Sunday, April 15, 2007

Non-Fiction Five and other stuff

Getting down to the wire with less than two weeks till May and I've decided to give in and join Joy's Non-Fiction Five Challenge. I've finished 2 out of 4 of my Spring Thing books and only need to read two more chunksters to make myself feel fulfilled for the Chunkster Challenge (one, Earthly Joys, is in progress). Plus, I went through my cabinets to see what non-fiction I haven't gotten around to reading and oh. my. gosh. I do read quite a bit of non-fiction but I have a lot of books I have put off, haven't gotten to, am dying to read, etc. So, hey, why not? The required reading number is a mere one book per month from May to September and maybe the challenge will help me knock out a few of the older books or get to some I've been anxious to read but have put off. So, here we go:

1. Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon by Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton - This one's been sitting on the shelf for so long I couldn't even begin to guess when or where I got it, but a good hint is that the copyright date is 1994. Ahem.

2. The Messies Manual by Sandra Felton - I started this one and was actually finding it tremendously helpful when I set it aside. Probably, I was just trying to balance too many books at once; I do that and then set things down and eventually return to them. It has some useful information on clearing out the clutter. I definitely need to finish it and, possibly, also pray for a miracle.

3. Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn - This one was purchased on the recommendation of Nevada Barr. I attended a "Spirituality in Writing" workshop which she led in Jackson, Mississippi a few years back and, at the time, scratched down quite a number of book titles, wrote an article about the workshop, got it published, bought a few of the books mentioned and then . . . well, you know the story. There it sits. Gotta get to it.

4. If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name by Heather Lende - A book about small-town life in Alaska, which just looks fun. Fun is good.

5. Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo by Capt. Ted W. Lawson - Purchased recently, but I want an excuse to slip in a war memoir.

I seldom actually stick to challenge lists because I'm moody and impulsive, so here are some alternates - warning, huge list (and not really complete - I reserve the right to be flighty):

Prescription for Adventure: Bush Pilot Doctor - Naomi Gaede-Penner - about Naomi's doctor dad's adventures in Alaska.
Marley and Me - John Grogan - about a naughty but lovable dog.
The Writing Life - Annie Dillard
The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman - recommended by two bloggers and likely to get shoved higher up the list.
Night Fighter - C. F. Rawnsley - a WWII memoir
South: The Endurance Expedition - Ernest Shackleton
Soldier Life in the Union and Confederate Armies - Ed. by Philip Van Doren Stern
Sleeping with Cats - Marge Piercy - a writer's memoir
Dispatches - Michael Herr - Vietnam war memoir
Extra Virgin - Annie Hawes - travel memoir that takes place in Italy
The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary - Simon Winchester
C'est La Vie: An American Woman Begins a New Life in Paris and - Voila! - Almost Becomes French - Suzy Gershman
Loving God - Charles Colson - Supposedly a Christian classic on faith
Three Weeks with My Brother - Nicholas & Micah Sparks - can't stand his fiction, but I heard this memoir sort of explains his rough life (which possibly led to his choice to write tragedies)

Think that's enough to choose from? I could go on, but I think I'll stick with that list, for now.

Strange things were afoot; or, rather, abox - I completely forgot to mention that we had a moment's pause when we unloaded the large cardboard box holding our 10 red beans and rice dinners. In the bottom was a packing slip. The word "biohazard" on that packing slip jumped out at me. Eeks. As it turned out, when I stopped to read the packing list carefully, I discovered the box previously contained red biohazard kickbucket liners. Whew! This is what you get for having a doctor mom as one of the swim club parents: a bracing biohazard moment.

Temporarily set aside: Of The Farm by John Updike. It's only 160 pages long and I know I could get through it quickly if I'd just concentrate. But, focusing on one book is not my strong point and I'm not sure I'm in the mood to shove myself through something that isn't thrilling me. So, instead, I'm going to get back to reading The Secret lives of People in Love by Simon Van Booy and then move on to Rises the Night by Colleen Gleason (fellow blogger chick we all love), both advanced reader copies that I really need to review soon, anyway.

