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True Story UR Test

Happy Friday, nonfiction friends! While it’s my Midwest inclination to open every conversion with the weather, this week I will resist. The less said about Mother Nature this week, the better.

In honor of National Poetry Month, in this edition I want to write about a few great memoirs by poets. I love reading memoirs, but I’ve always thought that memoirs by poets are particularly special. I’m consistently in awe of the way they can string together perfect sentence after perfect sentence, articulating feelings and experiences in ways that are both specific and universal.

It’s a real treat to pick up a memoir by a poet – here are three I recommend: 

Bookish Goods

Personalized Genuine Leather Journal, Leather Notebook by DanielsArtplanet

Unique Handmade Deckle Edged Vintage Paper which looks like it was pulled from history

220 blank paper pages.

Unique leather-bound journal with handmade Deckle Edge paper looks and feels like a thousand years old and is a treat to write on.

New Releases

It’s a real treat to pick up a memoir by a poet – here are three I recommend: 

book cover how we fight for our lives by saeed jones

How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones

This book is a coming-of-age memoir about a young, Black, gay man from the South. Throughout his life, Saeed Jones had to fight for his place among his family and his community, as well as fight for the dreams and ambitions that drove his life. In addition to his story, Jones also explores race, queerness, vulnerability, and much more. It’s a beautiful and challenging book!

book cover ordinary light by tracy k. smith

Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith is the former U.S. Poet Laureate and winner of a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry collection Life on Mars. In this book, Smith writes about her childhood and her mother, who was diagnosed with cancer just when Smith was preparing to leave home for college. This forces Smith to reckon with independence, faith, loss, and race at the same time she is trying to make it as a student at Harvard. Again, I can’t say enough about the beautiful prose in this one! 

book cover the light of the world by elizabeth alexander

The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander

In this book, Elizabeth Alexander finds herself at a turning point following the sudden death of her husband. The book is both a story of love and loss in which she reflects on her marriage, the trauma of her husband’s death, the connection she found in community, and what it meant to raise two teenage sons after loss. I read this book while I was in my own period of deep loss and found it both difficult and comforting to read – pick it up if you need a good cry!

Riot Recommendations

To close, I want to point you to a couple of related articles over at Book Riot:

Why I Love Reading Memoirs by Poets by Neha Patel

5 Moving Memoirs in Verse by Amazing Women by Yashvi Peeti

My reading for the year has remained on the slow side, but I’m excited to have finished one of my most anticipated new titles of 2022 – Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation by Maud Newton. 

In the book, Newton writes about her vexing and fascinating search to better understand her family and family history, which was full of strange stories and complicated people. The book is broadly about the different ways we can be connected to our families – family trees, genetics, physicality, temperament, and more. It’s also a very specific deep dive into Newton’s own family, and the complex questions that came up the deeper and further she dug into their stories. 

The book was just a smidge long for me, but I still really enjoyed the time I spent with it. Newton has used her story to offer a wide-ranging and curious look at genealogy, family history, and the ways in which we are and are not products of the people we come from.

Categories
True Story

Amazing Memoirs by Poets

Happy Friday, nonfiction friends! While it’s my Midwest inclination to open every conversion with the weather, this week I will resist. The less said about Mother Nature this week, the better.

In honor of National Poetry Month, in this edition I want to write about a few great memoirs by poets. I love reading memoirs, but I’ve always thought that memoirs by poets are particularly special. I’m consistently in awe of the way they can string together perfect sentence after perfect sentence, articulating feelings and experiences in ways that are both specific and universal.

