not a review

November Wrap Up

Today is the first day of December! I always set aside November for NonFiction Reading and I was doing so well….until I wasn’t. I missed posting for both the 4th and 5th week of the NonFiction November but I plan to go back (hopefully later today) and look through all of the other participants posts. That way, my NonFiction shelves will be stuffed for the coming year!

The real question of what happened is that I decided to try NaNoWriMo this month. I’ve had a story in my head for years and years and with a break in a number of obligations I thought I would give it a try. At first, the more I wrote the more I blogged. Then I hit a wall and I had to put all of my energy into one or the other. I’m proud to say that I did finish NaNoWriMo even at the cost of my NonFiction November participation.

You guys, if you have ever though of participating….do it! It was a forced march through writing and my book is basically garbage. It was like the first time I made bread. I could see that the dough wasn’t going to rise but I had hope that it would at least be presentable in the end. It is decidedly not presentable. But, what a thrill to have tried it! And, I am excited to start again knowing now where the weak spots in my story are hiding.

Also, for all my super nerdy friends out there – if you finish, they give you are certificate you can print out. And a banner thing. Here it is. Total validation!


Tell me, please!

How did your November reading / writing go for you?



Kindness and Wonder, Why Mr. Rogers Matters Now More Than Ever by Gavin Edwards

“Don’t you like to be with real people? People who aren’t afraid to make mistakes, and people who just know that life is a gift and relish in it?” Fred Rogers

One of the most terrifying moments of television for me was when Mr. Rogers was on Candid Camera. I watched Mr. Rogers on PBS as a kid and I adored him. He talked to us about everything; feelings, death, how to make friends, and how people were different. I didn’t enjoy the land of make-believe, I wanted facts as a child. And Fred Rogers delivered on that front by taking us to factories long before How It’s Made debuted. He meticulously worked through complicated ideas for us. And the glorious music! It was not a show for adults. It was just for us.

Years and years later, while watching Candid Camera, there was his familiar face. Candid Camera was trying to aggravate people by giving them a room without a television and I watched, while holding my breath, to see if this would be the undoing of a childhood hero. I shouldn’t have worried, Mr. Rogers was the same person I had watched everyday. A little older, but just as kind. You can see the clip here. Thank goodness, he was real.

kindnessandwonderKindness and Wonder, Why Mr. Rogers Matters Now More Than Ever by Gavin Edwards is a lovingly written biography of the man and the show. Fred Rogers grew up in the wealthiest family in his town but that a combination of his wealth and asthma led him to be isolated for his own safety and often playing alone. His ability to remember his childhood and the way he felt during those times gave such vulnerability and credibility to his message. His mission, to use all of his gifts, combined with his understanding and his constant desire to help is what created the magic that was, and for many children still is, Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

This book not only reminded me of all the things I love about Fred Rogers it also gave me the personal side of why he did the things he did. Certainly, the biggest complaint most people have about Mr. Rogers is the pace of his deliver. But, he was so determined to be both a good listener and a person whose words children could rely on that he learned to carefully select his words whenever he spoke. His show was scripted and he insisted that everyone adhere to the script. Adults may not have enjoyed it but that was fine since he only cared about how children felt. He knew the power of the right word to a child and he made sure to work hard to provide all the best words, phrases, and messages.

Mr. Rogers cared so deeply he is often credited with single handedly saving public television as we know it today. In 1969 President Nixon wanted to cut the budget for public broadcasting to free up funds for the war in Vietnam. President Johnson had budgeted twenty million dollars for public broadcasting and Nixon wanted to cut it in half. Mr. Rogers appeared before the subcommittee late on the second day of a two day hearing to face an already disgruntled Senator Pastore. As Mr. Rogers took the witness table it seemed that the subcommittee was unconvinced that public television would put the full amount to any good use. In fact, so sick of hearing from people, the Senator had said he would listen to no more pre-prepared statements.

