A Little Truth Telling

Even though I overwhelmingly favor fiction, I do love the occasional non-fiction title, and I’ve hit on quite a few lately! Here’s what I’ve been reading from the “it really happened!” category…


The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown is a title I picked up LAST summer at ALA that got buried in my books and never read. *hangs head* Once I found it and started reading it, though, I was hooked! Though I know NOTHING about crew, rowing, the Pacific Northwest during the Depression, or much about the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, this title was SO engaging! Following the story of Joe Rantz, one of the crew members, the reader really get caught up in the struggles of the boys, the mental and physical toughness needed to row crew, and the highly competitive nature not just here but in Berlin as well. I really enjoyed this – if you enjoyed titles like Seabiscuit or Unbroken, you’ll enjoy this!

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson has been on my list since I heard Larson talk about it last fall during an author appearance in Evansville. This time, Larson turns a lens on the sinking of the Lusitania, the British passenger liner sunk by a German U-Boat in 1915 that precipitated an escalation of World War I. As usual, Larson does a great job of stitching together disparate stories – stories of the U-Boat commander, the Lusitania itself, the passengers, and the British Admiralty and even the love live of President Woodrow Wilson. This was an interesting and well written piece of nonfiction, and is totally in my wheelhouse, since I’m a submarine nerd. 🙂 I really enjoyed it!

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer was a tough read. Krakauer researched and wove together the stories of a number of college age women who were raped (usually be acquaintances) on the University of Montana campus, many of whom had ties to the beloved Grizzlies football team. Krakauer depicts incident after incident of rape, and the court cases that followed. With a huge “cast of characters” and a tough subject to read about, this was a slow read for me, not one I could do for more than a chapter here and there at a time. But, it’s a super important topic, and worth the discomfort to know more about this epidemic – not just in Missoula, but on many a college campus…

Bobby Wonderful: An Imperfect Son Buries His Parents by Bob Morris could have been a really maudlin memoir, but in the hands of Morris, portrays not just darkness, but light – and humor. His mother passes early in the book, and Bobby focuses on the relationship he has with his father, and his eventual passing. This is a short memoir, but was well written and full of genuine emotion.

Around the World in 50 Years: My Adventure to Every Country on Earth by Albert Podell is SO in my wheelhouse – I love a travel memoir! Podell (who was an editor for Playboy and thus does not have much of a “filter”, as it were!) travels with a buddy in his younger years, and as time goes on, becomes nearly obsessed with his quest to visit every country in the world. Naturally, his hardest visits are those in Africa or in very, very remote places – but he also peppers this memoir with harrowing and hilarious stories from around the globe. He doesn’t detail every country – just those “with a story”. I really enjoyed this one!

The Diary of Anne Frank: The Definitive Edition by Anne Frank is part of this list since I’m going to be traveling to Amsterdam in a few weeks, and I wanted to reacquaint myself with this wonderful memoir for the first time since, I think, high school. I’d forgotten how much of it was just “the story of a girl” and her daily trials, rather than focusing on the war or their hiding place. Heartbreaking, but important…

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