Just about finished with: Firefly, the complete series. And, I am just so utterly perplexed as to why the series was canceled after only 11 episodes. And bummed. I just don't get it. The actors were terrific, the characters nicely diverse with plenty of secrets that could have been slowly uncovered, the premise excellent, the action and humor endlessly fun. I loved the fact that only two of the actors were familiar to me; the same faces get a little tiresome, after a time and every one of them is (or, rather, was) utterly convincing in their chosen roles. The female characters were all intelligent, skilled, fascinating individuals. This may be justification for my continued lack of television viewing and discontinued satellite service. As soon as I finish watching the series, I'll view the movie, Serenity, and then probably go into mourning for a time.

I'd resume satellite service if they'd just bring the Firefly series back. Honest. Any network executives reading this?

Off to read or sneak in that last Firefly episode. Nighty-night!


  1. I know exactly how you feel about Firefly. I felt like crying when it was over knowing it was really over. What a great show. And I love the music from the series!

    I'm finishing Colleen's book right now actually (Rest Falls Away). It's wonderful! I haven't been able to put it down. Haven't had a page turner like this in awhile.

    I've been debating joining the Non-Fiction Five Challenge for awhile. I may just do it. Not really sure yet.

  2. LMAO @ the biohazard! I have to say, that would've given me a moment's pause, too.

  3. Isn't Joy's challenge great! I absolutely love me some non-fiction. ;D

  4. I really liked The Five Love Languages -- it's a book that has stayed with me. Although I was charmed by the cover of Marley and Me, once I started reading, it seemed like too much "Me" and not enough "Marley". Everything you've picked out for this challenge looks intriguing!

  5. Chris,

    Yep, I'm just certain I'm not going to know what to do with myself, once I finish Firefly and Serenity - they've been such fun. I went ahead and bought them both. Firefly is only $19.99 at Amazon and I know I'll want to watch it over and over.

    Isn't Colleen's book wonderful? I really enjoyed it. I know I'll be immersed, once I start the second book.

    Challenges are easy to overdo, but the NFF looks like very doable - just one book per month. The hope is always that those challenges will nudge me to read what I've already got; I try not to join so many that I get overwhelmed.


    It was a pretty funny moment. And, hey, where are you? I still have half a container of red beans and rice!!


    Me, too. I love non-fiction. I was actually looking for some Southern Lit for your challenge (couldn't find what I was looking for) when I came across a bunch of NF I'd tucked away. It took me forever to "narrow down" and you can see I didn't do a very good job of narrowing. LOL Well, whatever works. :)


    Yours makes three recommendations for Love Languages, thanks. :) I've heard mixed reviews on Marley and Me, but it was the lady in the airport whose shoulders were shaking while she read it that convinced me I should go ahead and give it a whirl. That was last July; amazing how long one can put off reading a book!

  6. I've never heard of any of your main selections, so I'm looking forward to reading what you thought. I'm going to read Dillard's 'A Writing Life' for Joy's challenge, and Ernest Shackleton is one of my heroes, so I hope you get to read his book.

  7. Oh, good, maybe you'll beat me to A Writing Life and I can get an early glimpse. I like the fact that it's thin.

    I've been dying to read the Shackleton book, but it's a fat one. I'm easily put off by thick books - hence, the Chunkster Challenge - and decided to keep it on the alternate list, for that reason, but I really want to read it. We'll see. Like I said, I'm really fickle. :)

  8. Anonymous12:14 PM

    I loved The Five Love Languages, as well as Three Weeks With My Brother. That being said, I'm also a big Sparks fan, so if I liked it, you may not! Happy Reading!

