nonfiction

“The Color of Water” by James McBride

James McBride, the eighth of twelve children, always wondered why his mother looked so different from his siblings, his stepfather, and everyone else in their predominantly black neighborhood. He badgered her for details all of his life, and when he became a journalist, he began recording her responses.

Top Ten Books About India

I recently returned from a two-week trip to India. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to write a few articles about my time there, but suffice to say it is a rich, complex, and utterly beautiful country.

“This Boy’s Life” by Tobias Wolff

Toby Wolff is used to running–driving from Florida to Utah to Seattle to escape his mother’s boyfriend; moving to Concrete, WA, with his stepfather; dreaming of high school in Paris, France. But when he stops to face himself, he finds only scattered shadows of an identity.

Top Ten NBCC Picks I Want to Read

The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) recently announced its 2012 finalists for outstanding books. While there are a handful of titles I’ve been planning to read, there are also several books I’d never even heard of–which is surprisingly common with the NBCC annual picks. Here are the titles I’m most looking forward to reading: 10. The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande When Reyna Grande’s father leaves his wife and three children behind in a village in Mexico to make the dangerous []

Eight Memoirs I’m Reading This Semester

This semester, I’m taking a class called Readings in Essay and Memoir, so I thought I’d dedicate a post to some of the texts we’ll cover. You’ve probably noticed that memoir is one of my favorite genres. In fact, I’d like to write a memoir, and the second-best way to become a better writer is to read. (The first-best is to actually write.) None of these are new releases, but they represent different styles of memoir and essay writing and I know []

Top Ten Books I Resolve to Read in 2013

There were dozens of fantastic new releases in 2012, but I fell far behind in reading them. Now, it’s time to catch up–as always, my New Year’s resolution for 2013 is to read more. (Do you expect anything less from me?) Here are the top ten books I vow to read before this year’s end.

“War” by Sebastian Junger

In War, Sebastian Junger follows the men of the 2nd Platoon, Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in eastern Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. He reported on the men for Vanity Fair in five visits, from June 2007 to June 2008.

Monday Mailbox: BEA Loot

Two things: I swear that I know the real title of Jenny Lawson’s memoir, despite what I say in the video; and I think my hair is preparing an uprising against me. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson Matched by Ally Condie The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova SprinkleBakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist by Heather Baird Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner I receive a very small commission when you purchase the book []

Monday Mailbox: Jon Krakauer, Gretchen Rubin, and More!

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer Jesus Land: A Memoir by Julia Scheeres Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin Property by Valerie Martin I receive a []

“All There Is” by Dave Isay

The period of time between Christmas and Valentine’s Day is the worst. You can’t swing a cat without hitting some diamond ad. (Sorry, Kizmet.) It would appear that it’s not love if he didn’t go to Jared, and it won’t last forever if it wasn’t designed by Jane Seymour. Let’s not even talk about eHarmony.

National Book Critics Circle Awards

I don’t usually pay a great deal of attention to awards, but there are a few that usually fall in line with my tastes; the Orange Prize is one, and the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) awards are another. When an award is successful, it serves as an introduction to a previously unknown but soon-to-be-beloved author. I end up reading not only her award-winning title, but also her backlist. The shortlist of books published in 2011 was released recently, and more than []

In My Mailbox: Sebastian Junger, Dave Eggers, Ann Patchett, and More!

Books in This Episode War by Sebastian Junger (Jack’s review) What Is the What by Dave Eggers Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell Bel Canto by Ann Patchett In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson The Mirage by Matt Ruff I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother by Allison Pearson An Unfinished Score by Elise Blackwell []

“Unnatural Selection” by Mara Hvistendahl

Mara Hvistendahl’s Unnatural Selection examines the issue of sex selective abortion. The book outlines how a combination of the increasing availability of abortions and ultrasound technology and a strong cultural and individual preference for boys has contributed to a staggering deficit of 160 million women and girls.

In My Mailbox: Joan Didion, Chris Baty, and Rebecca Skloot

Books in This Episode No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty Blue Nights by Joan Didion Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis Inside Edge: A Revealing Journey into the Secret World of Figure Skating by Christine Brennan Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: Collected Nonfiction by Joan Didion The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot Hemingway by Kenneth Schuyler Lynn []