Tag Archives: genre: nonfiction

Everything You Need You Have by Gerad Kite

Everything You Need You Have

Everything You Need You Have: How to Be at Home in Your Self by Gerad Kite

Published by: Harmony Books on December 6, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

In today’s so society, too often we find ourself looking for fulfillment and validation through external sources. We look to other people. We look to material success. We are always looking out and rarely ever taking the time to stop and focus on what is within ourselves. In this book, Gerad Kite provides a framework he has developed from personal experience and working with clients for a number of years. According to Kite, if we learn to find the Home that exists within, we will not only feel more fulfilled but we will also minimize the swings that we so often feel between positive and negative extremes.

Kite’s model is interesting. I have no doubt that there are people who might find it to be profound and incredibly enlightening. Personally, I had trouble feeling like it resonated with me, but I appreciated the values of becoming more attuned to your own mind and body and letting that be more of a guide to happiness and calm that the world around you. So while I don’t foresee myself following his ten-step process, there are elements that I will certainly be making a focus of my own reflection over time.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.]

Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing by Jamie Holmes

Nonsense

Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing by Jamie Holmes

Published by: Broadway Books on October 11, 2016 (First published April 21, 2015)
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

I often think that the unknown is the scariest thing for us to confront as human beings. After all, what is the common cornerstone of most thriller and suspense films? When we don’t know who the culprit is, when they’re going to strike, what is going to happen, etc. we don’t know what to do. We often fill in the blanks ourselves, many times choosing the worst case scenario, and cause ourselves more panic and worry. And those films capitalize on that.

But beyond films designed to put us on edge, ambiguity and uncertainty crop up all the time in our lives. And not knowing usually makes us uncomfortable. There is almost a sense of not being in full control when we don’t have all the details or when something happens to show us that our understanding of something is incomplete or incorrect. And these moments can paralyze us, cause us to act irrationally, or become an opportunity to expand our horizons and see things in a different way.

In Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing, Jamie Holmes explores the concepts of ambiguity and uncertainty and the ways in which we, as humans, approach them. Drawing from research in psychology and sociology as well as practical examples, the author explains how ambiguity and uncertainty can limit us or serve as an opportunity to find productivity and success. It’s an insightful and eye-opening read that certainly convinced me that, as the Mr. Holmes writes at the end of the book’s prologue, “[I]n an increasingly complex, unpredictable world, what matters most isn’t IQ, willpower, or confidence in what we know. It’s how we deal with what we don’t understand.”

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.]

You’re Saying It Wrong by Ross Petras & Kathryn Petras

You're Saying It Wrong

You’re Saying It Wrong: A Pronunciation Guide to the 150 Most Commonly Mispronounced Words and Their Tangled History of Misuse by Ross Petras & Kathryn Petras

Published by: Ten Speed Press on September 13, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

We all know those words or phrases that people say wrong and it gets on our nerves. And we also have those words that we say, and we’re just not sure if we’re saying it’s right. And where do some of these seemingly nonsensical words and idioms come from?

Ross and Kathryn Petras have assembled 150 commonly mispronounced words and phrases in the English language in one comprehensive resource. In addition to providing the common mispronunciations and the correct way to say it, they provide historical context and anecdotes to go along with it. In a nonjudgemental fashion, the authors present the correct way to say it and why.

So whether it’s those misstatements that bug you (mine: anyway, bruschetta, Daylight Saving Time, for all intents and purposes, irregardless, mascarpone, utmost) or the ones you didn’t know you were staying wrong (mine: electoral, homage, spit and image), it’s all here. It’s also a quick read, so why not pick it up and give it a chance. It will validate your pet peeves and teach you a thing or two in the process.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.]

Catching Homelessness by Josephine Ensign

Catching Homelessness

Catching Homelessness: A Nurse’s Story of Falling Through the Safety Net by Josephine Ensign

Published by: She Writes Press on August 9, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

The homelessness epidemic in the United States evokes many different reactions from people. What did they do to end up homeless? Why don’t they just get a job? How can I help? Should I help? Could this ever happen to me?

The answers to those questions are as varied as there are people to ask them. But one thing is clear, the number of homeless in our country is increasing. And we need to think more critically about how we, as individuals and as a society, respond to it.

In Catching Homelessness, Josephine Ensign, a nurse practitioner, chronicles her work with the homeless. She discusses why she initially got involved, the people and issues she saw, and what she’s learned about trying to help. She also talks, rather frankly, about her own period of homelessness. When she started working with the homeless, she was one of those who thought it could never happen to her. Her story and experience not only provide readers with a firsthand look at helping the homeless, but also with the voice of someone who has been there. Both sides of the coin are reflected here.

To say the subject is heavy would be an understatement. Not because this is a book that left me near tears on every page; it’s not like that. But “heavy” just doesn’t capture the rawness and reality of the stories contained in this book. Even if you’re someone who works with the homeless or already has your eyes “open,” I highly recommend picking up this book. It’s honestly a quick read, but it’s very powerful. I find myself still reflecting on it a few days after I finished it. And I expect I’ll continue to think about it for some time to come…

The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington

Sleep Revolution

The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Arianna Huffington

Published by: Harmony Books on April 5, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

How many times do you hear or say things like: “I’m tired.” “I didn’t get enough sleep last night.” “I’ll just stay up to get this done and try to sleep more this weekend.” “Sometimes I try to sleep in, but it just doesn’t happen.” “It takes me forever to fall asleep at night.”

