Category Archives: Nonfiction

Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke

I hadn’t before read a graphic novel (or in this case, a graphic memoir), so Kristen Radtke’s Imagine Wanting Only This was new territory for me.  I was drawn to this book because of its topic, rather than its format.  In it, Radtke explores her fascination with architectural ruins, relating them to her own sense of the impermanence of life and her grief over losing a close relative.  Never feeling rooted or settled, she travels the world visiting abandoned towns and structures as they are slowly reclaimed by nature.

Radtke tells her story in direct, unfussy language and compelling black and white drawings.  In some pages, she conforms to the traditional three to nine frame comic format, and in others her drawings overlap the frame or incorporate collage or drawn-over photographic elements, giving the book a lot of life, and the reader plenty of incentive to keep turning the pages.  Radtke’s story is poignant, her illustrations lovely.  This book quickly hooked me and I read it in one sitting.  I now consider it a favorite.  This is a great entry point into the graphic book format, and I recommend it to new graphic book readers (and experienced graphic readers won’t want to miss it).  Request a copy.

I’ve got sand in all the wrong places by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

I listened to the audiobook on a trip up and back to Massachusetts. I’ve read a bunch of Lisa Scottoline’s books (she’s a lawyer who writes really cool mystery books), so I thought I’d try this.  She’s written a series of books with her daughter and I wanted to check it out. They take turns with the chapters and they talk about their lives alone and together and all kinds of stuff that happens in between. I enjoyed this, as a lot of it reminded me of my daughter and me. Now I may look for their other books, since I enjoyed this one.  Request a copy.

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohllenben

It isn’t often that I have read a non-fiction book in the sciences that has been so enjoyable.  This title is written in story form, as if trees are almost human.  It’s not simply technical literature about how trees survive or do not survive in their various environments.  I guarantee you will never look at another tree without thinking about what you learned from this book.  Absolutely fascinating!  Request a copy.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

I listened to this as an audiobook, and it ultimately took me about 2 months to finish it, and I still can’t believe Lin-Manuel Miranda took this giant book on a tropical vacation to read!  That being said – it’s one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read.  The life that Alexander Hamilton lived and the accomplishments he was able to achieve in his relatively short life are absolutely mind boggling.  His influence is still felt today in our financial world near and far.  A life truly cut too short.  What a loss to our country, but we are to this day indebted to him and his ideas.  Listen or read this book – it will floor you!  Request a copy.

Becoming Grandma by Lesley Stahl

Even though I am not a grandparent (and not about to become one), I saw Lesley Stahl’s book about grandparents and grandchildren and thought I would take a look – or a listen to the audiobook.  Being familiar with Lesley from 60 Minutes, I found her stories from her own family life and experiences well written and researched.  There is a science to the instant affection between grandparents and their newborn grandchildren.  This is explained as an overwhelming feeling of attachment akin to love at first sight.  There is also a wealth of difference in the parental experience and the “grands” experience.  Differences in age and what grands will be called today are not what they were in the past.  Finances also affect the family experience and more children are being raised by grandparents or foster grandparents today than ever.

The book describes the birth of grand-daughters Jordan and Chloe and stories from interviews with Diane Sawyer, Whoopi Goldberg and Tom Brokaw.  The grandfather experience and step-grandparents are also covered.

If you are a grandparent, a parent, or a grandchild, you will find this description of modern family relationships of interest.  There is more to family dynamics than I would have thought possible, and Lesley Stahl narrates a wonderful audiobook on “the Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting.”

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Falling : A Daughter, A Father, and A Journey Back by Elisha Cooper

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A lovingly written book by a father about his 5-year-old daughter and her unexpected diagnosis of cancer.  The author of this book is himself an author and illustrator of children’s books (that I now have to look for in my own library).  In this book he deftly straddles all of his hopes and fears for his family and really paints quite a picture of the realities of living (and not dying) from cancer.  A book of survival and what it means to try and find a new normal.

Hamilton : The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

Hamilton

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My love affair with all things Hamilton continues as I finally got this audiobook from the library.  If any of you out there love actors and performers and hearing about how they get their ideas, then you’ll love this audiobook.  An added plus is that Mariska Hargitay is the narrator.  The story of how Lin-Manuel Miranda brought the story of Alexander Hamilton to the Broadway stage is really riveting, and just reinforces the genius of Miranda.  Staying true to himself and all his musical influences while being so aware of how it would translate on the stage is just awesome.  A huge thumbs up for this.