Category: Nonfiction

books for 2010

i’ve been majorly on a nonfiction kick lately. here’s what i’ve read this year so far! maybe i’ll hit 50 again in 2010.

1. Michael Pollan, “In Defense of Food”
Loved it. It’s helping me think about food in a whole new way, in particular to think about foods as the complex organisms they are rather than obsessing over the breakdown of nutrients.

2. Mark Di Vincenzo “Buy Ketchup in May and Fly at Noon”
A quick read, kinda fun, kinda information overload. Basically, it’s like lifehacking, with soundbites from scores of studies. In the health and science area, studies that have historically underrepresented women and minorities. So, lifehacking for white men. Whatev.

3. Elna Baker, “The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance”
Vignettes from the life of a single Mormon woman living in Babylon New York City. Though it reads a little cutesy at times, it’s absolutely hilarious.

4. Rebecca Smith and John R. Emshwiller, “24 Days”
The story of how two reporters from the Wall Street Journal helped bring down Enron. Though some of the business talk is impenetrable at times, the journalistic intrigue is on par with “All the President’s Men.” Though I was 19 when the whole Enron thing went down, I really didn’t understand it at all until I read this.

5. Elissa Stein and Susan Kim, “Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation
Absolute. Must. Read. It’s like Snopes for your snatch. These ladies debunk myths like it’s nobody’s business and shine a long-overdue spotlight on the cultural hangups, sterotypes and rituals surrounding what’s likely the biggest taboo in our world.

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Stuff I’ve read lately

Esther Pearl Watson, “Unlovable, Vol. 1″
I love Esther Pearl Watson’s gruesome tales of the life of ’80s teenager Tammy Pierce, and I think any girl who ever experienced high school will be able to identify—if only a little bit—with the unlovable protagonist. It’s a big, pink, sparkly square book full of cartoons. Get it!

Debra Gwartney, “Live Through This”
I’m not usually one for modern memoirs, but this one’s really good. It’s a mom’s account of losing control of her teen daughters in the grunge era. (Hence the title’s nod to Hole.) Gwartney weaves past and present into a circular story that’s honest and hopeful.

Brian Eule, “Match Day”
Awesome nonfiction book about the day med students find out where their residencies (and the next three-plus years of their lives) will take place. It focuses on three female med students and their individual challenges and relationship struggles during the year.

Graydon Carter, George Kalogerakis and Kurt Andersen, “SPY: The Funny Years”

I found an old issue of this acerbic, New York-centric magazine for a dollar and fell in love with it. Got a good deal on this hardcover from Copacetic Comics in Pittsburgh!

Published: 2006, 304 pp.
Obtained via: Copacetic
Date started: 2.10.09
Date finished: 2.30.09

What I liked: The mid-’80s seem like such a heady time to start a magazine. The economy was good, and the technology was laughably low-tech. The founding editors, Graydon Carter and Kurt Andersen, are recognizable names now—Carter’s the editor of Vanity Fair, and Andersen is a novelist and the host of Studio 360. It seems like everybody who got in on the ground floor at SPY went on to do great things. Sounds like heaven.
I also loved the page scans of notorious articles, and the pranks the staff would pull using only a fax machine and moxie.
What I didn’t like: Once I finished reading, I remembered how dismal the current magazine industry is. Around 1993, the original staff had fled, and the last few years of the magazine were decidedly less funny, hence the title.
What I learned: Staying true to your ideals works for a while. But when the ride’s over, it doesn’t mean you stop moving.

Hurtling towards my book deadline

Current word count: 27,818 (out of 30,000)

Trying not to freak out too much about the fact that my book is due in less than a MONTH. I’m starting to break down the remaining stuff to do into manageable chunks. I made up a calendar with weekly goals written on it, for example, my goal for this weekend is to polish up the introduction and first chapter and get the appendix done.

I’m taking a few days off of work in the next month to give myself more time to work on the book. I’m also trying not to completely get cut off from the rest of the world. (Sorry, friends!)

One big problem in getting done with the book is that I keep finding more people I want to talk to! Gotta stop that… After next week, promise.

PS: I’m not writing recaps of books I read for now, but I am still updating my list.