But, through his quiet way, Mr. Rogers impressed upon the committee how the funding would help children process the inner drama of childhood. His argument was so eloquently put and so concisely phrased he gave Senator Pastore goosebumps. You can watch, in this video, the Senator’s mind being changed in less than seven minutes. It was how much Mr. Rogers cared for children and how important that work was that made the Senator declare, “Looks like you just earned the twenty million dollars.”

Whether you enjoyed the show or not, even if you haven’t seen a single episode, this book will impress you at the sheer determination this individual put into being a good neighbor. And isn’t that something we should all aspire to be? The author gives ten ways to be more like Mister Rogers today:

Be deep and simple

Be kind to strangers

Make a joyful noise

Tell the truth

Connect with other people every way you can

Love your neighbors

Find the light in the darkness

Always see the very best in other people

Accept the changing seasons

Share what you’ve learned (all your life)

And I want a neighborhood expression of care. Because we still need someone telling us all “You’ve made this day a special day, just by being you. There’s no one in the whole world like you and I like you just the way you are.” And, today, it starts with me. So, if you are reading this, just know:

I like you just the way you are.

Tell me, please!

Who is a childhood hero you aspire to emulate?



Snacks: A Canadian Food History by Janis Thiessen

One of the best days of my childhood was when my Mom bought my brother and I a gigantic bag of Willie Wonka candy, popped on original version of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and left the two of us to eat all the candy we wanted. The ability to self-monitor our consumption without our younger sisters or parents watching was the most grown up and indulgent moments of my life. I was probably somewhere between eight and ten and I will never forget that feeling.

Snacks, whether they be sweet or salty, are woven through so many people’s lives. We all have our favorite holiday snacks (I’m a sucker for those nuts in a shell that show up here around Thanksgiving) our favorite movie snack (Popcorn with peanut butter M&Ms mixed in) and our the snack we don’t understand (Kale chips people, really?). But, until this book, I hadn’t given much thought to the snack business itself.

snacksSnacks: A Canadian Food History by Janis Thiessen is a thoroughly researched book focusing on the Canadian snack industry. We see chips, chocolates, and candies in the isles of our local grocery stores, but the history of these businesses and the impact of politics and corporate mythology was never something I had pondered. I was struck by the complicated growth of many of these companies. But, I was most struck by the individual pride of the workers that has taken massive blows with the current snobbish attitude towards snack foods.

Several things surprised me as I read about the history of snacks in Canada. For example, Canada has a great many grants available to businesses that aid in building or expanding fledgling businesses. Covered Bridge Chips traces its routes back to 2004 when three members of the Albright family decided to form the Carleton County Spud Distributors to sell their own, and others, chips. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency provided $528,000 in repayable funding for plant construction and another $77,150 for marketing and bus tour operations. Another expansion was supported by both federal and provincial government funding totally $340,000. Perhaps, as an American, I’m more surprised by the transparency of these transactions.

Also, whether a product is made entirely in Canada or had its roots in America, if the public embraced a product as Canadian, it was seen that way. Old Dutch chips are synonymous with Canada but they started in Minneapolis. Similarly, Cheezies was originally part of a snack food company in Chicago. But both snacks have been embraced as wholly “Canadian” through advertisement, local ties, and a sense of corporate humility. My obsession with this country grows. Unlike in whole great swaths of my country, where you aren’t local until the fifth generation no matter your dedication to the town, the idea that Canada will just decide that you’ve earned the label, “Canadian,” is intriguing to me.

One thing all the snack companies are not humble about is the quality of their products. Whether they be chips or chocolate, the companies actively fight against the label of “junk” food and the pervasive myth that these type of foods are inherently evil and across the board, unhealthy. Old Dutch potato chips have been manufactured for over eighty years using local potatoes and local canola oil and the company credits these simple ingredients and the boutique process used to cook the chips as the reason Old Dutch chips are the healthiest version of the snack possible. Similarly, Cheezies production has been virtually unchanged since 1948 and its product is proudly made from local sources with no preservatives.

