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#51033 - 11/06/03 08:48 AM The Nonfiction Book Club
deborah Administrator
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Ching Shih


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Hey, it seems like there's enough interest for this. I'm thinking we'll start out doing one book every two months, and see how that goes. If interest and participation are high, maybe we'll up the number of books per year to eight, or ten or twelve. But let's just bite off six to begin with. The nonfiction club will start in January 2004.

So let's have your suggestions! Here are a few things rattling around in my head:

Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

"A Problem from Hell" : America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power

The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant: An Adoption Story by Dan Savage

Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life by Queen Noor (just started this, seems interesting) (need to wait for the paperback)

Stet: An Editor's Life by Diana Athill

Appetites: Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp (once it's in paperback)

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi (once it's in paperback)

Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball

The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski (or some other Petroski-- I think he's a really interesting writer)

I'm totally open to other suggestions.

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#51034 - 11/06/03 09:08 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
klio
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Couple of suggestions:

First Generations by Carol Berkin, a spiffy book about women in Colonial America. Berkin looks at a variety of women who lived in the colonies.

Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books by Paul Collins. It's about Hay-on-Wye, a Welsh town of 1500 people that has 40 bookstores in it. Due out in paperback in April '04.

Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox. A very interesting biography of Franklin, who was a key part of the discovery of the structure of DNA, only pretty much nobody knows that because Watson and Crick got all the attention.

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#51035 - 11/06/03 09:10 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
deborah Administrator
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Ching Shih


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Ooh, Sixpence House. That's waiting for me at the library right this minute.

Good suggestions.

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#51036 - 11/06/03 09:20 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
lex
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I would like to read something by Tariq Ali.
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#51037 - 11/06/03 09:53 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Mistral
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How about a biology book? Gina Kolata does interesting work - very accesible, I think. And The Coming Plague, though a bit outdated, is still very pertinent and scary. Or how about The Physics of Star Trek?
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#51038 - 11/06/03 09:54 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Selena
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Reading Lolita in Tehran is on my TBR list. I'd be up for that.

Sixpence House sounds like heaven.

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#51039 - 11/06/03 10:13 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Kivrin Moderator
Ching Shih


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Reading Lolita in Tehran comes out in paperback in January. I checked, when I thought I might be doing a couple nonfiction reads in the regular book club. I had a small list of possibilities at the ready, just in case. They were:

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan
My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile by Isabel Allende
The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings by Amy Tan
and Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books by Paul Collins

Check each of those titles. It just dawned on me how often nonfiction titles use colons.

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#51040 - 11/06/03 11:36 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
JetGirl
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I started Guns, Germs and Steel, thought it was really interesting, then stopped halfway through. I have kept it for three years, thinking that I'm on the verge of picking it up again. This will be good motivation. It is really long, though. How long will we need to get through it (obviously for me, four years)?

I'd vote for some science books, natch. I loved The Elegant Universe. I generally think neurology books are interesting too, though everyone here has probably read everything by Oliver Sachs. I also thought The Tipping Point was fun. I guess my vote is for some weird, perspective-shifting books.
__________

Oooooh, oooh! How about something by Pinker? His books on language development are fascinating.

I also really loved Harold Morowitz's The Thermodynamics of Pizza. It's a bunch of essays that are smart, fun, and thought-provoking. He seems to have a bunch of other books out too. I'd be interested in reading something on the concept of complexity.
__________

I can't seem to stop. I also like Jon Krakauer. How about his new one, Under the Banner of Heaven?
__________

Or Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

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#51041 - 11/07/03 05:27 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Bear Moderator
Ching Shih


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Persepolis is absolutely and utterly fantastic; it's still only out in hardback here, though.

Stet is brilliant too.

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#51042 - 11/07/03 09:02 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
klio
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 Quote:
Or Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.
Two words: Tulip. Mania. \:\)

I've tried Guns, Germs, and Steel a couple times and never got very far with it. But I'd be willing to try it again. Third time's a charm, they say.

Because I just can't help myself, here's more suggestions:

Celebration, USA: Living in Disney's Brave New Town by Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins. They moved to Celebration and lived there for a year or so and wrote a book about it.

The Language Police by Diane Ravitch, when it finally comes out in paperback. The stuff that gets left out of textbooks in the name of fairness would really amaze you and probably make you pretty angry.

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#51043 - 11/07/03 11:17 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
deborah Administrator
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Ching Shih


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Great suggestions, everyone!

Persepolis is fantastic -- do we want to include graphic novels?

Kivrin, I've noticed the subtitle thing, too. Very few nonfiction books anymore seem to lack a subtitle.

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#51044 - 11/07/03 11:20 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Reni
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Some engrossing nonfiction reads (though some are pretty old):

Tomorrow is Another Country by Alister Sparks - an account of the negotiations for the transition from apartheid to non-racial democracy in South Africa. Besides the obvious drama, there's also lots of crazy skulky spy stuff.

Common Ground, by J. Anthony Lukas. The battle over school bussing (to integrate the schools) in Boston in the 1970s.

Black Mountain by Martin Duberman. Story of this crazy communal experimental arts college in North Carolina in the 50s - cast includes John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Joseph Albers, etc.

Any of Michael Pollan's nonfiction - his latest, Botany of Desire got a lot of attention, but I think his two previous books, one about the sociological implications of gardening (Second Nature: A Gardener's Education) and one about teaching himself to build a workshop where he could write (A Place of My Own: The Education of an Amateur Builder), are even better.

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#51045 - 11/07/03 11:39 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Kivrin Moderator
Ching Shih


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 Quote:
Persepolis is fantastic -- do we want to include graphic novels?
Since it falls under the category of memoir, I thought it might work--especially for those "reluctant" nonfiction readers...ahem.
It should be out in paper by May, I believe.

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#51046 - 11/07/03 01:43 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
JetGirl
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This one might be on the fluffy side, but I'd also like to recommend Climbing Free, by Lynn Hill, who in her prime was arguably the world's finest female athlete. The book is an account of her life as a rock climber.
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#51047 - 11/07/03 08:05 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
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Ching Shih


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I'd love to do Between Silk & Cyanide by Leo Marks.

A Certain Genius, about Oscar Wilde

Diaries of Sylvia Plath and/or Lucy Maud Montgomery

Everyone could read How Brains Think by William Calvin with me! Or The Physics of Consciousness by Evan Harris Walker.

And I would love to read more about women in Muslim countries. My knowledge is sorely lacking here so I can't suggest anything, but it's an area in which I have a lot of interest.

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#51048 - 11/07/03 09:35 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
electriclady
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I, too, have only made it about two-thirds of the way through Guns, Germs, and Steel. A friend who actually finished it says that you get the idea about halfway through and then it's just more of the same...

Some of the non-fiction books on my to-be-read list are:

The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir (I really enjoyed her Elizabeth I.)

God's Secretaries by Adam Nicolson (about the creation of the King James Bible; not in paperback yet)

Stiff by Mary Roach (okay, it's about cadavers, yes)

Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (also not in paperback yet)

Brunelleschi's Dome

The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure by Juliet Schor

Hmm, looking over my list, I see half of them aren't out in paperback yet. Guess that's why they're still on my to-be-read list (instead of my just-bought list). \:\)

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#51049 - 11/07/03 10:25 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
miercoles
Ching Shih


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Oh, dear, now I want to read all of these books!

