Non-Fiction November Round-Up and Mini Book Reviews!

Today I wanted to write a post to wrap-up my Non-Fiction November as I had such a lovely reading month. I didn’t fully stick to my planned TBR but I managed to read a lot of non-fiction and I enjoyed everything I read. Some books I’ve already reviewed so will link back to those and the others I will briefly review in this post.

Chase the Rainbow by Poorna Bell

This book had been on my TBR for quite a while so I wanted to make sure I got to it in November and I’m really glad I did. My review is here.

Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division by Peter Hook

I’ve had this book on my TBR ever since it was published so I’m really glad I finally picked it up. I really enjoyed reading this and found it so interesting. I’m a huge Joy Division fan so already knew a lot about the band but I still learnt things in this book that I didn’t know before. Peter Hook is so open in this book and it was really interesting to see Ian Curtis through his bandmate’s eyes, it gave a different perspective. I already have Peter Hook’s second memoir so I’m looking forward to reading it soon.

Gotta Get Theroux This: My Life and Strange Times on Television by Louis Theroux

I love Louis Theroux’s documentaries on TV, I find his approach so different and engaging and he really brings so much out of his subjects. I was really keen to read this book so when I saw it on my library’s audio book app I immediately downloaded it. This book covers his life and how he got into TV. He takes you through his work and the different TV shows he’s made, along with his reflections as he looks back. There was quite a bit about Jimmy Savile, which I found really interesting. Louis narrates the audio book himself so I definitely recommend this format.

I Carried A Watermelon: Dirty Dancing and Me by Katy Brand

I only got this book after I’d made my TBR list for non-fiction November but I couldn’t resist reading it as soon as I got it. I loved this one and have reviewed it here.

The Undying: A Meditation on Modern Illness by Anne Boyer

This is another ARC that I wanted to make sure I got to in November. It was a tough read because of the subject matter but it’s very well-written and it made me think. My review is here.

My Autobiography by David Jason

I’m a real fan of David Jason, I’ve watched and loved so many series that he’s been in over the years (in particular Only Fools and Horses, and A Touch of Frost) so I was really keen to finally read his autobiography. This was such a fun read learning about his life and how he got into showbusiness. He has so many great stories from over the years – some hilarious and some very moving, and I very much enjoyed reading all of them. I recommend this book if you’re a fan, it’s such a good read.

The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

I bought this book a few weeks ago and have been so keen to read it. I’m so glad I picked it up as it’s such a good read. I’ve reviewed it here.

Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class by Owen Jones

I’m not a fan of Owen Jones at all so I’m not sure how I came to own a copy of this book but I’m really glad that I decided to take a chance on it as it was a really interesting look at the working class.

The Death of a President by William Manchester

I’ve wanted to read this book for ages so when I finally bought the audio book a few months ago I knew I had to put it on my TBR for nonfiction November. This book covers the brief period before JFK was assassinated and then the days afterwards. It’s a really comprehensive look at what happened and how people reacted to it. I already knew a lot of what was in this book but there were still things that I didn’t know. It’s a fascinating book and I recommend it.

James Baldwin and the 1980s by Joseph Vogel

This book has been on my TBR for a couple of years as I’ve felt intimidated by it. I’m so pleased that I finally read it though as it was so interesting and it’s sparked off my interest in some other books as I want to know more. My review is here.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I bought the audio book of this and I’m so glad I did as it was a joy to listen to. I really enjoyed learning more about Michelle Obama and the life she has lived. It was fascinating to read about how her life was before she met Obama, to hear how she grew up and what her family was like. I then loved hearing the story of how she and Obama met and discovering how she felt about him getting into politics, also how it was for her and their daughters once he became president. This is a really open and honest memoir and I loved it!

Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly by Jim DeRogatis

I spotted this book on my library’s audio book app and immediately downloaded it. I hadn’t heard of the book before but I was intrigued to read it and I’m glad I did. This is an incredible piece of writing that is very well researched and put together. The journalist has followed the stories around R. Kelly for many years and eventually decided to put a book together. He interviews so many people, including R. Kelly’s accusers and the result is a brilliant expose. This isn’t always an easy book to read because of the subject matter but if you’re at all interested in this case I recommend it.

Logical Family: A Memoir by Armistead Maupin

I bought this book on kindle when it was first published but I ended up listening to the audio book during the month. I adored it as it’s read by Armistead Maupin himself so it was a lovely experience to hear him tell his own story. This is such a fascinating memoir of a life well-lived. He talks of how he was inspired to create some of the characters in Tales of the City, he shares about his upbringing and all the loss he experienced during the AIDS crisis. There is humour and sadness, and it’s just a wonderful memoir.

