August 10, 2006

My Favorite Non-Fiction Books

When I entered the blogosphere last October with Stop All the Clocks, I had no idea what I was doing and had to ask for lots of help from my very smart and computer-savy hubby (who, by the way, is not only my own personal geek squad and editor, but the Editor for a very helpful computer magazine with a great monthly column found on the back page - end of plug).

Now, almost a year later, I have not one, not two, but three blogs (and am considering a new one for my other passion - cooking)! Along with the creative challenge of posting on a regular basis, I've come across some wonderful blogs (mostly having to do with books or gardening) and as a result, I've "met" some incredibly articulate, passionate, and well-read bloggers who have not only added to my ever-growing To Be Read list, but have given me many ideas for future blog topics.

In addition to learning the blog lingo (sounds like a
Tom Lehrer song) such as "tag," "meme," "buttons," and how to change my template using HTML (argh!), I've recently come across a new version of a meme. One of my favorite bloggers participates in an activity called Thursday Thirteen in which bloggers post thirteen things about anything they desire, thus allowing their readers to get to know them a bit better. When I first heard about this, I thought it was a little silly and didn't really give it much consideration. But as the day wore on, I kept thinking about it in terms of books and have decided to give it a try. (How can I resist the opportunity to make a list?) I may not post a list every Thursday, but you never know. Until recently, I never thought I'd have three blogs!

So... here's today's lucky 13 (I like the sound of that so much better than Thursday Thirteen):

13 of My Favorite Non-Fiction Books (in no particular order!)

1. Rocket Boys (aka October Sky) by Homer H. Hickam, Jr.

2. Birdbaths and Paper Cranes: A Family Tale by Sharon Randall

3. Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage by Madeleine L'Engle

4. Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

5. High Tide in Tucson: Essays From Now or Never by Barbara Kingsolver

6. Fifty Acres and a Poodle: A Story of Love, Livestock, and Finding Myself on a Farm by Jeanne Marie Laskas

7. The Sewing Room: Uncommon Reflections on Life, Love, and Work by Rev. Barbara Cawthorne Crafton

8. Hollyhocks, Lambs and Other Passions: A Memoir of Thornill Farm by Dee Hardie

9. Around the House and in the Garden: A Memoir of Heartbreak, Healing, and Home Improvement by Dominique Browning

10. Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road by Neal Peart

11. All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg

12. Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin

13. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

There you have it. Wonder what this list says about me.


  1. I am not generally a nonfiction fan. I did love October Sky, and my son and I even watched the movie several times. I also love Madeleine L'Engle, as you know, and will read any of her nonfiction any time.

    My husband works in technology as well; he's the IT manager for our county. But, he doesn't like it very much. You're lucky to have help on your blog. There's a million lists I'd like to add on the side.

    Finally, I have mixed emotions about Thursday Thirteen myself. In a way, I like the creation of lists because they're simple, short and sweet. They're also just enough revealing. But, the concept of running around and leaving the briefest remark on someone else's blog just to say you've been there doesn't appeal to me in the least. I'd much rather have 'conversations' with a few than comments with many.

  2. Bellezza,

    Quite a few of the books in my non-fiction list are comprised of short essays, generally dealing with life with children, gardens, writing, etc. Sharon Randall's is wonderful and I hope she'll write another in the future. Dominique Brownings is quite good, too. It deals with her life after divorce. She has a son (or two?) and I enjoyed reading about their interactions - my daughter was a teenager when I read the book. Found myself nodding my head in agreement on more than one occasion.

    I don't plan on partaking in Thursday Thirteen other than composing my own lists. I have no plans to post to the website, as I'd rather not get a bunch of comments by virtual (pun intended) strangers. I love hearing from my book blogging friends, however. And after just a few short weeks, I feel like I've come to know several quite well.

    Kindred spirits, as Anne Gilbert would say. :)

  3. Yep, I'm not going to post to Thursday Thirteen website anymore. It's not my thing. I like your idea of composing a list anyway, and then we can 'discuss it amongst ourselves.'

    I'm so glad to have made your acquaintance. Looking forward to lots of good chats.

  4. I look forward to our chats, too. BTW, I love the photo you've selected for your Blog ID. Very charming and peaceful in appearance.

    And, to add to the kindred spirit belief, I too love to bike and canoe. I'm hoping to get a kayak in the next year or so.

  5. My husband is a computer geek, too! *insert eerie twilight zone music here*

    I started my blog back in January, and I've had lots of fun discovering all the different gizmos and features, and 'meeting' so many other book bloggers!

    I like the new addition - Helene Hanff is one of my favorite writers. I highly recommend 'Underfoot in Show Business' - her tale of trying to make it in the NYC theater world.

  6. What a great list, Les! As a lover of the non-fiction genre myself you have inspired me to work on a list of my 13 favorites as well. Three books on your list that I've been dying to read are:

    Travels with Charley

    Ghost Rider

    84, Charing Cross Road.

    Hope I can get to them soon, especially the Neal Peart one!

  7. Hi! My name is Joy (thoughtsofjoyblog.blogspot) and I have been browsing and enjoying your blog. I was wondering if I could add you to my list of Favorite Sites? I will not do it until you respond. :)

    Happy Reading!

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Hi, Joy. Yes, you may certainly add me to your blog list. I took a quick look at your blog and will be back to read your reviews. Looks very nice at first glimpse. Thanks for visiting.

  10. Lesley,

    I wonder how many of us have significant others in the IT/Computer biz. Blogging isn't terribly difficult, but it sure helps to have someone around when things don't work the way they should.

    Thanks for the recommendation (Underfoot In Show Business). I actually read it back in '97 and didn't care for it nearly as much as her others. Have you read The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street? I thought it was just as good as 84, Charing Cross Road.


    Happy to be an enabler! You really can't go wrong with the three books you're interested in, although Peart's is pretty sad at times. It was very cathartic for me and Rod to read last year. We both identified with a lot he had to say. Not just on the subject of grief, but music (Rod plays the drums and guitar), motorcycles, traveling across the country and all the Canadian references - he even mentions a small town I used to live in - Valleyview. Our book is littered with Post-It Notes and highlighted passages. Truly the mark of a great book, imho. I hope to get some of my older book reviews up on this blog, starting with Ghost Rider. Just need more hours in the day!

  11. Yup, I've read all of Helene Hanff's books as she's one of my favorite writers. I would love to get my hands on a copy of 'The Library of Helene Hanff' which apparently detailed out all of the books she had in her possession. Sadly, it's OOP and I've yet to find a used copy.

  12. Ooooh, what a treat that would be to read, Lesley! All this talk about Hanff makes me want to watch the movie again. Why don't I have this in my permanent collection??


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