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.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir

let’s pretend this never happened: a mostly true memoir (Jenny Lawson)

I very much enjoyed this author’s book furiously happy and loved the messages about dealing with mental illness and happiness.  This novel was her debut.  I have to admit that while I did find the situations to be funny, this book’s writing style was a little harder to read.  This book did not flow as nicely and rambled a bit too much for me taste.  Plus there was an overall sadness under the laughter.  I don’t think it was bad.  I just think furiously happy was so much better.  That said, I do very much enjoy the author’s zany take on life and her upbringing.  Taxidermy, being a goth in Western Texas, digging up a dead pet, and lots of other silliness abound.  I will certainly read more of the author’s works.

“I can finally see that all the terrible parts of my life, the embarrassing parts, the incidents I wanted to pretend never happened, and the things that make me “weird” and “different,” were actually the most important parts of my life. They were the parts that made me ME.”
― Jenny Lawson, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir

Liquid Rules: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances That Flow Through Our Lives

liquid rules: the delightful & dangerous substances that flow through our lives (Mark Miodownik)

This book is about liquids and is frickin’ fascinating.  The First Mate and I both read his amazing book stuff matters and so we listened to this follow up book together.  We would stop after each chapter and discuss.  It was fun.  Favourites in this book include learning about ink, liquid soap, oceans, and the effect of glaciers on tectonic plates.  Seriously both books are must reads.  I want another book asap.  Arrrr!

Side note: Michael Page is seriously an awesome narrator.

 “Why is it that bodily fluids are so charged with emotion? They are essential to our well being when they’re still inside our bodies–so why are they so loaded with disgust as soon as they leave?”
― Mark Miodownik, Liquid Rules

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Deathfrom here to eternity: traveling the world to find the good death (Caitlin Doughty)

By reading this, I have now read all of this author’s work.  I loved both smoke gets in your eyes and will my cat eat my eyeballs?.  I have to admit that personally for me the dead body is just a shell.  Funerals and memorial services tend to not be useful to me in terms of the grieving process.  I go to support other grieving loved ones but would skip them if I could (and do sometimes).  I don’t want a funeral or a memorial or anything like that.  I really want to have an open air burial or compost.  Being dirt or vulture food sounds wonderful to me.  That said, I do find other cultures death practices to be fascinating.  I do wish to honor the dead person’s wishes in regards to how their own body is treated.  What this book does is take a look at other cultures and how they deal with the dead.  A lot of this wasn’t new to me given the articles and other books like stiff that I have read over the years.  But it was an excellent book and one I think all people should read.  Because death needs to be talked about and planned for.  Because seriously it will happen to us all.  Arrrr!

“Death avoidance is not an individual failing; it’s a cultural one. Facing death is not for the faint-hearted. It is far too challenging to expect that each citizen will do so on his or her own. Death acceptance is the responsibility of all death professionals—funeral directors, cemetery managers, hospital workers. It is the responsibility of those who have been tasked with creating physical and emotional environments where safe, open interaction with death and dead bodies is possible.”
― Caitlin Doughty, From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death

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

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

      1. Oh, you and me both! All that business of not rereading is confined to fiction – I’ll happily revisit a non-fiction book on account of having the memory of a goldfish!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I haven’t read Lawson’s Furiously Happy yet, I’ve only read Let’s Pretend… From the sound of it, I read them in the right order to be able to fully appreciate Let’s Pretend…

    The Liquids and Death books sound really neat, too! And I agree, I don’t want to be stuck in a box to rot when I die. I’d much prefer to fertilize some trees, or something. We’re supposed to give back, and too many funeral choices don’t let us do that as our final act.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Doughty’s work looks interesting, but I’ve never picked it up. This may be one of those authors I need to get via audio book and listen to on my commute. I read Let’s Pretend this Never Happened and Furiously Happy in order, and I think it makes a big difference. How Lawson met and married her husband had an impact on me when I read more about them in the second book. I do know many readers jumped in with Furiously Happy first and still enjoyed her writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Doughty’s books would be excellent as audiobooks. Totally digestible in small snippets. Though most nonfiction for me can easily be put down and picked back up. I do like stopping at the end of a chapter though.

      I have to admit that how Jenny met her husband was hysterical and their relationship is odd but very endearing. I do wonder how that would color furiously happy if I read it again. Though a reread of furiously happy could happen at some point. I am not adverse.
      x The Captain


      1. There’s definitely development between Let’s Pretend and Furiously Happy. You can see how the relationship between Lawson and her husband grows and how she actually analyzes her feelings more in Furiously Happy.

        I do remember Lawson telling her future mother-in-law that she is not gay when the woman asked her when she came out. LOL!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Seriously will never ever look at a ballpoint pen again without thinking about this book. Plus it is pretty short too. I actually wouldn’t have minded it being longer even though the structure he set up made where he stopped make sense! Did ye read stuff matters yet?
      x The Captain


  3. Liquid Rules sounds fantastic! I loved reading your thoughts on From Here to Eternity. Totally agree, these are things we have to talk more openly about and other cultures’ rituals around death are endlessly fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Liquid rules is so wonderful. I would have loved to squee more about it but it wouldn’t have done the book real justice. It be short and worth it. And glad ye enjoyed me thoughts about the death book. I am a bit of a broken record about it but after working on estate lawsuits and end-of-life issues it be one of be soapbox topics.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I completely understand re: the death topic. It’s something so important to be open about instead of avoidant even if that’s our culture’s natural tendency most of the time. I can only imagine what you’ve seen doing that kind of work. I think it’s so helpful to speak out about it, thanks for doing so 🙂

        That sounds like the problem I always have writing about sciencey books – I get so excited and want to explain all the amazing things I learned but the author just does it so much better. Adding it to my list, thanks for such great recommendations!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Can’t wait to read yer review once ye get around to it. Actually I enjoy all yer reviews even for the books that I have no interest in actually reading. I still feel like I learn things from all of them. Arrrr!
        x The Captain

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh sooo glad I could spread the word. If ye liked the other book (and who doesn’t?) then aye, ye need to read about liquids too. I love how the author makes fun of himself and his situations in his own works.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

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