One of my 2015 reading goals was to read at least one nonfiction book each month, and it’s been a few months since I gave an update about that goal. I’ve read 1-2 nonfiction books each month so far this year, and these are a few picks from the last 5 months.
Spinster by Kate Bolick
This is a combination of Bolick’s own “spinster wish” with stories from five women who inspired her along the way. I first became aware of the book because of the inclusion of Edna St. Vincent Millay, and the historical elements were definitely the most compelling bits for me. Spinster in Bolick’s usage is “shorthand for holding on to that in you which is independent and self-sufficient, whether you’re single or coupled”, and that’s definitely a concept worth exploring.
That’s Not English by Erin Moore
I’ve been a bit obsessed with British pop culture for most of my life. I think watching old episodes of Doctor Who with my dad started it for me. I was drawn to this book by the subtitle, “Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us”. The book’s structure is a lot of fun because each chapter focuses on one word and describes the usage of that word in each country and what that might say about the cultures. Cheers, knackered, and gobsmacked are some of my favorite inclusions. I highly recommend this book if you’re an Anglophile or interested in the English language or simply enjoy having fun facts to share with your friends.
Between You & Me by Mary Norris
Mary Norris is a “Comma Queen” for The New Yorker, and this book is both a memoir and a writing guidebook. Norris speaks about her years at The New Yorker and also highlights grammar lessons she’s learned during that time. I enjoyed both aspects of the book, but my favorite section was probably the discussion of protecting an author’s voice at the “cost” of proper grammar.
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
I’ve seen a few presentations from Jon Ronson and enjoyed them enough that I decided to pick up his book. My opinion is that the presentations were more interesting because they were tighter. The book takes more of a ramble to get to the point, and it’s not even that long a book. Individual chapters are stronger than the overall book, and I think a series of essays might have been a better format for the material, but it’s still worth a read for the case studies at the front of the book.
Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder & Pamela Smith Hill (Editor)
The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder were a huge part of my childhood. Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography contains Wilder’s complete first draft of her story along with notes from Pamela Smith Hill, author of a previous biography of Wilder. This is a beautiful enrichment of the stories I first read as a child, and I had so many nostalgic, happy feelings as I was reading. I may find myself rereading the Little House books soon.