How To Be Human: A Manual by Ruby Wax

This is another book that I wanted to make sure to get to in November and I found it a good read. My review is here.

The Heretics by Will Storr

I found this book on my library audio book service so downloaded it on a whim and I’m glad I did. This wasn’t as in depth on any of the subjects covered as I was expecting but it was still such an engaging book. I enjoyed it.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

This book is such an incredible read and one I’m so pleased I read. I’m in awe of how much work and research must have gone into this book as the author put together a biography of each of these five women. It’s all about their lives, rather than about who killed them and it really made them real to me. I found this such a moving read and I felt so emotional about each of the women, I won’t ever forget them. This is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read this year and I’ll be recommending it to everyone.

Constellations by Sinead Gleason

I really enjoyed this essay collection and got a lot so much out of reading it. My review is here if you’d like to know more.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

I read Oranges are not the Only Fruit many years ago but despite buying this memoir when it was published I had never got to read it. I’m so glad I spotted it on my library’s audio book app as it meant I could listen to the author read it to me. This is such an interesting and moving book, one that really made me think as I was reading it. There is such honesty in the book and I’m so glad I finally read it.

Dopesick by Beth Macy

This is such an important book and one I’m so glad I read but it was a tough read. I’ve been interested in the rise of the opioid epidemic for a few years now but even so this book was still so eye-opening to me. Macy gives the stats and the politics but she also really focuses on the personal giving us the stories of people from all walks of life who have ended up addicted to opioids in one form or another. This book made me angry at how people are being failed by the system but it was also incredibly moving, I felt so emotional as I got to the end. This is not an easy read but it’s a book I highly recommend.

Bowie’s Bookshelf by John O’Connell

I’m a huge David Bowie fan so was very keen to read this book. It’s a really enjoyable book about the one hundred books that David Bowie considered the most influential. It’s a real mix of books and it’s fascinating to learn more about the ones I haven’t read yet (quite a few are now on my wish list now!). There is a list of all the books at the start so you get an overview of the titles. Then you get each title with a short essay about the book and what Bowie liked about it or what he took from it. At the end the author suggests a song or two that would work well with the book and I really liked that element. It made me take time to sit and think about the books and Bowie’s music and the influence that he took from what he was reading. Some of the links seems somewhat tenuous but others I knew of and it was interesting to get more understanding of them. I also have to mention how fab it was to see that the author thinks Tin Machine may get proper recognition one of these days – I’ve always thought they were under-rated and I love both of the Tin Machine albums. I definitely recommend this book to fans of David Bowie but I think readers in general who are looking to find some new books to read would also enjoy this.

 

WWW Wednesdays (6 Nov 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

I Carried a Watermelon by Katy Brand

I’ve only read a tiny bit of this book at the time I’m writing this post but I can tell it’s going to be a fun, nostalgic read and I can’t wait to read more!

The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

I bought this book recently and have been so keen to read it so am glad to finally have started it. It’s a really good read so far.

The Death of a President by William Manchester

This is such an interesting audio book and I’ve listened to it quite a lot over the last few days. I think I’m about half-way through it and will definitely be listening to more in the coming days.

James Baldwin and the 1980s: Witnessing the Reagan Era by Joseph Vogel

I’m still reading this one in short bursts, I’m finding it really interesting but it feels a little more academic than I was expecting and my brain’s not always up to that at the moment. It’s a good book though, I recommend it.

 

What I recently finished reading:

I should say here that whilst I finished nine books this week, half of them were books that I’d read a lot of before this week!

 

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

I loved this book, it’s my new favourite Agatha Christie novel! I now want to make time to re-read more of her books in the new year.

Nothing Important Happened Here by Will Carver

This is such a hard book to write about as it was like nothing I’ve read before and the issue of suicide is a difficult subject matter but it was a brilliant book. I’m reviewing this one for the blog tour next week so please look out for that.

Gotta Get Theroux This: My Life and Strange Times in Television by Louis Theroux

I borrowed this book on audio from my local library and I very much enjoyed it. Louis Theroux narrates the book (I always love it when the author of a memoir narrates the audio, it adds to the story for me). I think I might like to have the hardback of this one to have on my bookcase!

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

I loved this novel and reviewed it yesterday so you can read my full thoughts here if you’d like to know more. I read it in one sitting and definitely recommend it.

Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division by Peter Hook

I almost put this on my Non-Fiction November TBR but having left it off the list I was just in the mood to read it so I picked it up anyway. It was such a good read and I’m glad I finally got to it.