It’s a real treat to pick up a memoir by a poet – here are three I recommend: 

book cover how we fight for our lives by saeed jones

How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones

This book is a coming-of-age memoir about a young, Black, gay man from the South. Throughout his life, Saeed Jones had to fight for his place among his family and his community, as well as fight for the dreams and ambitions that drove his life. In addition to his story, Jones also explores race, queerness, vulnerability, and much more. It’s a beautiful and challenging book!

book cover ordinary light by tracy k. smith

Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith is the former U.S. Poet Laureate and winner of a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry collection Life on Mars. In this book, Smith writes about her childhood and her mother, who was diagnosed with cancer just when Smith was preparing to leave home for college. This forces Smith to reckon with independence, faith, loss, and race at the same time she is trying to make it as a student at Harvard. Again, I can’t say enough about the beautiful prose in this one! 

book cover the light of the world by elizabeth alexander

The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander

In this book, Elizabeth Alexander finds herself at a turning point following the sudden death of her husband. The book is both a story of love and loss in which she reflects on her marriage, the trauma of her husband’s death, the connection she found in community, and what it meant to raise two teenage sons after loss. I read this book while I was in my own period of deep loss and found it both difficult and comforting to read – pick it up if you need a good cry!

To close, I want to point you to a couple of related articles over at Book Riot: 

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

One Thing I Like

cover of Ancestor Trouble by Maud Newton; images of family members over different colored shapes

My reading for the year has remained on the slow side, but I’m excited to have finished one of my most anticipated new titles of 2022 – Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation by Maud Newton. 

In the book, Newton writes about her vexing and fascinating search to better understand her family and family history, which was full of strange stories and complicated people. The book is broadly about the different ways we can be connected to our families – family trees, genetics, physicality, temperament, and more. It’s also a very specific deep dive into Newton’s own family, and the complex questions that came up the deeper and further she dug into their stories. 

The book was just a smidge long for me, but I still really enjoyed the time I spent with it. Newton has used her story to offer a wide-ranging and curious look at genealogy, family history, and the ways in which we are and are not products of the people we come from.


For more nonfiction reads, head over to the podcast service of your choice and download For Real, which I co-host with my dear friend Alice. If you have any questions/comments/book suggestions, you can find me on social media @kimthedork. Happy weekend! 

Categories
True Story

New Releases: Real Housewives and DDT

I don’t know about you, but I just finished my fifth Lincoln audiobook and I am not much closer to figuring out that man. So COMPLicated. House of Abraham by Stephen Berry was better than I expected, and Berry writes with an actual personality, which I always appreciate in nonfiction. It’s all about Lincoln’s relationship with the Todd (his wife Mary’s) family.

What I DIDN’T like was H.W. Brands’s The Zealot and the Emancipator, which was a kind of dual biography themed on abolition about John Brown and Lincoln. Brands was much, much more favorable to Brown, which is a Take.

Ok! New nonfiction for this week:

How to Sell a Poison cover

How to Sell a Poison: The Rise, Fall, and Toxic Return of DDT by Elena Conis

DDT! Originally it was meant to save lives during WWII by killing the insects that spread disease. When its harmful effects were widely publicized by Rachel Carson and others, it was banned in 1972. Now it seems to be back? Conis tells the story of this harmful 20th century chemical in her book with its excellent, excellent cover.

Sisters of Mokama

Sisters of Mokama: The Pioneering Women Who Brought Hope and Healing to India by Jyoti Thottam

New York Times Opinion editor Thottam tells the story of six Kentucky nuns who traveled to India in 1947 and built a hospital in Bihar, “an impoverished and isolated state in northern India that had been one of the bloodiest regions of Partition.” Thottam’s mother was trained by these women to become a nurse in the 1960s. This is the story of the women whose lives were changed by Nazareth Hospital.

Quake Chasers

Quake Chasers: 15 Women Rocking Earthquake Science by Lori Polydoros

This is so specific that I love it? Like, wow, they find 15 diverse women scientists who study earthquakes. This is just under 200 pages and for ages 12 and up (excellent). Check out stories like: “Dr. Debbie Weiser travels to communities post-disaster, such as Japan and China, to evaluate earthquake damage in ways that might help save lives during the next Big One. Geologist Edith Carolina Rojas climbs to the top of volcanoes or searches barren deserts for volcanic evidence to measure seismic activity. Geophysicist Lori Dengler works with governments to provide guidance and protection against future tsunamis.” We frequently talk on For Real about how there is someone who is interested in everything, and this not only highlights that super cool fact, but also shows young people potential careers in earthquake science. Hurray!

