Showing posts with label erik larson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label erik larson. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2015!

IT'S FAVORITES TIME!!!

It is time to announce...

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2015!

As I always disclaim with this list: you may be surprised by some of my choices...and some of my non-choices.  There are books on here that, in my initial review, I enjoyed but maybe wasn't completely gushing over.  And there are books not on the list that I mentioned as potential favorites when I wrote my reviews.  But at the end of the year, when I make this list, I go by what's really stuck with me--after months have passed, what are the books that are still leaving an impression?  Still giving me something to think about?

As in past years, this list is in no particular order, and with links to my original reviews:

1. Day Four by Sarah Lotz
If you haven't read Lotz's The Three yet, do that first, and then do yourself a favor and read this book.  The Three was on my 2014 favorites list, and the sequel did not disappoint!

2. The Shore by Sara Taylor
Potentially the most unique novel I read this year.  I can't wait to see what else Taylor has in store.

3. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
One of the only 5-star reviews I gave all year.  This story is heart-wrenching and beautifully told.

4. Missoula by Jon Krakauer
Jon Krakauer is still one of my favorite nonfiction writers.  He handles this delicate subject with the same objectivity and fastidiousness that is the trademark of his other works.

5. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
A truly awesome reading experience from cover to cover, made even more enjoyable because I did not originally expect so much from it!  I love it when a novel makes me bend my typical genre preferences.

6. Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
This novel made me feel all the feelings.  Not the most uplifting choice on my list, but certainly one that continues to stay with me.

7. Dead Wake by Erik Larson
Few nonfiction writers can bring their subjects to life the way Larson can.  These real-life events read with the suspense of a fiction novel, while still capturing all of the historical detail needed to make this an enlightening read.

8. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
You had me at "post-apocalyptic literary fiction."

9. The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
This is one of those books for which I did not write an especially amazing review, but due to the fact that I continue to mull it over and over, and hit my friends with random factoids from it all the time, it has still earned a spot on the favorites list for this year.

10. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Ughhhh, I feel so bandwagon-y and lemming-like putting this on here.  I mean, it's on every list EVER, right?  But I can't deny it was one of the top 10 books I read this year.  Fact.

That's a wrap!  What made YOUR best-read list for 2015?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Hey, It's Nonfiction November!

Happy November, reader friends!  I hope you didn't forget that this month means NONFICTION NOVEMBER!  :)

Last year, I had a ton of fun participating in this event.  While I don't think I am going to get much nonfiction reading done this month (based on how my library hold list currently looks...my own fault!), I still want to jump in and post during NFN where I can, because it really reignited my love for nonfiction books when I took part last year.

This week's host is Kim over at Sophisticated Dorkiness, so please stop by!  Here's the prompt for the week:

Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Let's start with my favorite nonfiction book of 2015 (so far).  That's a tough call!  I'd have to say it's a tie between Missoula by Jon Krakauer, and Dead Wake by Erik Larson.  Both are truly exceptional in their own way.

As for the nonfiction book I've recommended the most (at least from my 2015 reads), other than the 2 faves above, I think it's been Grain of Truth by Stephen Yafa.  I have several friends with gluten allergies and/or sensitivities, and that book was a very enlightening read for me on the subject.  I've recommended it to both gluten-free and non-gluten-free eaters, because I think it sheds a lot of light on a topic that is often regarded as "just a trend" by the non-GF eaters.

A nonfiction topic I haven't read enough of yet...hmmm.  I've covered a lot of nonfiction areas, but one that I have a lot of interest in (even though I've yet to read much of it) is medical nonfiction.  Examples would be the Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee, Stiff by Mary Roach, or On Immunity by Eula Bass.  (All three have been on my TBR list for ages!)

What do I hope to get out of Nonfiction November this year?  Well, as I mentioned above, I probably won't be able to read a lot of ACTUAL nonfiction this month (and I'm quite sad about it!).  However, when I participated last year, just talking about nonfiction with other NF lovers made me so very excited to dive into some new titles, and my nonfiction TBR list went through the roof as I read through the other blogs that were involved.  So I suppose I hope to spread the nonfiction love, and get plenty of new nonfiction inspiration for myself.  :)

What's your favorite nonfiction read of 2015 been thus far?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

SOS! Dead Wake by Erik Larson


Title: Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
Author: Erik Larson
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Source: ARC borrowed from Jen at The Relentless Reader

Summary from Goodreads

On May 1, 1915, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone, and for months, its U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era's great transatlantic "Greyhounds" and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. He knew, moreover, that his ship--the fastest then in service--could outrun any threat. 

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger's U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small--hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more--all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.


My Review:

I have a serious question, readers.

Why did I know everything about the sinking of the Titanic (at least, everything as dictated by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet), but nearly nothing about the Lusitania until I read this GEM of a book?  Because I'm always first to admit that my knowledge of history is lacking, but really.  Hollywood has focused on the wrong subject here.

I have been striking it RICH with nonfiction lately, people!  And this might be the best one of late.  A few years ago, I read Larson's In the Garden of Beasts, and was impressed with his style of narrative nonfiction.  What that literary jargon means is that his nonfiction books read with the suspense and vivacity of a fiction novel.  All of his works are historically accurate (painstakingly so), but he formats them in a way that makes you feel like you're right in the moment with these historical figures, part of their conversations and triumphs and tragedies.

That absolutely holds true for Dead Wake as well.  I was on the edge of my seat while reading this book.  Larson outlines the entire week leading up to the Lusitania's sinking (oh yeah, spoiler alert: it gets sunk. By a German submarine), and even though you totally know what's coming, you'll find yourself praying that the darn thing stays afloat.  Because you KNOW these passengers.  Larson brings you up close and personal with the captain, the crew, the men, women, and (way too many) children on board, even the stowaways.  Plus, you get perspectives from the US (as President Wilson deals with some personal romantic issues while all this drama unfolds), the UK (as the British had far  more foreknowledge of this attack than you may think), and the German U-boat that actually perpetrated said sinking.  This gives you a clear illustration of the complex political forces at work during the attack as well.

