March 15, 2007

Nonfiction Five Challenge

After much deliberation, I have finally selected my stack of books for Joy's Nonfiction Challenge. This was no easy task! I wanted to pick from our already existing stacks and, as my husband is a voracious reader of nonfiction, I literally have hundreds of nonfiction books to choose from.

I've put together a list of thirteen possibilities (it is Thursday, after all) and will not only attempt to read the required five in five months, but have hopes to continue with my personal goal of at least one nonfiction read every month for the entire year. I'm off to a good start. I've already read four in the first three months.

So, here's my list:

Consuming Passions: A Food-Obsessed Life by Michael Lee West

On Writing by Stephen King

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Loud and Clear by Anna Quindlen

Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

Long Time Gone by David Crosby and Carl Gottlieb

Stranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island by Greil Marcus

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir by Bill Bryson

Capote: A Biography by Gerald Clarke

Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family by Patricia Volk

Counting My Chickens...:And Other Home Thoughts by The Duchess of Devonshire

A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron

Ooops. That's 14. Oh, well. I may need an alternate or two! That Capote bio is pretty big and I may wind up saving it for next year's Chunkster Challenge.


  1. lI've read a few of these, Les. Midnight is a great book. What a story! Have you seen the movie? I have the soundtrack which is pretty great, all Johnny Mercer stuff because the house belonged to him. I'll make you a copy if you'd like.

    A Walk in the Woods, not my fave. As with all Bryson books, I think they fizzle, as I think he does, toward the end. It always feels to me that he just wants to get home. :<)

    I have Consuming Passions, and haven't read it, but my daughter has a few times.

    Hmm, I wonder where you got Stranded. :<)

    We gave Life and Times to my mother-in-law for her birthday and she is loving it.

    Capote is long, but so riveting.

    I listened to Stuffed years ago, and enjoyed it thoroughly.

    And you know how I loved Counting My Chickens! And A Three Dog Life!

    You have some excellent, excellent reading ahead, Les.

  2. Good list, Lesley.

    I've just finished two of Michael Lee West's novels and thought they were terrific, so I might be interested in "Consuming Passions", as well.

    I love Stephen King with all my heart and "On Writing" shows that he is so much more than a mere horror writer.

    I finished "Thunderbolt Kid" a couple of days ago and found a lot I could relate to having grown up in the midwest also (although 2 decades after he did).

    I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

  3. Anonymous1:22 PM

    I've not read a single book on your list, but then that is not surprising consider I am the pokiest NF reader. I should join this challenge and try and read more, but I fear I would fail yet another one miserably! I love NF, I am just very slow reading it. Your titles look good though!

  4. Anonymous1:59 PM

    Good luck with the challenge! You've got a great variety there. I'm tempted by the challenge but for now I'm saying no.

  5. Anonymous5:41 PM

    I enjoy Bill Bryson books and look forward to seeing if you like them too!

  6. ADORE Nora Ephron's book Thoughts About My Neck. Wish I'd written it myself, and would have, if she didn't do such a good job. Have you read the parts on exercise yet? My sentiments exactly. Basically, she asks, "Why? When all you do is hurt yourself." See, and no one ever got hurt reading a book, did they?

  7. Anonymous7:48 PM

    Wow - good luck with that!

    A Walk in the Woods and Eats, Shoots and Leaves are both wonderful. I loved them both.

    I became a fan of Bill Bryson after reading AWITW and that's still my favorite. I have Thunderbolt on my shelf but haven't managed to read it yet - I'll be curious to see what you think of him!

  8. Lots of interesting titles. The only one I've read is Eats, Shoots and Leaves. It's pretty quick and amusing. I also have the Capote biography but I'm not sure I'm in the mood for it right now. I'm still working on my list but I've been narrowing it down.

  9. Counting my Chickens is hilarious. Hope you love it as much as I do!

  10. I loved Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I have Berent's new book, City of Fallen Angels on my list for this challenge!

  11. Great list - I haven't read any of them, but several look interesting.

  12. Lesley, I read Life and Times and Thunderbolt Kid recently and I loved it!

  13. Nan - I've heard such great things about Midnight (Rod loved it), and really don't know why it's taken me so long to read it. I've held off watching the movie until after I've read the book. Yay! Another great soundtrack! ;) Hmmm, I have to Bryson books on my list. I've only listened to one (Notes From A Small Island) and thought it was hysterical. Gee, a very good friend sent that book (Stranded) to my hubby, who thoroughly enjoyed it, btw. There's definitely a "Nan" influence in this list of books. :)

    Kookiejar - I'm a big Stephen King fan, too. I'm thoroughly enjoying Dreamcatcher, although it's so scary, I have to stop reading long before bedtime! I can't wait to see what he has to say about writing.

