Adult Book Reviews by Genre: Nonfiction

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
Outliers: The Story of Success
Gladwell, Malcolm
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Don't let the genre discourage you from picking up this book. Extremely interesting and eye-opening, this book offers me lots of insight and tips on being successful in your professional and personal life. I'd encourage many young readers like me to pick up this book and give it a try. It's not a book to give excuses to why we are not the next Bill Gates or Einstein. It gives lessons to why these people became successful in the area they were/are successful in, and the steps they took toward it. It's a matter of whether you let their success discourage you or turn it into motivation and lesson to be successful in your own life.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Vy D.
Genres:
Book Review: Protecting the Gift
De Becker, Gavin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This was a very informative, and honestly slightly scary book. The takeaway is to heed your intuition and gut-feeling regarding the safety of your children. We brought Zoe to a Kidpower workshop, which was just wonderful. Zoe now has some tools to keep herself safe and I feel a bit less worried. Still worried of course, but a bit less... I definitely recommend this book to all parents, especially mothers.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Book Review: 7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness
Metaxas, Eric
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A great book with mini biographies of 7 men who made choices that changed their society and left legacies for us. The writing style is informal. I learned things about these famous men that I hadn't known before.

A great inspirational book for teens and adults.

Reviewer's Name: Julie
Next of Kin
Fouts, Roger
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is one of the best books I have ever read. In an account of Fouts’ experiences teaching chimpanzees to communicate through sign language, he exposes many heartbreaking injustices of animal research that escapes public attention. Even more importantly, to me, he reveals the striking intelligence and “humanity” of great apes and their tremendous capacity to feel emotions and think critically. It is important to note that the book is written through the bias of a man who has befriended chimpanzees for life; however, much of what he describes is backed up by convincing evidence, leading me to truly believe this book. The accounts of chimpanzees, their ability to withstand horrifying situations, and to remember with gratitude those who once helped them, is truly touching. I also enjoyed the scientific discussions interspersed within the narrative elements of the book. For anyone looking to reaffirm their convictions of animals’ feelings or for anyone looking to challenge their current opinion, I would highly recommend this book.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Selena Z.
Book Review: The Sex Lives of Cannibals
Troost, J. Maarten
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This one was pretty fun. A white guy's experience living in the Southern Pacific on a incredibly remote island called Kiribati. Definitely had some humorous moments. The most I got out of it though was that I had never heard of Kiribati and that I should do more research on it.

Reviewer's Name: Cassie
Genres:
Book Review: The Last Lecture
Pausch, Randy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

What an amazing book in simplicity and intensity written by Randy Pausch.

Having learned that he had terminal cancer, Mr. Randy Pausch talks about important things in his life and how he had lived. He writes about love, respect, pursuit of dreams and appreciation. This book is not about dying, it is about living every single moment in life and reminds the readers about the beauty of life :) Mr. Pausch's last lecture was about, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" living not only your dreams but of others as well. The book is about "seizing the moment" and "Really Achieving your Childhood dreams."
This is one of the most inspiring books I've ever read!

Reviewer's Name: Shivani
How To Read Literature Like A Professor
Foster, Thomas C.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The book is a very practical book and an amusing guide to literature. It is about a chatty Professor from University of Michigan who talks about different elements of literature such as mythology, geography, faith, Bible, seasons, Shakespeare, etc... There are ample of examples and the language is friendly. The author is quite controversial about some topics but overall, the book is entertaining and fun to read!

Reviewer's Name: Shivani
Genres:
Book Review: Unbroken
Hillenbrand, Laura
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I found this book extremely depressing for the most part. Not because it was a bad book, but because it was so sad. I was surprised and stunned at the intensity of the book. Normally I don't care for fictional books. This was a true story about a man who went through hard times.
Louis Zamperini was a mischievous kid, an Olympian, a bombardier on a B-24 Liberator and a World War II prisoner of War (POW). As a POW Louis was treated as trash. The Japanese forced them work for them. Turning the POW's into slaves. Many of the POW's died of sicknesses or to much work. Louis was beaten and tormented. They tried to take everything from the POW's. They took those men and stripped them of their dignity, leaving them feeling worthless.

Everyday Louis watches as men unable to hold on anymore give up and die. To keep himself going he thinks about home. As the war gets closer to ending his hopes fly up higher.When the war was finally over Louis comes home. He is not the strong Olympian he was. He is a frail man of 29. He can't leave the horrors of the camp behind. His dreams are tormented by thoughts of the prison. His life might have taken a turn for the bad had he not met Jesus.I highly recommend this book to most teens. This is a heart worming and heart breaking story. I loved it!!!

Reviewer's Name: Rachel

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