Category Archives: Nonfiction

TV (The Book)

Finished TV (The Book) by Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz. I received a copy for review. 

This is exactly what you’d expect: a selection of the 100 best TV shows ever. (There is also a list in the back of shows that may be included once their runs are over.)

I’m going to admit that I am not a big TV watcher although (a) I am very passionate about what I do watch and that (b) almost literally all my favorites are listed here. (I may not watch much but I watch quality, damn it!)

I’m not sure I agree with everything (Mad Men not in the top five? THE SIMPSONS AS THE BEST SHOW EVER?!) but am willing to concede that they are experts and I am not willing to watch almost 30 years’ worth of the Simpsons to crack my knuckles and say that I KNEW it wasn’t the best. 

This will be an excellent present for both your TV-obsessed friend and for the person like me who really does mean to catch up on everything, once she gets some time. 

Recommended. 

More About Boy

Finished More About Boy by Roald Dahl. I received a copy for review to be able to participate in this blog tour. 
Synopsis:

“Roald Dahl got all of his wonderful ideas for stories from his own life. He told the story of his childhood in Boy. Now More About Boy features behind-the-scenes material—plus some secrets he left out. Enjoy tales about the Great Mouse Plot, mean old ladies, and lots and lots of chocolate—the inspiration for some of the world-famous, bestselling books he would eventually write. This new edition includes some funny and some frightening—but all true—things that have NEVER been revealed before!”

This is the story of Roald Dahl’s childhood. (It also goes into his first job, where he worked for Shell.) Photos and letters and, best of all, liner notes of where his ideas for books likely came from, are also included. 

Most avid readers who are roughly my age are huge Roald Dahl fans. I am no exception; I love Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Witches. I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed harder than I did when encountering the Twits for the first time. So while it’s safe to say that I love Roald Dahl, it’s ALSO fair to point out that I didn’t really know him. 

More About Boy changed that. We learn a lot about his childhood (he goes to boarding school from a young age, not long after he is caned for a silly prank). And oh yeah, the pranks! I’m guessing that’s where the Twits’ love of mischief comes from. 

If you are also a Roald Dahl fan, read this. It’s captivating and I guarantee you’ll love it. 
About ROALD DAHL:

Roald Dahl (1916–1990) was one of the world’s most imaginative, successful and beloved storytellers. He was born in Wales of Norwegian parents and spent much of his childhood in England. After establishing himself as a writer for adults with short story collections such as Kiss Kiss and Tales of the Unexpected, Roald Dahl began writing children’s stories in 1960 while living with his family in both the U.S. and in England. His first stories were written as entertainment for his own children, to whom many of his books are dedicated. 

 

Roald Dahl’s first children’s story, The Gremlins, was a story about little creatures that were responsible for the various mechanical failures on airplanes. The Gremlins came to the attention of both First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who loved to read the story to her grandchildren, and Walt Disney, with whom Roald Dahl had discussions about the production of a movie. 

 

Roald Dahl was inspired by American culture and by many of the most quintessential American landmarks to write some of his most memorable passages, such as the thrilling final scenes in James and the Giant Peach – when the peach lands on the Empire State Building! Upon the publication of James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl began work on the story that would later be published as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and today, Roald Dahl’s stories are available in 58 languages and, by a conservative estimate, have sold more than 200 million copies. 

Roald Dahl also enjoyed great success for the screenplays he wrote for both the James Bond film You Only Live Twice in 1967 and for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, released one year later, which went on to become a beloved family film.  Roald Dahl’s popularity continues to increase as his fantastic novels, including James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda, The BFG, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, delight an ever-growing legion of fans.  

Two charities have been founded in Roald Dahl’s memory: the first charity, Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, created in 1991, focuses on making life better for seriously ill children through the funding of specialist nurses, innovative medical training, hospitals, and individual families across the UK. 

 

The second charity, The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre – a unique cultural, literary and education hub – opened in June 2005 in Great Missenden where Roald Dahl lived and wrote many of his best-loved works. 10% of income from Roald Dahl books and adaptations are donated to the two Roald Dahl charities. 

 

On September 13, 2006, the first national Roald Dahl Day was celebrated, on what would have been the author’s 90th birthday. The event proved such a success that Roald Dahl Day is now marked annually all over the world. September 13, 2016 is Roald Dahl 100, marking 100 years since the birth of the world’s number one storyteller. There will be celebrations for Roald Dahl 100 throughout 2016, delivering a year packed with gloriumptious treats and surprises for everyone.

