Book Review

Book Review: When Books Went to War

I don’t often read a lot of historical-themed nonfiction, but my book club always tackles one a year. This year, we read When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning.

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This was a fascinating book about WWII and the Armed Services Editions of books that librarians and publishers from the USA made sure went overseas for soldiers to read in their down time. The result was a new generation of readers. Even soldiers who hadn’t been interested in reading before the war, fell in love with these paperback books. Fan letters from soldiers were written to authors, and some long-forgotten books like The Great Gatsby might never have become classics without finding this new audience. Over 100 million books were banned and burned in WWII, but this effort resulted in keeping literature alive.

If you’re interested in history, publishing, or just interesting facts, give this one a chance!

Book Review

Book Review: The Glass Castle 

If complicated memoirs are your thing, have I got a book for you! This is one that has been in the press a lot since there was recently a movie that came out that was based on this book. With all the buzz surrounding the movie, I decided to give The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls a try.

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This memoir is about Walls’ childhood. She grew up constantly moving around as her family struggled to scrape by. Her parents were clearly brilliant, but they were also clearly unstable. They rejected the notion of holding down “regular” jobs and tried to make their own way, often illegally, every place they lived. Walls and her siblings suffered the most in this situation as they were forced to act like the adults of the family.

I found this book to be so fascinating but also infuriating because no child should have to go through this. However, Walls still spoke with love and reverence regarding her parents. This memoir isn’t like an angry rant or anything like that. Rather, it’s a careful reminiscence of the past. She’s looking fondly on her childhood while also seeking how, in retrospect, there were lots of unfortunate incidents. Still, it’s clear that her overcoming her upbringing has made Walls extremely strong. I highly recommend this one.

Book Review

Book Review: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry 

Life is really busy, but sometimes I just want to be able to sit down and take time to learn new things. Recently, I’ve developed an interest in the field of physics. In high school and college, I studied lots of biology and chemistry, I even studied a lot of Calculus, but I never signed up for a physics class. Honestly, at the time it just seemed so boring. Now that I’ve been adult for a while, however, I’ve started to find it really interesting. Physics is tied to everything in life, and I wanted to learn more. Thankfully, I found Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.

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This book was so well-written and it made learning fun. It had a light, conversational tone, but I never felt like it was trying to “dumb down” the study of physics. I never thought it would be so easy to learn about quantum mechanics and quarks and black holes. This book tackles big questions too, like: “What is the nature of time and space?” If you’re at all interested in this subject, I would highly recommend you give this one a try, especially if you’ve found physics to be intimidated before. In under 250 pages, you will learn a whole lot more than you expected!

Book Review

Book Review: Yoga for the Creative Soul

I have loved yoga since junior high. Not only does it make me feel better physically, but it’s also great for helping alleviate my anxiety. Yoga is something that I recommend to everyone, so I was pleased when I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Yoga for the Creative Soul: Exploring the Five Paths of Yoga to Reclaim Your Expressive Spirit by Erin Byron. Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

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This was much different than I expected, but I really enjoyed it. It provided a very balanced approach to yoga, and I loved how it focused on more than the physical aspects of yoga. There are many additional exercises for the brain that broaden how yoga is viewed in terms of mental awareness and those psychological benefits of yoga. This book is definitely capable of helping a creative person tap into a deeper level of their creativity. My one criticism is that the ebook did not have any pictures, and I think that visual aids could help with some of the poses. Still, it was a very interesting read and I felt more empowered to do yoga and explore its many benefits.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book for both a beginner to yoga as well as someone with more experience. It is much different than every other yoga book I’ve read because it really targets the mental aspect of yoga.

 

Book Review

Book Review: In the Kingdom of Ice 

I rarely review nonfiction, but recently my library book club read a really great nonfiction book: In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides.

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Before reading this book, I had never heard about the USS Jeannette and I can’t say I was terribly interested in learning more, but I really loved this book and felt so invested in finding out what happened. This was both a tragic event and a demonstration of human strength an resilience. After their ship was irreparably damaged, the captain and crew forged ahead in an attempt to reach Russia and civilization.

The beginning of this book was very slow, and I found it hard to pay attention to the details about naval history and the designs of various ships. However, once the expedition actually started, I felt sucked in and really engaged with the arctic adventures of the captain and crew. Additionally, there are many examples of letters that the captain’s wife wrote during his journey. These added a great human element, and I enjoyed learning more about her as well.

I would definitely recommend this book to history lovers. It was informative and engaging and deals with an interesting historical event that I don’t think most people know much about.

Book Review

Book Review: Wordcatcher

I am such a nerd when it comes to books about words or the origin of words. I just love the English language. So, I loved Phil Cousineau’s book Wordcatcher.

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This book was a fascinating exploration of the origin of many common words. To be honest, a lot of books like this are kind of dry and have to be read slowly, but Cousineau does a great job at adding levity to this subject. His entries for each word are relatively short but contain a lot of fascinating information. Personally, I loved reading about the word origins for “fornicate” because I even learned some additional history from this entry.

I think that all word nerds will love this delightful book. It’s almost like candy – small bon bons of word knowledge instead of a really dense dessert that takes a month to get through. This book can be digested easily and quickly.

Book Review

Book Review: Manners

When I was in junior high, I checked out every book on etiquette that I could. I remember scouring that section of the library and checking out every Emily Post or Miss Manners book. I was take them home and read them and pretend that someday I would grow up to be one of those effortlessly chic women with tons of confidence and impeccable manners. I would go to a different dinner party or gala each weekend, and I would know exactly how to behave and what to wear. Now that I’m an adult – I can assure you that I did not become one of those women. I’m far too anxious and awkward. Still, a girl can dream.

I recently read the book Manners by Kate Spade, a phenomenal designer.

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I’ve always loved Kate Spade. She has the perfect blend of classic minimalism and exciting whimsy. Her designs are amazing, so I was so excited to read this book with a more personal flair. I was not disappointed. The book Manners was peppered with fantastic personal anecdotes while still giving lots of practical advice. There’s truly something in here for everyone. Even the most well-mannered etiquette expert would still enjoy fun facts interspersed in this book. Something about this book gave me hope that maybe the adult version of myself that I used to dream about could still come true someday with a little effort. We’ll have to see.