CategoryReviews of Non-fiction Books

Clutter: An Untidy History by Jennifer Howard

Like Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller, this is both a dive into an important topic and a deeply personal book. I have followed Jen Howard on Twitter for her professional interest in higher education and libraries for some years. She may have lived in my town for her first five years until her parents divorced; I have met her father, the eminent constitutional scholar, several times at...

This Land by Rebecca Nagle

After the Supreme Court decision this summer that affirmed that land in eastern Oklahoma remains tribal land of the five tribes who walked the Trail of Tears, I knew I wanted to know more about this. Somehow I landed on a podcast by Rebecca Nagle that is hosted by the Crooked Media group. There are 10 episodes that last about 30 minutes each. This series began in 2019 when the Supreme Court was...

Carville’s Cure by Pam Fessler

The subtitle, “Leprosy, Stigma, and the Fight for Justice,” signals this is the story of the only leprosarium in the continental US. Its history and the history of the treatment of Hansen’s Disease, commonly known as leprosy, makes for a dramatic read. The unwarranted fear of the disease has resulted in tragically mistaken public health policy; I appreciated learning the truth...

A Pilgrimage to Eternity by Timothy Egan

Timothy Egan wrote a history of the Dust Bowl (The Worst Hard Time) that I greatly admire so I wanted to read his recent book about his 1000-mile pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome on the Via Francigena. This book is the tangible outcome of his love of history (and recounting it), his abiding connection to the Christian faith, and the appeal for him of a good walk/drive/train ride. Given the...

A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage

Having loved Tom Standage’s The Victorian Internet, I was sure this was a good time to read this book written in 2005. And yes, it was as wonderfully interesting and informative about these beverages as his earlier book was about the telegraph. The six glasses have beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola in them. Rather than recount here a history of the world as it relates to these...

Hunting Mister Heartbreak by Jonathan Raban

First, the title. Perhaps I encountered Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur (Heartbreak), the author of Letters from an American Farmer in school, but I have no memory of him. His book, a series of 12 letters with different styles and topics purporting to be to an English gentleman, was published in 1782. Jonathan Raban, himself an English gentleman, says though the letters seem to be factual, Mr...

The Bird Way by Jennifer Ackerman

My book choices have been unusual in this strange time and perhaps this is the strangest of them all. I have always had a strong dislike of birds. As I child, I was terrified the chickens would touch me. As an adult I am keenly aware of birds as disease carriers. They have not endeared themselves to me in recent years when they come in flocks and drunkenly eat berries from our holly trees...

Pass Go and Collect $200 by Tonya Lee Stone

The subtitle explains this is The Real Story of How Monopoly Was Invented. I have been reading to my grandchildren in Iowa and here in Charlottesville daily since mid-March. I chose this to read because the Iowa kids play Monopoly as often as they can. It turned out to be quite interesting and after the topic came up in a conversation my friend Dorothy had with her family, I decided to write...

Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller

What a treat this book turned out to be. I have known Lulu and Grace slightly for several years, feeling a great warmth for them, so there was no question about buying the book. Then I learned the book is in part a biography of David Starr Jordan, a name I knew from having spent the 1970s in Bloomington, Indiana. He had been president of Indiana University, so a street, a building, and a creek...

The World According to Fannie Davis by Bridgett M. Davis

The author tells the story of her mother’s life in the numbers business in Detroit for 40-some years. Fannie and her husband were among the many black people who left Nashville, Tennessee and other Southern cities looking for a better life, in their case, in 1955. John T was not able to make enough money for the family, so Fannie ran numbers and did so successfully until her death in 1992...

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Blogs I Like