The Pain of Remembering

I think I can count on one hand the number of memoirs I’ve read in my entire life, but this year I read two in as many months!

The memoirs I read are Educated by Tara Westover, and War Child by Emmanuel Jal. I was surprised to discover that I could actually relate to one of these memoirs, and as you might expect, it was not the one about child soldiers in Sudan. However, while I also have some tales from north Idaho that defy belief, Emmanuel Jal’s account of his life was even more gripping and horrifying (at times), so I’ll start with that one.

I had the honour and privilege of meeting Mr. Jal in person, and his life story is one I will never forget. He has lived through horrors that people in the West cannot begin to truly understand, and yet he came out of bitterness, death and hatred, to a life devoted to the spread of peace. He found healing when he met God, but also through music, and he has released several albums, topping the charts in Africa, and working with some very big names here in North America and the UK as well. (Check out We Want Peace, More Power, or Baai on YouTube.) Although there are devastating moments in this memoir, it is still quite easy to read, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Wow. What a tragic story. Educated is technically also an easy read, but emotionally speaking, ‘easy’ is not a word anyone would use to describe this book. I like reading while I eat, and there were times when I had to put the book down to finish my meal. So much violence. And plenty of emotional manipulation as well, although that was less stomach-churning. The worst part for me was that so much of the physical injuries (well, mental injuries too, but from head trauma, not emotional trauma – of which there is also plenty!) could have been easily avoided. This book is a real page-turner and also comes very highly recommended. And if it seems like it’s too extreme to be real, let me assure you that it is very likely true.

If there are memoirs out there that you would recommend, could you let me know the titles? I’d love to hear which ones have touches your lives, and get more acquainted with this genre at the same time. Thank you!

Broke & Bookish Secret Santa

Happy November, everyone! I have to apologize for not posting in over a month. Truth be told, I’ve been uninspired lately. BUT, I just found The Broke and the Bookish‘s Secret Santa and I’m so excited that I wanted to share it with you. There’s not much time left, though, so sign up now if you’re interested!

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 2.21.13 PM
http://www.brokeandbookish.com/2015/10/6th-annual-broke-bookish-secret-santa.html

This is such a great idea! Send in your address and a list of books you’ve got on your TBR list (you can even send a link to your wish list), along with some other details, and you’re in. I just signed up and I’m really looking forward to it. Enjoy, good luck, and Merry Christmas!

Toronto International Book Fair!

If you are near Toronto next weekend, don’t miss INSPIRE! at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building. (255 Front St., West) from November 13-16, 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 4.08.15 PM

Thursday, November 13: 7pm-11pm

Friday, November 14: 10am-8pm

Saturday, November 15: 10am-8pm

Sunday, November 16: 10am-6pm

Click here for hours and ticket prices. Click here for the list of exhibitors!

See you there! Follow the book fair on Twitter @InspireTIBF

More Non-Fiction Titles

The Earth Moved by Amy Stewart

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 2.02.36 PM

  • I know this is not the most gripping-sounding book, but I really enjoyed it. However, I have a soft spot in my heart for worms, so if you don’t, I have to admit this may not be as enjoyable as all my other recommendations. (I was being ironic about my recommendations.) But if you also stop to save worms that are drowning in puddles after it rains, this is most definitely the book for you! It’s full of facts that will change your understanding of the world around you. For more reviews, check it out on Amazon.com.

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 2.10.11 PM

  •  Amazingly, this book tells a gripping story, despite being comprised of research about 16th century politics, Michelangelo’s odd habits, and fairly detailed information about the actual painting of the Sistine ceiling. I was given this book as a gift, because speaking frankly, I would not have picked up a non-fiction book about a work of art unless there were some fantastic scandal associated with it. However, I could not put it down, and then read more by Ross King, including Bruneslleschi’s Dome. Intrigue, political scandal, and really cool facts about how the ceiling was done, this book was a really good read and is very highly recommended. For more reviews, check it out on Amazon.com.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 7.16.52 PM

  • Again, not a book that screams “action!” or “suspense!” but undeniably fascinating and horrifying. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. For real information on what organic means today and for anyone interested in sustainable foods, this book is for you. And for people who eat food from the grocery store and think you know what you’re eating: Read this book! For more reviews, check it out on Amazon.com.

Under the Banner of Heaven: A story of violent faith by Jon Krakauer

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 7.25.45 PM

  • When I read this, it was the last thing I thought about before falling asleep and the first thing that entered my mind when I woke up. Fascinating is an understatement. Meticulously researched and entwined with a murder trial from the 1980s, this book was also a gripping page-turner and impossible to put down. For more reviews, check it out on Amazon.com.

Non-Fiction Titles You Might Enjoy

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 11.37.30 AM

  • Okay, yes. There is a little fiction thrown in here to make the story really come alive, but it’s a true crime read that will not disappoint. I originally read this for a book club and was reluctant to read it. Wow, was I in for a shock. This is a gripping page turner that educates at the same time. Highly recommended! Check out more reviews at Amazon.com.

The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and the Trial that Shocked a Country by Charlotte Gray

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 11.44.02 AM

  • Toronto, 1915. A bit dry at times, but a very interesting look at how Toronto (and Canada) were a century ago. Check out more reviews on Amazon.com.

Midnight in Peking by Paul French

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 11.40.18 AM

  • A fascinatingly educational, gripping page-turner. Written about an event that took place in 1937, this book provides a glimpse into a bygone Peking as well as a satisfying solution to a grisly unsolved murder. Check out more reviews on Amazon.com.

Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 11.51.59 AM

  • A very convincing case, I really believe Cornwell solved this one. Thoroughly researched with lots of photos, this is highly recommended! Check out more reviews on Amazon.com.

Red Star Rogue: The Untold Story of a Soviet Submarine’s Nuclear Strike Attempt on the US by Kenneth Sewell

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 11.59.25 AM

  • This book was amazing. Very well written and thoroughly researched, you won’t believe it’s true – but it is! Check out more reviews on Amazon.com.

Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist’s Wife by Irene Spencer

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 11.54.55 AM

  • Absolutely fascinating! The title pretty much says the rest. Check out more reviews on Amazon.com.