Tag Archives: non-fiction

What Will Happen When You Start Reading More Non-Fiction

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I’m a big believer that everyone should be reading more. Did you know, 1 in 4 Americans didn’t read a single book last year? For someone who has always considered myself a bookworm…this blows. MY. MIND.

Of the books out there, I think non-fiction gets an especially bad rap. They’re all like those school text books that put you straight to sleep, right?

WRONG!

In fact, besides the multitude of non-fiction books that are just as page-turner-friendly as their fictitious cousins, reading non-fiction can come with a lot of benefits…

You’ll Learn Valuable Lessons

When you read non-fiction, you can learn a ton of valuable life lessons. You could read about a specific time in history or read the biographies of interesting folk, giving you insight into both tragedies and triumphs. Reading non-fiction can help guide you when new opportunities come your way. They can offer you a powerful lens through which to view the world around you.

You’ll Improve Your Concentration

Reading requires a ton of focus. Increasing the amount of time you spend reading non-fiction each day can drastically help with concentration and productivity levels. I have found reading for 15 minutes before tackling a task that requires a lot of focus preps my brain to concentrate. Other times this may be of benefit to you? On a public transit commute, before you go to bed, or while you’re waiting for an appointment. 

You’ll Master New Communication Skills

Did you know that reading non-fiction can improve your communication skills as well? Your vocabulary will certainly expand, but you’ll also be able to begin mirroring how accomplished authors formulate their thoughts into words with the greatest efficacy. This can help you look more professional in the workplace and it can also help you gain confidence when expressing yourself.  You’ll find that many language learners practice English by reading aloud. Even as a native speaker you can take a page from their book (pun intended!) and brush up on your skills with a little at-home oration!

You’ll Gain General Knowledge

When you read non-fiction, you can easily boost your level of general knowledge as well as your intellectual level. (And if you’re still in school, actually doing the assigned reading will make sure you’re better prepared for those quizzes as well.) Regularly reading non-fiction will help you to better answer questions on the spot and give you fantastic talking points when you meet people who have similar interests to you.

If you’re convinced, here’s a reading list of some of my favorites to get you started —

A Few Non-Fiction Faves:

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Kitty Genovese by Kevin Cook (I blogged about this one HERE.)

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (I blogged about this one HERE.)

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky (I blogged about this one HERE.)

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At the end of the day, non-fiction will expand your knowledge and increase your intellectual confidence. When you put the work in and set time aside for reading, you can easily reap these benefits. Reading non-fiction is such a wonderful way to learn more about new subjects and expand your interests! So go do it!!!

 

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Beth’s Reading List – Too Many Books, Never Enough Time

50 books from my reading list

I’ve always been a reader. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a book going (and sometimes 2, 3, or 4). If I find myself bored, and there’s a book around; it doesn’t matter what the book is about, I’ll probably pick it up and start reading. Why not?

Which is all to say, I’m not very discriminating when it comes to literary tastes. Novel, non-fiction, memoir. Give me one of each please and keep ’em comin’!

So, I guess it should come as no surprise that I have a rather VAST reading list. Around five years ago, I started keeping track of every book I read or heard about that sounded remotely interesting and recording each title personally recommended to me. As I’m a fan of so many types of books, and find myself interested in a whole slew of subject matter, that list has grown…and grown….and GROWN. I’ve collected hundreds upon hundreds of titles! So many in fact that keeping the list has sort of become a hobby in and of itself. (But, hey! I’m not complaining…I low-key LOVE lists and list-makin’.)

In case you’re curious about the type of books that make it on to my “too long to ever type out in it’s entirety” reading list, I decided to provide you with a sampling. Here goes!

1. You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself by David McRaney

2. Not Becoming My Mother: and Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way by Ruth Reichl 

3. So Many Ways to Sleep Badly by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore 

4. The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls
The Glass Castle, also by Walls, is one of my all-time faves! I can’t wait to see the movie

5. Appalachian Trials: The Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail by Zach Davis 

6. The No Recipe Cookbook: A Beginner’s Guide to the Art of Cooking by Susan Crowther
Cookbooks are books too! 

7. The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

8. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

9. Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine

10. Strange as This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake
Lots of folks who know my love of Barbara Kingsolver have recommended this one to me.