 
Giveaway:

1 winner can pick 5 books from the Roald Dahl collection! US Only.
Click here to enter. Good luck!
Schedule:

9/12

Fiction Fare

Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes

http://www.fictionfare.com

9/13

Nicole’s Novel Reads

The Missing Golden Ticket and Other Splendiferous Secrets

http://nicolesnovelreads.blogspot.com

9/14

Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile

Skin and Other Stories

rantsandravesofabibliophile.wordpress.com

9/15

Intellectual Recreation

Love From Boy

http://www.intellectualrecreation.com

9/16

KellyVision

More About Boy

Kellyvision.wordpress.com

9/17

One Night Book Stand

Revolting Rhymes

https://onenightbookstandblog.wordpress.com

9/18

The Quiet Concert

The Minpins

http://thequietconcert.blogspot.com/

9/19

Reads All the Books

Dirty Beasts

http://www.ReadeAlltheBooks.com

9/20

Here’s to Happy Endings

The Enormous Crocodile

http://www.herestohappyendings.com

9/21

He Said Books or Me

D is for Dahl

Hesaidbooksorme.blogspot.com

9/22

Dizneeee’s World of Books

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More

http://dizneeeesworldofbooks.blogspot.com

9/23

The Innocent Smiley

The Vicar of Nibbleswick

http://www.theinnocentsmiley.com

9/24

PaperTrailYa

Esio Trot

PaperTrailYA.co.uk

9/25

Emily Reads Everything

Danny, The Champion of the World

Www.emilyreadseverything.com

9/26

Writing My Own Fairy Tale

George’s Marvelous Medicine

http://www.writingmyownfairytale.com

9/27

Rebelle Reads

Fantastic Mr. Fox

rebellereads.blogspot.com

9/28

Quest Reviews

Going Solo

http://www.questreviews.com

9/29

Mundie Kids

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

http://www.mundiekids.blogspot.com

9/30

Stuck In Books

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

http://stuckinbooks.com

10/1

No BS Book Reviews

Matilda

http://nobsbookreviews.com

10/2

Novelgossip

The Twits

https://novelgossip.com

10/3

Forever Bookish

Boy: Tales of Childhood

foreverbookish.com

10/4

Miranda’s Book Blog

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me

https://mirandasbookreviews.blogspot.com

10/5

I Turn the Pages

The BFG

http://www.iturnthepages.com

10/6

The Irish Banana Review

The Witches

http://theirishbanana.blogspot.com

10/7

Actin’ Up with Books

The Magic Finger

http://actinupwithbooks.blogspot.com

10/8

Swoony Boys Podcast

James and the Giant Peach

http://www.swoonyboyspodcast.com 

You’ll Grow Out of It

Finished You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein. I received a copy for review. 

Jessi Klein is a comedian and comedy writer. Because I live under a rock, I didn’t know who she was when I grabbed a copy at ALA (thank you, Hachette!). 
I don’t read many comedy essays (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, both of Mindy Kaling’s and Rachel Dratch) but this looked good and so yes. 
I said all that to say this: best impulse grab EVER. This is clever and just delightful. As Amy Schumer said on the blurb, this really was like drinking wine with the best friend I wish I had. 
And there are footnotes, which I love for some reason. 
Do yourself a favor: read this. And get copies for your friends. 

Hungry Heart

Finished Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner. I received a copy for review. This will be reposted closer to its release date. 

This is a book of essays and it is absolute perfection. 

I’ve wished for years now that we were friends and this really cements that. This is everything I wanted it to be and everything that it would be reasonable to expect. She discusses marriage and motherhood and dogs and The Bachelor and social media and, of course, weight and writing and…well, life. 
Everyone needs to read this. 
Highly recommended. 

Textbook

Finished Textbook by Amy Krause Rosenthal. I received a copy for review. 

This book is impossible to describe so let me just say that it’s simply essential.

It discusses math, music, history and more. Parts are funny. Parts are sad. It’s basically just like life and it would be an actual shame to miss it. 
Best of all, there’s a number to text and then you can get supplemental material or you can send pictures. 
Wisdom AND audience participation. Can’t beat that. Recommended. 

