May 10, 2009

The Sunday Salon - Book Coveting

The Sunday Salon.comHello everyone. Today the Sunday Salon will meet Debi's mini-challenge for the Dewey's Books Challenge. Let me explain: Like me, Debi was a big fan of Dewey's Sunday Book Coveting posts, so she's inviting everyone to write book coveting posts of their own during the month of May as a tribute to Dewey.

Lately I've been really excited about non-fiction. This is not something I remember ever happening before. But I'm currently reading Bad Science by Ben Goldacre, and it's one of my top reads of the year so far - I love it so much I've been neglecting my (also awesome) current fiction book. And I also started Feeling Like a Kid by Jerry Griswold, which was a random library find. It's a slim and gorgeous little book about how some of the most successful children's books capture the feeling of being a child. Furthermore, I found myself entertaining thoughts of having a non-fiction month so I could get to all these non-fiction books I've been dying to read. It's not likely to happen, because I do need stories. But a non-fiction and comics month? Now there's a thought.

Anyway, because of my newfound enthusiasm, I thought I'd tell you about some non-fiction books I've been coveting:

Non-Fiction Collage
  • The Secret Life of Words: How English Became English by Henry Hitchings is, as you can tell by the title, about the history of the English language. Specifically, it's about the history of its vocabulary: how foreign words entered the language, what this means in cultural terms, etc. I'm a proud linguistics geek, so it's no wonder I'm dying to read this. But from what I hear, the book is very accessible even if you'd had no contact with the topic before.

  • Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood by Maria Tatar is about children's literature: why children love stories, the cognitive benefits of reading, the role of horror in children's books, etc. It uses examples from Narnia, His Dark Materials and Harry Potter, which makes me even more excited to read it. I've just finished Maria Tatar's The Hard Facts of the Grimm's Fairy Tales (which I can't wait to tell you about), and I think I have a little bit of a brain crush on her. Also, Neil Gaiman praised this book, and his recommendations have led me to countless wonderful books before.
  • I May be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination by Francis Spufford. By the author of The Child that Books Built, this is a book about the hold that journeys to the icy end of the world have had on the English imagination. He analyses the writings of Mary Shelly, Byron and Coleridge, among others, as well as journals of actual polar explorers, to get to the bottom of what's behind this obsession.

  • The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA by Mark Schultz, Zander Cannon, and Kevin Cannon. The title says it all: it's a comic about genetics and DNA. Science in graphic format! How can I resist? The Stuff of Life has received a lot of praise. I hear that the science is made accessible but not at all dumbed down. Sounds like my kind of book.

  • Virgin: The Untouched History by Hanne Blank. An analysis of the history of the concept of virginity, its cultural meaning, the ways it which it has been used. I can't remember how I first heard of this book, but I know that shortly after I added it to my wishlist, Jenny reviewed it and made me want to read it even more. On a similar note, Heather recently reviewed The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti, which sounds just as fascinating.

  • This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff. This is a memoir about Wolff's childhood in the 1950s and his travels throughout the United States with his mother. I'm not always drawn to memoirs, but Nick Hornby included it in his Writer's Table, so how can I resist? Besides, any author who sings with John Darnielle from The Mountain Goats (and one of my favourite songs too!) is an author I most definitely should be reading.

  • Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion. I've been meaning to read something by Joan Didion for quite some time, and this collection of essays about what was happening in California in 1968 sounds like something I'd really enjoy.

  • Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. For some reason, it was only recently that I first of this classic. Published in 1962, Silent Spring was largely responsible for creating public awareness of the consequences of the destruction of wildlife, and it inspired many of the environmental movements we know today.
Non-Fiction FiveThere. And since we're on non-fiction, now seems like a good time to join Trish's Non-Fiction Five challenge. The goal is to read to read five non-fiction books between May and September. I'm not going to make a list, but this post should give you an idea of what I'd like to read. But we'll see where my reading mood takes me.

What about you? Which books, fiction or non-fiction, have you been coveting lately? Have you read any of the ones I listed? What did you think?