Love Me As I Am cover

Love Me As I Am by Garcelle Beauvais

Apparently this person is on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and costar Erika Jayne (who is someone?) threw Beauvais’s book in the trash, which, if you do this on a reality show, might actually be a kind friendship thing to do since it results in book publicity like the above. Apparently her book is about being born in Haiti, immigrating to Boston, and eventually embarking on an acting career that included NYPD Blue (the ’90s!) and, now, “RHOBH.” This seems very fun if you watch this franchise! I asked my two friends who do to describe her and they said “icon” and “she’s perfect and probably too good and smart for the Real Housewives machine, but I’m thankful she’s a part of it.”

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


For more nonfiction reads, check out the For Real podcast which I co-host with the excellent Kim here at Book Riot. If you have any questions/comments/book suggestions, you can find me on social media @itsalicetime. Until next time, enjoy those facts, fellow nerds.

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New Books by Marie Kondo, Tiffany Haddish, and the Book on Who Betrayed Anne Frank Recalled

It’s Friday! Hooray! Despite the fact that Minnesota has been IGNORING the fact that it’s spring by spitting snow and sleet in my face all week, I remain optimistic that we’ll get some reading on the patio weather in April. I can manifest this, right?

This week’s nonfiction news is a bit of a jumble – some new books, some analysis of upcoming titles, and a couple of stories that just seemed interesting in a nonfiction-adjacent way. Let’s get to it!

book cover The Greatest Invention by Silvia Ferrara

NPR highlighted three nonfiction translations to read this spring. Nonfiction in translation is one of my blind spots, so I definitely have this article bookmarked! 

Tiffany Haddish will be releasing an essay collection this fall! I Curse You With Joy will be a story of “laughing through the tears,” with stories about how Haddish uses comedy to “metabolize pain and turn it into art.” I am jazzed about this one!

A nonfiction book claiming to reveal who betrayed Anne Frank and her family is being recalled by the Dutch publisher. A 69-page report by six Dutch historians and academics cast doubt on the conclusion of The Betrayal of Anne Frank by Rosemary Sullivan. The book was based on the findings of a cold case team led by a former FBI agent. The historian’s report called the book “a shaky house of cards.” 

If true crime is more of your jam, Publisher’s Weekly explores some upcoming titles to put on your radar. I like the mix of different types of true crime highlighted here, along with the emphasis on books that also talk about “the societal factors surrounding crime, victimhood, and punishment.”

Marie Kondo has another book coming out in November 2022. The title is Marie Kondo’s Kurashi at Home: How to Organize Your Space and Achieve Your Ideal Life, and it will offer “an inspirational visual guide to elevate the joy in every aspect of your life.” I honestly don’t know how I feel about that description, or the fact that I didn’t see this news picked up in bookish media. Are people just over Marie Kondo and I missed it?

I’m not sure this is strictly nonfiction related, but it’s an interesting story. In a nutshell, Shealah Craighaid, former White House photographer for President Trump, has canceled her plans to release a book of White House photos after Trump published his own book of photos. There’s a lot in the linked story about public records, historical trends around White House photographers, and ways Trump has monetized his presidency that I thought was worth a read.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

One Thing I Like

book cover How to Be Perfect by Michael Schur

This week I’ve been listening to the audiobook of How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question by Michael Schur, which is a total forking delight. Schur is the creator of two of my favorite television shows, Parks and Recreation and The Good Place. This book is a guide to living an ethical life, informed by all of the reading and thinking Schur did while creating the universe of The Good Place.

He begins by explaining three of the biggest frames of secular ethical thought, then goes on to show how concepts like deontology or utilitarianism can be used to untangle thorny ethical questions about everything from face punching to Internet shaming. The audiobook is a treat, with great production flourishes and small pop-ins from the actors and actresses of The Good Place. The whole thing is just as smart and silly as the show, I can’t recommend it highly enough. 


For more nonfiction reads, head over to the podcast service of your choice and download For Real, which I co-host with my dear friend Alice. If you have any questions/comments/book suggestions, you can find me on social media @kimthedork. Happy weekend!

