CategoryReviews of Non-fiction Books

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

One of Michael Lewis’s early books is Moneyball, about efforts to find more accurate ways to predict how well an individual baseball player or baseball team will perform. The subject of this book is the work of two Israeli psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, that was the background of those efforts to make more accurate judgments and to improve decision-making. The two...

Light Eaters by Zoë Schlanger

I heard Zoë Schlanger, a long time science writer, interviewed on Fresh Air and found her an unusually appealing speaker. Her writing is equally appealing; she explains unfamiliar concepts clearly and in an entertaining way. In the last 15 years there has been a revival of plant behavior research that has brought revelations about the attributes of plants that could be called “intelligence...

Knife by Salmon Rushdie

I greatly admired Rushdie’s memoir Joseph Anton about his life during the threat against his life by the fatwah in 1989. This one tells about the attack he suffered in 2022 at Chautauqua that nearly killed him. I found both his memoirs irresistible. He tells in detail about his injuries and what was required to heal from them. I was surprised to find myself thinking of my mother’s...

Alice by Stacy A. Cordery

The Alice in question is Alice Roosevelt Longworth, who became known as a White House Princess and then a Washington Power Broker, as the subtitle has it. Her life began inauspiciously:  her mother died within two days of her birth, leaving her father Teddy Roosevelt bereft, especially so, as his mother died that same day. She was born in 1880, had her debutant ball in the White House in 1902...

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis

Jeanne Theoharis is a professor at Brooklyn College and has written eleven books on the topics of civil rights and Black Power movements. This one was written in 2013 and is the first definitive political biography of Rosa Parks. The audiobook I listened to was recorded in 2024 and has a substantial introduction, occasioned by newly available papers, photographs, and other materials of Rosa Parks...

A History of Women in 101 Objects by Annabelle Hirsch

I don’t remember where I saw a reference to this very new book; the only major newspaper review I have seen was done by The Guardian and only 29 people have written about it in Goodreads. I’m hoping it will receive the appreciation I believed it deserves. I was intrigued by the unique idea of 101 readers, many you’ve heard of, reading seven or eight minute descriptions of a wide...

All the Beauty in the World by Patrick Bringley

It’s hard to imagine a better audiobook than this one; hearing a deeply personal memoir read by the author reflecting on his brother’s death and on being a guard for ten years in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as he healed was great. The author had been a staffer at The New Yorker at the time of his brother’s death in 2008. His job was to work with eminent writers as...

Went to London, Took the Dog by Nina Stibbe

I have read almost all of Nina Stibbe’s books. This one is non-fiction, like her first, Love, Nina, about moving to London to be a nanny for the two sons of Mary-Kay Wilmers, founder and former editor of The London Review of Books, and Stephen Frears, filmmaker (My Beautiful Laundrette and Philomena). That book is a compilation of her letters to her sister Vic; this one is in the form of a...

Lev’s Violin by Helena Attlee

The author was so taken with the violin in a Klezmer band playing in a small Welsh town that she spoke to Greg, the violin player after the performance. To explain its seductive depth and unsettling power, he described its “mongrel history.” ‘I’ve been told it was made in Italy at the beginning of the eighteenth century,’ he said, ‘but it came here from Russia...

A Fever in the Heartland by Timothy Egan

The subtitle, The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them gets all the elements of the book into the title, though perhaps the declaration is a tiny bit overdrawn. I suspect my questions are unanswerable:  what caused this fever to take hold so strongly in disparate parts of the U.S. in the mid-1920s? Is this going to continue to happen? Egan centers the...

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Blogs I Like