Non-fiction mini reviews

Hello, everyone, and happy Friday! Today I’m posting some mini reviews of non-fiction books I’ve read recently. I believe I listened to all of these on audiobook, which is my preferred way of consuming non-fiction. I just find it easier to get through if I’m feeling bored, and it’s great to do on my commutes.

Anyway, here are some mini reviews of the non-fiction books I’ve read recently!

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer: 4.5 stars, rounded to five

This book is about Kimmerer’s relationship with the land as both an Indigenous woman and botanist, and how those two ways of knowing influence each other. It was brilliant and deserves all the love and accolades it receives. It was so incredibly well-written, and I would love to hear Kimmerer speak at a conference or something. There were so many chapters that touched me when I wasn’t expecting them to; for example, I never thought a chapter on lichen could make me cry but alas, here we are. Some favourite chapters include: Asters and Goldenrod; Witch Hazel; The Three Sisters; In the Footsteps of Nanabozho: Becoming Indigenous to Place; Sitting in a Circle; Old-Growth Children; Windigo Footprints; People of Corn, People of Light; and Defeating Windigo. The only reason I didn’t give this book a full five stars was because, as some chapters were brilliant, some chapters were not as brilliant and just didn’t hold my attention. Another thing to note is that while the audiobook is great and narrated by the author, it was edited together oddly in some places. I cannot recommend this book enough, though.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo: 5 stars

This book was an incredibly solid and useful resource. It explained so many things about race that I knew but didn’t have the words to explain. It was really clear and easy to understand. One of my favourite parts was Oluo explaining how lived experience affects our perceptions of interactions, so even if someone didn’t intend something to be racist, it may have been perceived as racist to a marginalized person. It talks about colorism and the model minority and discrimination within communities and the history of the N word. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone, honestly. If you have any questions about race and racism, or why certain things are racist, I’d highly recommend this book.

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow: 5 stars

This book was so brilliant, and it deserves all the accolades it gets. Farrow did a fantastic job breaking everything down: who Weinstein is and his power, several of his victims and his pattern of behaviour, Farrow’s experience at NBC and some of the reactions there, reactions from Farrow’s personal life. It was really well organized and written, and I think if you had minimal information going in, you would still understand what was happening. One thing I wish had been a bit more explained were the non-disclosure agreements and how Farrow got around those. Many of Weinstein’s victims had to sign NDAs, which prevented them from speaking out. Farrow discusses the implications of breaking NDAs, but never talks about how he was actually able to publish his original story or this book. I wanted to know how they got around the NDAs. Did Farrow pay the fees? Is he being sued by Weinstein? Did Weinstein just not care enough to go after everyone? I wish that had been explained a bit in the book. But, that’s a fairly small thing out of an overall great book. I’d also highly recommend the audiobook. It’s narrated by Farrow, who does a great job, and contains an actual recording from a police sting of Weinstein admitting to wrongdoing. Overall, highly recommend.

Buffy Sainte-Marie: the Authorized Biography by Andrea Warner: 4 stars

I really enjoyed this biography! I didn’t know a ton about Sainte-Marie going into this book, but I ended up really enjoying it. This was a really thorough look at her life and journey as a musician and performer. I particularly enjoyed learning about Sainte-Marie’s activism and Indigenous heritage. I would also highly recommend the audiobook for this book: it has some parts of Sainte-Marie talking about random things (life, happiness, heaven), which made it really enjoyable.

In Pieces by Sally Field: 4 stars

I really enjoyed this memoir. I’ve always had a soft spot for Sally Field, and have no idea why, so I’m glad I ended up enjoying her memoir as well. It was really interesting to read about her early life, her relationships with her mother, father, and step-father, and different parts of her career. I’ll admit that I’m nosy, so I always love reading into the personal lives of celebrities (when they are publishing it), and I loved how much Field talked about the inner workings of her field. Her struggles as an actress and trying to make a name for herself as a serious actress, not just a TV comedy actress, was really relatable in a lot of ways. The audiobook is narrated by Field, so I’d highly recommend it. I also full-on sobbed while listening to the audiobook of this on the train, but because of my mask + sunglasses combo, no one knew! 

We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib: 4.5 stars, rounded to 5

I really, really enjoyed this memoir as well! It was really well written and interesting. Habib’s reflections on her early life in Pakistan and moving to Canada, and her struggles with her sexuality and arranged marriage, and the pressure on young Muslim women, were all really interesting to read about. I really enjoyed her reflections on being queer and Muslim and thought it was really insightful. Her parent’s reactions to everything, too, were really interesting to read about. The only reason this book didn’t get five stars was just that there were some parts that didn’t hold my attention as well as I would have wanted. I thought it dragged a little in the middle/ But, I highly recommend this.

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde: 4 stars

I really enjoyed these essays overall! They were really well-written and interesting, and Lorde has a lot to say about feminism and racism, among other things. One thing I find really interesting is how Lorde’s feminist theory is spoken about so frequently, but her racist theory really isn’t at all. She writes at length about white feminism, colorism, raising a Black man, systemic issues in academia and policing. She covers way more than simple feminism, and I think her essays on racism were really where she stands out.

So there are the reviews! Have you read any of these? What were your thoughts? Do you like listening to non-fiction audiobooks? Do you have any recommendations? Let me know!

Ally xx

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