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True Story

New Releases: The Atom and Bengali Food

My journey among the many many books about Abraham Lincoln continues. I am still wandering in the land of audiobooks, which is great, because then I can do my coloring app while I listen.

Welcome to April, by the way! I hope it is better for you than the endless slog that is March. At least there are books. Also TV. So many options.

You Are More Than Magic

You Are More Than Magic: The Black and Brown Girls’ Guide to Finding Your Voice by Minda Harts

Teen nonfiction! Harts is an NYU professor and founder of The Memo, a career development company for women of color. In her book for teen women of color, she shares advice and anecdotes for finding your voice and making it be heard. It is “all about finding your own unique path to success—at school, at work, at home, and beyond.”

Khabaar cover

Khabaar: An Immigrant Journey of Food, Memory, and Family by Madhushree Ghosh

A food memoir! People love food memoirs, and rightly so, because they are great. This in particular talks about South Asian food (the author “keeps her parents’ memory alive through her Bengali food”) and the role food plays in the immigrant’s journey to their new home.

The Woman Who Split the Atom cover

The Woman Who Split the Atom: The Life of Lise Meitner by Marissa Moss

Meitner was a German Jewish scientist who discovered nuclear fission! Yep, she found out how to split the atom. Was her male lab partner rewarded by the Nobel committee? Yes. Was she? Of course not. This falls under the Abrams Young Readers imprint and features illustrations that explain Meitner’s life, work, and pacifism in the face of the use of her work for the atomic bomb.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


For more nonfiction reads, check out the For Real podcast which I co-host with the excellent Kim here at Book Riot. If you have any questions/comments/book suggestions, you can find me on social media @itsalicetime. Until next time, enjoy those facts, fellow nerds.

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A Time of Fraudsters and Scammers

Welcome to April, nonfiction friends! I hope that you’ve been pleasantly surprised by any April Fools’ Day jokes or pranks you come across in your personal and online endeavors. I’m writing this on Wednesday, so I don’t know what the buzzy or trending joke of the year is, but I hope it’s at least a little bit kind. The world is hard right now.

For whatever reason, I am deeply invested in three television shows about con artists – The Dropout on Hulu, Inventing Anna on Netflix, and WeCrashed on AppleTV+. In honor of the holiday and my current obsession, I want to share a few books from my TBR about scams (hopefully, there will be more diversity concerning authors writing about this topic in the future!): 

book cover black edge by Sheelah Kolhatkar

Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street by Sheelah Kolhatkar

Wall Street scams are fascinating to me because it seems like the whole system is an elaborate system of smoke and mirrors most people (including myself) don’t really understand. This book is about Steven A. Cohen, a pioneer of the hedge fund industry who made billions by placing bets on the stock market. Turns out he was also cheating – his fund, SAC Capital, eventually became the target of a multiyear government investigation for insider trading. This one has been long-listed for several awards and named a best book of of the year by the New York Times and The Economist. 

provenance by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo

Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo

I don’t know anything about the world of modern art, but it seems like another industry ripe for scammers to thrive. This book is about two men, John Drewe and John Myatt, who “exploited the archive of British art institutions to irrevocably legitimize the hundreds of pieces they forged.” Fascinatingly enough, many of the forgeries they created are still believed to be originals and hang in both museums and private collections. Scandalous!

the dinosaur artist by paige williams

The Dinosaur Artist: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Quest for Earth’s Ultimate Trophy by Paige Williams

I would not necessarily expect paleontology to be an industry open for fraud, but here we go! This book recounts the sale of a nearly complete tyrannosaurus skeleton from Mongolia at auction for over $1 million. When paleontologists saw the listing, they alerted the Mongolian government, which promptly opened up an “international custody battle” over the skeleton. Through this story, the book also explores the history of fossil collecting where lines between legal and illegal can be easily crossed. This reminds me a bit of both The Feather Thief and The Orchid Thief and I am here for it!