 Quote:
Diaries of Sylvia Plath and/or Lucy Maud Montgomery
I'd like to second that, and I'd be interested in pretty much any diary or collection of letters.

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#51050 - 11/09/03 07:28 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Stringy
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I've read Guns, Germs and Steel the whole way through, and while it was very interesting, those of you who've only made it about halfway through aren't missing terribly much. Diamond gets repetitive, giving many examples of the same concept. When my boyfriend read it I recommended that if he was finding it difficult to get through he should skip to the last chapter to read the conclusion - and I'm the sort of person who shudders at the thought of not completing a book. Still, I'm glad I read it, it filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge.

I'd love to read The Botany of Desire, after hearing such good things about it in the Science forum. And I'm another one who'd be interested in trying some diaries and/or letters.

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#51051 - 11/09/03 11:21 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
bonster
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Oh man, my TBR list just got soooo much longer. I'll throw in my vote for the following:
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Sixpence House
Stet
Persepolis
Between Silk & Cyanide
The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, Vol. 1: 1889-1910 (I'm selecting this over Sylvia Plath only because I already have it...)
Brunelleschi's Dome
Second Nature: A Gardener's Education
Slaves in the Family
She's Not There
A Certain Genius
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (this book has been on my shelf unread for mumbldymumble years)
The Book on the Bookshelf
The Language Police
Under the Banner of Heaven

and what about:
Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Advisor to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia by Janet Wallach (the writing gets pretty mixed reviews on amazon.com but the subject matter seems very interesting) -
 Quote:
from amazon.com:
A biography of the woman who, indirectly, was the catalyst for many of the troubles in the Middle East, including the Gulf War. In 1918, Gertrude Bell drew the region's proposed boundaries on a piece of tracing paper. Her qualifications for doing so were her extensive travel, her fluency in both Persian and Arabic, and her relationships with sheiks and tribal and religious leaders. She also possessed an ability to understand the subtle and indirect politeness of the culture, something many of her colonialist comrades were oblivious to. As a self-made statesman her sex was an asset, enabling her to bypass the ladder of protocol and dive into the business of building an Empire.
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom by Leonard S. Marcus

Good luck narrowing the selections Deborah, I can't wait to see the final list.

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#51052 - 11/09/03 11:32 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
voiceofreason
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I don't know to what extent I'll be participating in this club (good intentions, etc.), but I do have recs:

Unweaving the Rainbow, Richard Dawkins -- it's about what science is and how it can be beautiful and uplifting. (I'd also recommend The Selfish Gene by the same author but I think this book has more general appeal).

Darwin's Dangerous Idea, Daniel Dennett -- not an easy book, but worth it. Maybe not appropriate for the book club, since it's very long and dense; it took me a long time to get through it. But it's absolutely fascinating and sheds a lot of light on the philosophical implications of Darwinian evolution. Sort of a "what does it mean to believe in evolution?" kind of thing. Or maybe "what are the intellectual/philosophical consequences of evolution?"

Why People Believe Weird Things, Jay Shermer -- this book is fun; it's a debunking book that examines a whole bunch of pseudoscientific ideas (from alien abduction to creationism to holocaust denial to Objectivism) but does it in a fairly friendly way, not saying "people who believe these things are idiots" but sort of explaining why the ideas are attractive, why they seem plausible, and why they are, ultimately, nonscientific.

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong or Lies Across America: What Our Historical Sites Get Wrong, James W. Loewen -- I know these are U.S.-specific, but I think the take-home message and the overarching issues probably apply everywhere. (And it's available from Amazon CA and UK).

Those are all books I've read and recommend; books I'd like to read but haven't include Barbara Kingsolver's essays (her newest book is called Small Wonder), anything by Simon Singh, anything by Molly Ivins, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (but not sure of international appeal and I know it's not out in paperback in the US).

Oh, and Silent Spring might be an interesting book to discuss.

I really, really liked Guns, Germs, and Steel. I thought it was an important book, just because it presents a new way of looking at the question of why civilizations and peoples are different (so I don't know how important it is that you read all the examples if you get the point). I think I read it in two or three sittings. I very highly recommend it, but several people I've recommended it to have also had that same experience of stalling half or two-thirds through, so maybe I'm weird.

Oh, maybe some Carl Sagan? Demon-Haunted World and Pale Blue Dot are probably my faves, though I haven't read them in ages. And Demon-Haunted World overlaps a lot with two of my previous suggestions.

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#51053 - 11/09/03 03:43 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
viva
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Hear, hear for Guns Germs & Steel - a very thought-provoking book. After my first read of the book, I irritated co-workers by continually referencing it - it would be nice to discuss it here!

Also seconding anything by Carl Sagan. Cosmos, Pale Blue Dot, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, anything. It was a sad day when he passed away.

A couple of adds to the wishlist:

Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw by Mark Bowden, detailing the manhunt for Pablo Escobar. Particularly relevant given a potentially similar situation with Osama/Saddam.

King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild - an eye opening look of the true story behind Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness in the Belgian Congo. Gut-wrenching.

ETA Caleb Carr's Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians. Haven't read it yet, but really want to. I love Caleb Carr.

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#51054 - 11/12/03 05:21 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
megancita
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How about ...

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, which I'm reading now. All about an altruistic doctor in Haiti. Loving it.

The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup by Susan Orlean. A collection of her magazine peices.

Rising Tide: The Great Mississipi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America

The Man Who Ate Everything: And Other Gastronomic Feats, Disputes, and Pleasurable Pursuits

Small Wonder: Essays by Barbara Kingsolver

How to Read a French Fry

Brothel: Mustang Ranch and It's Women

I'm sure I have more, but I have to second the suggestions for Savage's Kid. That's been on my list for a while. Also have to second Persepolis, or any graphic novel (I think Joe Sacco did a graphic novel about Bosnia that I've been meaning to read.)

In general, I'd like to read books about female travellers, or at least women in other cultures.

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#51055 - 11/13/03 11:20 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Anne Wentworth
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I had the same issue with GG&S: fascinating book, really important, liked it a lot, and then just stopped reading it.

A book of popular history I really enjoyed was Ambiguous Lives (the subtitle is something like Free African-American women in S Carolina, 17??-18??). It's about the author's (a historian) female relatives-- mixed race free women who lived in S Carolina. She writes about her family in particular and the free African-American people in a particular county during that time and sheds light on an aspect of history that's often unnoticed. She definitely raises more questions than are satisfactorily answered, but I like that in a book.

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#51056 - 11/13/03 12:04 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Bear Moderator
Ching Shih


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 Quote:
And I would love to read more about women in Muslim countries
Then, whether it's chosen for the Club or not, you should definitely check out Persepolis - it's about growing up in revolution-era Iran, and it's just so, so, so good. And so sad!

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#51057 - 11/13/03 05:45 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
PrimulaMary Moderator
Ching Shih


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I'm not going to add any ideas, for I think there's a good volume of stuff here already

I'd like to put in a vote for Guns, Germs and Steel and another for Between Silk and Cyanide, which I think bonster proposed?

I think it'd be interesting to have a really good mix of books that reflect a variety of different cultures and countries. That said, I can't, off the top of my head, think of a transcendent Australian non-fiction work to do, although I read a decent amount of Australian non-fiction.

