Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Ten Hidden Gem Books in Non Fiction

Ah - nonfiction. Nonfiction books are often given the bad rap of being old, boring, grandpa books- and certainly, those nonfiction books are out there (snore)! But, I feel like, as readers, we have a much more developed appreciation for nonfiction and all of the amazing benefits there are to reading this genre. I weeded through all of the nonfiction books I have read in the last few years ( A LOT ) and found ten books that I felt were excellent examples of why I *love* nonfiction books as much as I do. Keep reading to see the list and some video reviews for the books I chose.

We Are All The Same
 Jim Wooten

goodreads// library// amazon

I recently read "We Are All The Same" and it is just such a good book that touches on so many of the reasons why I *love* non fiction so much. Not only is "We Are All The Same" incredibly touching - the book tells the story of a young South African boy born with HIV who is taken in by an adoptive mother, but you also learn so, so much history about South Africa and AIDS- but not in a boring text book way, of course! The author intertwines the stories together so while you are learning about Nkosi and his adoptive mother Gail,  your understanding of the AIDS epidemic increases and vice versa. Non fiction books like this are also great because it gives the reader the chance to catch up or refresh their knowledge on a topic- for me, the AIDS epidemic, apartheid, etc. started a little before my time, it was incredibly enlightening to be able to get a full history of these important topics while also enjoying such a touching story as well! Click the link to read my blog post about "We Are All The Same" where I list Five Things I Learned by reading "We Are All The Same"

On Immunity
Eula Biss

goodreads // library // amazon

Non fiction is such a good resource for "hot button" issues- a good, well researched non fiction book can get you caught up on an important issue way more reliably than Google. I was curious about immunizations when my son was born - I had heard a lot of talk about choosing not to vaccinate, a possible autism link etc. While I knew I wanted to have my son vaccinated, I also wanted to be able to discuss the topic intelligently and explain my decision. "On Immunity" is a great resource  for vaccine information,  is definitely pro vaccine, and presents all of the information in a very reasoned but also uniquely creative way. Check out my video review of "On Immunity" below!

Hillbilly Elegy 
JD Vance

goodreads // library // amazon

I had *no* idea what to expect when I started this book! It came onto my reading radar around the time of the recent election, and political books are kind of a big reading turn off for me, especially right now. The political climate is just exhausting, and reading is my safe/ self care space - but I am so glad that I took a chance on this book! "Hillbilly Elegy" never felt overly political- instead it was an incredibly interesting and motivational story about a young boy growing up in poverty who makes something of himself that no one would've predicted. I love that "Hillbilly Elegy" fights the assumption that is so common in low socioeconomic environments - no matter what I do, I'm going to be stuck here doing what I've seen my family/ friends/ etc. do. I can not tell you the number of times this book put a smile on my face because I was so proud and inspired by the author and his message. Check out my video review for "Hillbilly Elegy" below!

Kelley and Thomas French

goodreads // library // amazon

Question of the day - do you cry easily when reading a book, or are you a little tougher to get to tears? What's the last book that made you cry? I do not consider myself someone who cries easily when reading, but phew, "Juniper" had me crying constantly! This is such a sweet and sincere story written by a couple who fought for years to become pregnant, and after finally successfully conceiving, gave birth to their daughter, Juniper, at 24 weeks gestation. I honestly have trouble even talking about this book because it makes me so emotional!!! Want some embarrassing ( to me : ) evidence?! Check out my video review of "Juniper" below!

Talking as Fast as I Can
Lauren Graham

goodreads // library // amazon

I have a ridiculously huge girl crush on Lauren Graham and could just gush about her, Gilmore Girls, and Parenthood for hours. I can count the number of times I have preordered a book on my hands, and this book was one of them! If you haven't read this insightful, funny, and adorable book yet, I highly recommend it. Lauren is such an excellent writer, and this book is the perfect peek behind the curtain of her life. I couldn't put it down and finished it in one day, one glorious perfect day ; ) Click here to read a blog post about my Top 5 Favorite Moments from "Talking As Fast As I Can" by Lauren Graham.

7: An Experimental Mutiny
by Jen Hatmaker

goodreads // library // amazon

"7: An Experimental Mutiny" is a super unique read, and gave me the benefit of reading about something I struggle with every day - materialism. This book explores the true story of the Hatmaker family and how for seven months they practiced extreme minimalism. Each month had a different focus, ranging from food, to clothes, to entertainment - but whatever the focus, the author tried to pare her life down to only seven items. What if I only had seven pieces of clothes? Seven different books? ( I KNOW! CRAZY!) Could only eat seven different types of food? This book challenges the way that you think about your belongings and how they define you. I feel incredibly blessed to have the privileges that I do, and I think non fiction books like this gem are perfectly humbling, and inspirational, as well!

Furiously Happy
Jenny Lawson

goodreads // library // amazon

Sometimes books fall into your life and lap at just the right moment in time- that is definitely the case for me with "Furiously Happy" by Jenny Lawson. While I had heard of "the blogess" before, I hadn't read much of her work. Shortly after giving birth to my son, I stumbled on her book about depression and anxiety- my heart swooned and felt a kindred connection with this stranger. Non fiction has this amazingly transformative power as you hear someone describe their inner thoughts and find yourself thinking- ohmygod, me too! If you struggle with depression or anxiety I highly recommend this book and author for some comedic stress relief.