  1. Hi Ana :D

    I am making a note of those books. I also stoped by to say hello to my friend.

    I wish you a nice Sunday evening Ana :)

  2. I am really bad as I seem to buy all the books I covet. Can't think of any I really want at the moment. I like the look of The Help by Kathryn Stockett and I would lie The Lace Reader but refuse to buy it in hard back. You have some great non fiction books there. I have joined this challenge too and I find I am turning to lots of travel journals to read.

  3. Ooh, you picked good ones! I guess that's why you're coveting them. ;)

    The children's fiction book in particular reminds me of a class I took in college. We read books from the HP series, the Chronicles of Narnia, His Dark Materials, The Giver, The Catcher in the Rye, etc., and looked at what's different about children's and YA books and why they appeal to kids.

    The concept of virginity is also particularly interesting. I've come across the study of it in the middle ages a lot. People have spent a lot of time and written a lot of words about when it became important and why.

  4. Now those are all very interesting reads, particularly all the ones that are about reading. You are making me want to join the Nonfiction Five Challenge.. oh no!! Some books I covet right now, hm.. a lot! I might make up a Sunday Salon post on that today. :D Have a happy week!!

  5. I've definently been wanting to read Virgin (and the more recent The Purity Myth). I hadn't heard of I May be Some Time before your post, but as I'm trying to get a position as an Antarctic researcher this next season it could be a good one for me.

    As far as other nonfiction goes, I've been wanting to read Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin for ages, as well as Phil Plait's Death from the Skies.

  6. Nice list Nymeth! I like the idea of devoting a whole month to NF. I have stacks of books to wade through and have been considering how to go about it.

    I struggle with distractions! :P I'm the only "reader" in my circle of friends & household. LOL.

  7. What a wonderful list of books -- and I must confess that I now covet a few of them: the 2 mentioned by Maria Tatar and the 2 mentioned by Francis Spufford have truly captured my interest.

    I have not heard of Sunday Book Coveting, but I love the concept and may participate myself.

  8. I have always been fascinated by genetics, so The Stuff of Life sounds great to me.

  9. Nonfiction has been high on my radar recently too, Nymeth. I guess it is good the Nonfiction challenge is underway. :-) I have a number I am hoping to get to in the next few months.

    I am not familiar with any of the titles you mention, but you've certainly whet my appetite. Hanne Blank's book particularly caught my eye.

    I hope you have a great week, Nymeth!

  10. I see great books here. I read non-fiction but as much as I would like to.

    BTW, I have doing book coveting posts since March 09. I try to find more of poetry books. Rather unsuccessfully I must say.

    Vampires, Mages, Demons and a cat with a poem!
    TSS: Sunday Book Coveting

  11. Those all sound amazing, but I especially like the look of THE SECRET LIFE OF WORDS, ENCHANTED HUNTERS and THE STUFF OF LIFE. Oh, nonfiction! I'd love to binge on it myself, but it takes me so long to read that I just know I'd feel like my reading was stagnating.

  12. I can't wait until I'm off my break to do a book coveting post.Lately I've been more interested in non-fiction too. Nowadays I rarely read it but The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop has gotten me interested in reading non-fiction books on reading and books. I'm going to make my list! =)

    Now you have me interested in the non-fiction challenge. I might join. Thank you for wishing me a happy mother's day. I hope your weekend is going great. Have a good week.

  13. Oh, wow, a lot of these sound wonderful - adding lots of nonfiction books to my list. Enchanted Hunters and Feeling Like a Kid sound particularly fascinating! I'm such a kids' books junkie, I love reading about kids' books.

  14. Non-fiction is usually restricted to management books and a couple of biographies in my case, but I'm looking to read more diverse books. The book The Secret Life of Words reminds me of a book I left halfway: Eats, Shoots and Leaves. I'm thinking of picking it up again.

  15. You know I've never been one for non-fiction. I don't know why as I imagine some of them are probably quite good as you're finding out. I'm glad you're so excited about these books-that's all that matters.