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

This is such a good YA novel about a teenage girl living with HIV. It’s a really good portrayal of teenage life, as well as featuring diverse characters and a very believable plot. I’ll review this very soon.

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

This is the first Diane Chamberlain that I’ve picked up in a really long time but it was such a good read and has reminded me of how much I used to enjoy her books. This one might even be my new favourite of hers!

Chase the Rainbow by Poorna Bell

I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite a long time now so I made sure it was on my Non-Fiction November TBR this year. I’m really glad I finally picked it up as it was such an honest exploration of what it’s like to live with someone with depression and addiction. I’ll be reviewing this one soon.

One Week ‘Til Christmas by Belinda Missen

I loved this Christmas novella and have already reviewed it here if you’d like to know more.

 

What I plan on reading next:

I Want You Gone by Miranda Rijks

This thriller has been on my NetGalley shelf for quite a few months now and is the next book I hope to get to in my plan to catch up before the end of the year. I’m looking forward to this one, it sounds intriguing!

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

This is the next Christmas book that I plan on reading and I’m really looking forward to getting to it.

Turning the Tide on Plastic by Lucy Siegle

I’m trying really hard to reduce the single-use plastics in our home and this is a book that can help me achieve more than I’m already managing.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

This is a book I’ve been really keen to get to so I’d like to make this one of my next Non-Fiction November reads.

 

 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

See my new #BookHaul in this week’s Stacking the Shelves post (25 March)

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

 

These are the & eBooks I bought this week:

Substance- Inside New Order by Peter Hook

Substance: Inside New Order by Peter Hook

I’m a huge Joy Division and New Order fan, so can never resist a book about them. This has been on my radar since it was first published so when I spotted it in a kindle daily deal offer this week I snapped it up. It’s a much longer book than I realised so it may be a while before I get a chance to read it but I’m looking forward to it.

Synopsis:

Two acclaimed albums, an upcoming US tour – Joy Division had the world at their feet. Then, on the eve of that tour and the beginning of what would surely have been an international success story, the band’s troubled lead singer, Ian Curtis, killed himself.

‘We didn’t really think about it afterwards. It just sort of happened. One day we were Joy Division, then our lead singer killed himself and the next time we got together, we were a new band…’Peter Hook

That band was New Order.

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Buy Buy Baby by Helen MacKinven

I’ve had this book on my wish list for a while so when I spotted on twitter that it had been made free on Amazon for this weekend I immediately downloaded it. It sounds like such a good read and I can’t wait to start it. I believe the book is free all weekend so it’s worth having a look if you’re in the UK.

Synopsis:

What price tag would you put on a baby?
Set in and around Glasgow, Buy Buy Baby is a moving and funny story of life, loss and longing.
Packed full of bitchy banter, it follows the bittersweet quest of two very different women united by the same desire – they desperately want a baby.
Carol talks to her dog, has an expensive eBay habit and relies on wine to forget she’s no longer a mum following the death of her young son.
Cheeky besom Julia is career-driven and appears to have it all. But after disastrous attempts at internet dating, she feels there is a baby-shaped hole in her life.
In steps Dan, a total charmer with a solution to their problems.
But only if they are willing to pay the price, on every level…

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The Absence of Wings by Mark Stewart

I was contacted by the author about this book and as it sounds like something I’d be interested in reading I downloaded it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription. I’m finding myself drawn to books about the natural world at the moment so I’m looking forward to this one.

Synopsis:

“The Absence of Wings” is a collection of short stories intended to show the world through the eyes of some of the Earth’s most endangered and persecuted animals.

The collection is an ark of sorts, offering a literary refuge for creatures that may one day exist only in story books, fables and myths.

These are stories that will change the way you look at the natural world.

Lost Connections by Jim Ody

Lost Connections by Jim Ody

I got this book when it was a freebie on Amazon this week as it looks like an engrossing mystery novel. I hope to get a chance to read this soon.

Synopsis:

What would you do if the most important person to you had been kidnapped? One minute your daughter is there, and the next she has been bundled into a van right under your nose. They want something of your father’s. You don’t know what that is, and your father mysteriously disappeared over 7 years ago. Going to the police is not an option. And the answers will slowly appear in the most unlikely of places.

As single-parent Eddie’s world falls apart, an unlikely alliance forms between friends and neighbours who put their differences aside, to help get his daughter Daisy back. As the mystery unfolds a huge secret is uncovered that not only will affect Eddie and his family, but the whole of mankind…

Phantom Limb by Lucinda Berry

Phantom Limb by Lucinda Berry

The cover of this book caught my eye when I was looking through the Kindle Unlimited books this week, so I decided to download it. The book sounds intriguing and one that would keep me hooked so I may well pick this one up very soon.