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

One Thing I Like

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned Ijeoma Oluo’s (author of So You Want to Talk About Race) email newsletter, Behind the Book, before. It’s great, but this week’s edition is particularly excellent. In “We Have the Right to Not Be Annoyed,” Oluo uses the Will Smith/Chris Rock incident at the Oscars as a way to write more deeply about boundaries, anti-racism, and the specific ways that white people (particularly women) show up in these conversations. I hesitate to write more because I just won’t come close to summing it up well. Just click through and read it and take it to heart. 


For more nonfiction reads, head over to the podcast service of your choice and download For Real, which I co-host with my dear friend Alice. If you have any questions/comments/book suggestions, you can find me on social media @kimthedork. Happy weekend! 

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True Story

New Releases: Explorers and Ancestors

I was just in New York City, where I went to The Strand, a bookstore I usually do not like due to its immense crowds and narrow aisles. These frequently preclude browsing. But it was relatively uncrowded this time and I had a lovely time! They have a bunch of Lincoln books too, so I got some. I will solve the enigma that is Abraham Lincoln. Take that, decades of historians.

Got some new releases for you!

Straits cover

Straits: Beyond the Myth of Magellan by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto

If your school was like my school, you had to memorize a bunch of sixteenth century explorers and where they went and absolutely nothing about the consequences of their actions. Enter Ferdinand Magellan! The publisher describes this as “a study in failure” and says that Magellan was “focused less on circumnavigating the world or cornering the global spice market than on exploiting Filipino gold.” If you want to find out the researched truth about one of the famed explorers, check this out.

Ancestor Trouble

Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation by Maud Newton

Newton’s ancestors demonstrate what can at the least be called a colorful history. In this delve into hereditary traits, genetics, and more, she looks into how much we might be influenced by those who came before us, how intergenerational trauma might come into play, and “modernity’s dismissal of ancestors.” Which is legit! This is Newton’s first book and it looks fascinating.

All the White Friends cover

All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep: Hope–and Hard Pills to Swallow–About Fighting for Black Lives by Andre Henry

Musician and writer Henry shares how he became an activist and how he was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. As the subtitle might suggest, Henry discovered that many white friends and colleagues “were more interested in debating whether racism existed or whether Henry was being polite enough in the way he used his voice.” His work now is focused on social justice and nonviolent social change.

Truth in Our Stories cover

The Truth in Our Stories: Immigrant Voices in Radical Times by Mónica Tornoe, Elizabeth Wright, Jesus Jesse Esparza

I love a collection, and this one shares twelve stories highlighting parts of the immigrant experience, including exploitation by employers, a frequent inability to get a driver’s license, difficulty obtaining healthcare, among other issues.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


For more nonfiction reads, check out the For Real podcast which I co-host with the excellent Kim here at Book Riot. If you have any questions/comments/book suggestions, you can find me on social media @itsalicetime. Until next time, enjoy those facts, fellow nerds.

Categories
True Story

Murder at the White House by Shonda Rhimes

Hello hello, nonfiction friends! Can we all just say a big HOORAY that it is finally Friday? For me, it’s been one of those weeks where one day I feel incredibly bored and itching to start a big new project, and the next day I feel completely overwhelmed by everything on my list and want to just flatten everything and start from scratch.

I’m not sure why there’s such an imbalance from day to day (burnout, perhaps?) or how to work through it… so for now I’m just trying to feel the feelings and do my best and see where that leads.

First up this week, news about a few upcoming nonfiction adaptations coming to the small screen:

book cover atlas of the heart by brene brown

HBOMax released a trailer for a new limited series with Brené Brown based on her latest book Atlas of the Heart. In the show, Brown aims to help people learn how to “cultivate meaningful connections with ourselves and each other.” Based on the trailer, I think this is a show that will make me cry – I always cry when big feelings are involved.

A seven episode limited series based on Jon Krakauer’s book Under the Banner of Heaven will premiere on Hulu on April 28. The series will star Andrew Garfield as Detective Jeb Pyre, a devout Mormon charged with investigating the murder of Brenda Wright Lafferty and her baby daughter. I read this book many years ago and still remember how deeply unsettling parts of it were. I am curious to see how it’s adapted! 

