Tag Archives: nonfiction

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

Bird by Bird is my new bible. Not just for writing, but for life – it is my favorite work of nonfiction so far. Continue reading

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Filed under 5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

The Violinist’s Thumb by Sam Kean

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

Have you ever wanted to hoard cats? Did you know that there’s a sonic hedgehog gene that can make your skin peel off? Can you fathom that pheromones could make you fall in love?

The Violinist’s Thumb contains chapters on all of these topics – it combines shocking facts with biological premises with the history of DNA discovery. Continue reading

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Filed under 3 stars, Book Reviews, Books

How Children Succeed by Paul Tough

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

As someone possibly striving to become a teacher, I appreciated How Children Succeed. Paul Tough variegates his writing style enough to keep the book entertaining without losing track of the message he puts forth – one way he does this is by including various anecdotes. He does not just share stories about kids who have suffered in the current education system, but he reveals parts of his own journey, such as when he dropped out of Columbia University.

Tough connects these tales to psychology too, by examining several pertinent ideas like character, conscientiousness, and what it truly takes to succeed in an academic environment. Continue reading

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Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened acts as the autobiography of Jenny Lawson, better known as The Bloggess. She writes about various anecdotes, ranging from her experience with a talking squirrel to her social anxiety issues at parties. Written in a stream-of-consciousness style, it will most likely please fans of her blog, as well as others who want a funny book to read.

While I liked Jenny Lawson’s voice and her crazy life, I myself did not find Let’s Pretend This Never Happened funny, which was the foundation of the book. Continue reading

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Filed under 3 stars, Book Reviews, Books

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

From a psychological standpoint, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion earns five stars. The book loses some of its appeal when Jonathan Haidt veers into political philosophy, however – especially when he raises the biased question “why are religious people better neighbors and citizens?”

Let me backtrack. The Righteous Mind is split into three sections. The first focuses on how intuitions come first and are followed by strategic reasoning, the second shows that there are six moral foundations (Care/Harm, Fairness/Cheating, Liberty/Oppression, Loyalty/Betrayal, Authority/Subversion, and Sanctity/Degradation), and the third hones in on the belief that morality binds and blinds. By the end each part made sense in relation to one another and came together to pack a strong moral philosophy punch. Though the book had some dense sections – like the history and biology of moral philosophy – Haidt included interesting scenarios, research, and anecdotes to alleviate the doldrums. Continue reading

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Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Quiet by Susain Cain

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

I love reading on Friday nights, writing on Saturday afternoons, and having quiet get-togethers on Sunday. But I also enjoy giving presentations at school, tutoring peers in writing, and interacting with various people online and in real life. I’d describe myself as an introvert (and my Meyers-Briggs personality type agrees), though both introverts and extroverts would enjoy this fascinating book by Susan Cain. She provides an intriguing, in-depth perspective on introversion, its connotation in contrasting cultures, and the psychology behind it.

A profusion of the nonfiction I’ve read has contained too much of something – too many random anecdotes, too much scientific jargon, too many unnecessary statistics or explanations. Continue reading

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Filed under 5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Eating Disorders, Control, and Unbearable Lightness by Portia De Rossi

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

Before I begin my review of this book, I want to share the story of the first and last time I forced myself to throw up. While this doesn’t relate exactly to Unbearable Lightness, it sheds light on why I empathize so much with Portia De Rossi and what she went through. Skip down a few paragraphs if you wish.

In my first few years of adolescence, I always felt lost. I was born gay in a society where the word faggot is tossed around like footballs are thrown on Sunday, born homosexual in a world where my own mother prefers me dead than happy with a man. I couldn’t change any of this – all I thought I could do was struggle through school and maybe make a friend or two.

Couple that with the need to be above average. Continue reading

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Filed under 5 stars, Book Reviews, Books, Personal

How to Read Novels Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

I love reading books about books. How to Read Novels Like a Professor has excited me and made me more enthusiastic to start my next novel. For those who do not have much experience in learning about what constitutes a novel – for example, I’m only a high school student – Foster’s book would be a great place to begin. He provides a fantastic list of rules (which you can find in this review) and uses a wide array of examples from novels published decades apart.

However, because I have already read his book How to Read Literature Like a Professor, I felt that I already knew and was rereading some of the sections in this book. Continue reading

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Filed under 3 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

I won this book through First Reads, woo! Now I am obligated to review it, though I would have anyway.

Jonathan Fields has felt uncertain before. As a lawyer-turned personal trainer who launched a yoga center in NYC the day before 9/11, he must have faced fears and falls. They haven’t stopped him from writing Uncertainty, though. In this book he delves into the damaging effects of doubt and what we can do to defeat it. He draws from many fields, ranging from cognitive neuroscience, lifestyle reorganization, and more – and brings to light how the negative side of uncertainty can be beaten. Continue reading

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Filed under 3 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

A long book that requires real mental exertion, Thinking, Fast and Slow is a worthwhile read by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman. It delves into the two complex systems of the mind. System 1 is impulsive, emotional, and often led astray, while System 2 is rational, thoughtful, and takes more time to makes decisions. He analyzes how humans use (and sometimes fail to use) both systems, and the resulting implications on topics ranging from how we perceive happiness to behavioral economics.

Thinking, Fast and Slow is one of the most in-depth Psychology books I’ve read. Continue reading

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Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books