Thoughts

Thoughts #49: Favourite Non-Fiction Books Written By Women

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As the title suggests, today I wanted to discuss my favourite non-fiction books written by women, as part of Women Writer’s Month. Non-fiction is a topic that’s not often included in the book blogging community when we gush over books, as I have discussed before. I’d love to hear whether you’ve read any of these or have any recommendations; let me know in the comments.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Yes Please

Yes Please is Amy Poehler‘s autobiography, or rather anecdotal memoir. Amy is one of my comedy queens and I absolutely love her, a love which began when I first watched Parks & Recreation, where Amy appears as Leslie Knope. It is one of my favourite series ever, one that I can watch again and again and again. This book is typical of her sense of humour and is pretty perfect for any fan of hers – or fan of Parks & Rec.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Bossypants

The second of my comedy queens, and often seen on screen with Amy Poehler, Tina Fey has also written a memoir: Bossypants. I read this one more recently, and I’d also recommend it if you’re a big fan of either Saturday Night Live or 30 Rock, as Tina discusses various events that went on behind the scenes of those two shows.

A Ride in the Neon Sun by Josie Dew

A Ride in the Neon Sun by Josie Dew

If you enjoy travel writing, then Josie Dew‘s A Ride in the Neon Sun is definitely for you – particularly if you’re a fan of Bill Bryson, because Josie has that same wonderful wit. However, all of her books are about travelling a new country by bicycle. I’ve read a couple of her other travel memoirs and they’ve all been wonderful, but this one was definitely my favourite.

Love and Louis XIV: Women in the Life of the Sun King by Antonia Fraser

Love and Louis XIV by Antonia Fraser

Antonia Fraser is very well-known for writing historical non-fiction, and Love and Louis XIV: Women in the Life of the Sun King is one of the few that I’ve read, although I plan on reading many of her other works. I first read it when I was 18, whilst studying Louis XIV as part of my A Level History course. I’ve been trying to find more books about female historical figures that are also written by women – and if you’re looking for the same, this is a good place to start.

Pompeii by Mary Beard

Pompeii by Mary Beard

Mary Beard is one of my absolute favourite historians – she is so enthusiastic and passionate, I love it. Pompeii is my favourite of all her books so far. Instead of looking at the elite of the town, she takes a look at the life of the ordinary citizen. There is also an accompanying television show if you are interested!

What are some of your favourite non-fiction books written by women?

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: February 2014

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

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Last month I read a total of eight books – less than January, but no novellas or graphic novels this time. Cash: The Autobiography of Johnny Cash (with Patrick Carr), Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgewick, Lockstep by Karl Schroeder, Paper Towns by John Green, The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson and The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris.

Standout books include The Final Empire, The Gospel of Loki and Cash: The Autobiography of Johnny Cash – one of my favourite musicians ever, his life was absolutely fascinating to read about. I’ve now read twenty-three books towards my goal of fifty this year, but I’m unsure about raising it just yet.

Challenge progress:

  • I read four more books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge, and managed to beat this month’s boss – Crimson Dynamo! Gooooo X-Men! *waves mutant flag*
  • Another one ticked off of the Dragons & Jetpacks Ultimate Booklist Challenge, which handily also happened to be February’s Fantasy Book of the Month!
  • I’m slowly finishing off my TBR Pile 2013 Challenge – I achieved my goal for the year last year, but I had a list of thirty books, and aimed to read at least fifteen in 2013. Now I want to read the rest throughout 2014.
  • And finally, the Review Copy Clean-up Challenge! I read three review copies this month, which isn’t quite as many as I’d hoped to – but my Netgalley ratio is now 55.5%, which is a bonus. I still have to review one of the books, although that one was from Goodreads.

Currently reading:

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Reviews on the blog this month:

Other posts:

Upcoming:

  • A couple of reviews, including She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgewick and The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.
  • A post about my time at the Harry Potter Studio Tour, which I visited on 19th February!
  • The usual discussions and features will return, minus Weekly Roundup which has become rather infrequent as I’m trying to not buy books. CRAZY, I know.