Cheezies also uses corporate mythology to align itself with Canadian culture. The plant is only open from Monday through Friday so that families can spend time together on the weekends. Also, the company is reluctant to advertise, they have no Facebook or Twitter account.

Cheezies corporation boasts that, “unlike Jelly Belly in California who have turned their factory into a carnival of color and celebration, the Hawkins Cheezies factory in Belleville is just a factory. Very Canadian.”

Meanwhile, Ganong, the sole remaining Canadian chocolate company, takes credit for the heart shaped Valentine’s box and proudly hosts a chocolate festival every year. I can tell you, I’ve added this festival to my travel calendar because I am dying to meet “The Great Chocolate Mousse and his lovely wife Tiffany,” the mascots that preside over the festival in St. Stephens. And, even with their bragging, festivals, and a chocolate museum, Ganong has used the romance of chocolate and its devotion to the community to instill the pride of Canada in its success and survival.

“Everyone needs some pleasure and enjoyment in their lives, and that no one deserves our moral judgment.”

The journey through these companies inception, survival, and continued existence was wrought with disaster, war, unionization, and more fires than I could track. But, the biggest threat to all of these companies is the current ideology of the wholesome food movement. The author makes fantastic arguments that this manifesto is relevant mostly to the privileged healthy and has me questioning some of my beliefs regarding snack consumption. The balanced attitude of one individual interviewed, Grant Wichenko, just keeps coming back to me.

“…I grew up knowing that snack foods had a place. So, thankfully, I was able to bring that forward to my kinds. You don’t eat this because you are hungry; you eat it because it’s a treat.”

My obsession with all things Canadian brought this fascinating book into my life and now I know I need to travel back to Canada just so I can try all the local favorite snack foods.

Tell me, please!

What’s your favorite snack?



NonFiction November: Week 3

It is already time for Week Three of NonFiction November! This week we are the experts and it is hosted by Katie @ Doing Dewey. Participation is easy. Just name three books on a subject you are / want to become an expert on or name a subject you are interested in and books that fit into that area. I’ve done a little of both for this prompt.

At the beginning of the year I really wanted to become an expert on Sherlock Holmes / Arthur Conan Doyle. I started by reading Conan Doyle for the Win and it was such an excellent book that I thought: if Sherlock is so interesting, Conan Doyle must be fascinating. What’s wrong with me!? This is like loving a character and believing that the actor who plays them must have all the same fun characteristics. After trying to read three or four different biographies I gave up. Arthur Conan Doyle bored me to tears.

But, I still wanted to focus on something this year and so I turned to an interest of mine from years ago: Palmistry.

palmistry3I bought Palmistry by Lori Reid in the bargain section of Barnes and Noble years ago. Like 15-20 years ago. It is one of those introductory books that has wonderful pictures and makes learning the basic ins and outs of a subject effortless. It wasn’t long before I was reading all of my friend’s palms at parties. To date, this is the only book that I know I have read cover to cover on the subject.





The Complete Illustrated Guide to Palmistry by Peter West was the second book I picked up on the subject. I think I was getting worried that using my $10 bargain book to read palms wasn’t enough information to give people free palm readings (type A much?). This book was very similar to my first book but with more famous people’s hands included. I have probably read this whole book but in the section by section way I find myself doing things sometimes when I’m giving a subject my total focus.



I received these two books as presents this year and I have yet to crack into them. I have been too enthralled with this book:


The Art and Science of Hand Reading is huge but this textbook is the one I am determined to finish before the end of 2019. Also, I feel like if I can make it through this book I can zip through the much smaller and more picture-rich texts quickly.

As I work through this book I am obnoxious in my head, especially on public transportation, at looking at people’s hands and trying to figure them out. Since winter has started, my ability to stare at hands has been lost to mittens and gloves but I’ll keep reading and practicing on my friends until the flowers, and the palms, come back to me in the spring!

Tell me, please!

