Category Archives: non-fiction

Best Non-Fiction Books in 2012

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Every once in a while, I like to get out of the fiction bubble that I usually reside in and enjoy a nice non-fiction book (including memoirs and biographies). I haven’t been as good mixing genres this year as I have in the past, but, oh well. Something to work towards next year, right? As always, the books listed below are in no particular order:

1. The Serial Killer Whisperer by Pete Earley

2. All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward

3. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

4. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

5. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

6. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

7. Bossypants by Tina Fey

8. Paris in Love by Eloisa James

9. Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith

10. SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper by Howard E. Wasdin & Stephen Templin

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

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The Office Writer/Producer/Director/Actress Mindy Kaling had me cracking up and nodding my head in agreement throughout the entire book. IS EVERYONE HANGING OUT WITHOUT ME? reminded me a bit of Tina Fey’s BOSSYPANTS in that well-respected, funny, “good girl” comedians demonstrate that yes, it is possible to have a vagina, go to a reputable university, not sleep around, appreciate your family, and still make it big in mainstream comedy. Props to you, Kaling.

Kaling’s book is a humorous conglomerate of childhood stories, essays, and loose guidelines of being a good person and friend. The chapter “Best Friends Rights and Responsibilities” had me cracking up, then texting my BFFs certain rules verbatim. While I was reading this book, I felt as if I was listening to one of my own girlfriends vent and joke about her daily adventures. When I got to the end, I felt as if I was saying goodbye to a dear friend. That, to me, is how I know when a book is good.

Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

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Reading Bourdain’s KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL was like listening to him speak. When reading memoirs/auto-biographies, the voice of the author sometimes isn’t how I imagined it to be, which can be incredibly disappointing. Not so in KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL. Bourdain’s sarcasm and dry sense of humor shines through. There was just the right mix of insider’s tips (avoid brunch), name dropping (Frank singing at the Rainbow Room), and stories with anonymous leads (who is Bigfoot?) that kept me cracking up for hours on end. Kudos, Mr. Bourdain.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Bossypants by Tina Fey

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I should preface this review by stating that I am a huge fan of Tina Fey. I loved her on SNL’s “Weekend Update,” “Mean Girls,” and on “30 Rock”. That being said, I was expecting to enjoy reading BOSSYPANTS, Fey’s memoir-but-not-really-a-memoir.

And I did.

Fey delivered her usual smart sense of humor wrapped up in “nice girl” packaging. I was cracking up chapter after chapter of her tales during adolescence, her days working improv, her rise as NBC’s darling…and of course the Palin sketches on SNL. The script of the infamous SNL cold open sketch was just an added bonus in what was already a keeper of a book.

More importantly, though, I enjoyed Fey’s take on feminism from a comedic perspective. Her observations and experiences on what it meant (means) to be a female performing, writing, producing comedy that can appeal to a mass audience, while trying to raise a family. Funny and sincere, Fey certainly delivered in BOSSYPANTS.

5 out of 5 stars

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

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First, apologies for not updating as often as I would like. Two reasons have kept me away from this blog: finishing up my last semester of grad school and finishing Skloot’s book.

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTTA LACKS tells the story of the woman behind HeLa, a cancerous cell line taken without permission from an African-American woman in the 1950’s by her white oncologist. That woman’s name is Henrietta Lacks, and while Henrietta has been dead for over 50 years, her cell lines continue to live on. Skloot takes readers through slavery, Jim Crow laws, and Tuskegee experiments; discusses issues of race and racism, bioethics, and  medical discoveries; and, personalizes this story with tales of Henrietta and her family. Above all else, this is Deborah’s (Henrietta’s daughter) story inasmuch as it is her mother’s. Skloot does a wonderful job balancing cold, science lingo with warm, human emotions.

4 out of 5 stars