Netflix has ordered a mystery drama from Shonda Rhimes inspired by Kate Andersen Brower’s book The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House. The show is set to feature “one dead body, one wildly eccentric detective, and one disastrous State Dinner.” This adaptation feels like someone filled in a MadLib of all the things I am interested in to create a show that is PERFECT for me. I have absolutely no idea if it will come together, but I cannot wait!

And next, a few other news items of note:

book cover making a scene by constance wu

Entertainment Weekly has released the cover of actress Constance Wu’s upcoming memoir, Making a Scene. Wu says she wrote the book during the pandemic, calling it her “second pandemic baby” – she also had a baby girl. The book is an essay collection covering much of her life and will come out this fall.

Musician Patti Smith has sold another book! A Book of Days, set to come out in November, is based on her popular Instagram account. This reminds me how much I want to read her previous books, Just Kids, M Train, or Year of the Monkey.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

One Thing I Like

This week I want to recommend a newspaper article –  “The death spiral of an American family” – by journalist Eli Saslow in the Washington Post. Saslow is one of my favorite feature writers, and this piece about a family reckoning with “an inheritance of debt, desperation and a fall from the middle class” is just a stunner. In it, he writes about a family falling out of the middle class, now struggling to get by after seeming to do everything right.

book cover ten letters by eli saslow

Saslow is the author of several nonfiction books including Ten Letters: The American People in the Obama Years, Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist, and Voices from the Pandemic: American Tell Their Stories of Crisis, Courage and Resilience. I can highly recommend the first two, and the last one is on my list.


For more nonfiction reads, head over to the podcast service of your choice and download For Real, which I co-host with my dear friend Alice. If you have any questions/comments/book suggestions, you can find me on social media @kimthedork. Happy weekend!

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True Story

New Releases: Week of March 20

You know when you go to a new bookstore and it’s amazing and you’re like WOW this city is really worth coming back to? This happened to me in Austin (BookPeople!!) and then last weekend, I was in the Twin Cities and wow. Wow. So many bookstores. I had no idea, despite like 40% of people I know living in the Twin Cities (including Kim from this newsletter and For Real!).

I texted Kim and asked her which she’d recommend the most and one she and others recommended was Magers & Quinn. It’s really big AND really windy, so you get to wander around aisles. But organized aisles. And it has used and new books, so I got a copy of Simon Schama’s 1989 history of the French Revolution for like $4. My wife and I bought five books each, and I didn’t even look at the FICTION section. Like a whole major section unexamined. That is for next time!

Anyway, new nonfiction for this week!:

Burning My Roti

Burning My Roti: Breaking Barriers as a Queer Indian Woman by Sharan Dhaliwal

Burnt Roti is the UK’s leading South Asian magazine, which talks about mental health and sexuality as they impact young creatives (among other things). Dhaliwal’s book of the same name is part-memoir and part discussion of topics like body hair, colorism, “and a particular focus on the suffocating beauty standards South Asian women are expected to adhere to.” I’m really feeling this almost ’70s color palate/illustration on the cover!

The Trayvon Generation

The Trayvon Generation: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow by Elizabeth Alexander

In June 2020, poet Alexander wrote an essay in The New Yorker entitled “The Trayvon Generation,” which “incisively and lovingly observed the experiences, attitudes, and cultural expressions of what she referred to as the Trayvon Generation, who even as children could not be shielded from the brutality that has affected the lives of so many Black people.” This expands her original essay into book form and is definitely worth picking up not only for its subject matter, but because nonfiction by poets tends to be amazing.

Truly Madly cover

Truly, Madly: Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, and the Romance of the Century by Stephen Galloway

This cover!! Ok, this is a massive biography of a romance — the romance of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier. They were married from 1940 to 1960, starred in films and plays together, and finally divorced, at least in part due to Leigh’s struggles with her mental illness. Wikipedia cites this as bipolar disorder, but I want to read the book before saying this is definitely true. Leigh died of tuberculosis at age 53. If you have not seen them in That Hamilton Woman, you should! They are a Golden Age of Hollywood power couple that I’ve loved since I was a teenager. Hurray for the Oliviers.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


For more nonfiction reads, check out the For Real podcast which I co-host with the excellent Kim here at Book Riot. If you have any questions/comments/book suggestions, you can find me on social media @itsalicetime. Until next time, enjoy those facts, fellow nerds.

