Readin’ Buddies, Represent!

One of my nephews has been incarcerated since June on charges stemming from demonstrations against police brutality. The charges are federal and will probably be pled down (meaning they are at least semi-bogus), but for now, due to COVID, he still has no trial date.

He’s reading romance novels, comic books, ANYTHING he can find. I got to thinking about nonfiction titles I’ve come across that delivered a lot of well-supported insight and information, books he might enjoy as a change of pace from whodunits and HEAs. My top five suggestions were:

Give and Take by Adam Grant (2014). This was “groundbreaking” when it came out in 2014, but the basic premise will ring true to any romance reader: Nice guys rarely finish last in the races that matter. Grant’s big contribution was to back up that finding with the sort of studies even C-suite alpha dunces have to take seriously.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn (1962), from which we got the term “paradigm shift.” An oldie but goodie that concluded, long before confirmation bias was a thing, that science, which we hope to be fact-based, objective, and radiant with the golden light of truth, generally reaches that light after a thorough bath in the less than fragrant waters of bias, expedience, and politics. Galileo could have told us so, but did we listen?

Talking to Strangers (2019) by Malcolm Gladwell. Before we were protesting police brutality in 2020, Gladwell had done some brilliant research into why our policing has become so ineffective and frustrating for all concerned (including the cops). What strikes me now is how relevant this book is to the national debate, and how little I’ve heard it mentioned.

When–The Scientific Secrets to Perfect Timing (2018) by Daniel Pink. Despite the cheesy title, Pink packs a lot of interesting and highly readable science into this tome, which looks at everything from late bloomers (yay!), to night owls, to the super-virtuoso female musicians who studied with Antonio Vivaldi in the early 1700s. Not what I’d call a life-changing read, but it does debunk the 10,000-hour myth and points out the big downsides of early specialization (so there).

Thinking Fast and Slow (2011) by Daniel Kahneman, PhD. Kahneman took a look at how we make decisions, compared to how we believe we make them, and found a trove of myths much in need of debunking. We are far more subjective, impressionable, and irrational than we like to, um, think. Anybody interested in world domination should read this book, as should anybody who does not want to be manipulated by villains, greedy social media corporations, or children’s organizations selling cookies.

Is there non-fiction on your keeper shelf? On your gift lists? What exactly ARE you reading in these challenging December days? To one commenter, I will send a $100 gift card from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, or Apple (your choice), and then my little bloggy-poo is going on hiatus until January.

To tide you over until then, please recall that Truly Beloved will be available from the web store starting Tuesday (12/16), and is available in print already.

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23 comments on “Readin’ Buddies, Represent!

  1. There’s a lot that’s I’m reading. Truth be told, I usually read non-fiction during the summers to get myself going for the fall and the new semester. Then I’m back to fiction as soon as school starts.

    This year is fiction all the time. I love the Priscilla Royal medieval mystery series about Abbess Eleanor and her side-kick Father Thomas. Not what you’d expect because Sister Eleanor is a very young abbess who lusts after Father Thomas and Father Thomas who was forced to become a priest/monk because he’s gay (and Sister Eleanor has no idea)and got caught *lusting* after a friend. They make a interesting team, solving mysteries.

    I don’t have too much of an attention span for anything too deep on the non-fiction shelf. And that’s not like me but one of my reactions to this Pandemic. Sigh. 🙁

    Quite frankly, the non-fiction I’m reading (and buying for my kids this year)are cookbooks. Just bought some Mark Bittman for one kid and a Betty Crocker cookbook of old fashioned recipes ya can’t find anywhere else for the other. And one of those kids gave me Ina Garten’s new comfort food cookbook for my birthday. Already, her tomato bisque and a couple of potato dishes are on our list of favorites. Comfort food can help, at least a little bit!

  2. Cookbooks are on my keeper shelves. My niece has just discovered Peg Bracken’s “I Hate to Cook” books. I’ve read them over and over. I’ve even tried a recipe or two.

    “If I Laugh” is an autobiographic account of a madcap trip from Paris to Spain by bicycle with a passenger on the handlebars ahead of the German Army in summer of 1940. Rupert Dowling

    “Over My Dead Body” is an account of recovery from polio by June Opie. It’s also funnier than the situation suggests.

    Non Campus Mentis is an assortment of answers to history questions. The collector, Anders Henriksson says they are real. It’s what happens when the need for speed meets unfamiliar vocabulary.

    There’s a selection of Malcolm Gladwell’s work. Some history reference… Death of Kings, several accounts of the Civil War battle at Gettysburg. A physics book on my level called Why Things Don’t Fall Down.

    I can’t read anything much at the moment, however. I am looking forward to my Grace Burrowes book however!