These phrases are becoming increasingly common for us to say and hear–and even tell ourselves. And Arianna Huffington sets out a good case for what this all means. Without a doubt, we are in a sleep deprivation crisis as a society. With the pressure to do more and more in the same amount of time in a day, people are overextending themselves and giving up something essential to survival: sleep. As we are also more stimulated and connected by technology, it makes it that much harder to wind down at the end of a long day.

While we often dismiss this as okay, using some of the phrases above, it has health implications that we may not always know are there. Fatigue and exhaustion are just the tip of the iceberg. Sleep has been shown to have connections to healthy weight, blood pressure, and several other conditions.

But knowing we’re sleep deprived is just the beginning. Especially since almost everyone would admit that they feel tired or sleep deprived on some level at some point in any given week. Where Huffington takes things a step further is offering some suggestions for how we can each start addressing the crisis in our own lives. Working on the issue starts with each person. Not only is this because society isn’t going to shift until the people pushing for the shift reaches critical mass. It’s also because the tactics and strategies for prioritizing sleep need to be determined on an individual basis.

This is an interesting read. Huffington has collected a great deal of research and anecdotes in one nice, tidy place. And while I don’t think anything here is particularly profound or novel, it’s a stimulating and thought-provoking read.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.]

The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey

The Productivity Project

The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy by Chris Bailey

Published by: Crown Publishing on January 5, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Everyone wants to be more productive, right? So while I don’t often pick up nonfiction books for the blog, I decided I would give this one a try. If nothing else, I figured it might help me stay on top of the blog work (as well as my work everywhere else)!

What we get here is kind of a mixed bag. Chris Bailey presents a way of thinking about productivity that goes beyond what we get done. It focuses on time, energy, and attention as the things that impact productivity. He also encourages readers to think about focusing on high-impact tasks and being aware of their energy levels throughout the day. There are many tactics and strategies presented in the book that can help in isolation or combination. And while it doesn’t seem too novel or profound, as I’ve thought about it some more, I am starting to think about the ways I work a bit differently.

The key things that the author provides are brief challenges to put some of the tactics in practice. While he says early on there are only a few of these, almost every chapter has one. I did many of them, but there were some that I just read and internalized rather than actually practicing them as I went along.

The book does provide some great food for thought, even if it’s not a total game changer. I also encourage readers to get past the beginning to get into the actual substance of the book. I was a little put off by what appeared to be the author’s need to assert his heterosexuality (mentions of attractive women, relaying Mila Kunis fantasies, and more than one reference to having a girlfriend). The mentions seemed unnecessary, but it was easy to set them aside as completely irrelevant to the text.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.]

Networking for Nerds by Alaina Levine

Networking for Nerds

Book Info

Title: Networking for Nerds: Find, Access and Land Hidden Game-Changing Career Opportunities Everywhere
Author: Alaina Levine
Published: July 7, 2015
Pages: 248
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Rating: ★★★

Review

When I saw the title and the brief blurb for this book, I couldn’t wait to pick it up. Networking advice for a nerd like me? Sign me up! Except, sadly, it’s not really for a nerd like me. This book would have been better titled something like “Career Networking Advice for New Academic Scientists & Engineers” because that’s really what it is. Though billed as appealing to nerds across the spectrum, it doesn’t really have much to offer outside the context of scientific academia. What’s there is sound and likely very useful, just not really something that could easily be cross-applied in very many alternate contexts.

(I should have questioned the “nerd” aspect when I noticed two grammatical errors in the subtitle…)

Title: Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide
Author: Henry Jenkins
Publication Date: August 1, 2006

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review: Picked this up as part of my reading of things related to fandom and fan studies. Of the books I’ve read recently on the subject, I feel like this one was the most well-written and is a great overview from someone who has become known as one of the foremost scholars in this area. It focused more on media consumption and integration than fandom activity, I felt, but it still provided a good overview of how media creators are using new methods to engage with their audiences and how audiences are using that engagement to influence media. Definitely worth a read if this is a topic of interest.

Title: Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction
Author: Jeff VanderMeer
Publication Date: October 15, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review: I picked this up because of its Hugo nomination (and because of my own interest in writing). I will say, first off, that this book is expertly designed. It is a striking and beautiful book from its cover to pretty much every page throughout. Additionally, it offers some great suggestions and tips on writing. Unfortunately, I found it difficult to parse. While the various (and very busy) illustrations and charts do have some utility, I found them distracting and their placement often leaving the overall guide feeling a bit disjointed. Still giving this three stars, though, as I think it has some great content and there are people who might not find its disjointed style quite as jarring as I did.

Title: Fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World
Author: Anne Jamison
Publication Date: November 26, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:I’ve been doing a bit of reading in the area of fan studies lately, so as someone involved in fandom and fanfiction communities, this was certainly a book I needed to pick up. I was really interested to see an approach focused on fanfiction from an academic perspective. And for the first third of the book, I feel like that’s what I got. But past that, the in-depth and objective feeling seemed to fade. A number of major controversies in fanfiction are highlighted, often without a full perspective, and the weighting of examples is heavy in two specific fandoms (which, with fanfiction being a very large panfandom activity, it would have been good to bring in a wider array of examples or case studies, I think).

Overall, the book does provide a good overview of fanfiction for someone who may not know much about its history, but I’d be hard-pressed to call this ‘the definitive text’ on the subject.