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True Story

Under the Radar Women’s History

Happiest of Fridays, nonfiction friends! I’m freshly back from a long weekend trip to a sunny and warm destination. As refreshing as that was, I’m also in the middle of a hard re-entry into real life – why can’t the world pause while I take a break?

Since March is Women’s History Month here in the United States, this week I would like to share a few great books about some under the radar contributions women have made in history:

book cover code girls by liza mundy

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy

As a kid I was absolutely obsessed with codebreaking, but it wasn’t until recently that I really got to explore the contributions women made to the entire codebreaking enterprise of World War II. In this book, Liza Mundy tells the story of the more than 10,000 women who were recruited to work for the Army and Navy to break codes. As part of their work they also tested American codes, ran machines, worked as translators, and much more to help the war effort – without ever being able to tell their friends and family what they were doing.

book cover bad indians by deobrah miranda

Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir by Deborah Miranda

This book is a mix of genres, a tribal history of the California Mission Indians and a memoir of author Deborah Miranda’s family. It uses different media to tell this story, including oral histories, newspaper stories, poems, and personal reflection. It also covers a huge range, from the early experiences of California’s Indigenous people interacting with Spanish missions through today. The book also recontextualizes these histories by looking at curricula in California public schools. This looks fascinating!

book cover wayward lives beautiful experiments by Saidiya Hartman

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval by Saidiya Hartman

This book tells the story of communities of Black women in Philadelphia and New York in the early 1900s who embraced “free love, common-law and transient marriages, serial partners, cohabitation outside of wedlock, queer relations, and single motherhood” – huge changes that challenged traditional Victorian beliefs. Pushing against social tradition, these urban Black women pushed boundaries while seeking lives unlike what society expected for them and helped lead social change.

book cover A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross

A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross

In this book, historians Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross dig deep to tell the stories of Black women in American history. They approach the book by trying to find hidden stories, or illuminating stories adjacent to the ones we often hear about. The book features a variety of voices – “enslaved women, freedwomen, religious leaders, artists, queer women, activists, and women who lived outside the law” – to create a celebration of black womanhood in the United States.

book cover the queens of animation by nathalia holt

The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History by Nathalia Holt

I am a huge fan of books that explore the contributions women have made in a particular area that we are only now really learning about. In this book, Nathalia Holt tells the story of the pioneering female animators who “infiltrated the boys’ club of Disney’s story and animation departments” to influence movies as we know them today. In addition to fighting against internal sexism, they also lobbied to improve the representation of female characters on screen.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

One Thing I Like

Scoundrel by Sarah Weinman

I am happy to report that the one nonfiction book I read on vacation –Scoundrel: How a Convicted Murderer Persuaded the Women Who Loved Him, the Conservative Establishment, and the Courts to Set Him Free by Sarah Weinman – was excellent!

The scoundrel of the title is Edgar Smith, a man convicted of killing a teenage girl who was eventually set free after befriending neoconservative William F. Buckley, who took up his cause and advocated for his innocence. Smith became a minor celebrity, even publishing a book about his experience and going on a small speaking tour after he was released from death row.

Except… Smith was a sociopath who went on to abuse several women he had romantic relationships before attempting murder again. He was quickly caught, convicted, and jailed a second time, but not after embarassing the many famous people who originally came to his defense.

There’s so much interesting stuff in this book, it’s hard to describe all the twists and turns and famous people who had a connection to Smith. But what I loved most about it is that Weinman never loses sight of the fact that the story should really be about Smith’s victims, including his first, Victoria Zielinski, and the effects he had on them. It’s a book that’s as much about the stories we tell each other as anything else, and I really loved it.


For more nonfiction reads, head over to the podcast service of your choice and download For Real, which I co-host with my dear friend Alice. If you have any questions/comments/book suggestions, you can find me on social media @kimthedork. Happy weekend!