Synopsis:

Emily and Elizabeth spend their childhood locked in a bedroom and terrorized by a mother who drinks too much and disappears for days. The identical twins are rescued by a family determined to be their saviors.

But there’s some horrors love can’t erase…

Elizabeth wakes in a hospital, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak. The last thing she remembers is finding Emily’s body in their bathroom. Days before, she was falling in love and starting college. Now, she’s surrounded by men who talk to themselves and women who pull out their eyebrows.

As she delves deeper into the mystery surrounding Emily’s death, she discovers shocking secrets and holes in her memory that force her to remember what she’s worked so hard to forget—the beatings, the blood, the special friends. Her life spins out of control at a terrifying speed as she desperately tries to unravel the psychological puzzle of her past before it’s too late.

I also received 8 ARCs:

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Fell by Jenn Ashworth

I’ll be honest here… I actually squealed when this book arrived this week! It’s a book that I’ve heard so many good things about and I’ve been so keen to read it. I’m so excited to read that I may well start it this weekend!

Synopsis:

When Annette Clifford returns to her childhood home on the edge of Morecambe Bay, she despairs: the long-empty house is crumbling, undermined by two voracious sycamores. What she doesn’t realise is that she’s not alone: her arrival has woken the spirits of her parents, who anxiously watch over her, longing to make amends. Because as the past comes back to Jack and Netty, they begin to see the summer of 1963 clearly, when Netty was desperately ill and a stranger moved in. Charismatic, mercurial Timothy Richardson, with his seemingly miraculous powers of healing, who drew all their attention away from Annette… Now, they must try to draw another stranger towards her, one who can rescue her.

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This Love by Dani Atkins

I was contacted by the publisher to ask if I’d like to read and review this and of course I said yes! I read Fractured by Dani Atkins back when it first came out and I loved it so I’m really looking forward to reading this new one by her. I hope to get chance to start reading it next week.

Synopsis:

Sophie stopped believing in happy endings a long time ago, but could this love change all of that?

Sophie Winter lives in a self-imposed cocoon – she’s a single, 31-year-old translator who works from home in her one-bedroom flat. This isn’t really the life she dreamed of, but then Sophie stopped believing in dreams when she was a teenager and tragedy struck her family.

So, to be safe, she keeps everyone at arm’s length. Sophie understands she has a problem, but recognising it and knowing how to fix it are two entirely different things.

One night a serious fire breaks out in the flat below hers. Sophie is trapped in the burning building until a passer-by, Ben, sees her and rescues her.

Suddenly her cocoon is shattered – what will be the consequences of this second life-changing event?

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

I requested this on NetGalley and was thrilled when I got approved. The premise for this book sounds so creepy and intriguing. I’m trying to hold off reading this now as it’s not published until later in the year but I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to resist.

Synopsis:

Maria wants to be friends.
But Maria is dead.
Isn’t she?

When Louise Williams receives a message from someone left long in the past, her heart nearly stops.

Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.

Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty-five years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers’ party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life with a terrible secret.

As Maria’s messages start to escalate, Louise forces herself to reconnect with the old friends she once tried so hard to impress. Trying to piece together exactly what happened that night, she soon discovers there’s much she didn’t know. The only certainty is that Maria Weston disappeared that night, never to be heard from again – until now. . .

A Book of Untruths by Miranda Doyle

A Book of Untruths by Miranda Doyle

I wished for this book on NetGalley so was very excited when my wish was granted. I’m really intrigued about the way this book is set out, it sounds like a very interesting way to tell your story and that’s what caught my attention with this book. I’m very keen to read this one soon.

Synopsis:

A Book of Untruths is a family story told through a series of lies. Each short chapter features one of these lies and each lie builds to form a picture of a life-Miranda Doyle’s life as she struggles to understand her complicated family and her own place within it.

This is a book about love, family and marriage. It is about the fallibility of human beings and the terrible things we do to one another. It is about the ways we get at-or avoid-the truth. And it is about storytelling itself: how we build a sense of ourselves and our place in the world.

A Book of Untruths is a surprising, shocking and invigorating book that edges towards the truth through an engagement with falsehood. It brings questions to its readers; not answers.

 

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

This is another of my wished for books on NetGalley that got granted this week. It was the cover of this one that caught my eye and then when I read the synopsis I knew I had to read it. 