    Well, I found a book and an author I will covet from now on-Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. I absolutely loved the book and can't wait to read more by her. I hope to have my review up tonight or tomorrow.

    Have a great day!

  16. The Secret Life of Words is one I covet as well.

  17. Well, thanks to you I know have 3 book reservations at the library ;D
    Two books by Henry Higgens and The Grimm Fairy Tales book.
    Will need to read through the stack of books I already have from the library.
    I love the idea of a non fiction month, I may actually get through a couple of non fiction books that have been sitting around for years

  18. A Boy's Life and Silent Spring are bothe wonderful books. As usual, I am adding several on your list to my TBR pile:)

  19. Yay for Book Coveting posts!! I miss these so much. Dewey did fantastic ones. I'm so glad Debi decided to do this as a mini-challenge. I've been on a big non-fic kick lately too. I feel like I always have something going on that's non-fic.

  20. I rarely read non-fictions but I'll keep those titles you listed in mind when the mood strikes. ;)

    I hope you had a wonderful weekend, Nymeth!

  21. Silent Spring is an awesome book. It's one of those full of information that actually scares me silly.

  22. I've saved this post -- so many look interested! I'm reading Robbing the Bees (through the eco-challenge at Bookarama and might do Silent Spring as well) and it is FABULOUS.

  23. Those books about reading definitely seem interesting. And I like the idea of a nonfiction month. I have several nonfiction books TBR, and I've even started some of them. I just need to finish.

  24. Nymeth... Just so you're aware of this... I've just added about half of these books to my wishlist. Purely and solely because you brought them to my attention.

    That said, I hope you'll enjoy them and will be looking forward to hearing your thoughts on them! I couldn't pull off a non-fiction month either, although I really should finish the non-fiction I have lying on hold sometime...

  25. All these books sound lovely. I would really be interesting to hear your thoughts on Virgin and Enchanted Hunters.
    I WANT 'Gorillas in the mist' so much and it's all your fault Nymeth and I can't even find it here :(

    I will read it though, someday :)

  26. This really seems to be my year of non-fiction, too. I've actually read more non-fiction than fiction so far this year...and that's so unlike me. But it's like I can't get enough right now. Granted, much of it is for homeschooling. In fact, I'll be reading The Stuff of Life for homeschool in the next couple weeks...I've been dying to read it, so I had to find a way to work it into our schedule. ;)

    I actually saw Enchanted Hunters at the bookstore yesterday. My first thought, "Oh, this looks like an Ana book!" On a side note, I went to the bookstore specifically to get Flora Segunda, only to find out they didn't carry it in the store. Dumb store. Guess I'll just have to order it.

    And I hadn't heard of Virgin before, but that sounds really, really interesting!

    This was a great book coveting post, Nymeth! (Meaning, of course, that my wish list just grew again.)

  27. Madeleine: Hello :D I hope you have a great week!

    Scrap Girl: Pfff, "bad"...depends on the perspective, I guess :P I avoid buying hardcovers too. Not only are they pricey, but also not very practical to carry around. And travel journals! Now there's a good idea.

    Meghan: That class sounds so awesome! I wish my university offered something of the kind...but sadly there's very little room for anything that goes beyond the traditional canon.

    Claire: Come on, know you want to!

    Corvus: An Antarctic researcher! That sounds incredible. Good luck getting that position. I hadn't heard of those two titles, but Death From the Skies in particular sounds very interesting, if terrifying!

    Christina: Life keeps getting in the way of reading, doesn't it? :P I'm growing a non-fiction tbr track of my own. Not something I had before!

    Molly: It's a great concept, isn't it? Dewey always came up with the best posts. It would be great if more bloggers continued it after this mini-challenge!

    Bermudaonion: Me too! I'd really love to learn more about it.

    Literary Feline: Thank you! I hope you do too :) I don't think I'll be able to resist ordering Hanne Blank's book very soon.

    Guatami: That's so great that you're continuing the book coveting tradition :) I'd like to read more poetry myself, but it can be hard to even know where to start.