    Danielle - I'm a slow NF reader, too; at least when it comes to history/political type NF. Memoirs or essay collections tend to be easier for me to get through.

    Iliana - I've had to say no (to myself) to several challenges, but I do like how they motivate me to read more from my shelves.

    Stephanie - I've only listened to one Bryson book on audio. Have yet to read an actual book by him. He's a pretty funny guy, though.

    Bellezza - I haven't actually started in on any of these books, but I have a feeling the Ephron book will be next in line. Ah, another thing we don't have in common. I actually enjoy exercising. Well, I enjoy hour-long walks with iPod, biking, hiking, etc. I don't enjoy treadmills, swimming laps, aerobics, etc. I prefer my outdoorsy workouts.

    Lesley - My husband enjoyed Eats, Shoots and Leaves. Hmmm, now that I look at the stack again, I can see that most of the books I picked are books he's already read and enjoyed. That's a good sign!

    Nat - I have a feeling the Capote book is one I'll put off for a while. It's quite long and since I recently read In Cold Blood (and saw the film Capote), I'm afraid too much will be too familar. We'll see.

    Karen - Nan recommended Counting My Chickens several years ago. Glad to hear you enjoyed it, as well.

    Stephanie - I didn't realize Berendt had a new book out. I should look for a copy for my husband. Thanks for the heads-up!

    SuziQ - We shall see. I think I have a fairly good mix, so hopefully I won't get bored with the same type of NF. A little bit of country living, some foodie books, some music, travel, memoirs, essays, etc. And, of course, I still have my fiction books for two other challenges.

    Happy Reader - Thanks for stopping by my blog. I checked out yours - very nice - we seem to share the same opinion on several books. Glad to hear you enjoyed The Thunderbolt Kid. My husband thought it was great, too.

  14. Hooray! I formally welcome you to the Non-Fiction Five Challenge! You certainly have a great list of books.

    I haven't read a Bryson book yet. I'm interested in reading your reviews on those.

    A friend of mine just read the "Neck" one and she really enjoyed it.

    AND...good for you on reading more than required. :) That's always a good thing!

    Happy Reading!

  15. Thanks, Joy. And thanks for hosting the challenge! I tend to ignore my nonfiction books, even though I was originally interested when I bought them. Go figure!

  16. Anonymous7:00 PM

    I haev only read 3 of the books on your list, but I enjoyed them all. "On Writing" was very interesting, partly because it was the first thing King wrote after his near fatal accident and he talks some about that. It has been 6 years since I read "Stuffed", but I thought it was a fun read too. My fave on your list is definitely "Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid". I laughed out loud many times while I was reading it. I haven't read any of Bryson's other books, but want to now. I just finsihed an excellent non-fiction book - "Too Far From Home" by Chris Jones. It tells the story of the three astronauts left stranded in the International Space Station when Columbia was destroyed during re-entry.

  17. I read the condensed version of A Walk in the Woods and it was not my favorite - kind of disturbing, actually - although I still enjoyed it. I like Bryson.

    On Writing I've read half of - just the first section, not the part that tells how to write. I have a tendency to not finish books on writing; I have no idea why.

  18. les, I like hiking, woods, walking in the forest as you do. Just not like a hamster on a wheel at some club. EW!

  19. Lee - It'll be interesting to read On Writing, especially since I'm currently reading Dreamcatcher and keep wondering if one character's accident is based on King's own experiences.

    I think I remember you talking about Stuffed. That's how long I've had it!

    Rod really enjoyed The Thunderbolt Kid, too. I'm looking forward to it.

    Thanks for the info about Too Far From Home. I'll be on the lookout for it at the library.

    If you haven't read Dispatches From the Edge, I think it's one you'd really like.

    Nancy - I've heard some negative comments (in the past) about this Bryson book (Walk in the Woods), mostly to do with his belittling of large people. Is this what you're referring to? Or the hike itself?

    Bellezza - Yeah, I'm not really big on indoor workouts. For a while there, I was walking on a treadmill in a dimly lit, cold basement. Better than nothing, though (it was wintertime in Nebrasksa!).

  20. Les, I'm so glad we're going to be challenge buddies again! As much as I love fiction, my first love is the non-fiction genre so I am so thrilled to have a legit excuse to read five of them in a row! :)

    I have read "A Walk in the Woods" and "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" but I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Bill Bryson's memoir and the Nora Ephron book, so I'll stay tuned!

  21. Lotus - I'm excited about the challenge. I love nonfiction, but seem to need a little push to move those titles to the top of the stacks. I need to go back and see what you've chosen to read.

    BTW, I'm glad you're back from your hiatus! Hope you enjoyed your break.


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