Off the blog:

Well as I mentioned, I was ill at the end of February… I had really bad tonsillitis in November (during Sci-Fi Month!) so I was really worried it would be another case of that – but luckily it was just a throat infection and cold. Earlier in the month I visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour with one of my best friends which was amazing, but more on that in another post! I then had another best friend to stay for a few days, and it was so lovely to see her – we met up with another friend from uni and had a lovely day out at a National Trust place nearby, then went out for tapas in the evening. I’m really quite scared at how fast the year is going, see as I’ll be moving to the Netherlands in mid-August and I have a LOT to sort out before then. Better get on it!

And that was my February! I remember writing up the Review Copy Cleanup post quite clearly, so I think it’s gone a *little* too quickly for my liking. How was your month?

Thoughts

Thoughts #12: Neglected Non-Fiction

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There is one thing I’ve noticed a definite lack of in the blogosphere.

Non-fiction.

Personally, I love many genres of non-fiction: autobiographies, memories, history and archaeology books, books on nature, science, linguistics… But it feels that many bloggers don’t have a particular interest, or at least don’t share it. So why is it not a common feature amongst the blogs?

  • It can be quite difficult to review (apparently I’ve reviewed only six non-fiction books since starting the blog), which means that whilst my fellow bloggers may enjoy non-fiction, it’s difficult to feature on the blog.
  • How do you review something that is fact? You can’t criticise so many of the different areas you would look at for a work of fiction. It seriously reduces the amount you can really say about the book.
  • Some people read to escape to other worlds, so non-fiction just doesn’t work for them.
  • I know that when I was at university, I avoided reading any history or archaeology books that were NOT relevant to my course, because I had so much to take in anyway, and didn’t want to end up remembering stuff about Henry VIII when my course was in ancient history! So perhaps, for that same reason, many fellow bloggers who are still studying prefer to avoid non-fiction.

I thought perhaps I’d share some of my favourite non-fiction books, in various categories, and hopefully you can share yours with me!

History & archaeology

Pompeii by Mary Beard The Borgias by Christopher Hibbert Love and Louis XIV by Antonia Fraser

This is perhaps, along with travel, one of my more read areas of non-fiction – as my degree was in ancient history and archaeology. I’ll read about almost any period of history up until the twentieth century. Mary Beard is one of my favourite classicists so anything by her is good. I also have a particular interest in the Borgia family (so much scheming!), and Louis XIV after studying him for History A Level when I was 18. I think books like this can often have a reputation for being stuffy, written by scholars who know everything about these ancient worlds and nothing about the present day one. And whilst that may be the case with some books of this type, there are so many wonderfully written and accessible history books. You could start with books that accompany a TV series of the same subject, as they’re often written for people who are learning along with the show.

Travel

A Ride in the Neon Sun by Josie Dew The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson Hitching Rides with Buddha by Will Ferguson

If you’ve not yet read anything by either Bill Bryson or Josie Dew, then step on it! The two write very witty travel accounts – Bryson travelling alone by car (normally), and Dew alone by bicycle. They both capture the spirit of the countries they visit, and somehow poke fun at various elements of culture without being offensive in any way. Words cannot describe how excited I was last year when I realised there was a Bill Bryson book I hadn’t read yet – and so I got to experience that first read through joy!

Biography & memoir

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson 35488 How To Be A Woman

When it comes to biographies and memoirs, to me they either have to be witty and perhaps a bit self-deprecating, or of truly fascinating lives. Some memoirs I’ve read just don’t have either – even after the ‘big break through’. Or perhaps it was just how they were written. Once again, Bill Bryson makes the list with his autobiography, as does Caitlin Moran with her hilarious anecdotes of her younger self. And I recently read Johnny Cash’s autobiography and absolutely LOVED it. He is one of my very favourite musicians and had such an interesting life – plus the way it was told was just wonderful. He rambles from tale to tale, nothing is in chronological order – but it works. It’s as if you were sat there, having drinks with him and listening to him talk about his life.

What about you – do you enjoy reading non-fiction? What are your favourite genres of non-fiction? If you don’t enjoy it, tell me why! Why do you think it’s not often featured on book blogs?