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?

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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?

Challenges

Challenge: TBR Pile 2013 Challenge Progress

 
I am currently taking part in the 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge, and as of yet have not written any progress posts, so I’m taking the chance to make one now! My goal was  to read 15 books over the year, from a list of 30. You can view my original post here, which includes the list.
 

So how have I done so far?

 

  1.  An Abundance of Katherines by John Green – my first John Green book (The Fault in Our Stars is waiting for me…) and such a sweet read.
  2. Tristan and Iseult by Rosemary Sutcliff – I just finished this one. A bit disappointing really. This was meant to be the ‘romantic’ version, rather than Tristan and Iseult falling in love because of a love potion, but it really didn’t feel it.
  3. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – Beautiful and so, so moving.
  4. The Maze Runner by James Dashner – Fantastic dystopian YA story, and I also recently read the second book in the series, The Scorch Trials.
  5. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – This one caught me by surprise, it was original and interesting, and rather different from what I was expecting!
  6. The Magicians by Lev Grossman – Definitely accurate in the ‘Harry Potter for adults’ description, with some C.S. Lewis thrown in for good measure.
  7. The Sun in my Eyes: Two-wheeling East by Josie Dew – I love Josie’s travel writing, she’s so witty and has some amazing experiences.
  8. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – This book was so sweet, especially compared with many of today’s characters.

 
Eight out of fifteen, and only (basically) four months into the year – I think I will achieve my target, perhaps I could even read all thirty!
 

And now, my readers, how are you doing with the challenge if you’re taking part? What have you read this year so far that you loved?

 
Challenges

Challenge: 2013 TBR Pile Challenge


I am continuing this challenge throughout 2014, as I hope to have read all 30 books by the end of the year.

I have decided to join the 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge, which runs from 1st January – 31st December 2013. You can read the rules and join the challenge here. There is also a handy Goodreads group for the challenge, which will track your challenge books for you, as long as you shelf them correctly.

I have almost 300 books on my TBR list, and some have been sitting there for years. One of the rules of this challenge is no books published after 2013, and no ARCs – which rules out a lot of my review books. This means I can read the books I want to, and have been meaning to read for some time – which means they’ll most likely be ones that I already own. I have set a goal of 15 books (considering that I also have to read review copies), any from this list:

1. The Odyssey by Homer
2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (read 2014)
3. Endymion by Dan Simmons
4. The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons (read 2014)
5. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
6. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
7. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
8. Redhead by Ian Cook
9. Tristan and Iseult by Rosemary Sutcliff
10. The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez
11. The Ice Storm by Rick Moody
12. The Twelve by Justin Cronin
13. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
14. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
15. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
16. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
17. Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs
18. The Sun in my Eyes: Two-Wheeling East by Josie Dew
19. The Weeping Empress by Sadie S. Forsyth
20. A Walk in the Wood: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trial by Bill Bryson
21. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
22. Dear Fatty by Dawn French
23. Gone by Michael Grant
24. Virals by Kathy Reichs
25. Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds
26. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (read 2014)
27. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (read 2014)
28. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
29. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
30. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Keep track of my progress or take a look at my tbr-pile-challenge shelf!

 Just under half of my list…
Past Features

Weekly Roundup #12

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My ‘Weekly Roundup’ is where I share the books I have received in the past week, whether bought, gifted, borrowed etc.

Bought

  • Long Cloud Ride and The Sun in My Eyes by Josie Dew – Josie Dew is a very under-rated travel writer. She travels all over the world on her bicycle, and she has a very witty writing style that I really enjoy. Sort of a female Bill Bryson. I noticed there were two of her books I hadn’t read, so ordered them off of Amazon. Long Cloud Ride covers her journey around New Zealand, and The Sun in My Eyes is the second part of her journey around Japan; the first being A Ride in the Neon Sun and one of my favourite books.

From the library

  • Legend by Marie Lu – I’ve read so many great reviews on this one, and it claims that you’ll enjoy it if you’re a fan of The Hunger Games, which I certainly am. I had no idea it was a Les Miserables retelling until I read the back cover though!
  • Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness – I can finally finish the Chaos Walking trilogy! I’m really quite scared at how it will end…
  • Matched by Ally Condie – another YA novel I’ve seen with great reviews! I believe the third book in the series has just recently been released.
  • The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood – this is recommended for fans of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, a book which I absolutely loved. It sounds really interesting from the blurb alone.
 

And that’s all for this week! Have you read any of these books, and if so, what were your thoughts on them? What did you receive this week?