What subject do you want to be an expert in?


all ages · nonfiction

A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives by Lisa Congdon

I was far from cool my whole life. Doing anything different bothered people from the age of 10 to about 23 when suddenly, being different was fascinating and all the odd and unusual things I had been doing my whole childhood made me interesting instead of weird. Whether weird or interesting, doing stuff made me happy so I just kept going.

Because of that mindset, and my Mother’s sage advice that happiness is a choice, I have spent every year learning something new and exploring every odd whim I had the time and money to support. This blog is just one of the many irons I keep hot in the fire. If it ends up being the ship I sail away on in my retirement… yahoo! If not, I have other things to occupy my mind and feed my soul.

agloriousfreedomA Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives by Lisa Congdon is for anyone out there who thinks they are on some kind of happiness timeline. If you are stressing that if you don’t achieve your dreams by 25, 35, or 50 then you have failed, well, this book may convince you that you can breathe. Success comes to all who work for it, but not always at the same time. And, sometimes, the success that brings you the greatest joy is not the one you’ve been working on all this time.

Author Lisa Congdon did not begin to paint or draw until she was 31. She didn’t write regularly until 42 and her first book wasn’t published until 44. When A Glorious Freedom was published she was 49. She didn’t quit on life or relegate herself to the sidelines because of her age. And this book is a collection of other women who passed the imaginary limitations of forty and embraced their future. Through profiles, interviews, and essays of “older” women we can see that professional and / or personal success can be achieved after the forty.

I was unhappy with the disparity in the number of white women who are highlighted. Realistically, I understand that opportunities for minorities has always trailed behind the doors open to white women but these the book also focuses almost exclusively on artistic success. Writers, artists, and painters dominate the pages.  When the focus turns to other pursuits, like mathematics, nature and advancements in civil rights, those women are also people of color. There is an Iranian writer and an African-American artist but the reality is that either this author focused more on white women or there is just more opportunities for white women to find success in their dreams.

Beyond coming to their extraordinariness after age forty, the women all had one other things in common: longevity. Numerous women featured in the book lived into 100 or well into their 90s with many of them continuing to participate in their passion projects until their deaths. Perhaps the secret to longevity is to fill your life with a purpose.

Tell me, please!

If money was no problem and failure wasn’t possible, what would you do?



NonFiction November: Week 2

It’s Week Two of NonFiction November. This week the prompt is to pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title a la, “if you like this, you might enjoy that.” This week is hosted by Sarah @ Sarah’s Book Shelves and is always one of my favorite weeks to peek around. Some of the participants come up with amazing posts!

My fiction and nonfiction pairings are also connected to films. So, this post is more a “if you enjoyed the movie, you might like the book and whoa, there’s also this nonfiction book!”

The Princess Bride and As You Wish

The Princess Bride is one of my favorite books as well as one of my favorite movies. This book is, hands down, the best example of how to make a wonderful movie from a fabulous book. I believe this feat is only made possible by author William Goldman’s participation in the screenplay. If you love the movie, you will love the book.

But, my infatuation with the book (and movie) made me nervous to read As You Wish, Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes. I actually purchased the book as soon as it was available but couldn’t bring myself to read it for months. My fear was a tangible thing. What if he gave into the general public’s need for tawdry details? What if he hated everyone from the film? Oh my gosh, what if Wesley was a jerk?

I shouldn’t have been worried for a moment. As You Wish is a love letter to the amazing cast, crew, and experience of filming The Princess Bride. If anything, this book will make you want to immediately re-read the book and watch the movie. Cary Elwes defines what it means to be a gentleman.

The Princess, The Soundrel, and The Farm Boy and The Princess Diarist

I had the joy of reading both of these books as audiobooks and if you can, I highly recommend the experience. This fictional re-telling of the original movie, Star WarsA New Hope, is masterfully re-imagining. It is a much more character-driven story as opposed to the action-based energy of the movie. This full cast recording is complete with sound effects and music and will transport you back to that feeling of watching Episode III for the first time.

