bookish posts

2013 Armchair BEA: non-fiction


A couple of years ago, I really didn’t read much non-fiction. I was in college, and if I wasn’t reading for a class, I wanted something light and fun. At least in my head, non-fiction is not light and fun. Even after college, I read a few non-fiction books, but not a ton. But recently, I’ve had an explosion of non-fiction and have found just how enjoyable it can be!

Now, I basically like to read about certain topics–things that I’m already interested in, in one form or another. I’ve been fascinated by WWII since middle school, for instance, and recently came up with a whole list of books I’ve read or would recommend about that era. History generally is my thing, though I’m much more interested in the people than in battles or overall political tactics.

So, what are a few of my favorites?

Queen Elizabeth in the Garden by Trea Martyn: This may be one that only I would love, but I thought the way Martyn looked at the gardens of Elizabeth I’s age, and the way her suitors and courtiers used them as symbols of power and devotion to be incredibly interesting.

A Life in Secrets by Sarah Helm and Georgette Heyer by Jennifer Kloester: A few months ago, I wrote about these two excellent biographies and the way their subjects reminded me of each other. I love this kind of connection when it happens in fiction, and it’s almost neater when it happens in non-fiction!

Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben MacIntyre: This is a riveting account of the double-agent system the British were running during WWII. It’s almost completely unbelievable, except for the part where it really happened. For instance, Agent Garbo, who created a whole network of spies and gave the Germans all kinds of information–the spies were imaginary and for the first part of the war, he wasn’t even in England.

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s Historic Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman: I had heard of Nellie Bly before, and even knew that she had raced around the world, trying to beat the 80 record of Jules Verne’s famous book. But I definitely didn’t know the whole story.

Just Send Me Word by Orlando Figues: Lev, a political prisoner in the Gulag, and Sveta, his long-time girlfriend, were apart for years. During that time, they created a complicated way of smuggling letters in and out of the camp. Figues weaves together their life and the letters in a great way, letting their words to each other shine.

The Map of My Dead Pilots by Colleen Mondor: An incredible book about Alaskan pilots and aviation. But, as my original review says, it’s also about searching for answers we can never know, and about the stories we tell ourselves.

We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson: In my opinion, one of the best tenn non-fiction books of the past few years. Levinson weaves together the stories of four different teens who were involved in the 1963 March, in a way that is both inspiring and brings out connections and tensions in a new and revealing light.

Okay, I’m going to stop before I list everything I’ve read in the past two years! But feel free to browse through my non-fiction tag if you’re interested.

By Maureen LaFerney

My name is Maureen. I currently work as a library assistant in a public library in the Indianapolis area, and also just so happen to be a voracious reader. I frequently end up under a cat.

7 replies on “2013 Armchair BEA: non-fiction”

I actually like intense books sometimes–I definitely read to be challenged and inspired.

I’d almost forgotten about Double Cross! That was an amazing book. You’ve given me so many books to look into, ahhh! 😀 I love nonfiction and anyone who reads it is A-ok in my book. Historical nonfic is my fave too.

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