How to be a Person in the World

Finished How to be a Person in the World by Heather Havrilesky.  This book is a collection of Dear Polly columns.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A collection of original, impassioned, and inspiring letters by the author of the popular advice column Ask Polly

Should you quit your day job to follow your dreams? How do you rein in an overbearing mother? Will you ever stop dating wishy-washy, noncommittal guys? Should you put off having a baby for your career?

Heather Havrilesky, the author of the weekly advice column Ask Polly, featured on New York magazine’s The Cut, is here to guide you through the “what if’s” and “I don’t knows” of modern life with the signature wisdom and tough love her readers have come to expect.

How to Be a Person in the World is a collection of never-before-published material along with a few fan favorites. Whether she’s responding to cheaters or loners, lovers or haters, the depressed or the down-and-out, Havrilesky writes with equal parts grace, humor, and compassion to remind you that even in your darkest moments you’re not alone.”

Ever since I read Tiny Beautiful Things, I have loved reading collections of advice columns.  (Okay, to be fair, I have always loved advice columns.  But Cheryl Strayed’s Dear Sugar made me not be ashamed of it anymore.)

While not quite on that level, there is a lot to love here.  If at lease one of these letters doesn’t apply to you, I’m not sure I’d want to know you.  And I think we can all relate over not knowing how to make friends or date or stop dating or whether to stay in our job or not or whether to have a baby or not.  We are all bundles of indecision and we all want someone smarter than we are to take our hand and tell us that it will all be okay.  Especially if we just follow these simple steps.

And Heather Havrilesky is hilarious and her advice seems to be dead-on.  I will let you know for sure after I start following the ones that apply to me.

Recommended.

The Bassoon King

Finished The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Rainn Wilson’s memoir about growing up geeky and finally finding his place in comedy, faith, and life.
 
For nine seasons Rainn Wilson played Dwight Schrute, everyone’s favorite work nemesis and beet farmer. Viewers of The Office fell in love with the character and grew to love the actor who played him even more. Rainn founded a website and media company, SoulPancake, that eventually became a bestselling book of the same name. He also started a hilarious Twitter feed (sample tweet: “I’m not on Facebook” is the new “I don’t even own a TV”) that now has more than four million followers.

Now, he’s ready to tell his own story and explain how he came up with his incredibly unique sense of humor and perspective on life. He explains how he grew up “bone-numbingly nerdy before there was even a modicum of cool attached to the word.” The Bassoon King chronicles his journey from nerd to drama geek (“the highest rung on the vast, pimply ladder of high school losers”), his years of mild debauchery and struggles as a young actor in New York, his many adventures and insights about The Office, and finally, Wilson’s achievement of success and satisfaction, both in his career and spiritually, reconnecting with the artistic and creative values of the Bahá’í faith he grew up in.”

I am a huge fan of The Office and so I would’ve read this book even without the fact that the introduction is written by one Dwight K. Schrute.  (If you love that show as much as I do, I absolutely dare you not to read it and not laugh out loud at least three times on every page.  AT LEAST.)

So yeah, come for the parts by Dwight and the Office anecdotes, but you’ll stay for the rest of it.  It’s clever and sweet and just good.

I always forget just how many things Rainn Wilson has done that I’ve loved (including, God help me, House of 1,000 Corpses).  Obviously I think of The Office first, but he’s also in Galaxy Quest! Almost Famous!  The Rocker (one of the most underrated comedies ever, according to me).

Also, he just sounds like a great human, and we need more of those.

Recommended.

Her Again

Finished Her Again by Michael Schulman.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A portrait of a woman, an era, and a profession: the first thoroughly researched biography of Meryl Streep—the “Iron Lady” of acting, nominated for nineteen Oscars and winner of three—that explores her beginnings as a young woman of the 1970s grappling with love, feminism, and her astonishing talent.

In 1975 Meryl Streep, a promising young graduate of the Yale School of Drama, was finding her place in the New York theater scene. Burning with talent and ambition, she was like dozens of aspiring actors of the time—a twenty-something beauty who rode her bike everywhere, kept a diary, napped before performances, and stayed out late “talking about acting with actors in actors’ bars.” Yet Meryl stood apart from her peers. In her first season in New York, she won attention-getting parts in back-to-back Broadway plays, a Tony Award nomination, and two roles in Shakespeare in the Park productions. Even then, people said, “Her. Again.”