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#51058 - 11/16/03 01:00 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
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Ching Shih


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Will do so, Bear, thanks for the tip.

Another suggestion: Geisha, A Life by Mineko Iwasaki. My understanding is she is the one Arthur Golden based Memoirs of a Geisha on, but she was dissatisfied with his portrayal and decided to tell the story herself. Would love to read this one, more than Liza Dalby's book Geisha. Dalby is the only western woman to have formally trained as a geisha, and this is her autobiography.

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#51059 - 11/17/03 02:06 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
CaitlinM
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I'm essentially a new poster here, though I've been lurking for a few months. I'm quite interested in a nonfiction book club (like some others, I'm largely a fiction reader, but I'd love an excuse to "get around to" interesting nonfiction), and every other month seems like a realistic schedule to me. Of the books already mentioned, I'd be especially inclined to read:

The Kid
Stet: An Editor's Life
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Sixpence House
Persepolis
My Invented Country
Dear Genius
Geisha, A Life

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#51060 - 11/24/03 12:51 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Sweet Potato
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Just bought GG&S actually... so I'm definitely interested.

I'd also be into reading Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds , since my father tried unsuccessfully for years to get me to read that book.

I'm a mostly-fiction reader, so I can't think of any particular book at the moment, but most things people have posted sound very interesting.

I would love to read a really cool autobiography, especially one that focuses a lot on how childhood affects adult behavior and beliefs. Sorry if I'm being vague but I am sure someone might have a good idea.

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#51061 - 11/24/03 03:53 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
klio
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I do want to add my support for Reading Lolita in Tehran. I've been looking at that for a while now and it sounds really good.

I'm anxious for sweeps to end so Deborah can give us our reading assignment for next year. Oh, and maybe have some quiet time.

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#51062 - 11/26/03 07:15 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
hopechaser
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May I suggest Colour by Victoria Finlay. It's the result of the author's travels around the world to uncover how certain colours were 'discovered'. It looks to me a really good read,
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#51063 - 11/26/03 07:15 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
hopechaser
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oops, double post; crazy computer
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#51064 - 11/27/03 12:25 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
StephA Moderator
Ching Shih


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I'd love to read
-The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom
-The Kid (Dan Savage)
-The Queen Noor book
-The Thermodynamics of Pizza

Or almost any collection of letters or diaries. I seem to be developing an obsession.

And now some more suggestions:
-Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
-Something about the female pioneer experience such as:
-Pioneer Womenby Joanna Stratton or
-Pioneer Women: The Lives of Women on the Frontier by Linda Peavy, Ursula Smith or
-Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel or
-Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart, et al
-As Long as Life: The Memoirs of a Pioneer Woman Doctor by Mary Canaga Rowland

I read and mostly enjoyed Guns, Germs and Steel, and I love Virunga: The Passion Of Dian Fossey by Farley Mowat.

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#51065 - 11/28/03 07:58 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
deborah Administrator
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Ching Shih


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Awesome suggestions, everyone. How am I supposed to pick just six??

I have two more:

The Floating Brothel by Sian Rees

The Only Girl in the Car by Kathy Dobie -- I just tore through this. It's one of the best books I've ever read on adolescent female sexuality, not to mention one of the clearest, best-written memoirs I've ever encountered

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#51066 - 11/28/03 09:15 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Ekaterina_dup1
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Ooh, I just bought The Only Girl In The Car last week at a tiny independent bookshop downtown (where I was serving jury duty nearby). I'm so excited to read it now!
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#51067 - 11/28/03 11:55 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Selena
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Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom is an awesome book. Anyone who has even passing interest in children's literature will love it.
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#51068 - 12/03/03 10:23 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
tombo
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A few more suggestions.

by Barbara Tuchman:

A Distant Mirror
The Guns of August
The Zimmerman Telegram

by Richard Rhodes:

The making of the atomic bomb
Dark sun: the making of the hydrogen bomb

by John McPhee:

Annals of the former world
_________________________
The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers. (R. Hamming)

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#51069 - 12/03/03 06:03 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
ainsley
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I second the Tuchman suggestion. I'd second the Stiff suggestion, but I don't think it will be in paperback in 2004.

I also second (or third, or eighty-seventh):
  • Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
  • "A Problem from Hell" : America and the Age of Genocide
  • The Only Girl in the Car
  • Letters of a Woman Homesteader
  • As Long as Life: The Memoirs of a Pioneer Woman Doctor
  • Silent Spring
  • She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders
  • My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile
  • Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books
  • Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life
  • Stet: An Editor's Life
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
  • Between Silk & Cyanide
  • The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, Vol. 1: 1889-1910
  • Brunelleschi's Dome

edited because i prefer the look of a bulleted list.

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#51070 - 12/03/03 06:42 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Quinn
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I'm so excited about this. I can honestly say I'd read anything mentioned so far. I just began A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Based on Her Diary 1785-1812. It won the Pulitzer in 1991. I'm only a few pages in but so far, so good.
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#51071 - 12/05/03 03:57 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
LauraT
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I'm so glad that someone's starting a nonfiction arm of the book clubs here. I'm a nonfiction fan and will really enjoy participating.

Lots of the books mentioned sound good or I've read and enjoyed. A Midwife's Tale is great, and the author has a new-ish book out, The Age of Homespun, which appears to be available in paperback.

Since we've gotten such great suggestions and response, why not up the books to one a month? I'd be more likely to remember to participate if it's more often, anyway!

Edited to add: My absolute favorite nonfiction book of the last year has to be Michael Perry's Population 485, which covers his experiences as a writer after he moves back to his small Wisconsin hometown. He joins the volunteer fire department to get back in touch with the community. It's amazingly written and touching, without being cloying. I'd love to read it again and see what others think of it.

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#51072 - 12/07/03 11:30 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Angiv
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I love the idea of discussing Carl Sagan, but what about Billions and Billions? It's a collection of essays, so it's not as daunting as something huge like Demon haunted World, and it covers a lot of ground.

It'll come as no surprise to anyone that I wholeheartedly support everyone reading The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly.

Steven Pinker would be good, but what about Chomsky - either linguistics or politics? Or Edward Said? I'd love to read Covering Islam again.

Nancy Mitford write so beautifully that reading any of her biographies would be a delight.

I'd love to read Desert Queen and Rosalind Franklin, they both sound great.

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#51073 - 12/10/03 10:29 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
studio1
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I'd love to read Stet: An Editor's Life. (I'm impressed that someone called their book "Stet", though in effect that would mean we should disregard it. ;\) )

I also vote for the LMM Journals, because I've already read them and discussion would be so easy.

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#51074 - 12/12/03 08:00 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
deborah Administrator
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I've printed out this whole thread and will be mulling over all these titles today during a long commuter train ride, but I'm just wondering, since there are so many excellent suggestions here, do you all want me to stick to my original idea of doing just six books (one every two months), or are people up for more? It seems like there's a fair bit of enthusiasm for this club.
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#51075 - 12/12/03 09:17 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
klio
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If they were all relatively short books, like Brunelleschi's Dome, I'd say twelve would be great. But some of the books that have been receiving a lot of support aren't short reads, so I'd vote for six.
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#51076 - 12/12/03 04:50 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
megancita
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I'd vote for six or maybe even eight. I had trouble keeping up with the Fiction group on a monthly basis, so I'm sure non-fiction might be more difficult.
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#51077 - 12/12/03 05:26 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
FishDreamer Administrator
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I know I would like to do more, but I also know how hard it's been to keep up this past year. So six or eight would probably work best, even though I really want to read more than that. We can always add later or adjust the schedule, right?

