe inspiring what this woman endured, survived and is now conquering. I consider myself a strong person but I don’t know that I could have made it through 11 years of that hell, and if I did, I don’t know that I would have had the positive outlook on life that she does.

From victim to warrior for the forgotten and abandoned, the abused and broken, Michelle Knight is one hell of a fighter and for that alone, you should read this book.

 

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy – Book Review

4 out of 5 stars

Women, it seemed, were capable not only of significant acts of treason, but of executing them more deftly than men.”

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It’s Women’s History month! What better time to read about rebellious bad ass women who effected the courses of history? Peril be damned, these ladies were not to be stopped. Literally. Imprisoned? Continue spying and exchanging important information from your cell. Broken leg? Drag yourself back up on that horse and keep riding. Confederate general in your house? Continue sneaking Union soldiers through your secret room right under his nose. Exiled to the South? Sneak up to the North to see your relatives anyway.

This book follows four women, two helping the Union and two helping the Confederacy from the beginning of the Civil War until the end. It was genuinely fascinating. One of the ladies was able to sneak Union soldiers back north by dressing them in Confederate uniforms, then the soldiers were to lay at the bottom of a wagon with breathing holes cut into the floor, covered with a tarp, with manure piled on top. Just taking out the dead bodies and manure, y’all. (It worked, a lot.)

If you enjoy history and are looking for some serious feminine power, this is a great read. Even if you don’t agree with some of the ladies’ opinion, the sheer will and power these women flexed during times when women were just to be cozy homemakers is awesome to behold. They’re just a few of many who helped pave the way for women today.

Her comrades spread stories about women being exposed in the ranks, and such stories seemed to grow more numerous by the day.”

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Unmentionable – Book Review

Full title is Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners

4 out 5 stars

To sum this up, during Victorian times, everything single thing that a woman might consider fun would cause you bad health or probably make you barren. That’s right ladies, nothing but missionary for you! Don’t even lift those knees too high, in fact they should be virtually straight, other wise…BOOM, barren.

Toilet paper wasn’t invented until 1857. So newspaper clippings and corn cob husks it is to clean your naughty bits!

Men write manuals for women on how to menstruate properly. If the blood is too pale or too dark, you’re probably dead inside. Also, if you don’t let it flow naturally and try to hold it in (because why wouldn’t you want to hold it in?!) it might come out of your mouth. All these women coughing up blood due to tuberculosis, is actually just because they wanted to keep their menstrual blood all to themselves. Selfish biddies.

A lot of people like to romanticize Victorian times. Not this girl. I’ll keep my tampons and voting rights, thank you very much.

Magic Library

ALL libraries are magical. Mine is just more magical than most.

First, there is the Shire in the parking lot the moment you pull in. They had an event where kids came and helped create it.

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Second, they have children, teen and adult programs for every season. The programs could be anything. For example, every two years in the fall, they do cemetery tours around our town. A local historian guides the tour and the cemeteries date back to the 1700’s. Another example, there was a class on how to make steampunk jewelry.

Third, they have a used book shop within the library. Books range from $0.25 to $1.00. All proceeds go to the library.

Fourth, they have a paperback book swap within the library as well. Take a book, leave a book.

Fifth, every summer they have reading programs that kick off with an ice cream social. When you turn in your first list of 6 books read you receive; a coupon for a free book in the used book shop, a free book from the basket on the information desk and a $5 coupon to a local business. (I always choose the one for the local, independent coffee shop.) When you turn in your second list of 6 books, you’re entered into a raffle for a prize basket that changes every year. Every list of 6 after that, gives you another entry into the raffle. (The raffle is tomorrow so I wait with bated breath.)

Sixth, the second Saturday of every month, they have a “Bagged Book Sale.” For $5 you can fill a bag (any size)  with books, every bag after the first one is free!

Seventh, there are rain gardens outside of the library and nature trails into the woods behind it.

Eighth, Tuesday nights, the Farmer’s Market is in the parking lot. Homemade jams, breads and locally grown veggies and fruits.

There is literally no reason not to like this library. So, when I move out of town next year, this will be the thing that I will miss the most. IF I don’t decide to pay for a membership, which is $135 a year. I will check out my new town’s library but I doubt that it will compare. How could it?

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Voices From Chernobyl – Book Review

I read a non-fiction book! Woo! Go me!

4 out of 5 stars

I had a lump in my throat throughout this entire novel. You couldn’t be human and not have one. I consider myself pretty cold hearted in regards to most of humanity but fuck if I didn’t get a little choked up. The things that happened to these people is fucked.

Your own government tells you that everything is okay, just keep living and playing in that radiation. Robots can’t handle the clean up? Just send in hundreds of thousands of humans to do the work then. Their skin is essentially melting off? Just send in some new recruits. The cows are producing radioactive milk? Just relabel it and send it off to places not affected by the disaster.

People refused to leave their homes, or they left and then returned because they didn’t understand what any of it meant. When scientists and the military are telling you that there is nothing to worry about, then why should you pick up and leave your whole life behind?

You can look up information anywhere on Chernobyl but it is incredibly lacking in insight since the government went to great lengths to hide the truth about what happened and the clean up process thereafter. They wouldn’t let pictures be taken other than staged ones that made the volunteers look like heroes even though they were now going to live much shorter lives. But this, this is a first hand account of the event and the years after told from the survivors ten years later. (It has now been 30 years since the disaster.) The destruction of their every day lives and the fight to survive since. It is truly incredible.

Google “Chernobyl mutations.” You’ll hate me, but this is reality. It’s one thing to have some form of working knowledge of the disaster, another thing entirely to see the victims. Human and animal.

This was one nuclear reactor that failed. ONE.
There are 99 reactors in the United States.
There are 444 reactors worldwide.

Let that sink in.