//Bookworm Beat / Non-Fiction Edish


So far, 2016 has been a year of fact and truths--at least in the bookish sense. As someone who, until pretty recently, wasn't a fan of non-fiction books, I sure have been gobbling them up in the first month of the year! There is something fun and compelling about picking a subject you have a slight (or obsessive) interest in and going through a 101 course on the topic! Also, for those interested, you can friend me on Goodreads! I love to track my reading progress on there because I'm also one of those folks who genuinely enjoys crossing things off a list. There is a real sense of accomplishment that goes along with that, don't you think?

What I've read so far:

1) Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey


This memoir is about a women who suffers from a severe form of photosensitivity, eventually causing her to cloister herself inside her home. She would seal any light from entering the bedroom where she spent almost all of her time--not surprisingly--in the dark. I don't believe I've ever read about or heard about the condition the author (who used a pseudonym) has and I found it fascinating to read about her well-chronicled symptoms and decent into living a life out of the light.

Lyndsey's book was not only intriguing and a pleasure to read because of the ways she would talk of passing time in the dark (hint: MANY word games were employed), but the prose was very well-written and flowed pleasantly. This is a short book and one I think picking up if you're looking for a lighter read.

2) Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates


Unless you've been living under a rock or you don't consider yourself remotely interested in social politics or the issues affecting virtually all African-Americans in this country, you have surely heard of this book and the hype surrounding it. All I can say is this: it is worth every drop of said hype. Now, I didn't technically "read" this book, as I listened to the audio version--still counts though, right?? I think I might actually recommend the audio book because it is narrated BY the author and you can hear his inflection during particularly poignant moments and it underscores the point of the passage. Coates is not only well-spoken, but he has a way of conveying to you, the reader (or listener, in my case), exactly what it is he wants you to know while also mixing in a level of emotion that hits very close to home. Honestly, there were times that I was literally crying in my car and I don't know that I would have had as visceral a reaction had I been reading the physical book.

This book is written as a letter to his son and discusses the history of racial issues plaguing this nation. From the merciless killing of innocent black males to the degradation of black females by reducing them to physical stereotypes, Coates does the most eloquent job of educating those of us who really need to be educated. I found myself seething throughout so much of this book at the senseless atrocities committed against "black bodies" (the phrase used by Coates throughout the book). This book is eye-opening and very, very necessary, REQUIRED reading for all.

3) The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi


I don't know if it's because I'm a lawyer or just because I have a morbid fascination with true crime, but this book was right up my alley. It's actually a recommendation of sorts I got from my criminal law professor in law school when he shared with the class that he also has a degree in literature (and naturally I had to ask if he had any suggestions for reading material!). This book is almost 10 years old and the murders investigated are roughly 30 years old--or older, depending on whether you believe a murder from the 1960s was connected.

Throughout the 1980s, there was a string of double-homicides, almost all male-female couples caught "inflagrante" when they were killed. They all occurred in Italy and the killer was compared to Jack the Ripper. Preston is a fiction author and originally moved to Florence to do research on an upcoming book, changing his mind when he met Mario Spezi, an ex-cop and journalist who tried to investigate the same murders for years. This book chronicles their joint investigation and really highlights the ineptitude of the Italian legal system. Honestly, this book was sometimes so dramatic that it's hard to believe it all actually happened. 

4) The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson


This is the most recent read of mine. To be honest, the author is very intellectual and it's reflected in her prose, sometimes to the extent that I can't really understand what she's saying and I kind of feel stupid. HOWEVER, I'm still able to get the general picture most of the time, and the examples she gave of her partner's gender and sexual identities and her understanding of them was fascinating. Equally fascinating were the graphic descriptions of sex, pregnancy, and childbirth. Made my jaw drop to read some of the passages, but I greatly appreciate the brash honesty delivered by the author. 

I would like to think I'm open-minded, but that doesn't mean I in any way am close to understanding the complexity of sexual and gender identity. I am always looking to learn more and more because it is becoming increasingly pervasive in our culture to acknowledge and understand individuals whose identities are either conflicted or cannot be easily described in simple terms such as "male" or "female." I want to arm myself with as much knowledge and accounts of personal experience as I can so that I may more confidently join in these kinds of conversations. This book is very short, very quick, and very recommended. It's not for everyone, however, so read more reviews if you're unsure. 

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