Adult Book Reviews by Genre: Nonfiction

Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog
Grogan, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Marley and Me is an amusing nonfiction novel that captures all of the adventures of John Grogan as he gets his dog Marley: a canine intent on misbehaving and causing as much destruction as he can. Marley raided the trash, stole and swallowed a gold necklace, closed a public beach, got kicked out of obedience school, and was the Grogans' best friend. Marley and Me is filled with humor, compassion, and love for the chaotic and affectionate dog. It's a very well-written book, and now I feel better about my own dog, who enjoys chewing the couch.

Reviewer's Name: A.M.
Awards:
A Work in Progress
Franta, Connor
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A Work in Progress is an inspiring and well thought book for his targeted audience. Connor Franta is a well known YouTuber and this book is a memoir of his life. It goes in depth about his past, present, future, fears, etc. Connor is trying to find himself and he tells his readers to do the same. The concept of this autobiography is beautiful because he reaches out to the viewers and audience who have the same or similar struggles like him and helps the people who are having a hard time finding themselves in the world. Reading this book rethinks how you want to live your life and reach for your goals.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Jade D.
Walchak, Shelley
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A fishing book about an incredible woman fly fisherman.

Reviewer's Name: Paul Castenholz
Navy Seal Dogs
Ritland, Mike
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This was a great book. I would strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in how k9s are used in the military or who is just interested in how special operations forces work in general. The author shares his story of why he joined the military and became a navy seal. He then started his own company that trains dogs for use in the military. You get to read some of his stories from in the military and how amazed he was at what dogs are capable of doing and how many lives they have saved. You will also pick up some dog training tips that you could use to train your own dog. Overall, this was a great book and I really enjoyed it and I think that you will too.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Kai K.
Skyfaring
Vanhoenacker, Mark
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book was one of the best books I have read this year. I
would strongly recommend this book to anyone who would be interested in working in the travel or airline industry. This book really does make you see how it is like to fly a plane through the eyes of a pilot. The author explains it almost poetically and nicely splits the book into nine chapters that all compare flying to the name of the chapter. These chapters are: Lift, Place, Wayfinding, Machine, Air, Water, Encounters, Night, and Return. You will really realize that flying is an almost completely different experience for the pilot than it is for the passenger. For example, he points out that as a passenger, you spend the entire flight looking out a small window in the side of the plane but as the pilots, you get a different experience as you are looking out the front and have a better view of the earth. All in all, I thought that this was one of the best books I have read this year and I am sure you would enjoy it too.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Kai K.
Awards:
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town
Krakauer, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

John Krakauer, author of Under the Banner of Heaven, Into the Wild, and Into Thin Air, brings his literary non-fiction style to addressing the topic of rape and sexual assault at the University of Montana, which is located in the titular city, Missoula. Krakauer examines the assaults of five young women with ties to this university during the period of 2008-2012. These case studies examine the culture of sexual assault and how these cases are dealt with by the criminal justice system and the university. Readers should be warned that this book does have some graphic content due to the nature of this topic.

Readers of Krakauer who enjoyed Under the Banner of Heaven will find a similar style of reporting found in this work. Krakauer champions the stories of the five women whose assaults he details as he works to debunk many of the myths surrounding the topic. Most interesting to this reviewer is the research that he presents that not many men commit sexual assault, but those that do tend to be repeat offenders. And many of these perpetrators fail to even realize that their actions are criminal.

Krakauer thoroughly takes to task members of the criminal justice system who oversee the charging and prosecution of these crimes. Other reviewers have found his treatment of those officials to be harsh and one-sided, claiming this to be a departure from Krakauer’s normally unbiased reporting style. This reviewer found that the critical lens Krakauer uses when discussing the many missteps of the criminal justice system to be warranted. He also is critical of the football culture of the area that strives to protect its athletes even if they have harmed others. We see how university officials try to navigate bringing offenders to justice in this type of culture. This book is really more about the culture of sexual assault than it is about Missoula. While it is an emotionally challenging read, it is a worthwhile read and it will hopefully bring more attention to sexual assault and ways that we as a society can prevent these crimes.

Reviewer's Name: Deb
Awards:
Grunt
Roach, Mary
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Mary Roach covers military science in a way that seemingly only she can: by covering the weird, little known aspects like genitalia injuries, shark repellent, military fashion, and, of course, diarrhea. The result is an interesting, engaging and very accessible non-fiction read.

I listened to this book, and I think that was probably a mistake. Mary Roach tends to jump around from topic to topic even within a larger topic (in a chapter about shark repellent you may jump from sharks to polar bears pretty abruptly), which can be fun to read, but was hard to listen to. Zone out for a minute, and you'll find yourself completely lost. My listening enjoyment was also hampered by the insane amount of acronyms used by the military. I had a lot of "wait, what does that stand for again?" moments, and in an audiobook, there's not really a way to go back and check, and its not like I'm going to google whilst driving. Oh yeah, and the narrator was not to my taste. Her voice just didn't do it for me.