11. Prairie Tale: A Memoir by Melissa Gilbert
For obvious reasons. 

12. The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

13. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

14. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Trooper
I’ve seen the movie but I hear the books is better.

15. The Promise: A Tragic Accident, a Paralyzed Bride, and the Power of Love, Loyalty, and Friendship by Rachelle Friedman

16. A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen

17. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs 

18. Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray
I don’t have kids but this seems like an important read nonetheless.

19. That’s Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us by Erin Moore

20. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
I have a special place in my heart for sports journalism. 

21. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari 

22. Making the Mummies Dance: Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Thomas Hoving

23. Conquering Chaos by Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra
Because MTV reality tv is my vice and I don’t even care. 

24. Between Wrecks by George Singleton

25. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington

26. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

27. Victorian Secrets: What a Corset Taught Me about the Past, the Present, and Myself by Sarah A. Chrisman

28. The Clasp by Sloane Crosley 

29. Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub
I have a huge girl crush on this author! 

30. Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

31. Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate’s Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History by James Higdon

32. Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending Up with More by Erin Boyle
One of my favorite bloggers. 

33. Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World by Susan Silverman 

34. Epilogue by Anne Roiphe 

35. Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell
STILL have never read any of Vowell’s books and have GOT to get on it!

36. Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

37. Ann Tenna by Marisa Acocella Marchetto

38. The Geography of Madness: Penis Thieves, Voodoo Death, and the Search for the Meaning of the World’s Strangest Syndromes by Frank Bures
I mean COME ON! Tell me that doesn’t sound good?! 

39. Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens 

40. High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed by Michael Kodas
I will read, watch, or listen to anything about Mt. Everest and Himalayan mountaineering.

41. The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened the West by Lesley Poling-Kempes

42. I’m Just a Person by Tig Notaro 

43. A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran by Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal, and Sarah Shourd 

44. You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein 

45. Apron Anxiety: My Messy Affairs In and Out of the Kitchen by Alyssa Shelasky 

46. The End of the Perfect 10: The Making and Breaking of Gymnastics’ Top Score – From Nadia to Now by Dvora Meyers
For those of us who pretend to be gymnastics experts every 4 years. 

47. Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer 

48. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
May as well see what all the fuss is about!

49. Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson
Can you believe this is the same woman who wrote The Lottery?

50. The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

What are some books on YOUR reading list?

Finally – Do you have any of the books listed above? I’m ALWAYS down for a book-swap!! I’d love to pass along a book from my collection that may be on your reading list. Let me know!

Books I Read and Loved in 2016

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As I explained in this post, I’ve been tracking my reading on a spreadsheet in an effort to diversify the genres and voices I consume, as well as quell my own curiosity about the ebbs and flows of my changing tastes and obsessions. The resulting data was interesting and I had fun recording lots of details for my future-self to cull through. (Full-disclosure: By the 4th quarter of the year I was much less thorough in my approach. Something to work on in 2017!)

For those of you who might be interested, I’ve used the aforementioned spreadsheet to compile a list of the books I read and loved in 2016.