    Memory: I know what you mean. I read it at a much slower pace too. That's why I'd like to have comics and novellas going at the same time, to trick myself into thinking I was finishing lots of books :P

    Vasilly, you're most welcome! I LOVE books on reading...I can't get enough of them.

    Jenny: Me too. Just finished Feeling Like a Kid this morning... I enjoyed it, but it was short and therefore not very detailed.

    A Hazra: I've heard of Eats, Shoots and Leaves before. I'd love to see your review!

  28. Dar: I've heard good things about Ethan Frome before! Edith Wharton is an author I'd love to read, so I think I'll start there. I look forward to your review!

    Lenore: That one really sounds good.

    Katrina: Tis what I'm here for :P Maybe we should all have a non-fiction month together! That would be fun, and it'd get us extra motivated.

    Gavin: Good to know they're Gavin-approved :D

    Chris: She really did...I miss them too.

    Melody: Thank you! I hope you did too.

    Jeane: I can't believe I hadn't heard of it for so long!

    Pardon my French: I'll have to look for Robbing the Bees!

    Shannon: I tend to be more motivated to read fiction. There's lots of non-ficiton that I love, but I always need that extra push for some reason.

    Shanra: Like I was telling Katrina, that's what I'm here for :P My problem with a non-fiction month is that I know I'd read less, because I always read non-fiction much more slowly. Also, I worry that I'd miss stories too much.

    Violet: Aw, that's too bad. I was surprised that my library had it...they're normally good at not having the books I want to read.

    Debi: An Ana book :D You know me too well. That's too bad the bookstore didn't have Flora...bad, bad bookstore! I can't wait to hear your thoughts on The Stuff of Life, btw. PS: I hope you had a lovely mother's day :)

  29. Hi Ana! It's good to know you've been bitten by the nonfiction bug! LOL!

  30. All of these are new too many and I feel a bit overwhelmed. So many I want to read and I'm a slow reader with a very busy life. ((sigh)) Still, I enjoyed your post. Thank you.

  31. glad you are enjoying Bad Science so much.
    Nice selection of non-fiction reads! I havent read any of those myself, but I read Shattered Dreams by Irene Spencer and it was amazing. I recommend it.

  32. I love your list! and it's such a nice way to pay tribute to Dewey.

  33. I like the sound of the Maria Tatar one. Enjoy your new challenge, I am actually going to pass this time for once!

  34. The idea of you doing regular book coveting posts is both terribly exciting and disturbingly frightening - you're already the main suspect in my "TBR Overflow Fiasco" :P

    Seriously though, the Didion book looks so amazing! I am in love with her writing!

  35. Virgin: The Untouched History sounds very good, as do a couple of the others you picked out. You have really good taste in books!

  36. Alice: lol, I really have :P

    Susan: I know the feeling! I'd need three lifetimes to read everything I want to read.

    Naida, thanks for the recommendation! I'll look for that.

    Marie: isn't it? Debi had a lovely idea.

    Rhinoa: You are stronger than I am :P I think the Maria Tatar book is right up your alley!

    Joanne: lol! I'll try not to do them often :P I've actually never read Didion before. It sounds like I'm really missing out.

    Zibilee: Aw, thank you :D

  37. I've been really excited about non-fiction lately as well--I've been reading more this year than in years before.

    My dear--do you want my copy of This Boy's Life? I don't think I'll be rereading it and would love to send it your way. It does have my name and the date I finished scrawled in the front cover, but you can forgive me of that, right? Email me if you're interesting--I'll be leaving tonight for the funeral, but I can probably pop it in the mail next week if you want.

  38. LOL--I know you're interesting. Email me if you're interested! :P

  39. I wish I were more excited by non-fiction. Actually that's not entirely true as I sometimes get excited about non-fiction books. My problem is the follow through to actually reading them.
    The Secret Life of Words sounds great. Having studied some linguistics in university, I love that kind of stuff too.

  40. Trish, I e-mailed you. Thank you so much! You're the sweetest.

    tanabata: That used to be the case with me...I'd cover the books, but then not actually read them. But not lately for some reason...I have no idea what changed!


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