Nonfiction November: Book Pairings

Thanks Sarah for hosting this check in of fiction and nonfiction pairings – I love this idea and my TBR list is growing!  I’m cheating as I haven’t quite read all of these but…

Flappers: 6 Women of a Dangerous Generation was a fantastic nonfiction read [thanks again Eva for pointing me to it!!].  I could easily go down the rabbit hole reading more about all of them but I am most dying to read this fiction.. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald Zelda is totally fascinating.  I need to read her own work as well as some fiction about her life.

The Underground Girls of Kabul exposed me to a whole style of life I’d never thought of.  I really still need to read The Pearl that Broke Its Shell for a fictionalized version of this life in Afghanistan.

Last here’s three phenomenal books to fill you with feminist rage and empowerment both. All of these books made me cry.  All should make you want to stand up and do something! All the Rage by Courtney Summers, Dietland by Sarai Walker and Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman by Lindy West.  Lindy West is my new nonfiction obsession!  Honorable mention hare is also the amazing Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.  Read them all!

 

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Review: Generation Chef

Generation Chef, Karen Stabiner

Published September 13th 2016 by Avery

Hardcover, 288 pages

Source: e-ARC received from publisher

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Inside what life is really like for the new generation of professional cooks—a captivating tale of the make-or-break first year at a young chef’s new restaurant.

For many young people, being a chef is as compelling a dream as being a rock star or professional athlete. Skill and creativity in the kitchen are more profitable than ever before, as cooks scramble to reach the top—but talent isn’t enough. Today’s chef needs the business savvy of a high-risk entrepreneur, determination, and big dose of luck.

The heart of Generation Chef is the story of Jonah Miller, who at age twenty-four attempts to fulfill a lifelong dream by opening the Basque restaurant Huertas in New York City, still the high-stakes center of the restaurant business for an ambitious young chef. Miller, a rising star who has been named to the 30-Under-30 list of both Forbes and Zagat, quits his job as a sous chef, creates a business plan, lines up investors, leases a space, hires a staff, and gets ready to put his reputation and his future on the line.

Journalist and food writer Karen Stabiner takes us inside Huertas’s roller-coaster first year, but also provides insight into the challenging world a young chef faces today—the intense financial pressures, the overcrowded field of aspiring cooks, and the impact of reviews and social media, which can dictate who survives.

I’ve become a Top Chef addict and I love trying the food of Chicago’s celebrity chefs like Rick Bayless and Stephanie Izard so I was really excited to read this story of a new NYC restaurant opening and through their first year.  My husband jokes about opening a diner one day and I think this book proves my nerves could never handle it!  From the attempts to find backers, to find the perfect location and then to both hire and retain the best staff – that’s not even getting into the cooking.  You clearly need nerves of steel to open your own kitchen especially on this kind of scale, in New York – at age 26!

The access Stabiner had to the Huertas staff to put this book out was fantastic.  I can’t imagine how she basically lived at the restaurant for a year and didn’t insert herself into the story.  Just reading along I was so nervous for the critics reviews to come in so I can’t imagine how Stabiner didn’t let her own emotions show.  I thought it was so interesting to follow how Miller first conceived of Huertas and then let the concept flow a bit to meet the wants of both his customers and reviews.  I also enjoyed the glimpses into the paths that other chefs took from Izard to others in California or Minnesota; it was very cool to see how differently things move all over the country.  

I would have liked the personal stories between Miller and his partners and staff to be more in depth, but that’s just me being kind of voyeuristic perhaps.  After all these people were still working together largely when the book was published and that might have been a bit much.  I really felt like I needed to follow this with a reread of Sweetbitter for a really juicy peak behind the kitchen walls.   

Let me just say I am hugely proud of myself for stifling the urge to Google Huertas until I finished this book!  As I read I was so extremely curious to know if they were still in business or what might have happened.  I managed to control myself – yes I don’t peak at Christmas presents either – but it was satisfying search to run as soon as I put my kindle down.  Now I know where I’d like to go when I finally visit New York one day because Miller’s food sounds delicious. If you like food and watching the restaurant industry this is definitely a fun read – and hungry read. Have snacks handy!   

Thank you Avery for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

Nonfiction November: Choosing My Nonfiction

I’m slow but I’m here for week two of Nonfiction November!  Thank you Rachel at Hibernator’s Library for keeping this going this week!

What are you looking for when you pick up a nonfiction book?

I’m definitely a mood reader so I have to pick up a book that fits at that time.  For example based on my anxiety right now due to the state of the world I’m going to be looking for lighter nonfiction.  Something that tells an engrossing story like Into Thin Air or The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and The Missing Corpse.  

Do you have a particular topic you’re attracted to?

Always feminism and biographies or autobiographies of awesome women.  Bring them on!  I’m always interested in Lucrezia Borgia and currently obsessed with RBG.  Otherwise I am pretty much all over the board in my interests.  I am curious about more hard science books – like Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity after Shannon at River City Reading recommended it – but I think I need shorter the better for that kind of topic. 

Do you have a particular writing style that works best?