Similarly, reading Carrie Fisher’s diaries and memories left me missing my Princess more than ever. If you don’t know, Fisher was an unbelievably talented writer and this shines through in her journal entries. Her daughter, Billie Lorde, reads excerpts from journals written during the filming of the original films. Listening to these passages will leave you with no doubt as to why Carrie spent so many years as one of Hollywood’s go-to script doctors. The Princess Diarist does contain some salacious gossip but nothing the fans didn’t already know. What it does give you is a look at how a young woman in Hollywood embraced (eventually) the iconic role that defined her forever.

Pretty in Pink and So That Happened

Pretty in Pink is the book from the screenplay written by John Hughes and I recommend it because it has the original ending before they made the massive change seen in the popular 80’s movie. I’m Ducky forever (and ever and ever) so I prefer the original ending and the book was just plain fun.

As a Ducky fan, I knew I wanted to read Jon Cryer’s memoir, So That Happened. This book measures somewhere between Carrie Fisher and Cary Elwes in terms of gossip. In his memoir Jon is upfront and honest about himself and his journey through life and, while he delivers information about other people, it never takes the reader down any tawdry paths. Except when those paths were walked by Jon! The book is absolutely stuffed with other famous people and hilarious moments. The audiobook is read by the author and is thoroughly enjoyable. It is one of the longest audiobooks I listened to last year and it left me wanting more.

And there you have it! My movie to fiction to nonfiction adventures have lead me to some interesting books and memoirs. It is clear that I have an obsession with reading any book that has been made into film (and vice versa) and an addiction to audible memoirs.

Tell me, please!

What is your favorite fiction / nonfiction pairing?


nonfiction · Uncategorized

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin is the New York Times Bestselling Author of The Happiness Project. She is well regarded in the self-help circles for inspiring people to become happier and healthier through a change in mind-set and by forming positive habits. She has excellent ideas about time management and it is clear that she is hard working and well intentioned. All of these, she says, are because she has the tendency she calls, “Upholder.”

thefourtendanciesIn her book, The Four Tendencies, Rubin divides all people into four different personalities. If you want to find out your own tendency you can take this simple (really simple) quiz here.

The four tenancies are: upholder, obliger, questioner, and rebel.




I took the quiz and found that I, myself, am an Upholder. This makes perfect sense to me. I love making and keeping resolutions. I regularly order and use thousands of note cards. I cannot stand being late or breaking rules and I am physically uncomfortable when others do so.

The first section of the book is dedicated to explaining the Upholder personality, how to deal with an Upholder, and how Upholders can help themselves work within the parameters of their own tendency. While reading this section I found myself laughing in recognition and reading whole sections aloud to friends. I just kept thinking, “this is totally how I think!” I was enchanted.

Then I read the next section on Questioners. And I saw myself in that section as well. I can’t buy anything that costs more than $50 without doing hours of research. I always want to know “why” to every piece of evidence. When doctors give me advice I ask follow up questions to the exhaustion of the provider.

I see large chunks of my personality as well in the Obliger tendency. I didn’t really learn how to say “no” to people until much later in life. That’s not to say I would do things that went against my morals or goals but I was always happy to take on someone else’s jobs if it made life easier. I love to plan vacations but I am just as happy to go along with a change in plans if it makes someone else happy.

Even the Rebel speaks to whole years of my life and I resist certain Rebel tendencies to this day. My brother once told me that I couldn’t take a military marksmanship class in college and I signed up for it that day. I then went on to practice assembling and disassembling the M-16 they gave me until I could do it faster than anyone in the class. Later, I found myself rappelling off a building on campus with the same group. I did all of this because he told me I couldn’t.

One of the predicating arguments of Rubin’s Four Tendencies is that everyone is born with a certain tendency and they cannot change that tendency. Her theory is you belong to one tendency for your whole life and you cannot change. I vehemently disagree.