So many good books!
I swear I used UBB, but I guess three days of html coding will mess with one's head.

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#51078 - 12/12/03 10:37 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Quinn
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As I'm getting my MFA in Creative Writing, I'm usually reading two or three books a week. So, six would be a nice number for me.
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#51079 - 12/15/03 03:24 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
LauraT
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Well, like I wrote before, I would like 12 books just because I like the monthlyness of it. Like most of us I read a ton, so I don't mind. But I can deal with a less-packed schedule if that's what others prefer.
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#51080 - 12/15/03 10:01 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Selena
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My vote is for six books a year. I've enjoyed most of the non-fiction that I've read lately (chicklit recommendations, mostly), and I'd like to read a bit more of it than I typically do, but reading fiction is still going to be a priority for me. I want to participate in the Fiction and Classics book clubs, and my real-life book club, and I have to read a lot of fiction for work. Most of the reading I do for myself is going to be fiction. I do read a lot, but by the time I've done all my other reading, I'm not going to have time to read the twelve non-fiction selections (exciting as they sound--I swear, if it wasn't for my passion for fiction, I could read non-fiction all the time). If others want to read twelve non-fiction titles a year, that's fine by me. I'll squeeze one in here and there when I'm feeling ambitious--my goal is to read and participate in three selections.
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#51081 - 12/16/03 02:04 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Kivrin Moderator
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It's so absolutely bad for a moderator to do this, but um...what Selena said, yeah.
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#51082 - 12/16/03 08:49 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
ainsley
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I'm all for 12, but it looks like most people are going with the 6-9 bit. I'll just be happy with having the club!
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#51083 - 12/18/03 07:30 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
deborah Administrator
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We'll try six (which I hope to announce soon, though it would be so much easier to choose twelve...)

Thanks, everyone!

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#51084 - 12/22/03 08:55 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
deborah Administrator
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Okay, I think I've settled on five of the six, and I'd like to add the first volume of Montgomery's journals as the sixth, but it looks like availability may be an issue. Amazon.com says it's out of print; Amazon.ca and the Oxford University Press site both seem to have it available. But Chapters/Indigo (Canada) says it's "temporarily unavailable to order." Barnes and Noble does not have new copies to order. Powell's says it's not in stock. It looks like there are a fair number of used copies floating around the web, and I'd schedule it for later in the year so people have time to hunt for it. I don't think it will be much trouble for Canadians to get it but I'm concerned that people outside the country may have difficulty -- and the majority of readers here are in the U.S.

Do people want to go for it, or have me choose something else?

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#51085 - 12/22/03 12:13 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Selena
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I'd say go for it, but then, I live in Canada and availability is not an issue (the library I use has several copies.)

Then again, there are lots of other titles to pick from, so if chickliterati in the States can't get their hands on the Journals, maybe you should choose something else.

I dunno. I'd like to read the Journals, but I don't have my heart set on them, I guess is what I'm trying to say here. It does seem to hinge on how many people can find a copy.

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#51086 - 12/22/03 12:36 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
klio
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I'd say that, as long as it's planned for later in the year and there's still some copies available here and there, then why not? We could always check about mid-year to see how many people have been able to locate a copy and, if several people haven't, then switch to something more readily available.

I'm going to Powell's this weekend, so I'm anxious to see the list. Like I don't already have a long list of books to pick up while I'm there!

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#51087 - 12/23/03 12:18 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Anne Wentworth
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I'd vote for the LMM journals later in the year, so I'll have time to hunt up some copies--- but then again, I'm an inveterate LMM worshipper so I'll jump through any number of hoops to get them.
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#51088 - 12/23/03 01:23 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
blithe spirit
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I'm in on LMM -- I've long had the journals on my shelves waiting to be read and would love the extra push to get me into them!
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#51089 - 12/23/03 09:24 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
FishDreamer Administrator
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Definitely LMM. I can't imagine passing up the chance to discuss that here, given that outside of Chicklit I don't know anyone who's even heard of her.

Can't wait to see the list! It's almost like another present, isn't it?

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#51090 - 12/24/03 07:56 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
deborah Administrator
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Finally, I have the list: (and my apologies that this has taken so long -- I know it's too late to ask for any of these for holiday gifts, but now you know what you can spend those gift certificates on). It takes a long time to investigate, consider and price-check so many titles. I want to thank everyone for their suggestions -- they were all excellent and if I thought it was hard to choose twelve books for the original club, I had no idea how good I had it until I had to choose just six. This was very, very difficult, and I had to put a lot of thought into it. Some books were not chosen because of availability or cost issues. I was strongly considering Guns, Germs and Steel but so many people mentioned getting stalled on it that I just didn't want to choose a book knowing that was the case. And so on, and so forth.

Here we go:

January/February: Stet: An Editor\'s Life by Diana Athill -- discussion to begin on February 28 (I believe this has also been published as Stet: A Memoir)

March/April: We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch -- discussion to begin on April 30

May/June: Reading Lolita in Tehran : A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi -- discussion to begin on June 30

July/August: Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker\'s War, 1941-1945 by Leo Marks -- discussion to begin on August 31

September/October: The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, Vol. 1: 1889-1910 edited by Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston -- discussion to begin on October 31

November/December: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly : A Memoir of Life in Death by Jean-Dominique Bauby -- discussion to begin on December 31

It was incredibly hard to settle on these, but I hope you will be excited about these choices. I know the Rwanda book is going to be very challenging. I was strongly considering Power's A Problem from Hell but Gourevitch's book is even more highly recommended so I thought, if we're going to read about genocide we should read one of the best books out there. By all accounts it's a five-star book.

People seemed to really want to read the first volume of LMM's journals so I put it on the list after talking to a local bookseller, who reminded me that 2004 is the 100th anniversary of Oxford University Press Canada and he thinks the book will be reprinted next year, along with the fourth and final volume of her journals. I've scheduled it late in the year so if there are problems with people getting it, we can replace that selection. (Apparently Amazon.com now has one copy left...)

I didn't stick to a strict per-book price limit with these as I always did with the original club, but I chose six that can be had for under $100 USD new (in softcover) and a little over that in Canadian dollars. Most of these are also available used, too. I also expect most of these are obtainable through libraries. Hope everyone's okay with that. I look forward to your feedback!

(I will set up the individual threads for these books today or tomorrow, I hope.)

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#51091 - 12/24/03 08:44 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Selena
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Wow, deborah! The list looks great. Thanks for all the work you put into getting it togethter for us. (I'm seriously considering tackling more than three selections, now...)
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#51092 - 12/24/03 12:46 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
FishDreamer Administrator
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Well I'm excited. Those are all excellent choices and I'm looking forward to the discussions. The Rwanda book is going to be hard, but I will try. And I can't wait for Between Silk and Cyanide, I loved that book.

I just realized that if I manage to read all the club books next year, that will be more books than I managed in 2003. I don't think I'll make that a goal, but it's in the back of my mind now.

Thank you Deborah, I know how hard it is to choose and I think you did a wonderful job. We are going to have some fun with all this!

