Five Strategies for Reading Nonfiction

How I manage to read some non-fiction with a busy life, and where my system fails.

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This is a question I’ve gotten a few times lately and thought it might be good to address.  I work full time plus most of the year and the family keeps me pretty busy too.  However, I still read a lot of non-fiction.  How do I do it?

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Exciting News from WPT

I know, two posts on the weekend!  But I am finally catching up on old (aka non-urgent) emails and saw the news that Wisconsin Public Television is going to be coming out with a new series about Wisconsin First Nations!

We’ve really enjoyed The Ways and I’ve used it at home and school.  Their Wisconsin Biographies series has a few diverse figures as well.  Both are free to the public.  They also have a lot of free resources in various categories just for WI educators.  I have high hopes for the quality of their new series.  If nothing else I hope to at least educate myself further about WI indigenous peoples – ideally it will work for my students and family as well.

WI tribalgovernmentmap600
The twelve tribes of Wisconsin locations and seals (image from UW Madison School of Education)

Nonfiction November: Week One

I had no intention of doing any more challenges this year, but Wendy mentioned this one and it happened to coincide with my current goal.  Basically, although you don’t see it (because these days I schedule most of my posts), at certain times of the year I tend to focus on one type of book.

Right now I find myself with some extra time and am pushing myself to read and review as much nonfiction as possible, knowing that next year will probably be much busier and include much less reading time.  Therefore, Nonfiction November it is!

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Hidden Figures and Redefining Realness were my two favorite adult reads.  Recently I was blown away by Prisoners Without Trial.  For kids so far I liked This Kid Can Fly best; if picture books are included, this gets even tougher.

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? I continue to recommend a nonfiction book from last year frequently, Born a Crime.  However, I’ve been recommending As Nature Made Him for years now.  The review with the highest stats on my blog (more than twice the views of any other post, nearly as many as my main page) is still Lion.

What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?  Once upon a time I used to read a lot of true crime.  I also used to read a lot of science-based books.  I’d like to read more #ownvoices stories about places in the world I’m not familiar with and the lives/careers of PoC STEM leaders.  I continue to quest for more books about indigenous or PoC people who are disabled (be sure to comment if you know of any that aren’t on my list).

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November? I have some bonus reading time and am hoping to buckle down and get through a lot of non-fiction books so I have a good pool of reviews to use in 2018 (most of my posts for 2017 are already scheduled).

2017 October Book Haul resized
October 2017 Book Haul

TBR  I’m hoping to finish reading and reviewing all of the nonfiction books from my last book haul.  I would also like to complete or make substantial progress on the two 500+ page books on my shelf.  Basically this month I’m hoping to tackle the most difficult, lengthy, or academic works ahead of me, so that I have some reviews ready for busier times when I’m not as able to delve into deep reading or take time to write a longer review.

If you’d like to see the 25 nonfiction chapter books and ten nonfiction picture books I’ve reviewed in 2017 so far, scroll down on my 2017 Review List and they are listed by title below the fiction books.

Book Haul, Religious Book Reviews, Etc.

Final 2017 Book Haul / Blog Maintenance / About Reviewing Religious Books

Earlier this month we went on a little book-buying spree.  Since I started book blogging, I’ve been overbuying, so this will be the last book purchase of 2017, with only one (possible) exception.  I’ve still got library cards and plenty of books at home that I haven’t read or reviewed yet, so this won’t make much of a difference to the blog.

We also got some picture books and other books that aren’t in this photo.  Most of the picture books have been read now, all the graphic novels, and about half of the books pictured.  A few I’ve even started reviews on.

2017 October Book Haul resized

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Review: This Day in June

My thoughts about this book were complicated. It has great promise but falters in some of the execution.

This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten.
Magination Press, American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C., 2014.
Informative fiction, 36 pages.
Not leveled.

The story of Pridefest presented through a parade for family discussion.

This Day in June
This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten.

This was one of the picture books Husband bought that I mentioned before.  I struggled reviewing it since my feelings are mixed.  While characters of color are included in this book, it struck me that all the couples included seemed to be either white, or of mixed race.  None of the families had two adults of color.

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Board Book Reviews are Back

TL;DR ~ New page for board book reviews!  This series will no longer be in chronological order.

Writing these blog maintenance posts is always a bit weird.  I don’t like to put the information in a book review, but can’t think of another way to get the word out to those of you who read these posts via WordPress or email.

The last time I had the camera, one of the things I got done was photographing a good number of board books from our diverse board book collection.  However, in real life books don’t always stay on the shelf (or to be photographed pile) the way they start off.

Our eighth addition to the board book collection didn’t get any pictures taken, even though I had a review all written and ready to go.  This is probably a testament to how much the kids have enjoyed that book, although it could just as well have been me absentmindedly moving it.

After that, I just stalled out on doing board book reviews, even as we built up a pretty impressive collection.  However lately, having seen a few people find my blog based on this review series, it reminded me why I started it – there aren’t many resources available for finding diverse board books.

So I went ahead and made a page for listing all of the diverse board books we own, and added links to those I’ve reviewed.  From now on, these reviews will be skipping around a bit, but probably still roughly chronological.  The reviews are short, but photographing and formatting them takes a long time, especially if the book’s in heavy use and I can’t lay hands on it to photograph!

Discussion: Microaggressions in Fiction

A look at several books to try to articulate different ways of approaching microaggressions in literary texts.

Here’s a loaded question for you: When are microaggressions okay in literature?

This question came up today as I was reading a book review over at Sinead’s blog.

After I had written several paragraphs in the comment box, trying to clarify my thoughts on the subject, it made sense to just write my own post and ask for feedback on this question.

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