  9. There is nothing wrong with being flighty!

  10. Amanda,

    Thanks, that's 4 positives for Love Languages! I tend to love memoirs, so I'll probably like Sparks', even though I don't care for his fiction. It's mostly the tragic aspect I dislike. Message in a Bottle was one of those rare books I wanted to throw across the room at the end - although, that may have also had something to do with the subject matter. I just couldn't fathom an expert sailor in love going out on the open sea during a small-craft warning. It didn't work for me. He'd know better than to risk his life. My opinion. :)


    I agree! I just wanted to give fair warning that the list isn't cast in stone, in case anyone planned to watch for a specific review. The only books I'm guaranteed to read and finish are advanced readers. I shove myself through them, no matter what, to get a review in on time. :)

  12. Anonymous4:38 PM

    I also own the Firefly and Serenity DVDs and am totally perplexed as to how this series can be canceled. It is by far one of the best things to come out of TV. Shows you what a feel, network executives have for the general public.
    BTW : Did that liner say "Kick the Bucket" ? :)

  13. Gavin,

    I've been trying to come up with theories as to why Firefly was canceled and the only thing I could think of was that maybe it was axed because reality TV was the "in" thing 5 years ago. That was one of the reasons I ditched satellite service, actually - I can't stand reality shows. 11 episodes till cancellation? They didn't even give it a fighting chance!

    Kick the bucket. That's a good one. Thanks for the laugh! There weren't any actual liners in the box. I would have gone ballistic if there'd been a red plastic bag with a biohazard symbol, I'm sure!

  14. Anonymous2:48 PM

    I'm with you Nancy. I also find "reality" shows very irritating.

  15. Hey there, Nancy! I formally welcome you to the Non-Fiction Five Challenge! I agree that The Five Love Languages is a very good book. That one has stuck with me since I read it when it first came out. It's very valuable in understanding yourself and others. And I really enjoyed Marley & Me. I hope whatever you choose, you will enjoy. It won't be long before we can start. Happy Reading!

  16. Gavin,

    Just FYI, I just watched Serenity and I love the last line - the way they still *sort of* left an opening for more. :)

    Hi Joy!

    Wow, Five Love Languages must be awesome. I keep thinking I'll have to bump that one up, maybe place it first in line when May hits. It's actually kind of hard waiting, isn't it?

  17. Anonymous10:12 PM

    It was cancelled because not enough people were watching it! I told you all but no one listens to meeeeee (whine).

    Moody and impulsive. That's exactly how I read! And yet I continue to join challenges. Your list reminds me, I've got to get that Marge Piercy biography from the library again. The Simon Winchester book was pretty good.

  18. Carrie,

    I finally read about the poor Nielson ratings for Firefly, last night. Darn. I'll bet if they'd given the show a bit longer, the numbers would have grown. All three of us loved the series and movie - and my husband doesn't like much of anything! He's almost impossible to please.

    The Simon Winchester was a book I got from PBS after reading someone's blog review. Maybe it was yours? Yep, moody and impulsive. I just never know what's going to grab me at any moment. The nice thing about reading is that it's usually just fine and dandy to let your mood guide you. Except when you have an advanced reader to review, of course. I've got 4 to get through, but they all appeal to me, so that's good!

  19. Anonymous3:38 PM

    It really tanked in the ratings. Sort of like The Dresden Files is doing and I bet that one wont' be back either. Dang it, they owe me ONE.

    Maybe I blogged about Simon Winchester.......but I think I read it eons ago. Pre blog days. It was pretty entertaining.

  20. hi, Nancy!

    I'm so glad we're going to be challenge buddies on the non-fiction challenge...I approach with a little trepidition because I haven't done too well on my other challenges! :(

    Love your list of books, I haven't heard of any except for # 3, "Wherever you go, there you are" so I would be very interested in reading your reviews!

    The best of luck to you!

  21. Carrie,

    Yeah, I read that it got a terrible rating. Still . . . with the cult following it seemed to acquire, I think the show could have easily become a Star Trek. And, actually, still could. They could always bring back the ship a few years hence. But, the actors have moved on to other commitments. I think I read that Nathan Fillion has signed up for a new series.

    Well, it must have been some other blog because I read that review within the past 4-5 months. It's always great to hear additional recommendations. :)

    Hi Lotus!

    I'm always so happy to see you in here! :)

    This should be a fun challenge. I know what you mean; I do okay on some and others . . . not so well. I've read a couple of chunksters but I feel like I'm not succeeding on that one because they're not the huge ones I hoped to read and I failed to finish Great Expectations (so far).

    I'll have to go back and look at your list. It'll be fun reading everyone's reviews. :)


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