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#51093 - 12/24/03 01:24 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Catness
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Wow, what an exciting list.

The Rwanda book is hard, emotionally. I'm only halfway through it. I was reading it two years ago when NY and DC were attacked. The book is filled with such horror and grief, that it was all a little too much for me at the time and I had to put it down, even though it's so well-written. Having it as a book club selection I think will inspire me to finish it.

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#51094 - 12/24/03 04:06 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Kivrin Moderator
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Wow. All those books look great. Fulfilling that readolution of mine shouldn't be a problem with this list...
 Quote:
It was incredibly hard to settle on these, but I hope you will be excited about these choices. I know the Rwanda book is going to be very challenging.
This will be interesting, and work well with the February fiction I chose, The True Sources of the Nile, which has the Hutu/Tutsi conflict/ tragedy as its background. It is the story of lovers-Anne, a human rights activist from California, and Jean-Pierre, a high-ranking official of the Tutsi ruling class. But, ultimately, it's not about their romance, but the complex nature of human beings, and the nature of war. Anyhow, it should help ease us into We Wish To Inform You....

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#51095 - 12/29/03 01:48 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
StephA Moderator
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Wow - what a wonderful list! Most of these are on my library reminder list, so I'll have to bump some of them up.

Great job, Deborah, and thank you for your hard work in choosing!

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#51096 - 12/29/03 03:25 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
blithe spirit
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Great list Deborah. I'm really looking forward to discussing Stet which I read a while ago -- it really made me want to read other works of Athill's. And I've had the Leo Marks on my to be read list for a long time. Didn't I read somewhere that he's the son of the "Marks" family that owned 84 Charing Cross Road? There's good karma there.
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#51097 - 12/30/03 12:12 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
LauraT
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This looks like a great list and I've noted them all down. I look forward to participating.

Edited to add: There's an archived realaudio discussion with Azar Nafisi, the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran available online.

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#51098 - 12/31/03 01:23 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
AcademiaNut
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Whew! What a great list. They are all noted down, and I'll begin reading the first one as soon as I finish Persuasion for the Classics group. I will not start the new year behind..... I will not start the new year behind......
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#51099 - 01/06/04 01:13 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
FishDreamer Administrator
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I picked up a copy of Reading Lolita in Tehran today, so that's two down.

Yes, blithe spirit, Leo Marks is the son of the owners of the Charing Cross bookstore. He talks about that a bit in the beginning of his book.

Must find Stet! I'm going to the library Wednesday (unless we have buckets of snow) so I'll look.

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#51100 - 01/06/04 05:38 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Quinn
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deborah, thank you for all the work you put in. I just ordered Stet and can't wait for the discussion!
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#51101 - 03/04/04 02:39 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
FishDreamer Administrator
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I started L.M. Montgomery's journals last night (I have volume 1 from the library) and Oh! I can't wait for this one! I can't believe I've never read them before! I didn't want to go to bed, I was enjoying the book so much. I'll try to save it for the discussion in November, but I'm really kind of angry that I never knew about these when I was younger, because... I would have absolutely loved them then, too. Plus, pictures!

Not so happy that the library system doesn't appear to have all of them, but I will be looking for them to buy. Anyone who loves Anne, Emily, or Valancy will like these.

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#51102 - 03/04/04 04:02 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Bear Moderator
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FishDreamer, that's so funny - I started re-reading them last night too! I didn't actually remember that they were going to be a book club choice. I read them before, a few years ago, and they're absolutely fascinating.
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#51103 - 09/15/04 01:20 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
deborah Administrator
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Frighteningly, September is almost half over, and pretty soon it will be time to announce the selections for the 2005 Nonfiction Book Club. So now's the time to start making your suggestions for next year's list. Thanks!
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#51104 - 09/16/04 08:31 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
klio
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I'll put in another vote for Sixpence House. Maybe we could throw in some classic non-fiction next year, like The Travels of Marco Polo. Other suggestions:

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay. He wrote it back in the mid-1800s and it's all about scams, deceptions, and popular delusions.

Memoirs of Gluckel of Hameln It's the diary of a German Jewish woman who had 14 children. Not only is it a rare look at women from the 1600s, but it's a firsthand account of plague, war, the Sabbtai Zevi hysteria, and the general situation of Jews living in Germany during the time.

The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage. The story of the development of the telegraph and the impact it had, which even included romance!

Divorced, Beheaded, Survived by Karen Lindsey. She calls it a "feminist reinterpretation of the wives of Henry VIII." It's a reasonably short (200ish pages) book about six of the most famous wives in history. I read it five or six years ago and remember it being rather good.

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#51105 - 09/16/04 10:52 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Lizzie
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How about Stiff by Mary Roach? It's a very informative book about what happens to cadavers. Sounds terrible, I know, but it's excellent and extremely funny. And it's now available in paperback.

If you are looking for books that have more of a narrative, Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel is very good. It's beautifully written and addresses important questions about conflicts between religion and science.

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#51106 - 09/16/04 12:17 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
StephA Moderator
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 Quote:
Originally posted by klio:
Divorced, Beheaded, Survived by Karen Lindsey. She calls it a "feminist reinterpretation of the wives of Henry VIII." It's a reasonably short (200ish pages) book about six of the most famous wives in history. I read it five or six years ago and remember it being rather good.
It likely won't be a surprise to anyone that I love this book and would love to see other people reading it too!

/shameless pusher mode

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#51107 - 09/16/04 03:27 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
FishDreamer Administrator
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Divorced, Beheaded, Survived sounds fun! I will likely read that whether it's a selection or not.

Lizzie, I believe we did Galileo's Daughter last year or the year before. I'll go see if I can find the discussion to bump for you.

I wouldn't mind Stiff, which I had out from the library and intend to pick up one of these days. It's good, although I got a little queasy a few times.

And I'd suggest Geisha, A Life by Mineko Iwasaki. It's an autobiography by the woman who Arthur Golden interviewed for Memoirs of a Geisha, and it's fairly readable.

I think the every other month format for this club has worked pretty well. The only one I haven't tackled is the Rwanda book, which I just wasn't emotionally ready for.

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#51108 - 09/16/04 04:00 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Lizzie
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 Quote:
I believe we did Galileo's Daughter last year or the year before. I'll go see if I can find the discussion to bump for you.
Believe it or not, I actually looked through the list, but I must have missed that one. Thanks for bumping the thread.

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#51109 - 09/20/04 09:40 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Kathleen6674
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I'd love to read As Nature Made Him: the Boy Who Was Raised As a Girl as one of the book club selections.
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any attention to the syntax of things will never wholly kiss you - e.e. cummings

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#51110 - 09/20/04 09:43 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
miercoles
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I'd like to second the suggestion for classic non-fiction, although I don't have any specific books in mind.
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#51111 - 09/20/04 04:21 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
eanja
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What about something by William Least Heat Moon? He's written several critically regarded travel/geography books, starting w/ Blue Highways , which I thought was a recent classic, but is now old enough that a lot of people seem not to have heard of it anymore.

I'm sort of hoping that too many people have already read it for it to be considered, but if it really has faded out of common knowledge, it's well worth reading. Both his other books would be possibilities too, I think- they are my to be read pile, but I've not yet got to them. River Horse , I believe, may be more historically oriented, and possibly of more general interest due to that.