I don’t think so?  As long as I’m interested I’m in -even if it takes me 4 months like Romantic Outlaws did in the end.   I would probably pick up narrative nonfiction first given a shelf of options. 

When you look at a nonfiction book, does the title or cover influence you?

Totally!  I can’t imagine not at least picking up a book just based on a great title or cover.  I mean – The Bad Ass Librarians of Timbuktu or again The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse?  I get so very curious right away!  I really need to pick up Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Found – I forget who recommended this but thank you!

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My 2016 in Non-Fiction

Thanks Doing Dewey for hosting this event this year!

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West. I just finished this and I loved it. I feel like a stalker but I want to spend some time on Google hunting down Lindy West articles to read.   But the year isn’t done!  I’m determined to get Tiny Beautiful Things read this year – maybe I’ll love it even more?  I was also really surprised at how much I enjoyed Locally Laid  since farming is most decidedly not my thing. 

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman might top the list along with 5 Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink.

What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?

This is a hard question! I think I need more historical biographies in my life.  I also need to read more globally.  I still have to get to Without You There is No Us.  I also just learned about The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire – tell me you don’t want to read that based on the title.  I also really need to pick up my copy of The Dragon Behind the Glass: A True Story of Power, Obsession, and the World’s Most Coveted Fish.  I love books like that about topics I’ll know nothing about and how they send me down the rabbit hole to MORE books.  Basically this question is giving me anxiety for all the books I have still to read.

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Of course I want all the new to me titles to add to my TBR and always to find some new book nerds to talk to. I say book nerd with total love as a nerd myself!

Become a Podcast Addict/ Nonfiction November

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This week in Nonfiction November, the topic is nontraditional nonfiction – including “e-books, audiobooks, illustrated and graphic nonfiction, oversized folios, miniatures, internet publishing, and enhanced books complete with artifacts.”

I love a good nonfiction book, but when it comes to other ways of consuming nonfiction, I have a clear favorite: podcasts. Oh, not just any podcasts – I am here to tell you exactly where to start listening to get hooked on audio storytelling.

Here is your 5 step guide to becoming a podcast-addict.

 

  1. Start here: In 2014 (or maybe late 2013?) Alex Blumberg left NPR to found a podcast company called Gimlet, where he chronicled his own journey in season one of Startup, and started launching new (amazing!) podcasts. Check out this recent episode of Startup, called “The Secret Formula,” which explains the kind of obsessively crafted podcasts Gimlet makes. This will set the tone for everything else you’re about to listen to.startup_logo_small2
  2. Next, try another Gimlet podcast: Mystery Show hosted by Starlee Klein. If you don’t love the episode “Belt Buckle”, then I’m not sure we can be friends.mystery_logo_small
  3. Remember when I said Alex Blumberg left NPR? Now it’s time to revisit where he learned how to make great podcasts: from one Ira Glass at This American Life. There are currently 539 shows, so I get that seems a bit overwhelming. Here’s a few episodes to start with: “Very Tough Love,” about a drug court in Georgia, and “The Problem We All Live With” – parts 1 and 2, about school segregation and integration. And also, “Fear of Sleep.” Seriously, just listen.logo-v5
  4. Before there was Gimlet, Alex Blumberg helped start NPR’s Planet Money, a show that bills itself this way: “Imagine you could call up a friend and say, “Meet me at the bar and tell me what’s going on with the economy.” Now imagine that’s actually a fun evening. That’s what we’re going for at Planet Money.” If you’re ready to dive into this show, start with this 5 episode series where the Planet Money team worked with economists to create a fake presidential candidate pitching an economist-approved agenda. No, really – it will get you thinking for sure.download
  5. It’s time for one more Gimlet Show. Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt host Reply All, “a show about the internet.” Careful readers may have noticed that I say “this is a book blog,” but I often start with books and then write about whatever I feel like – that’s basically what Alex and PJ do. They definitely start with the internet, but this show goes into all sorts of fascinating directions. Like in the episode “Shipped to Timbuktu.” You really, really, really need to listen to this one.replyall_logo_small

 

Bonus step: visit http://serialpodcast.org/ and wait for Season 2 to be released. You can certainly catch-up on Season 1 if you haven’t heard that yet. But I’m assuming you have, right? It’s the only the most popular podcast ever.

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Some technical notes: iTunes is the obvious place that most people find podcasts, but there are definitely alternatives. I’ve been using an app (for Android) called Podcast Addict that I love. I download when I’m on wifi and listen to downloaded episodes wherever: in the car, on a run, and while making dinner or doing laundry. You can also play the linked episodes above right from your computer.

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And finally – I am often terrible at responding to comments, but I really want to hear your thoughts on these podcasts and whatever podcasts you love! So let’s discuss, eh?

Nonfiction Review – Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Irin Carmon, Shana Knizhnik

Published October 27th 2015 by Dey Street Books

ebook, 240 pages

Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg never asked for fame—she was just trying to make the world a little better and a little freer. But along the way, the feminist pioneer’s searing dissents and steely strength have inspired millions. Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, created by the young lawyer who began the Internet sensation and an award-winning journalist, takes you behind the myth for an intimate, irreverent look at the justice’s life and work. As America struggles with the unfinished business of gender equality and civil rights, Ginsburg stays fierce. And if you don’t know, now you know.

