Week in Reading: November 30

It's a cold, grey, perfectly New England November day as I sit and write this, though by the time the post goes live, we'll be well on our way home after a wonderful weekend of family and entirely too much food. I'm sipping coffee from my mother-in-law's Christmas mugs and thinking of the many, many things I have to get done when I get home and wishing I had more time to curl up and read as the weather turns colder and the days get shorter and more fully packed. On my stack this week:

Best of November

November was in many ways a not-so-great month: Paris, Beirut, Mali and other locales have been subjected to horrible, terrible acts of death and violence; the United States waved its xenophobic flag in reactions across the country; national headlines spoke of racism on college campuses, at political rallies, and in protests against police shootings. Between staring hopelessly at news reels, running another half, reflecting on (and celebrating) my birthday, co-chairing a charity auction, and prepping for the holidays... I didn't read a lot. The only book I actually started and finished this month, in fact, was H is for Hawk, a contemplative and meditative and truly absolutely wonderful memoir of a woman (who is also a falconer) coping with the loss of her father and her decent into depression and back out again. Although that's oversimplifying the thing. Just: read it. It's great.

Since I don't really have many books to talk about today, here, instead, are some of my favorite things from the internet this month:

We Can Only Be Said to Be Alive...

we can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures, thankfulness quote, thornton wilder quote

Week in Reading: Nonfiction and Seasonal Reads (and Recovery Runs)

I'm coming to you late with a Week in Reading this post, but the holidays are upon us so I expect I'll be embracing creative scheduling here for the next few weeks...

I ran another half marathon this weekend--this time the Annapolis Running Classic--on a crystal clear, cold Saturday morning. The course was hillier than I'd expected, but I still beat my past PR with a new time of 2:14:52 (versus 2:17:51 at the Freedom's Run in October). My GPS actually clocked me at a 2:09:42 for the half-marathon distance, and 2:15 and change for the full 13.75 miles that we actually ran; not sure if the course was mis-marked, but I'll take the PR either way.

Book Review: Gold Fame Citrus, by Claire Vaye Watkins

This review originally ran in Shelf Awareness for Readers.

Gold Fame Citrus, Claire Vaye Watkins's debut novel (following her much-acclaimed short story collection, Battleborn), introduces readers to Southern California in the near future--a region in which extensive drought has permanently altered both the physical and social landscape. The land is mostly deserted but for a handful of holdouts: those unable to afford evacuation and those unwelcome in the more fertile areas of the United States.

Cookbooks for Newlyweds (and really, everyone else too)

I wrote a thing for MarthaStewartWeddings.com on cookbooks for newlyweds...

...what would you add to the list?

Nonfiction November: Nontraditional Nonfiction

nonfiction november 2015

This week for Nonfiction November, we're talking about nonfiction in nontraditional book formats: e-books, audiobooks, comics, enhanced books, etc. Though the majority of my nonfiction reading comes in traditional paper books (I really, really like to underline things, and no amount of e-reading highlights can ever change my mind on that), there are a few types of nonfiction books that call to me in less traditional formats:

Week in Reading: November 16

It's telling that my reading stack this week is practically identical to last week's; between world news and birthday celebrations, my days have been full of highs and lows and very little reading (I wrote a bit about birthdays and my 30 by 30 list on Saturday, if you're interested).

30 by 30: A Birthday Update

I wrote a post about birthdays and embracing the concept of aging earlier this week to share today (my birthday), but deleted it last night in the midst of the news updates from Paris and around the world. Somehow, what I had to say about realizing I am one year closer to 30--which, yes, I realize is not that old--seemed invalid and inconsequential today. The world and its happenings are so much bigger than one person, than one birthday, than one moment in time; even the most horrible moments can remind us of that.

When I turned 27, I wrote a list of 30 things I want to accomplish before I turn 30. I slacked off on that list a lot this year, at times even wondering why I'd set such ridiculous goals for myself. Go fishing? Plant flowers? What consequence could such activities possibly have on the world--on myself?

Book Review: Not on Fire, but Burning, by Greg Hrbek

This review originally ran in Shelf Awareness for Readers.

Not on Fire, but Burning opens on catastrophe in San Francisco, in the not-too-distant future. A large object hovers over the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge collapses, and a mushroom cloud of radiation covers the city. Skyler, a young woman babysitting in an apartment overlooking the bridge, is caught up in the radiation, unable to save either the child she is watching or herself. She dies thinking of her youngest brother, Dorian.