  3. I am reading about Tracking with your Dog. I had a corgi who loved to track and we had a lot of fun walking the trails. I am on scenting and now to motivate your dog. Tracking events are held outdoors this could be a dog activity for the Spring.
    Schessingler’s A Thousand Days is on my shelf. Am about 1/3 of the way through it. It’s interesting to see how history treats this President.
    Cookbooks have been a source of inspiration and entertainment this year. I dug out my Moms 1957 Betty Crocker, my Silver Palate and Martha Stewart books and have enjoyed baking and cooking this year.

    I am loving mysteries- Ashley Weaver’s Avery and Milo books and Hank Phillipi Ryan’s suspense filled novels. Different genre for me and I am enjoying them.

    Thanks for the tip about Truly Beloved…it’s on its way.
    Have a great week!

  4. I got completely sucked into The Creature From Jekyll Island by G Edward Griffin about the formation of the Federal Reserve by a cartel of the big bankers & financiers of the day. Moneyland by Oliver Bullough which is fascinating about the origins of & current state of offshore banking. Who knew the Euro is actually named after the Telex code name for Russian currency transfers from the old USSR?!

    I moved on to A Deal With the Devil by Blake Ellis & Melanie Hicken – 2 CNN reporters trying to track the truth behind a huge, decades-old psychic mail fraud that turned out to be international.

    I’m currently on Silk Road by Eileen Ormsby about the dark web internet marketplace run by Dread Pirate Roberts. Next in the pile will be Merchant of Death by Farrah Braun, a bio of Victor Bout, the arms merchant, shying followed in the international news for a good decade or more.

    Blood and Oil by Bradley Hope & Justin Scheck was a fascinating bio of Muhammad bin Salman, but so obviously biased that I’ve gotten MBS: The Rise to Power of Muhammed Bin Salman by Ben Hubbard in hopes of a less tabloid-style bio.

    Another fascinating read was Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy, The Secret World of Corporate Espionage by Eamon Javers. That’s led me to get Why They Do It by Eugene Soltes.

    I’m also eyeing a few studies of the Vatican banking system & more offshore banking, but nothing to report yet.

  5. I’ve been reading more historical mysteries than rimance lately and when reading romance, I’ve had more success with audio books. Most mysteries have benn set in the period between the two world wars. In particular, I really enjoyed the first two books in the Rowley Sinclair series by Sulari Gentill set in Australia in the 1930’s. It is a location that I’m not familiar with so really interesting. Looking forward to reading additional titles even knowing what is coming with WWII on the horizon; some similarities to the US today with societal divisions.

  6. I am doing some comfort re-reads of Kristen Ashley, and I’m currently juggling KA’s Midnight Soul along with your Truth About Dukes, Grace! Plus I’m plowing through cookbooks. My local library has gotten a bunch of new cookbooks in and I’m wallowing in them, hooray!
    I have been reading a lot more nonfiction in the last couple of years as I try to do some health research and biohacking. Fascinating stuff

  7. Hello Grace. I’m looking forward to Tuesday.
    On the non fiction side I have just finished the Righteous Mind , Why good people are divided by politics and religion by Jonathan Haidt. Quite densely psychological , which is not my area, but fascinating in its explanations of the right and left on our, and other continent. (I’m in Canada)
    I started after being reproved by a friend for lumping people into subsets of all good and all bad by political party . A learning moment for me.

  8. While my Nook was shut down by a virus to the corporate website, I started reading “The Mother Tongue” by Bill Bryson. Very interesting reading about the origin of our language. At other times, when feeling serious about my understanding of cultures, I have read Amy Tan and khaled Hussenini books which in turn led me to V. S. Naipal. Not as light and dreamy as your excellent HEAs, but compelling none the less. Hopefully a lot of good reading will be the worst of your relatives dealings with his situation.

  9. I am still reading mostly romances, across genres. On my tablet right now, waiting their turn, are the latest Nalini Singh and Elizabeth Hoyt. I just finished Christine Feehan and Loretta Chase’s latest. And before that was the latest book by Grace Burrowes. I am currently alternating romance with Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series and Laurie R. King’s Russell and Holmes series. The closest to non-fiction that I read recently was “Homeland Elegies” by Ayad Akhtar (I thought it was non-fiction but then read the author says it’s not). The thing that amazes me about Terry Pratchett’s books are their relevance to today when they were written at least 20 years ago, especially with regard to today’s politics. I guess he could see into the future.

  10. I am so sorry about your nephew and hope his trial goes well for him. You would think with covid, they would want to release non-violent prisoners on bail.

    I read a lot of news but not a great deal of non-fiction. I am fond of Bill Bryson’s books and recently got his book “At Home”. I also have recently bought two other non-fiction books: “Memory Improvement Book” by Andrew Kite and “Radical Frugality” by Nic Adams. The last two books were both free in Amazon.

