- One of the places Jenkins visited was a hippie commune in Tennessee named the Farm. Its leader was Stephen Gaskin, and the people who lived there worked together to farm hundreds of acres of land. Jenkins spent several weeks there.
- The Appalachian Mountains have more varieties of plants than grow in all of Europe.
- Winston County, Alabama, seceded from the Confederacy during the Civil War. They didn't own any slaves, so they didn't see the need to put their lives in danger for a cause they didn't believe in.
- It's a rather short list of facts, because listing facts was not really the aim of this book. It focused more on the people Jenkins met.
Premise of the book: In 1973, fresh out of college and disillusioned with the world he found himself in, Peter Jenkins decided to walk across America. He took along a fifty-pound backpack and his best friend, an Alaskan malamute named Cooper. This book (it turns out) is just the first half of his travels - from New York to New Orleans, a journey which took two years.
Random Facts Learned By Reading This Book:
General thoughts on the book: It took me a little while to get into this book. The focus on people and experiences, rather than information about each location, was not exactly what I was looking for in my last book for my Circumreading the World challenge. But once I came to terms with what this book was trying to accomplish, I ended up enjoying it. Walking across America is a tall order, and Jenkins accomplished it well. He gave every person and every place a chance to prove themselves, and so many of them took him pleasantly by surprise. This sort of open-mindedness is needed in this country more than ever, and Jenkins provides a good role model as he tells of his experiences across America.
Premise of the book: The title pretty much says it all. Bailey walks through Wales from south to north. He includes history lessons, local legends, and anecdotes from his travels. It was published in 1992, so some of the information might be out of date, but it still gives a comprehensive portrait of the country at the time.
Random Facts Learned By Reading This Book:
General thoughts on the book: I love walking when travelling, so I loved Bailey's account of his journey. This book provides a good mix of history, facts, and stories from his adventure. I learned a lot about Wales. This is a fun way to "visit" a country and get an intimate picture of what life is like there.
Premise of the book: Andrea di Robilant found a sixteenth century travel narrative of a fourteenth century journey by the Zen brothers to the North Atlantic. The map included was one of the first and best to show that region in its time. But the veracity of the map and narrative have been questioned during the following centuries, and di Robilant sets out to discover the truth and explore the areas that the Zen brothers explored.
Random Facts Learned by Reading This Book:
General thoughts on the book: This book was the perfect mix of history and travel narrative. It was informative and clearly written. And how often do you get to read a book about Greenland or the Faroe Islands? I really enjoyed this one!
Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein
This is the sequel to Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, which is one of my all-time favorite middle grade novels. Kyle Keeley and several of his classmates are locked in the brand-new library for the night, and they have to solve clues to escape. The first one out becomes the new face of the Lemoncello game company. In Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics, other middle school book lovers have demanded a rematch and a chance to participate. There are new characters from across the country, new games and clues to solve, and of course, more utter wackiness from Mr. Lemoncello. It's just as much fun as the first book in the series, as Kyle and his friends race to win the Library Olympics - and to save the library as well.
Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
What if the Great Library of Alexandria never burned down? And what if it now controls the dissemination of information to the entire world? What if real, paper-and-ink books are only found on the black market? Jess' family's business is exactly that - black market trading of books. But his family wants him on the inside, so he is sent to be trained to work for the Library. It turns out working for the Library is a lot more dangerous and full of secrets than you would ever expect. Rachel Caine has created an interesting alternate history, full of mystery and suspense. My only complaint is that it seems too much like a set-up for the rest of the series. It suffers from "second book of a trilogy"-itis, except it's only the first book. Despite this, I was definitely drawn into the world she created, and I'm glad the second book was just published so I can continue to follow Jess' story!
The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch
Have you ever dreamed of owning a bookstore? I most certainly have! So did Wendy Welch and her husband Jack. When they moved to Big Stone Gap, Virginia, they found a beautiful house that would work perfectly for a bookstore, and they dived in with both feet. They soon discovered they were a little in over their heads, but that didn't stop them from giving everything they had to keep their little bookstore going. This is a delightful book. It is chock-full of funny anecdotes and book love and crazy customers. It also is an ode to the power of both books and community, as Jack and Wendy slowly find their place in a small town. Read this book curled up in a comfy chair, sipping a mug of tea, and prepare to fall in love with the little bookstore of Big Stone Gap.
Confession: I am a Jeopardy nerd. I love watching Jeopardy and confidently shouting out the answers before anyone can buzz in. I know for a fact, however, that I will never have the courage to actually try out for the show, let alone go on TV to show all my knowledge that I'm certain will fly right out of my head.
Ken Jennings, on the other hand, not only had the courage to try out for Jeopardy, he succeeded on being on the show for a record-breaking 75 episodes in 2004. Brainiac is the story of his time on Jeopardy. The view of Jeopardy behind-the-scenes is fascinating, as well as everything Jennings did to prepare himself for obscure categories and questions. It was also amusing to read about the elaborate stories he had to concoct to hide his weekly trips to Los Angeles (since no one is supposed to know what happens until the episodes air several months later). What really sold me on this book, though, was Jennings' humility. It would be so easy to brag and boast about your knowledge or skill, but Jennings never once falls into that trap. He is always humble about his abilities and grateful for the experiences he had.
In addition to the story of his time on Jeopardy, Brainiac explores the world of trivia in all of its many forms - from Trivial Pursuit to trivia pub nights. Random, mostly useless, facts hold a surprisingly central part in our culture. Maybe it's just my geekiness, but I loved learning about the history of trivia through Jennings' wry style.