Possibly these are all too American-centric to be suitable, though I think they are more about travelling and about people than anything else.

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#51112 - 09/22/04 06:55 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
TrudyJ
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 Quote:
Originally posted by klio:
Divorced, Beheaded, Survived by Karen Lindsey. She calls it a "feminist reinterpretation of the wives of Henry VIII." It's a reasonably short (200ish pages) book about six of the most famous wives in history. I read it five or six years ago and remember it being rather good.
I haven't heard of this book before, but I would SO go for it...definitely my cup of tea.

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#51113 - 09/23/04 01:08 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
betsytacy
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I'd vote for Divorced, Beheaded, Survived too. I always meant to read it, but I think it was released around the same time as Alison Weir's and Antonia Fraser's bios of Henry VIII's wives. As much as I love reading about that period it was time for a break!

I'm a sucker for literary biographies, so I would suggest Savage Beauty, about Edna St. Vincent Millay, or The Sisters, which is about the Mitfords. Both have been on my TBR list for a while.

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#51114 - 09/23/04 01:14 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
FishDreamer Administrator
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If anyone besides me has interest in philosophy, I'd be really interested in Alain de Botton's books. Either How Proust Can Change Your Life or The Art of Travel, which I have read and really enjoyed.

Also How Brains Think: Evolving Intelligence, Then and Now by William Calvin. I get all excited about the metaphysics of intelligence and the physics of consciousness and where all of that intersects, but that might be just me.

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#51115 - 09/23/04 01:31 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
lex
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I would like to read "The Botany of Desire." It just sounds so interesting.
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#51116 - 09/23/04 01:38 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
hula
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 Quote:
Also How Brains Think: Evolving Intelligence, Then and Now by William Calvin. I get all excited about the metaphysics of intelligence and the physics of consciousness and where all of that intersects, but that might be just me.
Nope. I think that sounds fascinating. (Something you might like, Fishdreamer, is The Holographic Universe - I forget the author's name.)

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#51117 - 09/26/04 03:27 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
CaitlinM
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Divorced, Beheaded, Survived and The Botany of Desire both really appeal to me, and I'd love to read a good biography of a literary personage.

Some other suggestions:

Bury Me Standing, by Isabel Fonseca, about the Romany, and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman.

Another I've just discovered that sounds fascinating is Let Me Go, by Helga Schneider, a memoir by a woman whose mother abandoned her family when the author was four to join the SS, and is unrepentantly proud of it even as she's dying decades later, when the author finally sees her (for only the second time since she left) and tries to reconcile with her and her past.

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#51118 - 09/26/04 07:26 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Selena
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CaitlinM, I love The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, but it was already a selection way back in 2000.

betsytacy, I enjoyed The Sisters, but I think it would be a bit much for anyone who's not already interested in the Mitfords. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this? What about Jessica Mitford's memoir, Hons and Rebels? I think it would be much more interesting to the non-enthusiast, and it would make a good companion to her sister Nancy's novel, The Pursuit of Love, which is being read for the Classics book club this November.

I would like to suggest Memories of a Catholic Girlhood by Mary McCarthy. I haven't read it, but I'm a sucker for memoirs.

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#51119 - 09/26/04 07:51 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
eanja
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Anything at all about the Mitfords I would second, as I know only the barest details about them, and they sound so fascinating.

Overall, most of the books people have suggested so far sound interesting.

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#51120 - 09/26/04 08:17 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
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Oh, Selena, I love Mary McCarthy's memoirs. The only problem with that is I think it may be out of print, unless it's been reissued lately. I have it, of course, along with the sequel memoir How I Grew.

ETA: I went and checked amazon and apparently it has been re-issued. So I second this one and add a suggestion for Between Friends: The Correspondence of Hannah Arendt and Mary McCarthy 1949-1975 . I love reading letters, and I'm interested in the time period covered as well as the writers.

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#51121 - 09/28/04 04:17 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
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I found something at the bookstore yesterday that looks intriguing and thought I'd suggest it: Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life by Leonard Mlodinow.

It's a recounting of Mlodinow's discussions with Richard Feynman, "The People's Physicist," when he (Mlodinow) was a young professor and Feynman was battling cancer. I'm always trying to bring more science into my life, so this mix of physics and philosophical musings appeals to me. Amazon link here .

Also, suggestion for Stephen Jay Gould's The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister's Pox: Mending the Gap Between Science and the Humanities. I ran into it at the library but didn't manage to read it. Amazon link here .

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#51122 - 09/28/04 09:05 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
miercoles
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Anything by Stephen Jay Gould would be great. The Mlodinow looks good -- are you also considering anything by Feynman? I've never read any Feynman, though, so I don't know if it's worth a book club pick.
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#51123 - 09/29/04 08:26 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
eanja
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I'm not sure if he'd be worth a club pick, but I can tell you what I thought of the Feynman I've read. His autobiography, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman, is interesting, but occasionally reads like a bunch of party anecdotes strung together into a book. He was clearly brilliant, and has some good stories, but it was evident which bits of the book he'd pulled out of more polished essays and lectures and which bits he hadn't. Feyman was also a product of his time, with some fairly typically chauvinist views, although he wrote the book at point where he'd got past many of them and was used to working with female students. Six Easy Pieces included some of the more polished pieces from the autobiography- lectures he'd given and refined over time, and was, in my opinion, much more evenly written, and also quite clear and intelligible to people without a technical background.

If you were looking for a selection from his, it would depend what you wanted- a mostly technically oriented work, or a biography of a nerdy but mostly rather sweet genius. His experiences with the Manhattan Project, which were the most fascinating, were in both books that I read.

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#51124 - 09/29/04 09:54 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
StephA Moderator
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In an effort to use my anal-retentiveness for good and not evil, here is the list of non-fiction books that have been read as part of the book clubs here at ChickLit:

2000
- The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
- Hard Laughter by Anne Lamott

2001
- The Professor and the Madman: a Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester
- Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel
- Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting the World by Claudia Roth Pierpont

2002
- Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier
- A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
- Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
- Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

2003
- Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser
- Black Looks: Race and Representation by bell hooks
- Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife
- A Border Passage: From Cairo to America -- a Woman's Journey by Leila Ahmed

2004

- Stet: An Editor's Life by Diana Athill (also published as Stet: A Memoir)
- We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our
Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch
- Reading Lolita in Tehran : A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
- Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945 by Leo Marks
- The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, Vol. 1: 1889-1910 edited by Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston
- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly : A Memoir of Life in Death by Jean-Dominique Bauby

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#51125 - 10/06/04 06:17 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Kathleen6674
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I'd love to read Zinn's The People's History of the United States, a revisionist social history of the US.

James Traub's City on a Hill is a thoroughly fascinating and well-written account of the history and current state of NYC's important City College (I read this years ago and would love to see a discussion, esp. since I went to Hunter College, another City University of New York school).

