Monday, November 28, 2022

Mini Book Reviews: Non-Fiction November 2022

Disclaimers: I received copies of books from Brooks Running, Amazon First Reads, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

After my reading slump last month, I made the decision to declare this month Non-Fiction November! I later found out that NFN is really a thing in the reading world. And here I thought I starting something. No matter, this was an enjoyable diversion and a good reminder that I need to read more non-fiction. I picked a variety of books and enjoyed them all. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Solito. Hopefully, you'll find something here that you'll want to read!


This is a book that will, at the offset, most likely make you uncomfortable. Desir, an activist and self-proclaimed 'disrupter', shares her story as a black runner in the white world of long-distance running. Her efforts to grow the black long-distance running community led to activism and a deep understanding of white privilege and black oppression. Desir is an incredibly engaging writer and I found her journey to be very inspiring. Not only do I have a better understanding of our history, I appreciated her acknowledgment that all of us have been affected by white supremacy (used in a different context). Desir doesn't let us off the hook, though. She urges and empowers all of us to do better. While Running While Black is set in the context of running, this is the best book I've read on race. 


I needed a break from all the heavy subject matter I've been reading lately and comedienne Laurie Notaro's was just the thing. Excuse Me While I Disappear: Tales of Midlife Mayhem is based on her comedy and it's all about things middle age woman: the woman who knows how to use a dial phone, who saw Fonzie jump the shark, who survived Aqua Net, and who survived riding in a car without seatbelts. Most of the book is laugh-out-loud funny--you will feel seen when she talks about gray hair, thinning eyebrows, menopause, and hot flashes.  Her sense of humor has no boundaries and I get the feeling she has no filter. But she's learned to laugh at the absurdities of getting older and as someone who is struggling with feeling invisible, I sure appreciated finding the humor in it all!


I am a big fan of Frank Bruni's NYT columns and was so sad when he left his full-time job there after his stroke and subsequent loss of vision. Fortunately, he continues to share his thoughts in a weekly column on Thursdays, which I eagerly look forward to. Bruni is a gifted wordsmith who can turn a phrase like no other. His writing is always beautiful, profound, and never cliched. The same can be said for his most recent memoir, The Beauty of Duskin which he shares the details of his stroke and subsequent loss of vision and its effect on his life. While the book is about his injury and life, he shares perspectives of others who've lived with disease and loss. He also talks about aging, and as his words so often do, a great deal of what he said hit home with me. I loved most when he talked about his dog, Regan, and her positive impact on his outlook. He certainly is in a very good place right now. What an uplifting, inspiring read!

A woman in her thirties struggles to find answers to the debilitating illness that has derailed her life. She shares, in great detail and beautiful prose, the failings of our current medical system as well as her feelings about being chronically sick. This was not an easy read. She does not sugarcoat how she feels or how angry she is at being left without a diagnosis for many years. As a medical provider, I felt called out, rightly so, for not being able to help patients for whom we have no answers. We practice evidence-based medicine and for so many maladies, science has not caught up with the rise in autoimmune illnesses. To her credit, the author has done her homework and shares quite a bit of medical history and information. She does a lot of ruminating and I ended up skimming some of those passages. In spite of that, I think The Invisible Kingdom is an important book and I hope that not only patients, but medical professionals read it and take what she shares to heart.

Wow. Imagine entrusting your 9 year old to strangers to travel, undocumented, through several countries with plans to cross the border into the US. Imagine sending your hard-earned savings to pay these complete strangers to do this! Solito is the true story of that young boy's journey. He was at the mercy of complete strangers who, to my amazement, cared for him as if he were their own family member. The author does a beautiful job of sharing the story through the eyes of a child, capturing all his fear and wonder along his travels. I really enjoyed his observations about the people around him. While the book is in English, there is a lot of Spanish dialogue--mostly slang-- but it doesn't distract from the story, in fact, I felt that it made it more authentic. While the book starts out somewhat slow, once the trip begins, I couldn't put it down. It reads like a novel, which makes this story all the more amazing. 

Lauren Fleshman is one of the most decorated US distance runners of all time, a championship collegiate and professional runner in the early 2000s. Good for A Girl is her memoir, sharing her successes, but also her challenges with disordered eating, growing up in a male dominated sport, and being a Nike athlete. Fleshman shares her thoughts on the treatment of female athletes and has become a fierce advocate for women runners. Fleshman is also an accomplished writer and entrepreneur with the development of Picky Bars, energy bars she developed in her kitchen. Her story is essential reading for all runners, male and female and her competitive spirit shines through her words. I can't believe we are still telling these stories. What a great read! To be published January 10, 2023.


What did you read this month? Did you pick up any non-fiction? Have you read any of these?


I'm linking up with Kim and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics.


21 comments :

  1. Great reviews and I'm glad you got your reading mojo back! I had a lot of highlights this month myself: Mariama Ba's So Long a Letter, Jonathan Coe's Bournville (both novels, Coe not reviewed yet), and Anita Heiss' (ed.) Growing up Aboriginal in Australia spring to mind. I am eagerly awaiting my copy of Running While Black, currently stuck in the Post Office somewhere (as far as I know, we don't have a similar book yet in the UK), and Solito is going straight on my wishlist.

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    1. You will love both Running While Black and Solito. I'm going to check out your books too!

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  2. Oh, I would love to read Solito. It reminds me of a book I read recently, "In the Sea there are Crocodiles" by Fabio Geda.
    It's based on a true story and is about a 10-year old Afghan boy. His mother drops him off in Pakistan because she fears for her son's life. Alone, he makes his way to Iran, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. He often travels with traffickers in deplorable conditions. Amazingly, like in Solito, he is helped by numerous kind strangers.

    Thanks for the recommendation! I will look out for it!

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    1. Oooh, that sounds great! If you PM me your address, I'll send you a copy of Solito!

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  3. I love your reviews and often bring your list to the library.

    Have Trust on my book shelf and currently reading Jodi Picoult latest

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  4. I am so intrigued by Good for a Girl - also I love that she used that as the title!

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  5. admittedly, I rarely read nonfiction books. The Frank Bruni book sounds really interesting. We had dinner with him years ago at an event. Thanks for your great reviews!

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    1. Oh my goodness--I love that you had dinner with Frank Bruni!!! He's amazing.

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  6. These all sound like great reads. Thanks for the reviews!

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  7. I rarely read non-fiction but I finished Running While Black this week. I am looking forward to reading Good for a Girl when it is released!

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  8. I always enjoy seeing what you've been reading. I read Running While Black and have Good for a Girl on my list. Solito sounds like one I need to add to my list!

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    1. Solito was definitely my favorite! It would be a good book club read.

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  9. I tend to shy away from non-fiction, but these all sound GREAT. The say the Running While Black is the best book you've read on race- that's quite a review. I feel like I want to put every one of these on my Christmas list- but I'll probably pare it down to two or three. Thanks for the great reviews!

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    1. I'm so glad I did this because I got to read some really good books this month! Let me know what you pick!

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  10. I haven't read any of the books but will definitely add them to my list. I think "Solito" is one I am more excited to read. Last month I read two great ones you wrote about last year!

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  11. OMG. That yoga is the one I'd truly like.
    I knew we'd both read the running books, I also read Laurie Notaro as a palate cleanser. She's a hoot and the rare one who is still funny vs. others like Jen Lancaster who fall off..

    (Cari who can't log in)

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