Ahoy there me mateys! For those of ye who are new to me log, a word: though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes. Occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were. So today I bring ye a muster of non-fiction reviews. What be a muster?
Well the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as:
- assemble (troops) especially for inspection or for battle;
- collect or assemble (a number or amount); or
- a group of peacocks.
I have been reading a lot of non-fiction books and don’t have enough information to give full reviews because many of the facts fail to muster and fall out of me noggin. Yet they be enjoyable and so methinks it be good to spread the word. Here be three such recent reads.
Side note: the book covers come from Goodreads and ye can click on them to add the books to yer Goodreads’ Ports for Plunder List.
I heard about this book from Matey Charley @ booksandbakes1. Who doesn’t love a true story involving bookstores and typewriters? So the editor, owns his grandfather’s 1930s Smith Corona typewriter. There be a cute story in that. Then in 2013, him and his wife opened up the Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There be a cute story in that. In said bookstore, Gustafson put out a typewriter and empty white page. This be the cute story of the messages and stories arising from what visitors to the bookstore have typed on it. Throughout are lovely recollections from the editor about his life and the bookstore. The book be short and I read it in one sitting. I thought it was lovely. Equally lovely is the design of the book and how all of the quotes are laid out. Beautiful.
“Maybe you are across an ocean, sitting in a small house overlooking a field, reading this book. Maybe you, too, have lost a grandfather. Or a cat. I imagine you sitting there, holding this book, reading words once typed thousands of miles away: It will always be a special memory for me. Please know you were loved and that I/we will always remember you.”
get well soon: history’s worst plagues and the heroes who fought them (Jennifer Wright)
This book is about plagues and is fascinating. The First Mate listened to this one and recommended it. We ended up listening to it together. We would stop after each chapter and discuss. It was fun. I knew nothing about the Antonine Plague of Rome. I found how widespread syphilis was to be fascinating. The monk that worked on the leper colony, Father Damien, should be a saint. The man who promoted lobotomies, Walter Jackson Freeman II, was a devil and I want to believe that he is paying for it in death. People should vaccinate their children. And seriously bursting frogs to cure the black death. Ugh! There is a lot of humor in this book which I didn’t always love but it wasn’t done disrespectfully. I wouldn’t mind reading more of this author’s works. Arrr!
“Ask the Aztecs and the Incas whether or not they would have liked to have access to vaccines. Oh, wait, you can’t. They’re dead. Vaccination is one of the best things that has happened to civilization. Empires toppled like sandcastles in the wake of diseases we do not give a second thought to today. If taking a moment to elaborate on that point will make this book unpopular with a large group of antivaxxers, that’s okay. This feels like a good hill to die on. It’s surely a better one than the Incas got.”
will my cat eat my eyeballs? big questions from tiny mortals about death (Caitlin Doughty)
Kids ask the strangest things. I first read this author’s book, smoke gets in your eyes, and loved it. So of course I had to read this one too. In this the author answers children’s questions about death including the question that is the title. I read most of the book out loud to the First Mate. There were just too many cool facts not to. My two favourite chapters were “What would happen to an astronaut body in space?” and “Can we give Grandma a Viking funeral?” The basic answer to the first question is that sci-fi books tend to get it wrong. And the second question is that the flaming floating boat is a Hollywood trick. The First Mate’s favourite was “Why don’t animals dig up all the graves?” Reasons. I love this book because it be funny, answers concisely and clearly about even the hypotheticals, and really does any excellent job explaining the whys and laws involved. The chapters be short but the book is a blast. Society should be able to discuss death instead of it being taboo.
“How can it be fake? It’s called a Viking funeral because, duh, that’s what the Vikings did. Well, no. The Vikings, everyone’s favorite medieval Scandinavian raiders ‘n’ traders, had diverse and interesting death rituals, but a flaming cremation boat wasn’t one of them”
― Caitlin Doughty
So there ye have it. Three excellent non-fiction reads that I highly recommend. Arrrr!!