I'd also like to read Battle Cry of the Republic about the Civil War, which won the Pulitzer IIRC.
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#51126 - 11/26/04 07:35 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
wobbly
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I'm a little late to the party here (and can't find what's up for next month-- help!), but continuing with the science trend, I'd suggest anything by David Quammen. I'm currently about halfway through his The Song of the Dodo and am newly astonished with virtually every page at both the marvels of island biogeography (!) and Quammen's ability to make his subject so fascinating. He's got several books of essays out, in addition to at least another book-length work.
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#51127 - 11/26/04 07:42 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Kivrin Moderator
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Not too late, wobbly. It's The Diving Bell and The Butterfly and discussion day isn't until the end of December. It will be time to start thinking of books for 2005 very shortly too.
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#51128 - 11/28/04 10:24 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
deborah Administrator
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Actually, it already is time. The moderator of the nonfiction club really should get on that...

Sorry, everyone, I hope to have a list soon, but I've been busy with the fundraiser, and any number of other things. I'm still taking suggestions, so feel free to make them.

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#51129 - 11/28/04 11:52 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
CaitlinM
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Another suggestion: The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson, about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, the serial killer working the fair, the architect who designed it, etc. It's one I've been wanting to read, and by all accounts it reads practically like a novel, so fantastic are the goings on.
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#51130 - 11/29/04 12:11 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
goovie
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I'll second Devil in the White City. It's a fascinating read and will make for some great discussion--we did it a few months ago in the work club I was leading. And any Chickliterati who'd be interested in a related field trip could stay at my house. \:\)
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#51131 - 11/29/04 12:28 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
wobbly
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Devil in the White City is a fantastic book. While I'm not sure I'd read it again quite this soon, it would be a great great book club choice.
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#51132 - 11/30/04 12:28 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
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I would also like to suggest Appetites: Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp. It's a sort of autobiography about Knapp's struggle with anorexia, but I understand it's got much more than that too.

Also, Sand in my Bra: Funny Women Write from the Road edited by Jennifer Leo. I always eye this one at the bookstore, but I haven't bought it yet. It looks like fun.

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#51133 - 11/30/04 10:43 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
klio
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If y'all want something else by Erik Larson instead of Devil in the White City, I highly recommend Isaac's Storm, his book about the hurricane that hit Galveston, TX, in 1900. Six thousand people died as a result of the hurricane and a lot of them could have been saved if, according to Larson, the people at the US Weather Bureau weren't territorial freaks. Pictures of the island after the hurricane passed (which should have been included in the book) are guaranteeed to give you chills.
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#51134 - 12/02/04 07:49 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Kathleen6674
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Here's another vote for Devil in the White City. It's been sitting in my "to be read" pile for a while.
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#51135 - 12/02/04 10:29 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
ainsley
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I'd also love to read Devil in the White City.
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#51136 - 12/03/04 07:40 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
deborah Administrator
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So, I'm getting the feeling people would like to read Devil in the White City...
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#51137 - 12/03/04 07:46 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
wobbly
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 Quote:
Originally posted by klio:
If y'all want something else by Erik Larson instead of Devil in the White City, I highly recommend Isaac's Storm, his book about the hurricane that hit Galveston, TX, in 1900. Six thousand people died as a result of the hurricane and a lot of them could have been saved if, according to Larson, the people at the US Weather Bureau weren't territorial freaks. Pictures of the island after the hurricane passed (which should have been included in the book) are guaranteeed to give you chills.
I've wanted to read Isaac's Storm forever and would love it if say, a book club or something gave me a push in that direction. I'm just sayin.

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#51138 - 12/04/04 07:01 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Kivrin Moderator
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I have a few nonfiction books on my TBR list at the moment, and thought I'd add them to the suggestions:
  • The Stone Fields: An Epitaph for the Living by Courtney Angela Brkic
  • A Natural History of Love by Diane Ackerman
  • Mutants: On Genetic Variety and The Human Body by Armand Marie Leroi
  • Nothing Remains The Same: Rereading and Remembering by Wendy Lesser
  • Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood by Jennifer Traig

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#51139 - 12/08/04 02:53 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Perthelia
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I'd like to suggest King Leopold's Ghost, by Adam Hochschild. It's been on my reading list since the non-fiction club did the Gourevitch book earlier this year. African history is not something I know much about but something which I am quickly developing an interest in.
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#51140 - 12/16/04 08:16 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
deborah Administrator
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I have almost got the final list for 2005, but I'm wavering between a pair of books on the same subject, and am wondering if there's anyone here who's read both and can make a better case for one or the other:

Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir

Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII by Karen Lindsey

The latter has been mentioned more in this thread, but they both seem to be quite good.

Also, may I just say...I really wish I could pick more than six books. This is SO hard.

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#51141 - 12/16/04 08:28 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
wobbly
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 Quote:
Originally posted by deborah:
I have almost got the final list for 2005, but I'm wavering between a pair of books on the same subject, and am wondering if there's anyone here who's read both and can make a better case for one or the other:

Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir

Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII by Karen Lindsey

The latter has been mentioned more in this thread, but they both seem to be quite good.
Yay! I can't wait for the list! Ahem.

The former has gotten phenomenal reviews-- I'd vote for that one. Personally, I see the latter as something to read after I get a solid grounding in the history, so that I could bring more context to the new interpretation. Reading it cold might make it less powerful, because I would be unfamliar with the ideas that are being debunked.

Just my proverbial $.02.

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#51142 - 12/16/04 01:36 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
StephA Moderator
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wobbly, that's a good point. It's been a long time since I read the Alison Weir, and I know I *prefered* reading Divorced, Beheaded, Survived, but maybe it's because I had a pretty good background before I read it.

Edited because I don't know the author well enough to call her Alison Weird.

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#51143 - 12/16/04 04:17 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
FishDreamer Administrator
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I read The Six Wives of Henry VIII in the last year or so, and had a problem with it. I enjoyed it, mostly, but I had to start keeping my own timeline because Weir rarely remembered to include the year when she mentions dates. She writes mostly chronologically, but not entirely, and I got really confused.

That is a period in history I'd never studied in any depth, so I had few reference points for events. However, discussing it here with the experts we've got around might help.

I'll read it whichever is picked, but I thought it was important enough to mention.

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#51144 - 12/16/04 04:41 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
StephA Moderator
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I'd be happy to make up a little timeline/primer for the discussion, regardless of which book is chosen. /GEEK
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#51145 - 12/16/04 10:36 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
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I was hoping you'd volunteer! But I have to withdraw my objection. I checked back through my reading journal and it was Antonia Fraser's The Wives of Henry VIII that I had trouble with, not the Weir. So either Weir or Lindsey would be fine with me.

I would still love a timeline/primer when the time comes, if you've got the time.

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#51146 - 12/17/04 08:11 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
deborah Administrator
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At long last, the list: (and again, my apologies that this has taken so long -- like last year, it's probably too late to ask for these for holiday gifts, but you can always spend your gifts of cash and certificates at the bookstore…). It takes a long time to investigate, consider and price-check so many titles, and you guys all make such great suggestions that I feel I must consider practically everything. And I'm glad I did, because there's one title I'd never heard of and which was only suggested once (Mountains Beyond Mountains) -- and I'm quite excited about reading it now, based on what I've learned about it and the compelling reviews I've read. (Thank you, megancita.) I also want to whine one last time about only being able to choose six books. Wah, wah, wah. Okay, I'm done.

Here we go:

January/February: Appetites: Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp -- discussion to begin on February 28

March/April: The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn by Diane Ravitch -- discussion to begin on April 30 (I've wanted to read this for ages -- now's the time!)

