Non-Fiction Books

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography

Rating:  Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Pamela Smith Hill. South Dakota Historical Society Press (2014), 448 pages. Laura wrote this autobiography in 1930, and tried unsuccessfully for many years to get it...

The Almost Nearly Perfect People

Rating:  The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia, by Michael Booth. Picador (2015), 400 pages. As a geography-challenged American, the Scandinavian countries have always been bunched together in my mind into one...

Two Years Before the Mast

Rating:  Two Years Before the Mast: A Personal Narrative of Life at Sea, by Richard Henry Dana. Signet Classics (1840), 432 pages. This book is quite well-known and already has legions of devoted fans; my purpose here is to urge reluctant readers to give...

This Is How

Rating:  This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More for Young and Old Alike, by Augusten Burroughs. St. Martin’s Press (2012), 240 pages. Fans of Dry, Running With...

Three Cups of Deceit

Rating:  Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way, by Jon Krakauer. Anchor (2011) 96 pages. Vindication!  I read Three Cups of Tea a couple of years ago, well before the scandal broke (via the April 17 episode of 60 Minutes),...

The Wave

Rating:  The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean, by Susan Casey. Doubleday (2010), 318 pages. Oh, Susan. I’m so embarrassed for you. Aren’t you embarrassed? Must all your books become a paean to your unbridled lust for one of the...

Tales of a Female Nomad

Rating:  Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World, by Rita Golden Gelman. Three Rivers Press (2001), 306 pages. If you love meeting new people to the extent that for you the entire point of traveling is to talk to strangers, then this book will...

Bonobo Handshake

Rating:  Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo, by Vanessa Woods. Gotham Books (2010), 278 pages. Bonobo Handshake has the kind of cover that is impossible for animal lovers to resist: darling bonobo baby in the arms of an equally...

The Idle Parent

Rating:  The Idle Parent: Why Laid-back Parents Raise Happier and Healthier Kids, by Tom Hodgkinson. Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin (2010), 251 pages. The Idle Parent is getting a fair amount of press right now, which is a good thing because I don’t know how much...

Enduring Grace

Rating:  Enduring Grace: Living Portraits of Seven Women Mystics, by Carol Lee Flinders. HarperOne (1993), 272 pages. The contemplative, mystical branch of Catholicism has always held great appeal for me in that its followers are attempting to actually...