But overall, it managed to be both informative and funny which is not an oft found combination. I really enjoyed it, and I'll be booktalking this one in the fall.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Awards:
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: a Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures
Fadiman, Anne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

An insightful look at intercultural conflicts in the medical field. This book follows the case of a young Hmong girl named Lia Lee, the daughter of refugees, who presented with epilepsy in her infancy. The author, Anne Fadiman, follows both the parents and the doctors involved in the case, interviewing the key parties and untangling the miscommunication that led to Lia’s eventual brain death. The author is respectful to both sides and manages to explore the conflict that arises over the medical care without placing blame, instead asking what both sides viewed as good medicine, what they hoped to accomplish, and why they were unable to communicate their ideas to one another and agree on how to handle Lia’s treatment. The edition I read also had a helpful afterword in which the author updated readers on where the people she interviewed are now, some 20 years later, and how the hospital in Merced (and other hospitals throughout the country) are starting to change how they train their staff to interact with a multicultural community that might have very different ideas about what good medical care looks like. This book always makes top non-fiction lists, and now that I’ve finally gotten around to reading it I can say that for me it lived up to the hype.

Reviewer's Name: Lauren
In the Sanctuary of Outcasts: A Memoir
White, Neil
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I admit, I didn't know much about leprosy before reading this book. I didn't realize that patients were segregated from society. I thought the disease had been eradicated decades ago! I was impressed with how Neil White told the story of the patients at Carville. Unlike the prisoners housed there, they didn't feel sorry for themselves. They just went on with their lives despite their disease. There was no reason to feel sorry for them.

What I didn't like about the book was Neil White's personal story. I do feel he was remorseful for taking money from innocent people to pay for his big dream of being a magazine publisher and living large. I just didn't like the examples he used when he was trying to express regret like when the first black family moved into his neighborhood or how he blackballed fellow students from joining his fraternity. The worse example was when White discussed how the patients had been disfigured by the disease and how he could "relate" because of the scar on his forehead. That passage really bothered me.

Reviewer's Name: Melissa
Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation
Jobb, Dean
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Leo Koretz was a con man operating in Chicago in the 1920s - he was basically like a 1920s version of Bernie Madoff. His crimes have faded into obscurity, so Jobb has decided to tell his story. Leo's story is juxtaposed with that of Robert Crowe, the would-be political climber who was sort of responsible for chasing Leo down and prosecuting him.

I listened to this book, and while it starts off pretty slow, it picks up when Leo starts his swindling, and stays somewhat fast paced and consistently interesting until the very end, when the author reveals the fates of all of the "players", and I didn't really care. I read somewhere that this book reads like a "fiction" book, and I wouldn't really agree with that statement - while it was interesting and paced considerably more quickly than many non-fiction books, if a fiction book spent several minutes/pages outlining the costs of jewelry that a con man gave to his wife (boooooooring), I'd throw that book across the room. Basically, this book was meticulously researched, but at something of a cost - there were a lot of details that felt pretty superfluous, and the details often interrupted the otherwise somewhat narrative flow of the book. I also could've done without the Robert Crowe parts...while Leo was a "real piece of work", Crowe just seemed like a massive jerk. All that aside though, it was a fun, fascinating listen. I liked it - 3 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Awards:
Green River Killer: A True Detective Story
Jensen, Jeff
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This graphic novel follows Tom Jensen, the author's father, as he hunts the Green River Killer. The story oscillates between the story of catching the Green River Killer (mostly set in the 80s in Seattle) and the post-catching pre-trial interviews with Gary Ridgway. Needless to say, it's a fascinating perspective.

I tend to prefer graphic novels with color, but I thought the artwork in this was great. The artist manages to capture the expressions of the different (real) characters, which led to some very chilling panels. However, the story jumped around in such a way that was confusing - it would often take me a few panels to realize that there was a time jump or perspective switch or whatever.

Overall, this was a pretty gripping read. I'd recommend it to fans of true crime novels.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Smoke, Mirrors, and Murder:  And Other True Cases
Rule, Ann
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I love watching true crime on tv and decided to finally read a book in that genre. I chose Ann Rule because she was the queen of true crime writing. This particular book was a compilation of some of the stories she had written about. I was engrossed right away and couldn't put it down. I now know why Ann Rule's books are so popular. In the first story "The Deputy's Wife", she survives her ordeal, but it was scary reading about it. I like that Ann added resources for victims of domestic abuse at the end of this story. The other story that I am still thinking about is "The Truck Driver's Wife". I won't give details, but it truly is a mystery!