When Breath Becomes Air 
Paul Kalanathi

goodreads // library // amazon

Another tear jerker that is absolutely worth the read. "When Breath Becomes Air" is about Dr. Paul Kalanathi, his life, and following his diagnosis with cancer, his death. Typically books like this scare me, as I have quite a bit of health anxiety - but Paul's writing about his coping with cancer while completing his medical training, the birth of his daughter, and overall just living a wonderful and meaningful life, was incredibly inspiring. The conclusion by his wife was touching as well. "When Breath Becomes Air" truly led me to mourn the death of the author- he was such an incredibly talented person and finishing his book I felt so glad to have shared the time I read it with him in the only way possible. Click here to read a full review of When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi!

Susan Cain

goodreads // library // amazon

Can you tell I love non fiction, yet? Well, here is another example of why! : ) "Quiet" by Susan Cain is all about introversion - a personality type that in general is sometimes looked down upon or questioned. Prior to reading this book, I knew I was an introvert- but I didn't know why, or what relationship that had with my tendency to prefer/ crave quiet, alone time. If you've ever wondered about what makes introverts tick or how family/friends/workplaces can become more introvert friendly- this is a great book. After reading "Quiet" I felt this sense of freedom to be me and embrace my introversion- it is incredibly liberating to know that your natural instincts have a reason and a purpose!

Brain on Fire 
Susannah Cahalan

goodreads // library // amazon

Medical mysteries are fascinating to me - and the story of Susannah Cahalan's descent into "a month of madness" definitely caught my attention from the very start. I was moved by the faith that her family had in her, and she had in herself, to overcome this mystery illness that completely transformed her life practically overnight! The author, Cahalan, does such an excellent job weaving her personal experiences together with medical information, accounts from her friends and family, as well as the heroic doctor who fought for a proper diagnosis. Definitely a book I recommend.

Have you read any of the non fiction gems that I loved? Let me know what you thought of these books below! What non fiction books have you read and enjoyed? I'd love some recommendations!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

My Experience with Havenly : free, online design help from a professional

Raise your hand if you feel like you have zero decorating knowledge- yep, me too. I love my house and its current style, but if I'm being the least bit honest with myself- I'm not responsible for it. I am incredibly blessed to have ridiculously helpful family, who are incredibly skilled at decorating. Outside help is a must for me. I know what I like but I am terrible at implementing it, and finding products to match --- enter Havenly. Keep reading to see the awesome design ideas they suggested and how I plan on implementing to totally update my style!

The Thicket by Joe R Lansdale - Book Review

" To some extent I find sin like coffee. When I was young and had my first taste of it I found it bitter and nasty, but later on I learned to like it by putting a little milk in it, and then I learned to like it black. Sin is like that. You sweeten it a little with lies, and then you get so you can take it straight." - The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale

You know those books that pop up on your TBR list and leave you racking your brain trying to figure out how the world it landed on your list? That is totally this book for me! I have no earthly idea where I got the recommendation to read this book, but it made it not just onto my TBR list, but all the way onto my library holds list ( a competitive place to be!)- and so, here we are! "The Thicket" was definitely unlike any book I have read lately, and reminded me of "True Grit" meets "The Wizard of Oz" - kind of? Keep reading to learn more about my experience reading "The Thicket" by Joe R. Lansdale.

Check out my video review of "The Thicket" below or keep reading for my thoughts on this historical fiction novel.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Five Things I Learned From "We Are All The Same" by Jim Wooten

list of five things i learned from reading the book we are all the same by jim wooten

Non fiction is one of my absolute favorite genres to read. As amazing as fiction authors can be at setting a scene, imagining vivid characters and situations that explore ideas and emotions - real life "true" stories have a lasting impact that is incredibly difficult for me to find in literary fiction. That impact was definitely felt after I finished reading "We Are All the Same" by Jim Wooten. This book shares the story of Nkosi Johnson, a young South African boy who was born with HIV, and how his courage and determination, as well as his bond with the white South African woman who adopted him, brought attention to such an important issue at an incredibly crucial time.

Keep reading to explore the five things I learned from reading " We Are All The Same" by Jim Wooten and to find out if you would like to read this book, too!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Book Blogger Newbie Tag 2.0

I feel like I will forever be a newbie- at everything, but especially at book blogging. lol. No matter how many years I might blog, vlog, instagram - what have you - the internet is such a vast and constantly developing place, it can be hard, to impossible to feel like you can stay on top of it! So in that spirit, I decided to adapt a tag which has been floating around Youtube, the Booktube Newbie Tag 2.0, and answer the questions for book blogging. Keep reading to see my answers to some pretty interesting questions!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Library Book Haul - August 2017

I've been quite a few states away from home, visiting family for the last month - one of the first things I did before heading home from vacation - put book on hold so that they would be ready for me to pick up at the library the day I came home. I think I may have a problem. jk, the library is life. Keep reading to find out which books I'm excited to read in the month of August and comment below to tell me which of these books you've read and I need to read first/ immediately return to the library!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Ginny Moon- by Benjamin Ludwig - Book Review

Book Review of "Ginny Moon" by Benjamin Ludwig

This book is one that grabbed me right away because of the description and the reviews. "Meet Ginny. She’s fourteen, autistic, and has a heart-breaking secret… Ginny Moon is trying to make sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up…." I had to know what Ginny's secret was, and I was really intrigued by the idea of an autistic narrator-  while there have been a couple of well known books from that perspective, I haven't read a book like this before and wanted to see how that might work as a narrative choice. Read more to see my thoughts on "Ginny Moon" by Benjamin Ludwig.