Of course, the author would argue that my disbelief at the simplicity of her four tendencies is because I’m actually a Questioner. This circular argument only benefits her theory. If you read the book and cast it aside, you must be a Rebel. If you only read it because a friend recommended it, you’re an Obliger. She has built into her four tendencies a way for her to negate any argument or example you may have that would defy the system she has set up. And, since she made these terms up completely without any data, background in psychology or sociology, or research, she knows them best and there is no arguing with her assessments.

I have to emphasize that point. This is her theory. There is no data, only anecdotal evidence to all of this. She doesn’t take into account any mental health issues that may underly an individual’s rigidity or reactive nature. She also doesn’t take into consideration the formulation of any of these habits. Could an Upholder quickly become an Obliger if placed in a domestic violence situation? Could a Rebel become a Questioner if their child was diagnosed with a chronic illness? Perhaps this simple approach is a good place to begin looking at why you make certain choices but it cannot be the sum total of why someone behaves the way that they do.

This may sound like a negative review but, even though there is a lot I disagree with about this book there are several reasons I recommend it here. First, taking stock of why we do things is essential if we ever want to change and grow as a person. That’s why they call them “self-help” books. And, if this book helps you to improve yourself then it is a winner for me. This book is easy to access, the quiz is short and, honestly, if accepting one of these labels for your tendency helps you then, wonderful!

More importantly, this book was absolutely fantastic at driving home the point that everyone thinks differently and all the variations of tendencies are positive. For health care providers, teachers, parents, and businesses, understanding the different tendencies is a good way to begin open communication toward change and growth. If this book does one thing well it explains that not everyone’s automatic reaction to a stimulus is the same. And, it teaches you how to recognize other people’s tendencies so that you can meet them where they are comfortable.

If this book helps you understand yourself better or improve just one relationship in your life then it was worth the time it took to read it. But, if you read it and disagree as I did, it also provides a fascinating look into how your friends formulate their arguments. Either way, books like this open doors to communication and that is always welcome.

Tell me, please!

Did you take this quiz? Do you agree with the assessment?




The Forking Trolley, An Ethical Journey to The Good Place by James M. Russell

I have been enjoying the popular television show, The Good Place, for several seasons now. When I saw the book The Forking Trolley, an Ethical Journey to the Good Place by James M. Russel, I had to pick it up. If a book made into a movie is good, how good would a book based on a television show be? I had to know!

If you are familiar with The Good Place, then you know that the main characters, Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason have died and arrived as The Good Place. Or have they? Eleanor asks Chidi, an ethics professor, to help her become a better person and eventually, all the characters are turning to Chidi to learn how ethics can make them a person worthy of “The Good Place.” If you are unfamiliar, just know that it is full of amazing quotes, rife with ethical dilemmas, and you cannot curse in the good place. Hence, “Forking” trolley.

Author James M. Russel has a philosophy degree from the University of Cambridge, a post-graduate qualification in critical theory, and has taught at the Open University in the UK. I had not run across his writing before but two things are clear from me after finishing The Forking Trolley. First, he absolutely suffered through at least one ethics class. Second, I cannot wait to read more of his books. Weird, wonderful, funny and interesting thoughts are present on every page of this book.

I took an ethics class in college and hated it. For a person who enjoys arguing as much as I do, you would think that I would relish the debates present in all ethics classes. But, as is made clear in The Forking Trolley, ethical dilemmas seem specifically crafted to have no right answer or even a clear pathway to completion. These arguments can go around and around forever. This meant that on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday all semester I just left ethics class enraged. Or, as Russel puts it,

“The study of moral philosophy can be frustrating as there are lots of difficult questions and no easy answers.”

theforkingtrolleyBut as I read through this short book about ethics, Russel proved to do the impossible for me. He made ethics and philosophers accessible and (finally) understandable. Within the first chapter is a baffling chart of the major different ethical mindsets which Russel entitles “Meta Ethics.” Additionally, through the book, terms like cognitive realism and welfare utilitarianism are thrown about as though we were making a grocery list. There is even a glossary!