A few things I took away from this delightful book that should convince you to read about an amazing woman.

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  • RBG is in her 80’s and does 20 push-ups a day.  20 PUSH-UPS A DAY.  If that doesn’t tell you she’s a bad-ass that you should want to read about, read on.  
  • This woman was a mother of a 1 year-old, 1 of 9 women in her class at Harvard law when her husband Marty was diagnosed with cancer.  Marty was also a law student, a year ahead of RBG at Harvard.  RBG came home from law school every day, spent time with her child, typed up the notes she had other students take for Marty while he was being treated and then did her own law school work.  She’s super human.
  • RBG cooked her last meal in 1980.  Her daughter is quoted as saying “Mommy does the thinking and Daddy does the cooking.”  
  • RBG is an opera lover (something she shares with Justice Scalia in a truly fascinating friendship) and has said “If I had any talent that God could give me, I would be a great diva.”  Notorious RBG, Supreme Court Justice to opera diva, amazing.

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  • RBG and Marty had what appears to have been a true partnership.  What an amazing couple.  I cried an embarrassing amount on the train while reading his last letter to her after more than 50 years of marriage.  I think everyone can only hope to be so lucky in love and friendship.

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  • As an attorney she argued for equal gender rights not just for women, but for men – and this book shares her written opinions with legal commentary, not just her personal life.  This is a fast read, but not all fluff.  She taught law and worked for the ACLU before donning her judge’s robes.  RBG has done amazing work to help to empower everyone – not just women.
  • You can’t spell Truth without RUTH.

Read this!  If you haven’t had enough RBG check out the Tumblr site that was the inspiration for the book.  You will soon find yourself shopping for Notorious RBG merchandise like me!  My daughter calls my RBG tote my “King Bag” I need to work on reminding her that RBG is way cooler than a king!

5 stars!  

Thank you Dey Street Books for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

All quotes taken from an uncorrected galley copy in advance of publication.  

Book Pairings: Nonfiction November Edition

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In case you missed it, last week Amanda kicked off our Nonfiction November with some of her fave NF reads. Lest she call me out again for skipping out, here I am to get us started for this week’s topic: pairing up a nonfiction book with a fiction one.

Grouping books together is totally my jam – see exhibits a, b, and c – so I am excited about this topic.

Holly’s Pairings

Issac’s Storm + The Promise

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Both of these books have been on my TBR for a while, and I’m actually just waiting for Issac’s Storm to be mine from the library so I can hop to it! Issac’s Storm is Erik Larson’s nonfiction account of the 1900 hurricane in Galveston, Texas – the greatest natural disaster in American history. The Promise is Ann Weisgarber’s novel about a young woman from Ohio who arrives in Galveston in 1900 to marry a childhood admirer. I can’t to see how the fictional account works in the realities of the storm.

 

The Girls of Atomic City + Code Name Verity

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If you are interested in reading about women during WWII, then I’m going to recommend both of these books. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is an amazing novel about two friends and the role they play in the war effort. The Girls of Atomic City is Denise Kiernan’s nonfiction account of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the work that was done there during the war. Young women doing what they can during the war? Check. Hardships and reality? Check. Secrets and intrigue? Check. Seriously – you won’t regret reading either one.

 

Amanda’s Pairings

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and The Missing Corpse + The Talented Mr. Ripley

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I just finished The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and The Missing Corpse which was kind of a bizarre story.  I spent most of the book trying to figure out when the Dead Duke really died and whose life he was living at the time.  Trying unravel this mystery led me to thinking about Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley.  Ripley’s way of becoming someone is far more sinister than what might have happened with the mysterious 5th Duke of Portland and  T.C. Druce – but Druce sounds like kind of a dirtbag which led me to this comparison.  

 

The Witches: Salem, 1692 + A Few YA Reads

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I’m only 20 pages into The Witches right now and I keep thinking of books I have read or want to read! First,  I thought of the Cahill Witch Chronicles by Jessica Spotswood which I’ve been wanting to read forever.  Witches trying to stay secret – yes please.  Next I thought of The Fever by Megan Abbott, about a creepy panic when high school girls fall ill.  Not my favorite read to be honest, but it was compelling and the paranoia hearkens back to Salem quite a bit in my mind.  Continuing with the YA theme I thought of The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker.  This is more of a stretch I think – but the accusations and the searching for witches is what brought it to my mind.   Last one,  maybe more middle grade I suppose, but the fantastic Madeline L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time series -specifically A Swiftly Tilting Planet.  As I read about Cotton Mather inserting himself into the history of Salem I thought about how he gets involved in the story of Meg and Charles Wallace.  And  I want to now throw over my whole TBR to read the whole Wrinkle in Time series again.   I am curious to see what else jumps to mind as I keep reading – and a bit nervous to read about what happened in Salem.  

What books are you linking together this week?