I have read Jennings' two other books (Maphead and Because I Said So!) and thoroughly enjoyed them both. Brainiac is just as educational - and just as extraordinarily enjoyable!
This week's discussion is hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey.
I Am Malala has been on my radar for quite awhile, but I honestly wasn't planning to read it for Nonfiction November. I had my books all planned out so that I could finish up some of my reading challenges. Then I discovered that I Am Malala actually fulfilled spots in two different reading challenges, and would end up saving me a book. So with that thought in mind, I decided to give I Am Malala a try.
And oh, my goodness, I am so glad I did. This book was fascinating and terrifying and inspiring, all at once. I knew next to nothing about Pakistan. Have you looked up pictures of the Swat Valley? It is unbelievably beautiful. I can understand why she wants to go back. Learning the background of the Taliban was also interesting. One man with a radio station - pure propaganda can be a more dangerous weapon than any gun.
I read this book the weekend of the attacks in Paris and other places around the world. It could not have been a more timely read. Knowing Malala's story has also provided an interesting perspective on the Syrian refugee crisis. Those refugees are just like Malala and her family - driven from the area they love through the evil and violence of others. What are they supposed to do?
Malala is incredibly brave. I can't imagine having to be afraid for your life or your family's lives almost constantly. And she never backed down. She never let fear rule her life or change her opinion. We need a lot more people like her in the world.
Sometimes a book comes just when you need it. That was true for me and I Am Malala. I'm so glad Nonfiction November gave me the push to read this book at this time. Words are important. Books are important. Education is important - for everyone, everywhere.
I'm onto my fourth nonfiction read of the month - The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma. I devoured I Am Malala this past weekend, and I can't wait until next week to share all my thoughts and read everyone else's!
Here's this week's topic for Nonfiction November:
Nontraditional Nonfiction: This week we will be focusing on the nontraditional side of reading nonfiction. Nonfiction comes in many forms. There are the traditional hardcover or paperback print books, of course, but then you also have e-books, audiobooks, illustrated and graphic nonfiction, oversized folios, miniatures, internet publishing, and enhanced books complete with artifacts. So many choices! Do you find yourself drawn to or away from nontraditional nonfiction? Do you enjoy some nontraditional formats, but not others? Perhaps you have recommendations for readers who want to dive into nontraditional formats. We want to hear all about it this week!
So far in my reading life, I've been very attached to traditional print. There's just something about holding a book in your hand. There is a type of nonfiction that I'm drawn to listening as an audiobook (although I honestly haven't done much of it yet). That would be memoirs read by the author. I just think it's awesome to be able to have the person themselves tell you their life story. I really enjoyed Dick van Dyke's memoir, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business. My mom has also told me how much she liked Frank McCourt's books narrated by him. I know there are a lot of celebrities out there that now narrate their own memoirs, and I'd really like to listen to more. Anyone have some good suggestions for me?
I am on to (and almost done with) my second nonfiction read of the month - The Hidden White House by Robert Klara. I love learning totally useless things as I read (such as, Harry Truman owned 489 neckties and brought the bowtie back into style). Facts like this are one of the reasons I love nonfiction.
This week's topic is:
Book Pairing: Match a fiction book with a nonfiction book that you would recommend.
Mary Roach is surely a writer with no fear. If she investigates a topic, she goes all the way, even experiencing weightlessness during a parabolic jet flight (something which would have certainly made me sick). If she writes about it, then she wants to experience it as best as she can.
Although, experiences are not the only way she shows no fear. She asks questions. Questions that would make the answerer uncomfortable. Questions that certainly cannot be described as tactful. Questions that would never even have crossed the mind of most people.
It is this quality of fearlessness that makes Mary Roach’s books the wonders that they are. Packing for Mars investigates all sorts of aspects of space travel, everything from donning a space suit to why you may want to avoid going to the bathroom for the duration of your stay in space. I learned things about life in space that I never wanted to know (but found strangely fascinating, nevertheless).
Reading one of Mary Roach’s books is like having a cup of coffee with that girl in school who was never afraid to say what she was thinking. Packing for Mars was informative (perhaps a little too much so) and hilarious. Anyone interested in astronauts or life in space should read this book. Actually, anyone who is interested in laughing out loud at completely random facts should read this book. And isn’t that all of us?
I've never participated in a Nonfiction November before. I don't think I read tons of nonfiction, but I do read some throughout the year. I prefer it sprinkled amongst the fiction to give my brain a break. But when I looked at the books I still need to read to finish my 2015 reading challenges, I realized I'm going to be doing quite a bit of nonfiction reading in November. So I might as well do it with everybody else!
Here's my stack:
Your Year in Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?
My favorite nonfiction read of the year is definitely Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground by Mark Mason. I am an Anglophile, I love walking around foreign cities, and I love random trivia. This book contained all of those things in spades. It was awesome!
As you can probably tell, travel narratives are my favorite type of nonfiction to read. I can never get enough of that. But I also love nonfiction books about books. And European history, especially the U.K., France, and Italy.
The community is the best part of book blogging. So I'm hoping to find some new blogs and bloggers to connect with, as well as some amazing book recommendations!
My name is Julie, and I own a lot of books. As in, they are stacked on the floor because I've run out of room on the shelves. And those shelves? There are so many books on them that they smile -- not sag; smile. This blog will cover book reviews and all manner of other bookish things.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.