Review: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Publication Date: 1966    |    Rating: 5-stars!

A classic! An absolute masterpiece of true crime literature. Gritty and intelligent. This should be on everyone’s ‘books to read in a lifetime’ list. As many of you may know, In Cold Blood is the true account of the heinous murders of the Clutter Family in 1959 Kansas. In my opinion, the writing style of this account is absolutely flawless. Through Capote’s words, you are transported to this small town; you get alternating accounts from the family, from the killers, from other residents close to the crime. The account of the actual murders is bone-chilling and can disturb sleep, believe me!

This is my second time reading this book and I found it just as impactful during my reread. To me it is interesting to think about Capote compiling his research for this. He actually went and lived in this town, along with one of his closest friends, Harper Lee, and they painstakingly interviewed hundreds of people associated with the events. Just the sheer amount of data compiled and how it was intricately woven together fascinates me – yes, I know that is what nonfiction novelists do but this was a truly groundbreaking piece of journalistic writing at the time and should be appreciated as such.

Another interesting aspect of this for me is how interested Capote was in the psychology behind the killers motivations and actions, as well as their complex relationship with one another both before and after the crimes. I think anyone who enjoys true crime, criminology, psychology and even sociology will find this book absolutely captivating. If you have been putting off reading this for any reason, please stop, read this…now!

Do you like nonfiction books? If so, what is your favorite sub-genre within nonfiction? I want to know! Tell me about it in the comments below and you can reach me through the contact links to the right >

Review: Endurance by Scott Kelly

Publication Date: October 19, 2017

Subtitle: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery

All the stars in the universe! As memoirs go, this is top-notch! If you like science, you need to read this book. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Scott Kelly himself, and was hooked from start to finish. For me personally, I find it very hard to critique a memoir. I mean, it is that person’s story, it is up to them how they choose to tell it. This being said, even if I was a better reviewer I would have a hard time finding anything to critique within this book. Detailing everything from his childhood, his navy pilot training and career, astronaut training and numerous space missions, this book is replete with interesting facts and stories. I didn’t want it to end – I flew through it and recommend it for everyone. Scott Kelly has lived one hell of a life and you should learn about it!

Do you enjoy reading memoirs? If you do, what is one you would recommend to everyone? I want to know – comment here or send me a message – I would love to hear from you!

Cheers~

Review: The Stowaway by Laurie Gwen Shapiro

Publication Date: January 16, 2018

‘Wherever you’re from, there’s always somewhere more exciting.’

Excellent – a rollicking, fun ride to the edge of the earth and back!  The story of Billy Gawronski is one that I had never heard before but I feel like now, it will be one that I never forget. A true tale of perseverance and adventure. Young Billy dreamed of traveling to far off places and saw his dreams become a reality when the infamous Admiral Byrd planned an excursion from NYC, where Billy lived with his immigrant parents, to the last unknown frontier of Antarctica. Billy was willing to do anything to be a part of this expedition – including stowing away – which is exactly what he did.

This book takes us on a journey to the far reaches of the earth filling in history, geography and science along the way. This is actually a fairly quick read for a nonfiction book – not as dense as many tend to be. Because of this fact, I would think this would be a great book for YA-readers, as well as adults. The Author’s Note at the end sealed the 5-star review from me. If you read this book – make sure you read all the way through. I would like to thank the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with the opportunity to read and share my thoughts on this amazing story!  If you love true tales of adventure I would highly recommend picking this one up!

Nonfiction Recommendations

Do you read nonfiction books?  I do, quite a bit, and always enjoy them! As you may recall, a while back I posted that The Radium Girls by Kate Moore was my favorite nonfiction book this year and I am definitely sticking to that.  However, today I thought I would write a little about two other great nonfiction books I read in 2017 – both of which I gave five stars and both of which relate to Labor relations in America – much as The Radium Girls did.

The first, Triangle: The Fire that Changed America by David von Drehle, tells the harrowing story of the disaster at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in the Greenwich Village industrial area of New York City back in 1911.  The fire, that started close to the top of the building swept through three floors and ultimately took the lives of close to 150 people – mostly young, immigrant women. This book tells their stories, the events of that infamous day and the results that such a catastrophe set into motion. An amazing and tragic story- one with lasting effects for worker and workplace safety. Somewhat surprisingly, I had never come across this historical event before and I am so glad to have read this book. Best described as an in-depth examination of the Labor movement, immigration and politics of the time; this book is intimate and startling, as well as fiercely moving. I loved it and learned so much!

The next, Trapped Under the Sea: One Engineering Marvel, Five Men, and a Disaster Ten Miles into Darkness by Neil Swidey, focuses on the waste treatment plant project on Deer Island in Boston Harbor back in the 1990s. Due to a massively polluted Harbor the Commonwealth of Massachusetts undertook this enormous project that required multiple different companies, teams and specialties. This is mainly the story of the tunnel under the Harbor and the 5-men sent in at the end to remove plugs prior to use. I really enjoyed this book although I found it depressing – the truth is sometimes depressing. I think it is an important read, especially for the people of Massachusetts (of which I am one). I think the author did a great job of memorializing the “ordinary heroes” -the men who took on this project; two of whom didn’t make it out alive. A classic David versus Goliath tale but unfortunately in this one, Goliath wins. I loved the engineering and science aspects of this story as well. A good reminder to us all that behind the infrastructure of our country, that we often take for granted, are the lives of thousands of men and women who risk their lives to make it possible.

Review: The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

Publication Date: May 2, 2017

Hey book babes!  This morning as I was getting ready for work, I was thinking about The Radium Girls.  Is this odd?  I mean, I finished this book in July!  Why am I still thinking about it?  Because it was incredible, that’s why.

This is easily one of the best books I have read this year; if not, the best. I am still not even sure that I can adequately express how much I enjoyed reading this story. Firstly, I am a huge science nerd but I do not think you need to be in order to enjoy this book; in the end it is a human story. The writing is so smooth, the story so unbelievable and heartbreaking that I would find it hard to believe anyone would not be intrigued by it. I think the author, Kate Moore, did a great service to these women by writing their stories and in such a way that their full humanity, suffering and indeed strength and courage soars through the pages.

I read a lot of non-fiction; I love it.  I love learning and books that provide a narrative feel to history or social issues are truly compelling to me but this book takes that to a whole new level.  It seems to me, a lot of books in this genre are written with more of an outside-observer approach.  Ms. Moore’s writing is full of empathy and true feeling for these women’s plight that one would think she knew them personally.  Reading this, one cannot help but think her research must have totally engulfed her; I cannot imagine how long it must have taken her to pull all of these facts together into such a gripping account.  If you have not read this one yet, you should definitely check it out.  Even if you do not normally read non-fiction, step outside that comfort zone and give this one a chance – it deserves it!