Enjoyable Non- Fiction

Hey remember that time I said I would have the new post by Tuesday? Sorry about that. This editions topic was:

I want to read nonfiction books that essentially read as if it’s a novel. With drama and intrigue and story arcs and all that stuff, that will make me want to keep reading. But I like to learn stuff, so I want it to be non-fiction. Biographies or memoirs are fine, or anything about historical events, etc. More recent history is better, but I’d be interested in anything from the middle ages on. Even superficial “history” like old movies stars. Most of what I find myself has lots of little pieces of interesting info stuck in it, but reads more like a text book, or has way too much useless detail, and that’s just not fun to read before bed or on the beach. And “historical fiction” doesn’t often seem to include much actual history.

I had a lot of fun researching these books and I can’t wait to read them all myself. I have provided the titles as well as their descriptions as listed on Goodreads.com (a wonderful site to find new books to read, keep track of what you have read, and read reviews). Please let me know what you think and if these books meet your needs! The more feedback I get, the better my next selections will be! Thanks and enjoy.

Factory Girls

Leslie T. Chang

I read this book while working on The First Readings program for Brown University. I found it very informative and an enjoyable read.

An eye-opening and previously untold story, Factory Girls is the first look into the everyday lives of the migrant factory population in China.

China has 130 million migrant workers—the largest migration in human history. In Factory Girls, Leslie T. Chang, a former correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in Beijing, tells the story of these workers primarily through the lives of two young women, whom she follows over the course of three years as they attempt to rise from the assembly lines of Dongguan, an industrial city in China’s Pearl River Delta.

As she tracks their lives, Chang paints a never-before-seen picture of migrant life—a world where nearly everyone is under thirty; where you can lose your boyfriend and your friends with the loss of a mobile phone; where a few computer or English lessons can catapult you into a completely different social class. Chang takes us inside a sneaker factory so large that it has its own hospital, movie theater, and fire department; to posh karaoke bars that are fronts for prostitution; to makeshift English classes where students shave their heads in monklike devotion and sit day after day in front of machines watching English words flash by; and back to a farming village for the Chinese New Year, revealing the poverty and idleness of rural life that drive young girls to leave home in the first place. Throughout this riveting portrait, Chang also interweaves the story of her own family’s migrations, within China and to the West, providing historical and personal frames of reference for her investigation.

A book of global significance that provides new insight into China, Factory Girls demonstrates how the mass movement from rural villages to cities is remaking individual lives and transforming Chinese society, much as immigration to America’s shores remade our own country a century ago. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2635587-factory-girls

The Mark Inside: A Perfect Swindle, a Cunning Revenge, and a Small History of the Big Con

by Amy Reading

In 1919, Texas rancher J. Frank Norfleet lost everything he had in a stock market swindle. He did what many other marks did—he went home, borrowed more money from his family, and returned for another round of swindling.  
 
Only after he lost that second fortune did he reclaim control of his story. Instead of crawling back home in shame, he vowed to hunt down the five men who had conned him. Armed with a revolver and a suitcase full of disguises, Norfleet crisscrossed the country from Texas to Florida to California to Colorado, posing as a country hick and allowing himself to be ensnared by confidence men again and again to gather evidence on his enemies. Within four years, Frank Norfleet had become nationally famous for his quest to out-con the con men.
 
Through Norfleet’s ingenious reverse-swindle, Amy Reading reveals the mechanics behind the scenes of the big con—a piece of performance art targeted to the most vulnerable points of human nature. Reading shows how the big con has been woven throughout U.S. history. From the colonies to the railroads and the Chicago Board of Trade, America has always been a speculative enterprise, and bunco men and bankers alike have always understood that the common man was perfectly willing to engage in minor fraud to get a piece of the expanding stock market—a trait that made him infinitely gullible.
 
Amy Reading’s fascinating account of con artistry in America and Frank Norfleet’s wild caper invites you into the crooked history of a nation on the hustle, constantly feeding the hunger and the hope of the mark inside. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12938101-the-mark-inside

Lazy B

by Sandra Day O’Connor, H. Alan Day

Now, for the first time in paperback, here is the remarkable story of Sandra Day O’Connor’s family and early life, her journey to adulthood in the American Southwest that helped make her the woman she is today—the first female justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and one of the most powerful women in America. In this illuminating and unusual book, Sandra Day O’Connor tells, with her brother, Alan, the story of the Day family, and of growing up on the harsh yet beautiful land of the Lazy B ranch in Arizona.

Laced throughout these stories about three generations of the Day family, and everyday life on the Lazy B, are the lessons Sandra and Alan learned about the world, self-reliance, and survival, and how the land, people, and values of the Lazy B shaped them. This fascinating glimpse of life in the Southwest in the last century recounts an important time in American history, and provides an enduring portrait of an independent young woman on the brink of becoming one of the most prominent figures in America. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24495.Lazy_B

Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob

by Dick Lehr, Gerard O’Neill

John Connoly and James “Whitey” Bulger grew up together on the streets of South Boston. Decades later, in the mid 1970’s, they would meet again. By then, Connolly was a major figure in the FBI’s Boston office and Whitey had become godfather of the Irish Mob. What happened next — a dirty deal to being down the Italian mob in exchange for protection for Bulger — would spiral out of control, leading to murders, drug dealing, racketeering indictments, and, ultimately, the biggest informant scandal in the history of the FBI.

Compellingly told by two “Boston Globe” reporters who were on the case from the beginning, “Black Mass” is at once a riveting crime story, a cautionary tale about the abuse of power, and a penetrating look at Boston and its Irish population. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/71111.Black_Mass

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Welcome!

Hello!

This blog is a platform for book reviews, reader’s advisory and research. Wow that sounds boring. Let me give you a little back story. Last year I completed my masters in Library and Information studies and decided to take a few months off before heading into the job market… It seemed like a good idea at the time. What I didn’t take into account was just how bad the economy was and as such, after countless applications and one really really REALLY near thing I am still jobless. So after getting thoroughly fed up with the entire situation I decided to start this blog so that I don’t completely forget everything I worked so hard to learn. Ok, back to the point. I want to be your personal librarian. Give me a topic you would like to know more about and I will find print and digital resources for you. Need a new book to read? Let me know what you like and I will find something for you. I plan on coming up with reading lists, book reviews and pathfinders depending on what your question is. The more information I get from you, the better my suggestions will be. Heck, we might even start an online book club. So send me your questions, your reading likes and dislikes and ideas and I will answer them twice a week. The first task comes from a friend of mine.

She writes: I want to read nonfiction books that essentially read as if it’s a novel. With drama and intrigue and story arcs and all that stuff, that will make me want to keep reading. But I like to learn stuff, so I want it to be non-fiction. Biographies or memoirs are fine, or anything about historical events, etc. More recent history is better, but I’d be interested in anything from the middle ages on. Even superficial “history” like old movies stars. Most of what I find myself has lots of little pieces of interesting info stuck in it, but reads more like a text book, or has way too much useless detail, and that’s just not fun to read before bed or on the beach. And “historical fiction” doesn’t often seem to include much actual history.

Check back soon (I’m shooting for Tuesday) for a list!