May/June: The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness by Karen Armstrong -- discussion to begin on June 30

July/August: Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir -- discussion to begin on August 31

September/October: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson -- discussion to begin on October 31

November/December: Mountains Beyond Mountains : The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder -- discussion to begin on December 31 (Please note: the hardcover title for this book was slightly different: Mountains Beyond Mountains: Healing the World: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer.)

It was difficult to settle on these, but I hope most of you will find these choices exciting. Six Wives of Henry VIII is pretty large (nearly 700 pages), but is supposed to be extremely engaging, so I figured that would be a good choice for the summer. As she posted above, Steph A has kindly promised to produce a timeline/primer to help those of us who need a little help with history. The Spiral Staircase comes out in paperback in early March -- and I've read it, and it's fantastic, and I look forward to reading it again. All the rest are already available in paperback.

Once again, I didn't stick to a strict per-book price limit with these as I always did with the original club, but as it turned out, most of these are pretty inexpensive and all six can be had for under $75 USD new (in softcover) and a little over that in Canadian dollars. Some of these should be available used, too. I also expect most of these are obtainable through libraries. Hope everyone's okay with that. I look forward to your feedback!

(I will set up the individual threads for these books very soon.)

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#51147 - 12/17/04 09:26 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
klio
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Fabulous list, Deborah! I've already read Language Police and Six Wives and I think y'all will enjoy them.

I should warn y'all, though, to keep sharp and/or heavy objects away from you while you're reading Language Police, because you may find yourself looking for something to throw against a wall to deal with your frustrations. That book made me very angry a few times. Not because I disagreed with Ravitch, but because what she was talking about just made me want to use my book to smack some people upside the head.

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#51148 - 12/17/04 12:55 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Kivrin Moderator
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Awesome selections, deborah. The first three have already been highly recommended to me at various times, and are patiently waiting on my never-ending TBR list. So, yay! Thank you. Looking forward to the discussions.
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#51149 - 12/17/04 02:52 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
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klio, warning well taken. I figured just by the title it was going to be one of those books. Important and necessary, but potentially enraging.

I already have the first selection, which I'm all excited to read. Great list, Deborah! I think The Spiral Staircase will also be difficult but really good for me to read.

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#51150 - 12/17/04 03:23 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
ainsley
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Wow. I can't wait. Thank you so much, Deborah.
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#51151 - 12/17/04 04:10 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Frannie Glass
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These books look so great! I've read The Devil in the White City and LOVED it, I look forward to reading the others. One of my goals for the new year was to read more non-fiction, this will give me a great headstart!
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#51152 - 12/23/04 06:18 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Kathleen6674
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post deleted because I found the answer to my question above
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#51153 - 10/24/05 10:27 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
ots
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Almost done with school - May 2006! So, I'm thinking of joining the non-fiction book club for the last half of next year. Is the list establised yet? Are you taking suggestions?

If so, here are a couple:

The Travels of a T-Shirt in a Global Economy - Pietra Rivoli

F.I.A.S.C.O. - Frank Partnoy

The Right to Privacy - Ellen Alderman & Caroline Kennedy

Spook - Mary Roach

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#51154 - 11/18/05 09:01 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
deborah Administrator
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I would like to announce that PrimulaMary is going to be taking over the nonfiction book club for 2006. She's begun assembling the list and could use your suggestions, so please make them asap. Thanks!

I would like to suggest the following:

Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism by Robert Pape (comes out in paperback in early May 2006, but absolutely worth buying in hardcover, in my opinion. I don't think this book's gotten nearly the attention it ought to have, because it challenges the prevailing "wisdom" about who commits suicide terrorism, why, and in what numbers.)

Always with the frivolous reading suggestions...that's me!

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#51155 - 11/18/05 11:18 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Kivrin Moderator
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You are certainly not one to shy away from intensity, Deborah!

PrimulaMary--Brava! No suggestions at present, but I know I saw some interesting books on the nonfiction table recently, while browsing the new fiction. I'll have to take another look over the weekend and report back.

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#51156 - 12/06/05 12:29 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
FishDreamer Administrator
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I have a couple of suggestions, after my last trip to the book store to buy presents.

Big Bang: the Origin of the Universe by Simon Singh looks pretty interesting, and was on the shelf of best sellers so it should be accessible.

I also think Victoria Finlay's Color: A Natural History of the Palette might be interesting. (UK edition is apparently titled Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox although I can't swear they're the same book.)

Another possibility is Sand in my bra , a compilation of women's adventure travel stories. I've wanted to read it for years.

These are all out in trade paperback in the US now.

Oh, and a plug for the book I just bought myself that I've been wanting to read for ages: Meditations for the Humanist: Ethics for a Secular Age by A. C. Grayling. It's a bunch of essays on different topics such as (from the back cover): love, perseverance, revenge, racism, religion, history, loyalty, health, and leisure. And I read the one on nationalism while I was still in the store.

I also like autobiographies a lot, but I don't have any in mind right now.

ETA I thought of an autobiography I've been meaning to read! In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irene Gut Opdyke. It's out in both trade and mass market paperback here, and it looks pretty interesting. I always prefer autobiographies to biographies, somehow.

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#51157 - 12/09/05 05:55 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
PrimulaMary Moderator
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Deborah, you have my undying admiration (again). Picking six books has been hard.

Thanks all so much for your suggestions. I've particularly tried to take your suggestions for genre and older non-fiction into account. It's incredibly difficult to find books that are readily available in various parts of the world, but I hope you'll all find something interesting in this list. (You'll want to know, I'm sure, that I'm already terribly excited about next year, when some of the books I've been longing to include will be out in paperback all over the world, instead of just here.)


Drumroll, please:

January/February: The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices by Xinran. Discussion begins on 28 February.
March/April: The Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australian Lands and People by Tim Flannery. Discussion begins on 30 April.
May/June: Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism by Robert Pape. Discussion begins on 30 June.
July/August: Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky. Discussion begins on 31 August.
September/October: And The Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts. Discussion begins on 31 October.
November/December: Travels in West Africa by Mary Kingsley. Discussion begins on 31 December.

They're fairly diverse range of books, and I hope everyone will find at least one or two books there that interest them. For me, some are old friends and some I'm very excited about approaching for the first time.

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#51158 - 12/09/05 06:39 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
FishDreamer Administrator
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That is an excellent list, PrimulaMary! Well spread out and all of interest (even if you didn't pick any of my suggestions!).

It is hard to pick, isn't it?

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#51159 - 12/12/05 10:44 AM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
StephA Moderator
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Great looking list! Good job!!
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#51160 - 01/01/07 11:40 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
Perthelia
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Just bumping this up to see if the club is still going to be active in 2007? I've gotten a lot of great books from it and would love to see it continue.
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#51161 - 01/14/07 04:12 PM Re: The Nonfiction Book Club
ScarletSweetPea
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I'm up for one, but I'm brand-spankin' new and not at all good at organizing things.

Edited to add a few nonfiction books that have piqued my interest:

As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised As a Girl by John Colapinto (someone mentioned this one a while back)

CandyFreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America by Steve Almond (I just got it for Christmas)

Crows: Encounters With the Wise Guys by Candace Sherk Savage

The Habit of Being by Flannery O'Connor (letters)

Anything by Karen Armstrong

Even if these aren't used by a book club, perhaps my mentioning them here will pique someone's interest.

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