Category Archives: Nonfiction

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

Finished Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 

This book is actually a letter that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote to a friend after the friend had a daughter and asked for advice on how to raise the girl to be a feminist. 

I read this for book club and what struck me is how, even though this was written for an African woman, many of this still applies for basically every woman I know. We all struggle with being thought of as nice. And most women I know (even feminists) took their husband’s name when they married. (Note: the advice was “do it if you want to, not because you feel you have to.”)

This is a short but incredibly thought-provoking volume. Highly recommended. 

Extreme You

Finished Extreme You by Sarah Robb O’Hagen. I received a copy for review. 

To oversimplify, this is a how to succeed guide. It’ll help you advance your career or find courage to start over. 

The most valuable thing for me are the success stories from ordinary people who created their own niches and did extraordinary things. 

Everyone has something that they are (what I call) creepy passionate about. Or maybe there’s an area you’re an expert in. Or maybe you are the person with the big ideas. What Sarah Robb O’Hagen does is show you how to harness that and become an extreme version of you. 

This book is basically the best pep talk ever. Recommended. 

Hallelujah Anyway

Finished Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott. I received a copy for review. 

Every time Anne Lamott releases a book, it is somehow just what I needed to read. 

I definitely struggle with forgiving people, and I do fully grasp that the only one hurt by this is me. (People should never be allowed to keep hurting you, and one of the ways they can do that is if you keep dwelling on it, and them.)

One of the things I love most about Anne Lamott is that she seems to struggle with this, too, and she’ll have these amazingly witty one-liners, things that are so me and I will totally agree and keep reading and the next thing I know, she nails me with absolute truth and I never see it coming. Very tricky!

Highly recommended. 

Big Mushy Happy Lump

Finished Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen. It’s hard to describe–it’s a collection of cartoons and sort of nonfiction? 

I’m sure there are people who wouldn’t identify with the cartoons in this book and I am equally sure that those are people I do not want to be friends with. 
If you are quiet and awkward and happier at home, you have found your patronus. 
Highly recommended. 

Hidden Figures

Read Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. 

This is the book on which the Oscar-nominated movie was based. It tells the story of the African-American women mathematicians at NASA. While the movie focuses on the space race almost exclusively, the book covers almost 30 years of their lives/careers. 

This is a really interesting story, one that is inspiring and infuriating in equal measure. (Really, you can trust them to help put astronauts in space but outside NASA, God help them if they sit in the wrong seat on a bus.) 

If you are not really, REALLY interested in this subject, watch the movie. The book is exhaustive and if you aren’t super into this story, you won’t like it. 

Who Killed Christopher Goodman?

Finished Who Killed Christopher Goodman? by Allan Wolf. I received a copy for review. 

This is (based on) a true story. When the author was in high school, a classmate of his was murdered. This is his attempt to come to terms with it. 

I’m not sure how much of the book is true; it probably doesn’t matter. Most people probably have a similar story about high school classmates–maybe they died in a car accident instead, but most of us know at least one person who died well before they should have. And most of us probably wonder whether we could’ve done something to prevent it. 

I imagine it’s even worse in this case, where the death was so senseless and tragic, and where the reader can see so many points where the outcome would’ve been different if just one thing had been changed. 

This story will sit with me for a while, as will its characters. 

The Book That Made Me

Finished The Book That Made Me, edited by Judith Ridge. I received a copy for review. 

This is an anthology of stories from Australian authors, detailing the book (or books) most responsible for making them who they are as readers, authors and people. 

This is the kind of book that every reader will be able to identify with. We all have books that we can point to that make us US. (Matilda is one of mine, as I’m sure thousands of others will agree.)

The stories are both incredibly familiar to me and incredibly foreign. I haven’t read many of the novels mentioned, which is awesome (I plan to hit the library!) but the authors’ feelings for them? I do know all of them. 

Recommended. 

Shockaholic (mini-review)

Finished Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher. 

This is the second of Carrie Fisher’s three memoirs (I read them all out of order) and it’s probably the least good. But even “least good” is still fantastic when it’s written by Carrie Fisher. 

This has some stories not mentioned in her first memoir/show. The most interesting, I think, is her take on Michael Jackson (whom she met a few times). There is also a lengthy chapter on her relationship with her dad and a little bit about her daughter. 

The fascinating thing here is how transparent Carrie Fisher is about her own life but how she really keeps her relationships secret (by which I mean she keeps things about her daughter, brother and mom quiet). We see some things but not many. She talks about her dad but not until after he died. We get broad strokes but not details. 

If you only read one of her books, pick Wishful Drinking. But this is still fun and interesting and poignant, even if it’s not mandatory. 

Wishful Drinking

Finished Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher. 

This is essentially her one-woman show of the same name with some extra material added in.  

This book is super short but also absolutely perfect. I dare you not to laugh out loud multiple times. 

I have a lot of respect for the way Carrie Fisher was so willing to discuss everything in her life. The world was better when she was in it. Also funnier.

Highly recommended. (And watch the HBO special.)

The Princess Diarist (mini-review)

Finished The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher. 

This is Carrie Fisher’s account of making Star Wars; it includes part of her actual diaries of that time. It includes a lengthy chapter detailing her affair with Harrison Ford but it also discusses how she became ultra-famous and how weird that was. (I’m guessing her other two memoirs discuss fame in greater depth.) Obviously everyone knew who Carrie Fisher was anyway (her parents were famous) but it’s different than being famous in your own right, and it’s hard to be more famous than “I was in Star Wars.” (Maybe Harry Potter?)

If you only know Carrie Fisher as an actress, read this. It’s really funny but also relatable. I’m excited to read her other two memoirs and I hope to reread her novels at some point.