All posts tagged: nonfiction

Unburying the Osage

It is wild to me that I had never heard even a peep about the Osage murders until I picked Killers of the Flower Moon. And I guess, in some ways, that’s the point of the book. An entire group of people targeted and being systematically murdered for money and it’s been completely washed out of our history for everyone but those personally touched by it. The story told in this book is almost so wild that it’s unbelievable, and the craziest part is that what has been told is probably not even the half of it! I feel gross using the word “fascinating” to describe it, but… It’s truly fascinating that 1) all of this actually happened, 2) basically everyone got away with it, and 3) there are probably hundreds more victims that we will never even know about. Aside from the story itself, I also really enjoyed how Grann laid it out, unfolding it bit by bit, seemingly allowing us to discover the webs and cover-ups the same way he did. I won’t lie …

July Book

Announcing our July book pick! David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. In July we like to throw it back to a good nonfiction read to teach us a little bit more about who we are (for better or worse). And ever since this one came out we’ve been hearing nothing but good things. Released just over a year ago, this true-life murder mystery investigates a series of murders that took place in Osage County, Oklahoma in the early 1920’s. During that time the Osage Nation were among the wealthiest people in the world after large oil deposits are found under their land. But slowly family members ended up shot or poisoned. Numerous Osage were dying under mysterious circumstances. Even those who investigated the crimes were murdered. As the numbers rose the case was investigated by the newly developed FBI, director J. Edgar Hoover, and Texas Ranger Tom White. Along with the help of members of the Osage themselves, one of the greatest conspiracies in American …

Phone on table

A Dog is a Bicycle with Emotions

“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.” First things first, I loved this book. After hearing people rave about the audiobook version, I decided to give it a shot. (I mean, who doesn’t want to list to Trevor Noah on their way to work and while making dinner?) I’m fairly new to audiobooks, but this one might be my favorite so far. Noah was able to convey his story as only he can, with perfect inflection, comedic timing, and emotion in his voice. The story kept me engaged the entire time, and my mind tends to wander easily. Noah’s story is an incredible one, and he did a phenomenal job of injecting just the right amount of humor to lighten up even the most intense situations. In fact, (if you’ve read it, you’ll know just the scene I’m talking about) one particular story toward the beginning of the book had me laughing …

A Heavy Kind of Funny

When I read and review a book that I love, one of the most common compliments I give is “I read this in one sitting” or something similar. Born a Crime was quite the opposite. It’s a book that I love that took me forrrevvvverrrrr (in my world) to read. My husband actually commented about how few pages I was able to read in one sitting each night. So why did it take me so long? I think that, for a humorous book, it was heavy and it felt too dense to read quickly. I wanted to take it one chapter at a time and really sit with what I’d read. Obviously, apartheid and racism are not new to me, but South African history is certainly not my area of expertise and a lot of the details were new. I just needed time. {Spoiler alert: this paragraph has them!} Noah’s story is simply incredible. That one person lived all of those stories is almost mind-boggling. And even more so when you think about the fact that there …

Humor and Heart

Our April book Born a Crime was just what I was in the mood for! After lots of dark and cloudy months and some intense books (i.e. Birdbox, The Hate U Give, The Healing of America), Trevor Noah’s ability to make anything into a joke was just what I needed. He covers some really dark subjects to say the least (attempted murders, carjacking, domestic abuse, apartheid, racism, etc), but manages to tell his stories with humor and heart. “One day as a young man I was walking down the street, and a group of Zulu guys was walking behind me, closing in on me, and I could hear them talking to one another about how they were going to mug me. ‘Let’s get this white guy. You go to his left, and I’ll come up behind him.’ I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t run, so I just spun around real quick and said, ‘Yo, guys, why don’t we just mug someone together? I’m ready. Let’s do it.’ They looked shocked for a moment, …

April Book

It’s been dark and gray for awhile now. I’d say we’re ready for more light, literally and figuratively. Which is why in April we read something with a sense of humor to help lighten the mood. And this April we’re reading Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime! And we’re SO excited for this one. If you know the name Trevor Noah, it’s either because you’re a fellow booklover and have heard GREAT things about this book, and/or you’ve seen Noah on The Daily Show as Jon Stewart’s replacement as of September, 2015. He’s a comedian (writer, producer, political commentator, television host, etc.), so we definitely expect a few laughs out of this book. However, from the little we know so far, he also has a very interesting, pretty intense, story to tell. Noah was born in Johannesburg, South Africa during apartheid. The son of a black mother and a white father, his parents’ relationship was illegal. His childhood was layered with all the complexities of race, religion, family, homeland, and everything in between. Beginning his career …

book on lap

A Worldwide Tour of Health Care

“On September 11, 2001, some three thousand Americans were killed by terrorists; our country has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But that same year, and every year since then, some twenty thousand Americans died because they couldn’t get health care. That doesn’t happen in any other developed country. Hundreds of thousands of Americans go bankrupt every year because of medical bills. That doesn’t happen in any other developed country either.” As someone with a chronic illness, health care is a necessity. My life depends on medications that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each and every year, not to mention doctors appointments, hospital stays, lab tests, bloodwork, etc. The issue of access to affordable health care has been on my mind for years, particularly during the past 12 months as the current administration tried to repeal the Affordable Car Act. It’s a fraught issue that has become entrenched in politics. But, in my opinion, being able to get the care one needs isn’t political, it’s personal. And …

Everything I Didn’t Know

I’ve never read a book like this before. Historically, the non-fiction books I’ve read have been about a person, places, a period of time. But this is the first time I’ve read such an in depth study of a particular policy. In case you missed it, “The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care” by T.R. Reid is a examination of our health care system in contrast to others around the world. And it was fascinating. “Economic growth is not the sole aim of out society… The value of a human life must be decided without regard to… economic considerations. We must take into account the human and spiritual aspects involved.” The Hall Report, 1964 There are a few things I know for certain: our health care system is broken, there are too many Americans without access to health care, our country’s approach to health care is far too politically leaning when it should be a moral issue. But besides that, my knowledge was fairly limited. This book put …

December / January Book

It’s that time of year when your calendar starts to look really cluttered, your to do list grows longer, and you start to consider resolutions for the new year. Well, every year we resolve to read a book that teaches us something new. And something we all need to learn so much more about is our country’s healthcare system. So, the December/January book we’ve picked is T.R. Reid’s The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care. It’s a brief 250 pages with chapters like “Different Models, Common Principles,” “Too Big to Change,” and five separate chapters examining the systems of different countries (France, Germany, Japan, Canada, the UK). Also, there’s an afterword titled “‘Obamacare’ Explained,” which we all need to read. Anyone else feeling like our healthcare system is intimidating and confusing?! We feel like reading this is a step in the right direction. The author Reid is a career journalist who, for this book, visited over half a dozen different countries to examine their health care and use …

A Voice

I struggled with this book. Not because the content scared me or made me uncomfortable. Not because it drew into question something I do not see or fail to acknowledge. But because what Coates tries to scratch the surface of is an extraordinarily complex network of invasive roots that both has strangled our collective culture and has consistently unearthed itself in a knotted fashion in places seemingly distanced from our country’s base. In a less metaphorical way, race is nearly always at the forefront of or a driving force of our societal (insert any word) – history, music, fashion, culture, vernacular. What is even more confusing is that we have created a narrative about race that in reality has so many dimensions and layers and colors but we have distilled it down into a simple dichotomy. What is black and what is white.   Coates is an astounding writer. He brings an eloquence, a voice, a personal experience that combined creates a feat of literature.  To improve our future, we must understand our past. That …