Nonfiction November: Book Pairings

This week's theme for Nonfiction November, hosted at Regular Rumination, is book pairings--matching up non-fiction books with fictional counterparts, or vice versa--which is one of my favorite ways to explore a particular subject. On a random assortments of topics, here are a few that stand out to me:

Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County and Lies We Tell Ourselves

Kristen Green's memoir and history explores a shameful but important piece of American history--the closing of the public schools in Prince Edward County, Virginia to protest desegregation. Robin Talley's YA novel is the fictionalized story of two high school girls--one black, one white--on opposite sides of the segregation debate who find themselves thrown into an unexpected friendship. (I wrote about this pairing in more depth earlier this year.)

Packing for Mars and The Martian

Andy Weir's novel, The Martian, has made it big with a movie adaptation starring Matt Damon. While it's a fun story (I highly recommend the audio version), it's even more interesting to me because of all the science in it; Weir definitely did his homework. To continue the exploration of space travel and all its glories, pick up Mary Roach's Packing for Mars, a scientific study of space travel complete with Roach's characteristic wit and humor.

Just Like Us and The Book of Unknown Americans

Helen Thorpe's study of four immigrant girls in America isn't perfect, but it is an interesting glimpse into the experience of trying to span the distance between one's homeland and life in America. It also touches on the varying experiences of those in the United States with and without papers--especially those who came here as children. Cristina Henriquez' novel moves this study from Colorado to Delaware, nonfiction to fiction, but explores similar themes of belonging and patriotism and hope.


Anyone else like to pair fiction and non-fiction when reading on a particular subject?

Week in Reading: November 10

I'm a day late and probably a dollar (or several) short in getting this up this week; I was in New York this weekend (in part for the Book Riot Live cocktail hour at the Strand--which was wonderful!) and chose to dedicate my limited suitcase space to extra books instead of my laptop. And those short dollars were spent on books (and bagels) while there. So now here I am, prepping for a week of nonfiction reading for the continued celebrations of Nonfiction November.

A Year in Nonfiction

As part of Nonfiction November, I'm looking back over at all of the non-fiction I've read so far this year... and hot damn, has it been a good year of nonfiction picks. So far this year, I've read 33 non-fiction books (up from 25 total in 2014 and only 16 in 2013). In large part, this has been a shift in my review books--and the product of a lot of really incredible non-fiction books coming out recently.

It's always hard to pick just one favorite from a stack of books as diverse as my 33 non-fiction books, so instead I'll highlight a few that really stuck out to me:

Review: My Year of Running Dangerously, by Tom Foreman

This review originally ran in Shelf Awareness for Readers. Naturally, after my year of rediscovering running (not dangerously), I leapt at the opportunity to pick it up.

CNN correspondent Tom Foreman used to run marathons--in his 20s. One day, as Foreman was contemplating blowing out 51 candles on his next birthday cake, his eldest daughter (then 18) asked him to run a marathon with her. Little did he know that simple request would rekindle a long-lost love of running, leading him to run not only that one marathon with his daughter but also five half marathons, two additional full marathons and a 55-mile ultra-marathon, all over the course of a year.

Nonfiction November Plans

nonfiction november

Nonfiction November is back again this year, and I'm excited to be emphasizing some non-fic selections in my November reading... just as soon as I wrap up my current reads. In an effort to continue to focus these precious few deadline-light weeks on backlist and wrapping up my annual reading challenges, here's what I'm eying for the month:

furiously happy, liar temptress soldier spy, when women were birds, wild, the reason i jump, how to live, h is for hawk, notorious rbg, at home, the skies belong to us,

From my 2015 TBR Challenge list:

And a few just-because alternatives:

I obviously won't get to all of these, but a girl can dream...

What are your favorite non-fiction picks? What should I have added to my stacks?

Week in Reading: November 2

Frederick, MD (taken 10/30/15)
We're soaking up the last of the fall colors around these parts, and I'm soaking up a few more weeks of backlist binging. On my headphones, I've finally found my groove with A Tale of Two Cities--that is, when I'm not listening to the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat. I'm still working through one poem at a time in The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and am (slowly) getting through Frankenstein.

Looking Ahead: November Books & Reading Events

October set the bar pretty damn high as reading goes, but that doesn't mean I'm not excited for a few promising books in November: