Friday, November 27, 2020

Nonfiction Quick Reviews

Braver Than You Think by Maggie Downs (2020)

As her mother suffered through the last stages of Alzheimer's disease, journalist Maggie Downs decided to take a solo year-long trip around the world, the trip her mother had always wanted to take and was never able to.  Although I questioned the timing of her trip (Downs was newly married; her mother's health was seriously declining and she actually ended up passing away while Downs was in Egypt), I appreciated the intent behind it.  The book is part memoir and part travel journal, so we not only get amazing descriptions of the some of the world's most beautiful locations, we also hear Downs' memories of her mother (both happy and sad) and lessons she learns and realizations she makes on her trip.  Downs' writing is so approachable and reads more like fiction than nonfiction.  Overall, a great read!  4.5 stars

 
At 54 years old, writer Dani Shapiro discovered through a fluke DNA test that her dad was not her biological father.  Inheritance follows Shapiro through her journey of discovery, questioning, and family.  Shapiro's story moves very quickly; within days of her discovery, she finds the man she believes to be her father.  In two ways, she's very lucky - that she had some clues and resources that most people wouldn't have access to and the response she got from the man and his family.  I really enjoyed Shapiro's writing; she's able to combine this narrative with memories of her parents and her deep feelings/thoughts/questions in a way that's easily followed by and relatable to the reader.  At times, it was difficult to read about Shapiro's impressions of her parents, her mother particularly (especially knowing both of her parents are deceased and can't add to the discussion or give any answers), but overall I thought this was an interesting look into how we as individuals define who we are and where we come from.  4 stars

 
In How To Be a Tudor, Ruth Goodman draws upon research and her own experiences to paint a picture for readers on what it was really like to live in 16th century England, during the Tudor era.  Chapters focus on how citizens started their day, what they ate for breakfast and when, what they wore, education, the differences between men and women's work, entertainment, and how they ended their days.  This book was so detailed and dense, it was hard to take in at times; that being said, I enjoyed the writing and thought it was entertaining.  Goodman mostly focuses on the lives of ordinary people, laborers and commoners, although she does point out differences between the classes (like what fabrics they were allowed to use or what they would most likely have eaten).  Goodman has spent time living on a recreated Tudor farm, so she actually has practical knowledge of day-to-day Tudor life.  I enjoyed reading about the skills she practiced and perfected.  3.5 stars

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13 comments:

  1. All of these three sound like great reads. I find myself to be more drawn to How To Be a Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Tudor Life but Inheritance sounds good as well.

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    1. I think you would really enjoy How to Be a Tudor!

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  2. Hmm... You have me intrigued by Braver Than You Think. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Braver Than You Think does sound really good. The timing of the author's trip is surprising to me as well though.

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  4. Inheritance is a book that I've had my eye on for a longer time. You remind me that I should read it! I'm curious what I'll think about the book.

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    1. I'd love to know your thoughts when you get to it!

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  5. Braver Than You Think sounds interesting. How To Be A Tudor sounds fascinating too, although I do imagine it would be a tad dense to get through.

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    1. Braver Than You Think was definitely the winner in this group!

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  6. All of these sound interesting. I love books like that Tudor one, so I should probably add it to my TBR list. Great reviews!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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I'm so glad you stopped by, and I would love to hear your thoughts! Comments are always greatly appreciated!