Tag Archives: non-fiction

Rejected Princesses: Tale of History’s Heroines, Hellions and Heretics – Book Review

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Published Date: October 26, 2016

Publishing Co.: Dey Street Books

Pages: 384

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This was a fun, easy informational read. There were SO many women I had never heard of that were true BOSS bitches. I’m glad this book exists so that more people may learn of their adventures and inspire women to be fearless.

I liked the author’s humor that was added to each little chapter and the art was fun as well.

hypatia

 

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Educated: A Memoir – Book Review

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Published Date: February 20, 2018

Publishing Co.: Random House

Pages: 334

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Raised in a small Mormon town, child to a mentally ill father, forced to work in a junkyard pulling scrap or making essential oils and homeopathy in the kitchen with her mother, Tara Westover never had an actual education. In fact, she didn’t even have a birth certificate for nine years or an actual birth date. Everyone had a different account of the day she was born and even when that date was.

Her life was preset before her. Help her parents make money and prepare for the End of Days, then one day become a wife and mother. Those were the foundations of a good Mormon believer according to her father.

As she grew, she began to realize that this was not the life she wanted. However, she felt guilty, almost blasphemous for feeling this way. First, she had to survive her family. An older brother who was extremely physically and mentally abusive. A father, who wanted to live off the grid, believed the government would come for them one day, and did not believe in the Medical Establishment. Meaning, serious injuries caused in the junkyard were treated by their mother with oils and homeopathy.

Tara grew bolder when a different older brother encouraged her to teach herself and pass the ACT so that she could escape the life laid out before her. A large portion of the story is about her education, learning about historical events she never knew had taken place, like the Holocaust. Her struggle to maintain her grades and earn grants to continue school and even placing into study abroad programs, learning about a world she never knew existed. All this while struggling with the drama and control of her family.

You could not have had a more polar opposite upbringing than my own. I was raised in an agnostic/atheist household with a strong stance on the importance of education. Therefore, it absolutely amazes me that this woman was not only able to survive a brutal childhood, but to go on and graduate from a school like Cambridge. She is only a year older than me and has accomplished so much more than I can imagine but I wouldn’t trade my childhood or my family for it.

It’s such a weird life and way of believing that at times I thought this story was something set before I was born but no, these people are out there today, doing these same things they’ve been doing since before I was born. It’s so bizarre to think about.

I liked the author’s honesty about how hard and how long it took to detach herself from the toxic portion of her family, even if it wasn’t fully her choice.

If you’re looking for an inspirational read, you’ve found it right here.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier – Book Review

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Published Date: February 13, 2007

Publishing Co.: Farrar Straus Giroux

Pages: 229

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out 5 stars

If you have a child in your life who just thinks that they have just the worst life, please have them read this book. Hell, if you know an adult who thinks that they’ve had it the worst, maybe throw this at them too. This isn’t to negate other people’s suffering but sometimes you just need a little perspective thrown at you to make you appreciate your life.

There are a decent amount of war stories recounted by people who lived through them. But, it’s not every day that you read about a child’s perspective of war, especially a child who was also a soldier in the war. It’s an almost unimaginable concept to consider, but consider it we must as it happens in every war.

When you think about how they did anything, literally anything, to survive, your mind most likely goes to things like, smuggling weapons and starving. It’s so much more than that. It’s being fed drugs to keep you fierce, it’s fueling the pain of losing your family with hate for your enemy, it’s shooting people at point blank range and slitting throats. It’s fucking brutal. It’s children being forced to be brutal in order to hopefully live one more day. It’s heartbreaking and I don’t even like kids that much.

It’s important to show the grim reality of war. It should not be taken lightly. Ever.

Ishmael’s struggle through the Sierra Leone civil war is gripping. So much so, that I was miffed about the abrupt ending. Yes, I can assume what must have happened next to young Ishmael but I want to hear it from him. I want to know how his life changed once he escaped the war for good.