    I am definitely in need of some memory enhancement and was interested to see if the book about frugality could tell me something I didn’t already know. FYI I haven’t read any of them yet.

    Most of the non-fiction I read are articles from the internet, like this one:

  11. Good to read again now from my non-fiction keeper shelf:
    “Fear:Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm”, by Thich Nhat Hanh (2012).

    Scrolling through my History list (what I’ve borrowed) on my state’s on-line library network, my non-fiction library books in December have been cookbooks (I’m still seeking a goulash recipe that uses Hungarian HOT paprika).

    I’m just beginning to read “The Story of Charlottes’s Web: E.B. White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic” by Michael Sims (2011). I’m pretty sure I’ll end up giving copies to my sisters for Christmas.

    Mostly I read or listen to fiction. Since March it’s been almost all Historical Romance. I used to mix it up, but I find myself just really wanting to escape a while from “real world issues”.
    This month, a contemporary exception I’m looking forward to is “Crazy Stupid Bromance”, the next in Lyssa Kay Adams’ totally amusing Bromance Book Club series. I’m on the library’s wait list.

    Now for Historicals!
    Yours of course! I’m next in line on the library waiting list for “Trenton:Lord of Loss”. I’m excited that my state’s library network recently acquired 7 of your ebooks to fill the gaps in the Lonely Lords & Jaded Gentlemen series. I discovered your books years ago, starting with Darius. At some point I found your “If I had it to do over” Regency books reading order page, so have enjoyed reading or re-reading & piecing together the rich family sagas.

    This month I started re-reading Eloise James’ The Wildes of Lindow Castle series. Today I’m midway through “Born to be Wilde”.

    Mary Jane Wells is my favorite friendly audiobook reader. Last March, on the first night I went to bed afraid, I distinctly remember deciding to fall asleep to Mary Jane Wells reading Tessa Dare’s “Romancing the Duke”. I feel I can listen to her and rest assured that whatever the story, it will end happily. Of course, those are (mostly) the kinds of books she reads! So, since then I’ve re-listened to her read some Tessa Dare, Lisa Kleypas’ Wallflowers and Ravenels series, and this month I finished Cathy Maxwell’s Brides of Wishmore series.

    Thank you so much for writing here, sharing some of your thoughts and experiences with us.

    I hope your break is sunny and peaceful.

  12. How horrible for your nephew to be incarcerated for so long with no trial date. Also how horrible for his parents and other family members. I’m guessing he isn’t allowed a kindle or other ereader to which family and friends can easily send content.

    I have a decent sized collection of nonfiction, most of which are history textbooks or additional reading for my history minor in college. Many of them are books about the Civil War and not so appealing to read right now. The majority of my reading is romance novels. The majority of that is historical romance (not much of a surprise 😉 ) However, I have been reading a nonfiction book the last few days and it isn’t a ‘normal’ nonfiction book. I was trying to think of something different to cook for dinner and while looking at my collection of cookbooks, I decided to read Alton Brown’s I’M JUST HERE FOR THE FOOD. He is an entertaining author who explains many of the more sciency things about cooking.

    Happy Holidays!

    Stay Safe!

  13. I’m not much for non-fiction, but, when I do, I get things that interest me (e.g. animals and art/artists.)

    I have decided to start reading Brene Brown. I have the first book “I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough.””

    I spend more time in fiction… HEAs and mysteries. So, untold number of these books…

    Awhile ago, I enjoyed the “Flashman” series by George MacDonald Fraser… but, it’s been ages since I’ve read it, so I’m not sure if it travelled through time with the same enjoyment level. But, I have been thinking about re-reading this series of books.

    I have a lot of poetry on my shelves: Mary Oliver, Langston Hughes, etc… Found a new (to me) poet the other day who I can see becoming a favorite. Her name is Alfa. Her poem (and book) titled “I Needed A Viking” is just brilliant! I keep thinking that phrase every time I read another of her poems: It’s just brilliant!

    So many books! If I could live in a library, I would!

  14. I haven’t even been reading much new fiction lately. I have been depending on my good old comfort reads to fend off the blues. Many of those are yours Grace. Just finished LADY SOPHIE’S CHRISTMAS WISH, one of my favorites.

    I think my last non-fiction was either Erma Bombeck’s MOTHERHOOD (THE SECOND OLDEST PROFESSION) or THE PURPLE DIARIES by Joseph Egan. PURPLE DIARIES is about the child custody case of Mary Aster back in the 1930s, when her diaries were introduced into the trial and caused quite a scandal. I found it a fascinating read. And Erma Bombeck was one of the funniest women that ever existed. Matter of fact, I could use a good laugh right now. Think I’ll re-read it.

  15. I am reading my Christmas books in between making origami, working on cards, writing Christmas Cards and preparing Care packages. I have not read too much non-fiction this year other than a brief biography about President Theodore Roosevelt, two books about writing letters and also about the French Revolution.
    Thank you for your great books! Have a blessed week!

