What Non-Fiction Are We Reading Now (April thru June 2024)?

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What Non-Fiction Are We Reading Now (April thru June 2024)?

Editado: Mar 28, 9:07 am

This Q2 thread is available for your springtime posts.

Abr 3, 1:44 pm

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens
Eddie Izzard
4/5 stars
This is the autobiography of Eddie Izzard, comedian and entertainer who was born in Yemen but also lived in Wales, Northern Ireland and England. Raised by his dad after his mother died which greatly affected him. He has come out as genderfluid. He is also involved in politics. Very interesting! A Dozen Film and TV Books

Abr 4, 8:08 pm

I am in the midst of reading Mud sweeter than honey which is an excellent book taken in small doses. I am also devouring The power of Geography the fourth book in Tim Marshall's outstanding politics of place series.

Editado: Abr 4, 9:01 pm

I've just started the audio version of This Is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan.

Abr 5, 9:33 am

Finally finished Griechische Religion der archaischen ... Epoche and added a review (translated from the German with help of Linguee):

"A diligent collection of facts, clearly structured and systematised, but less suitable for reading through. It assumes prior knowledge and lends itself as an in-depth reference work, also thanks to the thorough source references. The tone is somewhat unctious, and I was surprised that it was written in 1977. It would be great to have a companion volume in which all the illustrations are assigned, some of which do appear in the mind's eye, but would take a lot of time for an everybody to locate and look up references, were one to make the effort. This edition has been revised. A comparison with the first edition would perhaps be an exciting research topic, as it might reveal insights into the changing Zeitgeist. As for the emphasised reference to the attention turned towards the "Orient", I would have expected more traces of this than occasional glances, but I am writing this as a layman."

Translated with DeepL.com (free version)

Abr 5, 10:04 am

I finished my read of The Eucharist in the New Testament and went to tackle the Burkert in Masks of Dionysus, but it turned out that the paper would benefit from the context of reading the other studies in the first 2/3 of the book first, so I abandoned the idea of dipping in to read it as an isolated piece, and deferred the project a little (while leaving it on my explicit TBR list).

Instead I read Wallace Shawn's Night Thoughts, which I had already borrowed from my local public library. I've written and posted a quick review.

Abr 7, 8:35 am

I just finished I finished The Curragh Incident by Sir James Fergusson (a.k.a. 8th Baronet of Kilkerran: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_James_Fergusson,_8th_Baronet)

This history, first published in 1963, describes a 1914 incident wherein officers of the English Army stationed in Ireland were made to attest that they would be willing to obey orders if they were sent north to Ulster to "take actions" against the Ulster Militia that was threatening trouble if England forced Irish Home Rule on the northern counties, who did not want to be ruled, even nominally, by Catholic Ireland, but instead declared themselves loyal directly to the British Crown. Anyone who would not make such a declaration was to be immediately dismissed from the Army, stripped of rank and pension. Quite a few officers swore they would quit based on what they saw as the insult of the ultimatum and the fact that in some cases they were given only a half hour to decide.

In the end, cooler heads among the officers prevailed, nobody quit, and the question of Irish Home Rule was put on the back burner by the outbreak of World War I. Fergusson does a fine job of laying out the ways in which this situation became a political scandal for the Liberal government of the time, and assembling as many facts (50 years after the events described) as possible about the plans that may well have behind the whole situation, and the ways that those plans were bungled.

Editado: Abr 7, 3:18 pm

>1 Molly3028: as a new member: Q2 stands for second quarter year, right?

Are you looking for a non-fiction book to be read "together" during this time?

On the to be read pile is Jenny Uglow's "Nature's Engraver - A Life of Thomas Bewick" which surely would be a great choice.

Currently I'm reading Ancient Greek Religion - A Sourcebook by Emily Kearns, a nice collection of relevant source texts.


Abr 8, 5:23 pm

I finally finished The Rediscovery of America by Ned Blackhawk.
What. A. Slog. Five months and 618 pages. (And that does not count all the back notes. Page 618 is just 62% of the book. Needless to say, I did not read the notes.)
Blackhawk's premise that Native Americans have, in fact, been at the pivot points of American history is well defended up until about the 1800s. After that, it breaks down. And throughout the book there are times where there is an overabundance of detail relative to the importance of the point; while at other times Blackhawk skims over points that seem quite important, especially in the 20th century.