The Brain Audit – Book Review

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Published Date: August 22, 2009

Publishing Co.: Psychotactics

Pages: 180

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Well yes, this isn’t my usual fair. It was a forced read by my boss. When your boss says, “Here read this and we’ll discuss it when you’re done,” you don’t really argue because there are far worse projects to take home from work and do on your own time.

This might seem on the outside like a simple, boring read about sales, but it’s more than that. It’s an in depth look at how people decide when and why to purchase your product or service. It shined a spotlight on thinking that I know I do myself when considering a purchase, but never really thought about other people coming to that decision in almost the exact same way.

One read through will have your brain popping with new ideas on how to make your customers happier, more confident and consistently returning to you. In turn, growing your business at a faster rate than you would have otherwise.

If you run a business, are ranked higher in a company or want to get in good with the boss, take the hour or so it takes to read this and flip your business model in a new and exciting direction.

Or don’t and keep putzing along with low sales.

You Are Not So Smart – Book Review

You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory is Mostly Fiction, And 46 Other Ways You Are Deluding Yourself

3.5 out of 5 stars

Sometimes it’s fun learning that your brain is not so different from everyone else’s brains. You’re not the only one imagining themselves responding heroically in a crisis. You are unaware how much your conditioning and preconceived notions determine your own behavior when interacting with other people. You think you’re correct in your morals because you read articles saying that you’re right because those are the articles you seek out; ones that validate your current opinion.

I generally consider myself a master procrastinator so, it was fantastic learning why I operate that way. (Hint: It comes down to, which is greater? The reward for doing it now, or the reward for doing it later?) The next time I’m in the mood to procrastinate, I think I will think over my reasoning as thoroughly as possible. I want to see if this is true. I’m going to experiment on my own brain.

I’ve always found psychology fun, so this was a bright, easy read. It’s a good way to look at the why and how your brain works the way it does. Anecdotes mixed with scientific studies and real life scenarios illustrate theories of psychology that make a lot of sense.

Take some time and learn some ways to pick apart your own brain. Once you understand certain aspects, it may even make you a better person.

Undeniable – Book Review

4 out of 5 stars

“Creationism, unlike science, can predict nothing. Along with it being obviously wrong, it is obviously not useful.”

Twenty years later and Bill Nye is still teaching generations of people. As a child, I was an avid Bill Nye the Science Guy fan. As an adult reading this book, it just solidified the fact that I am still an avid Nye fan.

A few years ago, Nye was invited to debate creationist Ken Ham. This inspired him to write this very novel. Nye pulls together several creationist theories about evolution and debunks them using scientific facts. As someone very interested in science in general, I still found myself learning new things and I thoroughly enjoy learning. As an atheist, I found the theories creationists developed completely idiotic at times and therefore, enjoyed it when Nye used facts to combat beliefs. The above quote may be harsh if you’re religious, but personally I found it so accurate that it stood out and needed to be used as an introduction to this review.

Evolution is a fascinating subject and the journey through evolution that Nye pulls you into is as entertaining as it is educational.

I feel that there was a missed opportunity to title the book UndeNYEable, but alas, I’m sure that he wanted to be taken seriously with his first foray into writing. I won’t hold that against him. I am taking a star away because of his incessant need to mock an old employer. One joke, fine. Five jokes later and I’m a little over it Bill. It pulled away from the importance of the book.

“Humans may have more trouble understanding nature than nature does is all I’m saying.”

nye

White Trash – Book Review

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America

2 out of 5 stars

DNF at page 99.

Let me just say that this book is highly informational, that’s not the issue. It was just SO boring. I could not read it for any longer than 15 minute stints or I did not absorb any information because my brain wandered away.
I’ll elaborate a little more than I did on Goodreads. The main thing I found interesting/learned was that, much like Australia, America was founded by sending what the British considered their ‘waste people.’ Convicts, indentured servants and vagabonds.

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.)