  1. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson (On the blog HERE.)
  2. Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman
  3. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom – So gripping! (On the blog HERE.)
  4. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – Better than the movie. (On the blog HERE.)
  5. Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward
  6. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo – A fascinating look at a society not often discussed. (On the blog HERE.)
  7. How to Be Good by Nick Hornby
  8. Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine (On the blog HERE.)
  9. The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David K. Shipler
  10. January First: A Child’s Descent into Madness and Her Father’s Struggle to Save Her by Michael Schofield
  11. Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home by Leah Lax – A triumphant memoir. (On the blog HERE.)
  12. A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay (On the blog HERE.)
  13. Chef by Jaspreet Singh
  14. Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace – A cross between two of my favorite movies: A League of Their Own and Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken. (On the blog HERE.)
  15. A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White
  16. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  17. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – Tears galore!
  18. The Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein (On the blog HERE.)
  19. Crush It! Why NOW is the Time to Cash In On Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk
  20. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson – A must-read if you enjoy true-crime and American history. (On the blog HERE.)
  21. Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
  22. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer – There just aren’t enough books about Himalayan mountaineering to satisfy my strange obsession.  (On the blog HERE.)
  23. The Book of Ayurveda by Judith H. Morrison
  24. The Heavy: A Mother, A Daughter, A Diet by Dara-Lynn Weiss
  25. Grace by Grace Coddington – Spirit animal.
  26. Ten Years Later: Six People Who Faced Adversity and Transformed Their Lives by Hoda Kotb (On the blog HERE.)
  27. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green – YA Fiction at it’s finest.
  28. Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer, and Kathie Lee by Hoda Kotb – I was having a bit of a Hoda moment. 
  29. Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi (On the blog HERE.)
  30. The Last Undercover: The True Story of an FBI Agent’s Dangerous Dance with Evil by Bob Hamer
  31. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder – I kicked off my mission to re-read the Little House books.
  32. About Alice by Calvin Trillin
  33. Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang – Hilarious!
  34. The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker
  35. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Now it’s time to set up my spreadsheet for 2017!

What books did YOU read and love in 2016? Share below…and who knows! Maybe they’ll end up on my list next year. 

Books to Read This Fall

Mourning those Summer months? Me either! I’m too excited about wrapping up, burrito-style, in a fluffy blanket with a good book and something pumpkin spice close at hand.

But for real, what better reason than a temperature turn-down to share a few favorite books I think would be perfect for your Fall reading list.

So, in the midst of all your other autumnal activities (Think: swapping out all your flip flops for riding boots and Snapchatting from the pumpkin patch.) — here are 5 books to read this Fall…

bossypantsBossypants by Tina Fey

Tina Fey’s book is short, messy, and impossibly funny (an apt description of the comedian herself). From her humble roots growing up in Pennsylvania to her days doing amateur improv in Chicago to her early sketches on SNL, Fey gives us a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain of modern comedy with equal doses of wit, candor, and self-deprecation.

There’s always something to be learned from the life experiences of fascinating (and funny!) people. This book provides a peek into the worlds of improv, SNL, and 30 Rock–all with Fey’s famous humor.

 

the-painter-from-shanghaiThe Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Down the muddy waters of the Yangtze River, through the raucous glamour of prewar Shanghai and the bohemian splendor of 1920s Paris, and back to a China teetering on the brink of revolution: this is the epic story of Pan Yuliang, one of the most talented—and provocative—Chinese artists of the twentieth century.

Historical fiction so researched and rich in details that you will find yourself completely immersed in another time and place.

 

 

a-secret-kept A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay

Antoine Rey thought he had the perfect surprise for his sister Mélanie’s birthday: a weekend by the sea at Noirmoutier Island , where the pair spent many happy childhood summers playing on the beach. But the island’s haunting beauty triggers more than happy memories.

A French family, a fascinating story, and an unraveling secret at the heart of it all that will keep you reading well past your bedtime. Beware: you may finish de Rosnay’s mystery novel in one go!

 

 

the-namesakeThe Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. Son, Gogol Ganguli, knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd name. Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along the first-generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs.’

Rather than follow a plot, this book follows a life. The resulting prose is breathtaking in it’s beauty.

 

behind-the-beautiful-foreversBehind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

In this book by Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo, a bewildering age is made human through the dramatic story of families striving toward a better life in a makeshift settlement near the Mumbai airport. Based on years of uncompromising reporting, it carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds—and into the hearts of families impossible to forget.

True to the style of “embedded journalism,” Boo embedded herself in a slum so readers could see, hear, and understand the residents and their challenges.

 

What are YOU reading this Fall? Share below! 

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