Thoughts

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

thoughts_16

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?

Advertisements
Misc.

Reads for April Fools’ Day

April Fool's Day

Yes, it’s the first day of April, which means it’s also April Fool’s Day! Have you played any evil tricks yet? Spotted any funny jokes or pranks? Today I thought I’d share some of the funniest and most humorous books that I’ve read, perfect for a day like today.

Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart

Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart

Oh Miranda, how I love you so. If you’ve not heard of the wonderful Miranda Hart, she is a British comedian and actress, and absolutely 100% relatable – and hilarious. Her sitcom, Miranda, is a semi-autobiographical portrayal of a single woman in her mid-thirties (34 IS LATE TWENTIES!) who runs a joke & gift shop. Miranda manages to get herself into the most awkward of situations, is quite possibly the clumsiest person alive as well as just slightly socially inept… Many of the things that happen to Miranda in the sitcom actually happened in real life, either to Miranda Hart or people she knows. In this book, she discusses some of the more embarrassing horrors she’s lived through, so prepare to both laugh out loud and cringe – but it’s SUCH FUN!

Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson

Anything by Bill Bryson

I think I’ve mentioned Bill Bryson on the blog a couple of times before, but if you’re looking to start reading some travel writing then in my opinion, he is definitely the place to start. With a wonderful sense of humour and a brilliant way of turning even a mundane story into something amusing, each of his travel books have never failed to make me laugh. He has a way of observing and noticing things that might not be fascinating on first glance. He’s written about travelling through Europe, along the Appalachian Trial, Australia, Great Britain and the USA (on several occasions), as well as an autobiography.

Azumanga Daioh by Kiyohiko Azuma

Azumanga Daioh by Kiyohiko Azuma

One of my favourite manga series, Azumanga Daioh is the tale of a group of high school girls, and centered around the character of Chiyo. Chiyo is a child prodigy, already approaching the end of high school at the age of eleven. Her friends are a group of misfits: the sporty one, the clever one, the ditzy one, the tomboyish one, the mischievous one, but these stereotypes don’t get old. Unlike many manga, it’s presented in four-panel comic strips – some are continuations of ones before, but mostly you get a new story every page. It’s absolutely hilarious and also completely adorable.

Mort by Terry Pratchett

The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett

Pretty much any of the Discworld books are perfect if you want a humorous read. Terry Pratchett’s unique and brilliant sense of humour is unparalleled. My particular favourite of his is Mort, but with over forty books in the series alone there’s plenty of choice. And you don’t even need to read the series in order: some characters occupy multiple books, some only appear the once, plotlines and events vary greatly, and he’s even written some for children. But you can guarantee that each one will have you laughing.

What are some of the funniest books you’ve read? Do you have any recommendations?

Thoughts

Thoughts #12: Neglected Non-Fiction

thoughts_16

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?

Review

Review: Stephen Fry in America by Stephen Fry

6062070.jpg
3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
I somehow completely missed watching this TV series when it was on air a couple of years ago. I’ve always been aware of it, and caught the occasional bit of an episode (always the same one… about the Body Farm. Normally whilst eating.), but never watched much of it.

I learnt quite a bit whilst reading this book – although I think I could probably name every state, and had a general idea of where each one was located, I previously couldn’t tell you much about them. For instance, I never had any idea that Wisconsin and Minnesota were cold states. Fry creates a pretty clear picture of each landscape that he travels through, enough to make me want to visit several states that I previously knew nothing about. He also covers some less well-known (and very unappealing) places, such as a body farm in Tennessee, used to study how the human body decomposes in various conditions.

Whilst being the sort of travel fiction that I enjoy – factual, yet witty, enough information to interest but not too bogged down – this felt a bit sparse. I think it is very much a companion to the series rather than something you could read by itself; there just isn’t enough information on each state, I think the most is about four pages.

Personally, I would’ve loved a proper book about Stephen’s trip – especially coming from such a humourous, talented person – but I guess this just wasn’t it. It’s definitely more of a ‘coffee table’ book (as one of my lecturers used to refer to big hardbacks with pretty photos), that you might flick through, or pick out certain bits to read.

I do definitely now want to watch the series (it’s not as long as I believed it was) – but perhaps I’ll skip through part of Tennessee…