Abr 8, 6:04 pm

I have just started reading In the Name of Plants by Sandra Knapp.

Abr 9, 7:18 pm

Now reading Diana Pasulka's Encounters: Experiences with Nonhuman Intelligences. I enjoyed her previous book American Cosmic. She's a scholar of religion who has spent the last decade or so specializing in belief systems and social organization around UFO phenomena. Needless to say, she's riding a wave at the moment.

Abr 11, 1:24 am

>8 Buchmerkur: Yes, Q2 is Quarter 2, Apr to Jun.
No, we don't read a book together in that time, we each report back on what we have read.

I finished The man who mistook his wife for a hat, which was interesting, but felt a bit like being presented with a series of freaks at the fair. Language was rather technical for a non-specialist and, in places, it showed its age.

Abr 11, 4:09 am

>13 Helenliz: Thank you.

Ah Oliver Sacks! He was quite popular when I came to Berlin in the 80s, especially with this book; and not too long ago I watched a documentary, which I liked. I read his articles in the 90s once they appeared in NYRB. I liked the approach as exploring the minds without dividing people up in healthy and sick, just pondering about the possibilities.

Abr 12, 9:17 am

I'm a few chapters into In the Name of Plants by Anna Pavord. It's a brilliant idea: choose a set of plant genera and then, in addition to describing plants in each genus, tell the story of the people for whom the genera were named.

Abr 12, 9:23 am

>16 Treebeard_404: Interesting. I heard on the radio recently that birds named after some historical figures were going to be renamed if those figures mistreated Aboriginal people, were slaveholders, et. al. Are plants next?

Abr 13, 9:07 am

I'm reading Bittersweet, which examines why some people enjoy art that produces sadness or melancholy.

Editado: Abr 15, 10:42 am

Not Your China Doll: The Wild and Shimmering Life of Anna May Wong
Katie Gee Salisbury
4/5 stars
This was a wonderfully interesting story about the American Asian actress Anna May Wong. She grew up in America, lived in Los Angeles and worked in her family's laundry business where she was discovered. She starred in the Douglas Fairbanks' film Thief of Bagdad and that started her career. Well written!

Abr 16, 1:29 pm

I've just finished The Mountains Wait, a memoir by Theodor Broch. Broch was the mayor of the far northern Norwegian town of Narvik when the Nazis invaded in 1940. The book begins with Broch getting away over the mountains into neutral Sweden, having escaped arrest for his resistance activities several months after the Nazi's arrival. But then, quickly, we go 10 years back in time to Broch's arrival in the town with his wife. He is a young lawyer intent on starting a practice away from the bustle (and competition) of Oslo. Pretty soon, Broch finds himself on the city council, and then the town's mayor. In the meantime, war clouds are gathering over Europe, though the folks of this sleepy town somehow assume they'll be spared.

But, of course, they aren't. In April 1940, German destroyers show up in the fjord. The Norwegian Navy ships on hand refuse to surrender, but are almost immediately sunk. Broch describes the Nazi's arrival and occupation of the town, their temporary departure when the English attack, and then their return. He describes well the town's day-to-day life during this time, as well as the dangers and tragedies of the various bombings and naval bombardments that take place.

But, finally, Broch's activities in getting information out to the British and other minor acts of resistance are discovered, and he has to flee. Broch eventually made his way to the U.S., where he became active in trying to raise money for the training and supplying of the Norwegian military and government in exile. He travels the country, especially the midwest, where Norwegian immigrants have been settling for decades. when Broch talks to American college students, he is frequently asked how Norway could have let itself be caught by surprise. That's until the Pearl Harbor attack, when those questions naturally cease. Finally we visit an airfield in Canada where Norwegian airmen are being trained. The Mountains Wait was published in 1943, while the war, obviously, was still ongoing. Broch couldn't know that Norway would still be in German hands when the Nazis surrendered to the Allies.

Editado: Abr 17, 11:17 am

I finished my read of Encounters: Experiences with Nonhuman Intelligences and posted a full review. Now I'm turning my attention back to Dreams, Illusion, and Other Realities.