Sunday, November 29, 2015

#Nonficnov Wrap-Up

I read a variety of nonfiction during November.  I noticed that I read differently. Slower, with more absorption.  I missed mixing it up, though.

Will December find me on a fiction bender, or will I alternate fiction and nonfiction once again?

Here is what I read this month. As usual, my reach exceeded my grasp and I wandered too willingly from the list I'd made. As a bookworm, shouldn't I be made of sterner stuff? Then there's that other bookworm part of me that says oh, nevermind.

Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic was at the top of my list. I adore Jennifer's previous books about her efforts to live like Madame Chic, her mentor from her foreign exchange student days in Paris, I avidly look forward to her weekly videos at The Daily Connoisseur on YouTube, and I admire her steely yet charming determination to get Americans to step back from the precipice of tacky and unrefined. Jennifer's tips are extensive, positive and helpful and she maintains that anyone can cultivate inner and outer poise. I hope so. I'm still struggling, but fighting the good fight.

When Ball Four was first released, it was scandalous. Knuckleball pitcher Jim Bouton had dared to tell all that went on behind the scenes in baseball; most of that is now common knowledge. For me, Ball Four was more like peering into a time capsule. The salaries were so low then, and the players were ordered to groom and dress to a certain standard when not in uniform. During the long season, the players were bored and played some pretty funny pranks on each other, but the stuff involving women dates badly and was rather distasteful to my 21st century sensibilities. Korean connection: Bouton and his wife adopted a little boy from Korea, and he has been with the family for a few months when the 1969 season commences. I loved those few glimpses of Kyong Jo/David.

I first got to know Kathleen Flinn's story in a subsequent book she wrote, Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good. I enjoyed that memoir so much, I set out to find The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry, her earlier memoir of attending Le Cordon Bleu Institute in Paris. The three-part course is what gives this book its structure, but it is also a memoir of her courtship and eventual marriage to Mike, who comes across as the perfect man. Chock-full of the recipes Flinn was required to prepare at Cordon Bleu, some of them staggeringly complicated. I have to admit that I scanned most of these lightly. Korean connection: Some of Flinn's Korean classmates do not come off well, but she met difficult personalities from many countries during this time. If you're a foodie, this one's for you.

I don't know what to call this book. An art book? A humor book? It's funny, fresh, original, brilliant -- Artist Terry Border takes ordinary household objects such as cheese curls, potato chips,  an ice cube, (my favorite of the "scenes" he arranged!) lemons, marshmallows, and using bits of wire, turns them into figures and imagines these strange, surrealistic lives for them. So much fun! Go find it.

I also read Laura Ingalls Wilder's On The Way Home,

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good, a family memoir by Kathleen Flinn. I loved the stories of her lively and slightly eccentric Midwestern family. I'm glad I read this book before The Sharper The Knife, The Less You Cry.

Pop Sonnets: Shakespearean Spins on Your Favorite Pop Songs by Erik Didriksen. I'faith, this tome was poetry, yet the lovely verse was inspired by yon Top XL, so that belongeth in the category of Pop Culture, which did fit firmly on mine shelves of nonfiction. I did love these verses and have proceeded apace to annoy anyone within earshot to listen and figure out which pop song inspired the sonnet. Verily, I know how to clear a chamber!

There was also that unfortunate biography of Patsy Cline. I'm still cringing.

So that was the Nonfiction November that was! Can we do it again next year?


Unruly Reader said...

Oh my gosh -- so envious of your November. Great line-up of books! And I love the variety.

Citizen Reader said...

I'm with Unruly...I kind of want to read all these books (but perhaps not the Kathleen Flinn--she didn't do much for me). The art book, definitely (love that cover). The first book, which I'd never heard of? Definitely. The Bouton book, even with distasteful stuff? Yes too, probably. I see that book referenced a lot, for some reason, considering how old it is...

great round-up! I thoroughly agree the creators of Nonfiction November did a great job.