  16. During these last few months my reading material has changed. The heavy and in-depth books that usually pull me up by my boot laces and make me think of our world and it’s challenges have been given a respite.I have been reading Eve Garretsbooks (children’s books).Set in the East-end of London during the depression of the 1930s.It follows the antics of a poor working class family.The children and the scrapes and adventures they live through.It’s very funny yet innocent but it leaves me feeling that I am lucky that I am in today’s world despite all that is happening.The drawings are special and animated.They give me some light relief and cheer me up.It’s a shame that the series consists of only a few books.I also have re-read all my favourites.We will get through this,bring on 2021,thank you co-blog writers and most of all thank you Grace for all the fantastic books that keep me sane.Looking forward to Daisys story.

  17. I can enthusiastically recommend An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. I even have the young readers edition that I read with my youngest.

    Recently I read Breath by James Nestor, really fascinating. Sort of Mary Roach meets Bill Bryson in tone and structure.

    I’m in the middle of Owls of the Eastern Ice by Jonathan C Slaght. I’m really enjoying it. After learning a little about the Harpy Eagle after visiting Panama, I was intrigued by this book about the Blakiston’s fish owl. It has a crazy cast of characters and situations that reminds me a little of a book I read years ago and LOVED, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. (And I HATE running.)

  18. This question about non-fiction keepers on our shelves came just as I was weeding my personal bookshelf. I am retired librarian who morphed into an editor and indexer later in my career. I read a LOT of technical stuff over the years, and have no interest in almost all of those titles.

    But I still have my copy of Baby and Child Care by Dr. Spock. It is the 56th printing from 1962. Boy…..the memories contained in that book!

    I can remember reading certain chapters or even individual pages day and after day.

    I became a first time grandmother a few months ago. And guess what? My daughter has the same concerns and questions! (First time mother at 38) The baby is starting solid foods, and there is Dr. Spock explaining all the choices for new mothers. (I read them again myself)

    So I am keeping that non-fiction title. In fact, I plan to give it to my daughter the next time I get a chance to see her………….whenever that is.

  19. My favorite non-fiction keeper that I’ve held on to for years is Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng. She was arrested during the Cultural Revolution and spent six years in solitary confinement as an enemy of the state. I was probably 18 or so when I read it for the first time and it definitely made an impression. Hope your nephew’s situation is resolved soon.

  20. Very interesting to read what others are reading. So although I’m late in replying, I’ll add my 2c.
    For non- fiction this year, race has been on my mind. The most powerful non-fiction read I’ve had this year was listening to Tessa McWatt read her own book, “Shame on Me.” It’s both illuminating about social structures and a a deeply moving personal story. I had to follow up on my listening by immediately reading the text version, to reinforce the details—which I tend to forget anyway in audio reads, but which were perhaps also overpowered in this case by the strong emotional power of the reader-listener connection I felt. That’s now on my physical shelves, and I gave it as Christmas gifts too.
    I also just finished “All Our Relations” by Tanya Talaga, an analysis the youth suicide crisis in Indigenous communities in Canada, North America, and elsewhere in the world, and how racism and our daily choices not to address it continue to feed the hopeless marginalization. The book is publication version of the Massey Lecture in 2018. For non-fiction reads in general, I tend to always be satisfied (and often blown away) by these printed publications of the annual Massey Lectures. I own about a dozen of them, and have had many others from my public library.
    I loved the idea from so many of you of cookbooks this year (I, too, have my mother’s copy of Betty Crocker, marked with multiple batter stains and child’s pen scratchings on the pancakes page especially!), but I haven’t been as adventuresome as some of you. I’ve only dipped my toe in and tried some weekly meal plans from the Washington Post…moving out of the same old, same old in baby steps only! :-))
    Thanks for sharing, everyone! I wish a much better new year to all of us.

  21. This is a late blog from Australia. I have spent some time pondering what i would read if imprisoned for speaking out. There is a new book by Alicia Garcia The Purpose of Power: How we come together when things fall apart’ which is now on my must read this year list. Its also inspiring to read Nelson Mandela ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ which is also available as an audio book.
    I would also like to suggest some illustrated children’s books which can provok new angles to thinking. Margaret Wild’s book ‘Fox’is a meditation on surviving betrayal. Bob Graham writes and illustrates whimsical family stories. My favourite is Queenie the Bantam which has the memorable refrain ‘ the story might have ended this way but it didn’t . Shaun Tan illustrates older youth fiction his book ‘ the Arrival’ is a surorising view of being a stranger in a strange land. Finally a family favourite about shared responsibility is from a New Zealand author Pamela Allen ‘who sank the boat’
    Thank you Grace for your enjoyable escapist books with some incisive observations of personalities hovering in the background