Synopsis:

Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed and darkly observant. A college student in Dublin and aspiring writer, she works at a literary agency by day. At night, she performs spoken word with her best friend Bobbi, who used to be her girlfriend. When they are profiled by Melissa, a well-known journalist, they enter an exotic orbit of beautiful houses, raucous dinner parties and holidays in Provence.

Initially unimpressed, Frances finds herself embroiled in a risky menage a quatre when she begins an affair with Nick, Melissa’s actor husband. Desperate to reconcile herself to the desires and vulnerabilities of her body, Frances’s intellectual certainties begin to yield to something new – a painful and disorienting way of living from moment to moment. But as Frances tries to keep control, her relationships increasingly unspool: with Nick, with her difficult and unhappy father, and finally even with Bobbi.

Written with rare precision and probing intelligence, Conversations with Friends is exquisitely alive to the pleasures and inhibitions of youth.

The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

I was pre-approved for this one on NetGalley, which was a lovely surprise. I love the sound of this and really want to read it but it’s a tough subject matter for me so I’m going to wait for the right time to read this one.

Synopsis:

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter thinks she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But becoming parents proves much harder to achieve than Lucy and Jonah imagined, and when Jonah’s teenage daughter Camille comes to stay with them, she becomes a constant reminder of what Lucy doesn’t have. Jonah’s love and support are unquestioning, but Lucy’s struggles with work and her own failing dreams begin to take their toll. With Camille’s presence straining the bonds of Lucy’s marriage even further, Lucy suddenly feels herself close to losing everything…

This heart-wrenchingly poignant family drama from bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: in today’s hectic world, what does it mean to be a mother?

Stuff I've Been Feeling Lately by Alicia Cook

Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately by Alicia Cook

This is another NetGalley book where the cover caught my eye first. I’m trying to read more poetry this year and this sounds like a great collection. I think it might be one of those serendipitous happenings where the right book found me at the right time with this one, so I really hope I’m right. 

Synopsis:

Structured like an old-school mix-tape, Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately is Alicia Cook’s lyric message to anyone who has dealt with addiction. “Side A” touches on all aspects of the human condition: life, death, love, trauma, and growth. “Side B” contains haunting black-out remixes of those poems.

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

I accidentally ended up with this one from NetGalley – you know when you click a link in an email by accident and the book gets added to your shelf?  The young part of me really wants to read this as Dirty Dancing was one of my favourite films when I was a young teen. The other part of me has personal reasons for not being able to cope with the film anymore. I want to try and read this but I’m on the fence at the moment.

Synopsis:

Renowned film critic Roger Ebert said Dirty Dancing “”might have been a decent movie if it had allowed itself to be about anything.”” In this broadly researched and accessible text, Stephen Lee Naish sets out to deconstruct and unlock a film that has haunted him for decades, and argues that Dirty Dancing, the 1987 sleeper hit about a young middle-class girl who falls for a handsome working-class dance instructor, is actually about everything. The film is a union of history, politics, sixties and eighties culture, era-defining music, class, gender, and race, and of course features one of the best love stories set to film. Using scene-by-scene analyses, personal interpretation, and comparative study, it’s time to take Dirty Dancing out of the corner and place it under the microscope.

I also won a giveaway this week on JaffaReadsToo blog…

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Foxes Unearthed by Lucy Jones

Firstly, hasn’t this book got the most gorgeous cover? It really is a stunning looking book. I’m really interested to read this and to learn move about foxes, so hopefully I’ll be able to read it very soon.

Synopsis:

As one of the largest predators left in Britain, the fox is captivating: a comfortably familiar figure in our country landscapes; an intriguing flash of bright-eyed wildness in our towns.

Yet no other animal attracts such controversy, has provoked more column inches or been so ambiguously woven into our culture over centuries, perceived variously as a beautiful animal, a cunning rogue, a vicious pest and a worthy foe. As well as being the most ubiquitous of wild animals, it is also the least understood.

In Foxes Unearthed Lucy Jones investigates the truth about foxes in a media landscape that often carries complex agendas. Delving into fact, fiction, folklore and her own family history, Lucy travels the length of Britain to find out first-hand why these animals incite such passionate emotions, revealing our rich and complex relationship with one of our most loved – and most vilified – wild animals. This compelling narrative adds much-needed depth to the debate on foxes, asking what our attitudes towards the red fox say about us – and, ultimately, about our relationship with the natural world.

 


 

So, that’s all of my new books from the past week. Have you bought any new books recently? Tell me all in the comments below, or if you have a stacking the shelves post on your blog feel free to post the link below too.:)

My weekly wrap up post will be on my blog tomorrow so please look out for that.