Off the Charts – a Muster of Mini-Reviews of Non-Fiction

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:

  1. assemble (troops) especially for inspection or for battle;
  2. collect or assemble (a number or amount); or
  3. 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.

Notes from a Public Typewriter

notes from a public typewriter (Michael Gustafson (Editor), Oliver Uberti (Design)

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.”
― Michael Gustafson, Notes from a Public Typewriter

Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them

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.”
― Jennifer Wright, Get Well Soon

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Deathwill 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 DoughtyWill My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?

So there ye have it.  Three excellent non-fiction reads that I highly recommend.  Arrrr!!

31 thoughts on “Off the Charts – a Muster of Mini-Reviews of Non-Fiction

  1. Hahaha “a group of peacocks” cracked me up! I’ve been meaning to do a review blitz for some of the nonfiction I’ve been into (more this year than in my whole life combined. It’s weird.). Anyway, great selection! I might have to add more to my list…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been mostly tackling self help books, but my next nonfiction venture will probably be random nature books lol. Audiobooks definitely would make those a lot easier to get through for me. And thank you – hopefully I’ll get to that blitz soon. ^_^

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Do ye read nature books about animals or people’s journeys? Cause if it be naturalist memoirs I have quite a few recommendations. Snails, owls, and octopuses and the people whose lives are changed by them. Of course if it be more of nature studies or travels I have some too. I don’t read a lot of self-help. Are there certain topics ye focus on? Feel free to not answer that question if it be private though.
        x The Captain

        Liked by 1 person

      3. A little of both. I tend to gravitate towards the ones that focus on studying animals and what that entails. I’d love a couple of your favorites! I’ve been reading all sorts of self help this year, from dealing with anxiety, to codependency, to ones that focus on finding purpose in life. I’m going through a shit-tastic couple of years, but the personal growth because of it has been undeniable. That might be a slight overshare haha. Oooh, for pure enjoyment though, I’ll pick up anything on organization.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I hear ya matey. The past five years for me have been filled with lots of suckage. I am not saying there aren’t good things too (like finally getting kittens) but man am I hoping to get out of the whirlpool. I don’t like this transition. Personal growth is good but I would like a string of good luck for a bit. I wish someone would just hand me a new purpose and path in life. And lots of loot too.

        I do like organizing though. I love post it flags and minimalism and streamlining things. I am good at not buying stuff but less good about getting rid of stuff I have had for years. Memories attached and all that. I like to read about stuff like that though I haven’t read books about it, only articles.

        As for recommendations. Me top three naturalist memoirs for ye to look at be:

        snails – https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/off-the-charts-the-sound-of-a-wild-snail-eating-elisabeth-tova-bailey/

        owls – https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/12/off-the-charts-another-muster-of-mini-reviews-of-non-fiction/

        and octopuses – https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordpress.com/2019/02/18/off-the-charts-the-soul-of-an-octopus-sy-montgomery/

        Arrrr!
        x The Captain

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Yay for kittens! I’m sorry to hear that though, and I can totally relate. One day at a time is all I can do. And hope for the future and a bit of good luck as well. Lots of loot would never hurt haha.

        I love that stuff so much. I’m really bad about hanging onto things also. I joke that if it stays in my house for more than a month, I’m never getting rid of it. I’m extremely sentimental. I have a trick that has seemed to help with that a bit. I can’t just decide to get rid of something cold turkey. I need time to process. So I have a bin where things get “nominated” for “eviction” out of my house. Then I let it sit in there for while. If I come back and I haven’t missed it, it seems a lot easier to let go.

        I love those recommends – thank you! They seem like works of passion and art, rather than the basic “this is a squirrel, this is what it did” books I’ve been reading (more straightforward). I love the prose. Thanks Captain! xo

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Oh a nomination process for getting rid of things sounds soooo good. I will have to try that. The other thing I am trying to do it take a photo or scan things. So I can still look at it but I don’t have to “own” it. That’s a work in progress because scanning takes time.
        x The Captain

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Ooh! The photo thing has worked for me as well! It does take a ton of time though haha. I have to really like the thing to take time to digitally preserve it. Whatever helps though. Baby steps!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah I’m so excited to see you liked Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs so much. I’ve been so curious about that one but also didn’t want to learn anything disturbing. It sounds like the humor makes it more palatable.

    Get Well Soon sounds interesting too! I’ve seen that one before but didn’t look into it too closely, it sounds like it’s also one with all the fascinating facts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The cat eyeball book is more palatable because of the humor for most. But as the author said, most kids really want real answers to their questions and can actually handle a bit of gore quite well. It depends on tone. I do think it be worth reading.

      And get well soon was fascinating. Some things like typhoid mary I had read about before but there were new facts in every section. The jokes weren’t always for me but I enjoyed it anyway.

      Thanks for reading.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Is the cat eyeball one more geared towards kids?

        And actually I remember that about the jokes in Get Well Soon now that you mention it…I’d read some other reviews of it before and that always seemed to be an annoyance!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The cat eyeball book is based on the questions children ask her about death. It is geared more towards kids with silliness and such. But there is a lot for adults there too like information about laws and history.

        And the get well soon jokes sometimes sound like they are trying to hard to be funny. But I have an odd sense of humor so it could just be me.
        x The Captain

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Both of her books have been awesome so far. But I like reading about the science of death even if death itself sucks for everyone. I like the facts better than imagining the worst. Even if the facts can be unsavoury.
      x The Captain

      Like

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