Book Recommendations: The Non-Fiction Edition

Posted November 6, 2019 by Maire in meme, Whimsy / 9 Comments

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge

This week’s blogging challenge is book recommendations! Wait…that sounds familiar…

Oh, right! October 23rd’s challenge was books recommended to us. Small difference, but a difference nonetheless.

Wednesday Weekday Blogging Challenge

The Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge is hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Go take a look at what everyone else is recommending this week!

Book recommendations are a very subjective topic.

I find that while I like the same general categories as my friends, genre can run a rather large gamut. For instance, The Husbeast, our friend T, our friend Cee and I all like Science Fiction and Fantasy…but we all like different subgenres. The Venn diagrams on our preferences make little dots all over the place. Making book recommendations can be downright iffy.

This is why I usually stick to non-fiction. Usually folks are looking for something fairly specific. If I can help out, I consider it a win!

Food and Diet:

I’ve struggled with weight my entire life. As a result, I have a quite a few weight loss books, text books, cook books, and books about the food industry. I’ve read and/or tried almost every diet out there. The one that works best for me is a ketogenic (low carbohydrate) diet. Lots of natural foods, low sugar.

Good Calories, Bad Calories is a real slog. You have to have some dedication to read through all the science Taubes has collected and contrasted. This is why he wrote the more user-friendly Why We Get Fat. As for recipes, I like Dana Carpender’s books. The 15-minute Low Carb Recipes book gets a lot of use around our house.

Fast Food Nation was an “it” book of the time (2001). Lots of buzz. There are some pretty horrific stories detailed in it, to be sure. There’s definitely an undercurrent of “go vegan” from some fans. My common-sense way of looking at the situation is to simply recommend cooking more meals at home if you want to make an impact on the fast food industry and its inhumane practices. Chip in to buy a cow from a local farmer, and have beef for a year (or more!). Source more local, ethical options. You can have meat and not be a monster. Gogo B-complex Vitamins!


Yes, there are formulae you can use to write a book. No, it does not make your writing formulaic, per se. What it does is help give your writing structure. If you’re writing a romance, for instance, you need to know all the different story beats necessary to satisfy your reader. If you try to get cute and cheat them out of a happy-for-now or happy-ever-after ending, you will get the pitchforks and torches. Don’t come crying to me when you have holes in your favourite pants and singed hair. πŸ˜‰

Much of today’s writing is based around the hero’s journey or some variant of such. Gwen Hayes (Romancing the Beat) and Libbie Hawker (Take off your Pants) have written two of the more accessible books available on the subject.

Visual Art:

I grew up with one art history text or another on the bookshelf. That’s just what happens when you’re the third generation to attend art school. The Visual Arts: A History was the text my brother and I were both requested to purchase. It’s come in handy over the years. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is a good practical book for getting started. Watch for it when you hit up the used book store. It can be difficult to track down, otherwise!

Fibre Arts

Granny tried teaching me to knit. It didn’t work out so well for her (or me). Then I saw a hat in a book and wanted it. The only way I could get it? Make it myself. So I picked up Stitch ‘N Bitch and knit myself a hat with kitty ears and (human) earflaps. Then I knit myself an iPod cozy. It was 2005.

On the other side of the difficulty spectrum, we have Elizabeth Zimmermann’s The Opinionated Knitter. This is anecdotal knitting at its finest. As the book cover suggests, Zimmermann sent out newsletters between 1958 and 1968. Many of them are chatty and blog-like, and they include little patterns that do not conform to today’s strict, structured pattern requirements. There are people who would seriously lose their shit if they had to decipher EZ’s shorthand. The Baby Surprise Jacket is the standout pattern in this book. Well worth learning EZ’s conversational style of teaching.

Somewhere in the middle we have Alice Starmore and her series of Very Helpful Books. The one pictured here is all about Fair Isle knitting, and it is Very Helpful indeed. It even gives you the basic colour theory of Fair Isle knitting. I’m very happy these books have been re-issued; the info in them is invaluable. I picked this one up at Michaels, possibly on sale. Now I have to find the book on cables…

Economics as Entertainment

Last, but not least, I can recommend a couple of (related) socio-economic books. Freakonomics delves into statistics, and the possible relationships between vastly different topics, such as cheating, teachers, and sumo wrestlers. The two authors, Levitt and Dubner, have had some of their more recent claims called into question, but that could be partially due to communication, the research/editing process, or a variety of other factors. This first book, however, is quite entertaining and interesting.

There’s even a section on the economics of gang life in Chicago, written in conjunction with Sudhir Venkatesh, the author of Gang Leader for a Day. Venkatesh was a sociology student, attempting to conduct surveys in the Chicago Projects for extra credit. Instead, he wound up being held in a stairwell until his lack of gang affiliation could be verified. Gang Leader for a Day details Venkatesh’s observations as he explores the world of gang relations from a strangely privileged inside perspective. Again, the book is an interesting one. One that makes you think.

Those are my book recommendations, such as they are. Anything on the list that intrigues you? Any non-fiction recommendations I should check out? Comment below to let me know πŸ™‚


9 responses to “Book Recommendations: The Non-Fiction Edition

  1. Thanks for stopping by and you have some gems here. I am especially fascinated by the knitting books. My grandmother taught me to crochet and to this day, it’s one of the things I enjoy doing most while watching TV. Knitting on the other hand… I have to think about it. I love the Fair Isle patterns, though, so it might be worth trying again. Thanks!

    • My Granny was multicraftual, so when I didn’t immediately pick up knitting (to her sorrow), she started in on the crochet and needlepoint. I stuck with cross-stitch for years before picking up knitting. Having a book with simple patterns and really good technical illustrations (Stitch N Bitch) helped a lot.

      Work your way up to the Fair Isle. Then you’ll have a lot of choices for your TV crafting time πŸ™‚

  2. I’ve read about half of those books (Fast Food Nation, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Freakonomics, amongst others). Had the same problem reading “Good Calories, Bad Calories” that you mention, so might try the other of his books. Thank you!

    • I managed to get through Good Calories, Bad Calories through sheer stubborn determination. Why We Get Fat is definitely the more accessible read. It takes all the science in CGBC and translates it for those of us without degrees in physics or biology πŸ˜‰

  3. lydiaschoch

    Ooh, I could talk about food books with you all day! I love that topic. I also eat a whole foods, low sugar diet. Although I do eat certain carbohydrate-heavy foods daily or nearly so: fruit/vegetables, beans, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, etc. πŸ™‚ How long have you been eating keto?

    My post.

    • I’ve tried earlier versions of the keto diet (Atkins, SouthBeach) off & on over the years. Usually to get derailed by emotional life issues. The last time was about two years ago…then the company I worked for went through a stressful restructuring. My eating habits went all loopy.

      So we made the decision to go back to Keto once the Hallowe’en candy is gone. Which will probably be in a couple of days. Looking forward to it a lot. Beside the weight loss, I find dropping sugar & processed foods helps a lot with my migraines, joint issues/arthritis, and rosacea.

      Not looking forward to all the cooking, though! πŸ˜‰
      (I envy your ability to eat oatmeal and pasta…they’re real comfort-food triggers for me)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.