In the end, you're left with a detailed, absorbing, and highly emotional account of one of the most devastating and politically-charged passenger boat disasters in history.

I can't say enough good things here.  Five stars all the way on this one.  Whether you're previously familiar with the Lusitania disaster or not, this is a nonfiction release that is not to be missed.

Ever been on a cruise, reader friends?  Did you pay attention during the lifeboat drills?  I bet you will after reading this.  Also: swimming lessons.

Monday, January 19, 2015

It's Monday, and what am I NOT reading?


Hello, reader friends!  A quick post today, as it's been a busy (but fun) weekend around here with my menfolk.  We celebrated the fact that we live in Rochester and it snows every.single.day. by going to the local Winter Fest yesterday, and I think we are all tired out!  Small Fry has discovered a deep love of sledding, and my husband and I have the sore arms from toting his sled up and down the hill to prove it.  My husband also has the day off today, so we are enjoying a little extra family time on this long weekend.

As for what I'm reading these days...my nightstand is about to fall over from the weight, people!  Here's what's going:

1. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

I've been in the midst of this since mid-December.  I like to slow-read my classics.  I'm about halfway through.  Some parts are, admittedly, sleep-inducing, but the majority of it is pretty good.  I'm keeping notes for a future review.  It will likely definitely include at least one mention of the Hartford Whalers.

2, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I heard through the blogger grapevine that this has the potential to be "the Gone Girl of 2015".  If that is not true, people (AHEM, Jennifer) need to choose their words more carefully.  Because I think we all know the best way to get me to drop everything and read something is to compare it to Gone Girl.  My verdict is still out, but stay tuned.

3. The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle

Reading this for a book tour at the end of the month.  A little more romantical than what I usually choose, but I'm still enjoying the mystery and intrigue of it so far.

Also on my nightstand but not started yet...
1. Dead Wake by Erik Larson

I have an ARC of this one and I am SO EXCITED to get started on it soon!

2. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Picked it up from the library because I've heard nothing but good things...it's due back in 2 weeks...I'm sure I'll get to it, right?

3. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

Not physically on my nightstand yet, but my book club just chose it as our next pick, so I've got a hold in for it at the library.

Reading is out of control right now, friends!  But the great thing is, these are all excellent books so far.  Too many excellent books is NEVER a bad thing.

What are you reading this week?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Nonfiction TBR Time! #NonFicNov

Ah yes, here we are in the final week of Nonfiction November.  I must say, I have very much enjoyed this event!  It has rekindled my interest in nonfiction, and reminded me of the many, many nonfiction titles that are awaiting me on my shelves.  Definitely looking forward to participating again next year.

Current nonfiction reading status: I finished Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed last week (review coming soon!), and am currently reading The Race Underground by Doug Most.  I likely won't finish it before the end of the month, because it's quite long, but that will be my first nonfic post for December.

Anyway, let's talk about this week's topic!:
New to My TBR: It’s been a week 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!

Well, I didn't look at this week's topic until...right now, so I didn't keep very careful track of where I saw all these awesome nonfiction titles this month!  But I will do my best to give credit where credit is due.  Honestly, I don't have a ton of time to peruse other blogs these days anyway, so I will just highlight for you some of top nonfiction titles that are currently on my TBR list:

1. Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
I first remember this book being mentioned long ago by Jennifer at The Relentless Reader.  Her review piqued my interest, and I've had this one on my radar ever since.  Tells the story of 5 days in a New Orleans hospital after Katrina.

2. Stiff by Mary Roach
This has been on my TBR almost as long as I've had a Goodreads account (a very long time).  The curious lives of human cadavers, eh?  Color me curious!

3. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
This book has been recommended about a billion times by...everyone, but after getting to know Strayed a bit in Tiny Beautiful Things, I really want to pick this one up soon and hear more of her story.

4. The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
This one was recommended to me via Twitter by @MsRedPen (of Ms Red Pen's blog).  Goodreads says it "reads like a literary thriller with cancer as the protagonist."  Hmmmm.

5. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Another one that's been on my TBR since time immemorial.  I really enjoyed Larson's In The Garden of Beasts, so I am eager to check this one out as well.

I could sit here and write this list forever, so I'll just leave you with the first five that came to mind.

What's on your nonfiction TBRs these days?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Can't Believe I Never Read

It's time for a little Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!  Today we get to pick any past topic, so I went with

The Top Ten Books I Can't Believe I Never Read

1. Any of John Irving's books

I know, I know.  I really need to get on this.  The World According to Garp is the book that's been on my Goodreads TBR list the longest.

2. Bitter Is The New Black by Jen Lancaster

I hear amazing things about Jen Lancaster all the time!  I love funny books!  Why have I not read this yet?

3. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I have it sitting on my bookshelf at home, it's been recommended to me a million times.  I don't have a good excuse.

4. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Haven't seen the movie either.

5. Salem's Lot by Stephen King

As a King fan, this one is the hardest to admit.  I plan to rectify that soon, in time for Halloween!

6. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

All the Banned Book Week talk about this book is making me feel like I need to move it up the TBR list.

7. The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson

Another book that is recommended to me all the time.  And I loved Larson's In The Garden of Beasts!  I need to get to this.

8. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Apparently I did not have a normal childhood, if I managed to miss this.

9. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle

See above comment.

10. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

It just feels like something I need to read.  As a reader.

So, what books can you not believe you never read?  Also, feel free to leave me shaming comments.  They will motivate me to read these books!!
 
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