428 The Premonition: A Pandemic Story

thepremonitionby Michael Lewis, 2021

Like many people, I’m highly interested in reading an exposé of everything that went wrong during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. When I heard Michael Lewis talking about his new book on the New York Times Book Review podcast, I immediately put it on hold at the library. Lewis’s book is the story of the pandemic as experienced by several individuals working in government and health care. Similar to most of us, they are appalled at the lack of governmental action and feel the need to take matters into their own hands to do what they can to help prevent the loss of as many lives as possible. It is, essentially, an underdog story, and while that makes for an interesting premise, it’s also this book’s greatest downfall. Lewis isn’t interested in telling the story of the pandemic. He’s interested in telling a story.

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425 Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay

everythingstrashby Phoebe Robinson, 2018
narrated by the author

In the fall, I found myself taking an impromptu road trip and I had to scramble to find something to occupy my ears during the day-long drive. Luckily, Phoebe Robinson’s second book of essays was available at the library, and I quickly scooped it up, eager to hear more of her thoughts on blackness and womanhood. I was quite a fan of her first memoir (which bears the title that I would have chosen for my own!). Its combination of commentary on race and feminism mixed with humor to highlight the absurdity of it all was the perfect thing to break me out of my reading slump when the world was on fire last year. Robinson’s sophomore effort is no different, bringing her signature wit to instances of racism and misogyny that would otherwise leave you in tears. Somehow, in Robinson’s voice, it all seems just a bit more bearable.

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Nonfiction November Week 4: Stranger than Fiction

It’s Week 4 of Nonfiction November, and here is our prompt:

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Week 4: (November 22-26) – Stranger Than Fiction with Christopher at Plucked from the Stacks: This week we’re focusing on all the great nonfiction books that *almost* don’t seem real. A sports biography involving overcoming massive obstacles, a profile on a bizarre scam, a look into the natural wonders in our world—basically, if it makes your jaw drop, you can highlight it for this week’s topic.

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Challenge Completed! 2021

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I was pleased to have finished the Read Harder Challenge in the middle of September this year, which left me plenty of time to catch up on some classic science fiction and some new buzzy reads of the year. As always, I kind of wane toward the end of the year, wanting to get it finished, but I’m glad that I pushed through and forced myself to read some of the books that have been on my To-Be-Read list for ages. And, as always, this year was a bit of a mixed bag, but with some surprising wins right along with the unfortunate flops. Here’s the breakdown for each task:

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Nonfiction November Week 3: Be the Expert / Ask the Expert / Become the Expert

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I’m happy to be your host for Week 3 of Nonfiction November! Here is today’s prompt:

Week 3: (November 15-19) – Be The Expert/ Ask the Expert/ Become the Expert with Veronica (me!) at The Thousand Book Project): Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert). 

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421 How to Be an Antiracist

howtobeanantiracistby Ibram X. Kendi, 2019

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Read a nonfiction book about anti-racism.

I’ve wanted to read Ibram X. Kendi’s followup to his phenomenal Stamped from the Beginning since it was published. His first work really changed the way I thought about racism in America (I argue that the book’s subtitle should be “Everything is Racist and So Are You”), particularly the theory that racism doesn’t spring from hate, but from economic greed that needed an oppressed class to thrive. We usually think of racism as an individual failing, but it’s much more of a top-down process, whereby the culture in which we live is steeped in racism and individuals have little choice but to have racist ideas implanted in their brains. Kendi’s sophomore effort tackles the work needed to liberate ourselves from these racist bonds. According to Kendi, there is no “not racist.” Either a person is a racist or an antiracist; no space exists in between.

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Nonfiction November Week 2: Book Pairing

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Week 2 of Nonfiction November is here, and today’s prompt is:

Week 2: (November 8-12) – Book Pairing  with Katie at Doing Dewey: This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story. 

I have three fiction/nonfiction book pairings to offer you.

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Nonfiction November Week 1: Your Year in Nonfiction

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Nonfiction November is upon us, and we’re kicking off the month by talking about the nonfiction we’ve read throughout the year! Here’s this week’s prompt:

Week 1: (November 1-5) – Your Year in Nonfiction with Rennie at What’s Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?  

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418 Buttermilk Graffiti

buttermilkgraffitiby Edward Lee, 2018

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Read a food memoir by an author of color.

I’ll admit that I knew nothing of Edward Lee before hearing about Buttermilk Graffiti on All the Books. The idea of a chef tracing American culture through immigrant food was an intriguing one. As anti-immigrant as the country can be, most of our beloved foods came from different countries and we’ve made them our own. You can’t get much more American than hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza, yet we wouldn’t have any of those if it weren’t for immigration. I was interested to learn more about how cultures evolve and how immigration necessitates deviation from tradition. No longer having access to certain ingredients means new ones will be incorporated, and an entirely new dish will be born, no less part of a tradition than the original concoction. Had Lee actually pursued that line of investigation, I think this book would have been quite interesting. Alas, he doesn’t, and it kind of isn’t.

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Coming Soon: Nonfiction November

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Nonfiction November is almost upon us, and I’m happy to announce that, this year, I’ll serve as one of the hosts! Throughout November, we encourage you to engage in some nonfiction reading with us and share what you’ve read and learned. Fellow hosts include Rennie (What’s Nonfiction), Katie (Doing Dewey), Christopher (Plucked from the Stacks), and Jaymi (OC Book Girl). Each Monday, the corresponding host will post a prompt on their blog with a link-up so you can link your post to that week’s topic. Here’s the upcoming schedule:

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Week 1: (November 1-5) – Your Year in Nonfiction with Rennie at What’s Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?  

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Week 2: (November 8-12) – Book Pairing  with Katie at Doing Dewey: This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story. 

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Week 3: (November 15-19) – Be The Expert/ Ask the Expert/ Become the Expert with Veronica (me!) at The Thousand Book Project: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert). 

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Week 4: (November 22-26) – Stranger Than Fiction with Christopher at Plucked from the Stacks: This week we’re focusing on all the great nonfiction books that *almost* don’t seem real. A sports biography involving overcoming massive obstacles, a profile on a bizarre scam, a look into the natural wonders in our world—basically, if it makes your jaw drop, you can highlight it for this week’s topic.

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Week 5: (November 29-December 3) — New to My TBR with Jaymi at OCBookgirl.com: It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book! 

🎉Instagram Nonfiction Book Party 🎉 
Photo Challenge & Giveaway 

This year we’re excited to have a new host for our Instagram friends with giveaways, daily photo challenges and more! Jaymi over at @theocbookgirl is running the month-long Instagram festivities. If you’re interested in participating in Nonfiction on your page AND on Instagram follow along check Jaymi’s page at https://www.instagram.com/theocbookgirl/ for all the details!

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I look forward to learning about all of the nonfiction you’ve read and putting some of those titles on my own TBR list. Happy reading!