But through the glorious connection to the television show and to the familiar plot points, Russel helped me actually understand the terms, ideas, and philosophers behind all the thick terminology and ideology. Through this unique association, Russel managed to finally help me understand the basic premises of ethical thought and reasoning. I feel confident now saying I mostly subscribe to Jonathan Dancy’s moral particularism (the idea that there are no hard and fast rules, but that all decisions need to be taken in context.)

More importantly, this book helped me understand that the only people who really enjoyed ethics class were probably sociapaths studying “normal” people and how they think and individuals who just really love to go into a situation and stir people up. But real ethics are about guiding me from “mostly good” to better because, really, the only person who belongs in “the good place” is Doug Forcett. Wait, even Doug doesn’t belong! And around we go again on the ethical merry-go-round.

Tell me, please!

Who is your favorite ethical philosopher? Or, favorite Good Place character?



NonFiction November 2019: My TBR

2018’s NonFiction November vastly altered the way I think about nonfiction. I have always loved learning. Always. But, prior to last year, nonfiction wasn’t something I thought of as an escape from reality. Now, nonfiction falls squarely in the “get to” pile of reading rather than the “should.”

Just take a look at the fabulous collection of nonfiction books that are waiting to be read this month! All of these are from my huge physical TBR shelf with the exception of Haben.

These books form my November reading list along with the remaining Harry Potter books I want to read or re-read for one of my 2019 challenges. Here are the books I have remaining for that challenge.

All in all, it promises to be a very interesting month!

Tell me, please!

Do you enjoy nonfiction? If so, what kind of nonfiction is your favorite?


nonfiction · not a review

NonFiction November: Week 1

It has begun! NonFiction November is finally here. I am so excited!

Week 1: (Oct. 28 to Nov. 1) – Your Year in Nonfiction (Julie @ Julz Reads): Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

What was My Favorite Nonfiction Read of the Year?

These are all the NonFiction books I read (so far) in 2019. I thought there would be more but I think I kept some back specifically to read this month. My absolutely favorite was Atomic Habits. Whew. That book completely changed the way I think about myself and the habits that build who I am.

Do I Have Any Specific Topics That Attracted Me This Year?

There were two guiding things that drew me to nonfiction this year: self-improvement and holes in my knowledge. Each of these books was selected for one of these two reasons.

It is fairly clear which ones are for self-improvement. I am on an ever-changing quest to be the best version of myself. Some of these were better than others and I am certainly sick of the titles which are basically you + curse word.

I picked up Conan Doyle because I have always been curious about the creator of the world’s most famous detective. I want desperately to love Sherlock Holmes but I will admit, the stories bore me to tears. This was an amazing account of the real man though and I really enjoyed the book.

I’m from Springfield but I really didn’t know much about the Simpsons. Springfield Confidential made me finally feel that I could answer questions (questions people constantly ask me) about the show and its connection to my hometown.

Finally, Yes, Please I picked up because Amy Poehler is one of the few famous female comediens that I just haven’t completely embraced. I adore Tiny Fey but for some reason I all but ignored Amy. This book completely altered by perception of her and her comedy and has provided me with my new favorite quote to be used in the countless times I am given advice, “Good for her, not for me.”

Similarly, I don’t understand the Isreal / Palestinian conflict. A friend recommended the book Against Our Better Judgement to grasp the Palestinian perspective. It was interesting but written like a term paper.

What Nonfiction Book Have I Recommended the Most?

My most recommended nonfiction will probably always be The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum. But, if I limited myself to this year’s reads I could not stop recommending Atomic Habits. This book really changed the way I look at myself and my habits. Factfulness by Jans Rosling is another that I consistently recommend people read. These two books together made me feel like I was capable of great things while simultaneously trusting that the world wasn’t as awful as it seemed. The pure power of books.

What am I Hoping to get out of Participating in Nonfiction November?

I have two main goals for this year. First, I want to see all the glorious books people are reading. Second, I want to prioritize reading nonfiction. I’m keeping it simple!

Tell me, please!

What is Your Favorite NonFiction Book?