Reviewer's Name: Melissa M.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers
Boo, Katherine
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Actual Rating: 4.3

I originally discovered this book on a list of titles recommended by John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska. Katherine Boo’s incredible work revolves around “life, death, and hope in a Mumbai under city.” It follows several characters as they struggle to survive life in rural India: Abdul, a Muslim teenager who provides an income to his large family through collecting and selling trash, Asha, a woman with dreams of escaping poverty through politics, Kalu, a scrap metal thief, and dozens of others who live together in a small village built near the Mumbai airport. While this book may not be as relateable as many that are popular now, it brings humanity to a group of people we tend to see as “other” due to their distance and situation. This book changed the way I look at people below the poverty line, and I highly recommend it.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Claire M.
Genres:
The Glass Castle
Walls, Jeannette
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This memoir follows the tumultuous childhood of the author with upheaval and hardships almost too extreme to believe. Through living in extreme poverty, being in real danger medically, emotionally, and physically, Jeannette expresses her constant determination and shows how she copes with and still has deep love for her dysfunctional family. I finished this book very quickly because it is very hard to put down.

Reviewer's Name: Melissa
Night
Wiesel, Elie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Elie Wiesel is a twelve year old Jewish boy living in Sighet, Romania in 1944 who loves to study the Talmud. When his instructor warns the people of the Nazi aggressors coming to threaten their peaceful lives, it is too late and Elie’s family is forced into ghettos. Elie and his father, Shlomo, are separated from the rest of their family and are sent to multiple concentration camps, just trying to survive. This is my second favorite book ever because it is written by Elie Wiesel himself and is about his life as a Holocaust survivor. I can’t even describe
how good this book is because once you realize it is nonfiction, it gives the book a whole new meaning. I highly recommend this book to everyone, but especially those interested in the Holocaust or books about it such as The Diary of Anne Frank. I picked this book because I love autobiographies about the Holocaust and it just really shocked me at how life for Jews during that time was.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Eat, Pray, Love
Gilbert, Elizabeth
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Elizabeth Gilbert has everything a normal person wants: loving husband, country home, a great career, and much more. But for some reason she was not happy, instead she felt confused and lost in her own world of thoughts. So, through a painful process, she leaves behind everything (her marriage, job, home) and plans a year round trip to Italy, India, and Indonesia, hoping that traveling to these places will help her find herself. I began reading this book this year for a school assignment and I have to say I didn’t like it from the cover and the first few pages. What made it interesting was that Eat, Pray, Love is an auto-biography by Elizabeth herself about her journey for self-actualization and also that you are able to learn a little bit more about the culture of these countries. I recommend this book to those who are having trouble about knowing who they are in the world, but while I was able to be intrigued by the book and it did grab my attention, let’s just say it didn’t have me standing on the edge of my seat and isn’t one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Awards:
The Importance of Being Earnest
Wilde, Oscar
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A perfect introduction satire, The Importance of Being Earnest has so much irony and humor in it. Anyone who has some judgement on society will love Wilde’s expert ridicule and criticisms, and have a good laugh as well. Being written in the Victorian era, you will see how quests for love are nothing without men having low and ridiculous opinions of women, and the women, who will believe anything in order to get the man of their dreams.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Madison H.
Genres:
Night
Wiesel, Elie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was a heartbreaking story, but it was a work of fiction. This story is just as sad, but is written by a holocaust survivor himself. This story will make you cry so beware. It made me cry, but was a complete eye opener to the history of WWII. This book is a classic and will satisfy all audiences with its moving story.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gerilyn M.
Awards:
Book Review: American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History
Kyle, Chris
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Anyone who knows me may realize that this is not my normal topic of interest. However, I do enjoying reading about different perspectives and life experiences from mine. That said, Chris Kyle and I have almost nothing in common as far as beliefs and interests go, but we do have love for country and loyalty to friends and family in common. Of course, he's about as tough as they come. Way tougher than me. I'm sure I would not have been able to do what he did even if I had wanted to. However, I found as I was reading this book that Kyle had a lot of interesting observations about the Iraq War from a front lines perspective. The stories were intense and engaging. I didn't get into the weapons geekery at all, but I'm guessing his target (har!) audience did. Really, a very good book about the front lines experience of a Navy SEAL.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Book Review: Being Mortal
Gawande, Atul
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was a very hard read for me. Not because of the writing, but because of the subject matter. I had just placed my father and his wife into a continuing care community when my book club chose this book. The stories of lost independence and the price of safety on quality of life hit me hard. After they moved in my dad went straight to Memory Care. His freedom is gone and he feels it keenly. It's true that he's safe, but I feel like I had a hand in ending his freedom. Of course in my head I know this isn't true, the circumstances were - and still are - way beyond my control, but still.

The takeaway from this book is to communicate clearly with your loved ones what you want as an end-of-life plan. Also, it's important to take an active role in choosing help and help communities. Finally, hospice is a far more humane way to treat the end-of-life experience than heroic measures and ICU. Quality of life is the most important thing and this is defined on a individual basis.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn

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