Her Again is an intimate look at the artistic coming-of-age of the greatest actress of her generation, from the homecoming float at her suburban New Jersey high school, through her early days on the stage at Vassar College and the Yale School of Drama during its golden years, to her star-making roles in The Deer Hunter, Manhattan, and Kramer vs. Kramer. New Yorker contributor Michael Schulman brings into focus Meryl’s heady rise to stardom on the New York stage; her passionate, tragically short-lived love affair with fellow actor John Cazale; her marriage to sculptor Don Gummer; and her evolution as a young woman of the 1970s wrestling with changing ideas of feminism, marriage, love, and sacrifice.

Featuring eight pages of black-and-white photos, this captivating story of the making of one of the most revered artistic careers of our time reveals a gifted young woman coming into her extraordinary talents at a time of immense transformation, offering a rare glimpse into the life of the actress long before she became an icon.”

This book made watching Kramer vs. Kramer almost unbearably emotional (see my review of that tomorrow for more) and I think it’s always nice to be able to get a more thorough picture of a good movie.

As the synopsis says, this book doesn’t cover her whole career (or her childhood).  It’s basically a little of high school, a lot more of college and then her career through Kramer vs. Kramer.  Because of that, we get a really in-depth portrayal of Meryl Streep right as she’s on the cusp of becoming MERYL STREEP.

I’m not sure if this book is for everyone, but if you’re a fan of hers (and who isn’t, really? She’s a phenomenal actress and I don’t think many would argue that she’s the best actress working today) it’s required reading.

Recommended.

Crush

Finished Crush, edited by Cathy Alter and Dave Singleton.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A star-studded collection of essays from acclaimed and bestselling authors and celebrities that illuminates the lasting power of desire and longing, and celebrates our initiation into the euphoria, pain, and mystery that is our first celebrity crush.

You never forget your first crush . . .

CRUSH brings together stories of heartbreak, humiliation, and hilarity from a roster of popular luminaries, including James Franco, Carrie Fisher, Stephen King, Roxane Gay, Jodi Picoult, Emily Gould, and Hanna Rosin, who share intimate memories of that first intense taste of love. Here are funny, whimsical, sometimes cringe-worthy tales of falling head over heels for River Phoenix, Mary Tyler Moore, Howard Cosell, Jared Leto, and a host of other pop culture icons.

A few contributors channeled their devotion into obsessively writing embarrassing fan letters. Some taped pics in school lockers. Others decorated their bedroom walls with posters. For tweenaged Karin Tanabe, it was discovering bad boy Andy Garcia—playing the gun-loving mobster Vincent Corleone in The Godfather III. Barbara Graham unsuccessfully staked out an apartment on Park Avenue for a glimpse of her blue-eyed soulmate, Paul Newman. There was only one puppy for six-year-old Jodi Picoult—Donny Osmond—while Jamie Brisick’s pre-teen addiction was Speed Racer.

Swoon-worthy and unforgettable, the essays in CRUSH will leave you laughing, make you cry, and keep you enthralled—just like your first celebrity crush.”

We all know about crushes, right? And for most of us, our first crush was on a celebrity.  They’re cute and unattainable, and so perfectly safe, right?

This is such a fun (and sweet) collection although I will admit to being a little alarmed at how many people had crushes on Donny Osmond and boys from The Partridge Family.

Still, it’s something that everyone can relate to, and I was happy to see so many of my favorites in the same essay collection.

Sam Maloof: 36 Views of a Master Woodworker

Finished Sam Maloof: 36 Views of a Master Woodworker by Fred Setterberg.  I received a copy for review.

SMALcover_300rgb

Summary (from Goodreads):

One of the great masters of midcentury modernism in furniture Maloof pieces are in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and other prominent museums.”

This is not the kind of book I generally read.  AT ALL.  But a friend recommended it, and then it showed up.  I figured I’d give it a chapter or two and do my best—and this book is absolutely fascinating.  Thirty-six people discuss Sam Maloof and his work, and it’s such an amazing tribute to Maloof.

I never really think of furniture as art, but look at the chairs on the cover.  It looks like it would be incredibly comfortable but it also looks like something that would make your home look better.

The chapters also showed who Sam Maloof was as a person, and he seems like a boss most of us would love to have.  He took his work seriously and demanded everyone around him do the same, but he also was willing to help people along and to see their ideas.

This is a completely different read and one that’s worth leaving your comfort zone for.