✨ Recent Nonfiction Reads || 2019


Hey y’all! My name is Priscilla and
welcome back to my channel! Today I want to talk a little bit about
some of the non-fiction books that I’ve been reading recently. 🎵 Instrumental 🎵 With it being
Nonfiction November and with lots of people really excited about nonfiction, I
thought I’d put a little bit out there and maybe encourage you to pick up some
of the books that I’ve liked recently. So let’s get onto that. So the first book
that I want to talk about is called Kid Gloves by Lucy Knicely? Knisley?
I think it’s Knisley. I always mispronounce her last name but this is a graphic novel
memoir and Lucy Knisley is a New York Times bestselling author of most of her
graphic novel memoirs. And I love all of them. I’m a huge fan. So in this
particular graphic novel, Lucy walks us through another very transitional
pivotal moment and time in her life. At this point in her life she’s actually
giving birth to her first child. Her son who she affectionately calls “Pal.” And it
walks us through- from trying to get pregnant- through some of the health
issues that she had, a number of miscarriages, there was a lot of vomit.
She had a lot of sickness related to her pregnancy and um had to have a c-section
and having a child for the first time. So I really commend this graphic novel. I
really love how vulnerable Knisley is with all of us. She’s very transparent,
very open about all of the depression and isolation that she felt trying to
get pregnant and then getting pregnant. And seeing how some of her friendships
weren’t gonna be the same anymore. Because she had a lot of single friends
and moving into motherhood. And I feel like that’s really important when you’re
discussing pregnancy. And also when you’re discussing miscarriage. I really
like how she’s just really open with all that. And she deep dives into some of
those themes with some scientific, historical background information. Some
cultural data and one in four women, for instance, will experience a miscarriage.
But you don’t nearly hear one in four women discussing miscarriage.
So there’s a bit of skew of information and, at least
perception, of what people think about when they think of pregnancy. I think
that Knisley has a really great balance of humor and education and personal
commentary. I think I am even more freaked out, personally, about pregnancy
at this point than I was before but I’d highly recommend this if you’re at all
interested in graphic novels, and memoirs, in pregnancy, and motherhood. There’s also
a really great note about how doctors oftentimes ignore the symptoms that
women are having and that that is one thing that is kind of driven home
towards the end. Especially with the condition that she had while she was
giving birth and could have taken her life. But still a really great memoir
that kind of makes me more freaked out about births and motherhood but a really
great read. So next up I read I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya. This is a very
short non-fiction book. I think it was like a hundred-ish pages. I also listened
to it on audiobook and it was about four hours long. So super short but
hard-hitting and very impactful. I mentioned this I think in my mid year
book freakout tag and it’s it’s still one of those five-star reads that sticks
with me even months and months after having read it. so Vivike Shraya is a trans
Canadian Indian artist. She has written poetry as well as- is moving into a
nonfiction realm. And I think has a fiction book that is coming out pretty
soon. And I just adore how she tackles these heavy themes of racism, of
transphobia, of homophobia, and is very vulnerable with the audience. But I think
it’s one of those books that is very required reading for people that don’t
know any of this. That are kind of new to the idea of trans women being violently
murdered and targeted. So this book really talks about a lot of the toxic
masculinity that results in the murder of trans women and of the gay community.
And how the gay community is still not as acepting
of transwomen as you would think it would be. So because of the books length
and its themes of feminism, I was reminded of another book that I read
called We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. However,
whereas Adichie I think was very- very introductory to feminism
I feel like Shraya’s work is much more of a deep dive. Much more inclusive
especially with its themes of course of LGBT and trans women, specifically. And
trans women of color specifically. Shraya says, “I am afraid of men because it was
men who taught me fear. I’m afraid of men because it was men who taught me to fear
the word girl by turning it into a weapon they used to hurt me. I’m afraid
of men because it was men who taught me to hate and eventually destroyed my
femininity. I’m afraid of men because it was men who taught me to fear the
extraordinary parts of myself.” So yeah it’s just an incredibly succinct and
illuminating piece of nonfiction that I highly recommend that you read. The next
book I want to talk about is called Karamo: My History of Embracing Purpose,
Healing, and Hope by Karamo Brown. So you may recognize Karamo Brown’s face because
he is one of the Fab five in the Queer Eye show on Netflix. And that is what brought
me to his memoir because I felt like I didn’t really know Karamo the first
season of that show. I am a fan of Queer Eye. And reading his memoir- I just really
understand a lot more about his life and what he’s trying to do. What he’s trying
to build. And I love this title. This subtitle because you kind of know what
this book is about based on that very lengthy title. So Karamo has lived a very
full life. And I really loved the conversational tone of his memoir. I also
listened to the audiobook for this one because I just prefer memoirs that are
read by the author. That are narrated by the person that wrote their life story.
This story isn’t chronological so he will begin a specific chapter based on a
certain theme and we’ll kind of go back and forth in his life with things that
are relevant to that theme. So at first I thought that that storytelling- non
chronological or non-linear was a little bit harder to read it. Took a little bit more
brain power to connect the dots but I think it’s worth reading that
to understand the full picture of his life. So yeah from from the very first
chapter I knew that I was gonna really enjoy this book because Karamo discusses
how his Jamaican father really wanted to name him. And the power that is in giving
names to people. To things. And he named him Karamo
which in Swahili means intelligent. So of course that is something that
Karamo had to carry with him throughout school / college and as an
adult. Which is something he had to grow to love to learn. And now which he
has a deep respect for. So Karamo also has a background in social work which is
not surprising if you’ve watched Queer Eye. And kind of understand his role in
that show. He has a very hands-on approach to the heroes that they have on
that show. He wants to get at the heart of the issue and really work on healing
because that is his life journey. And he really wants to share a little bit of
that with everyone. So obviously I’d recommend this book but it may be more
valued and appreciated by people that are actually fans of the show. That want
to know more about Karamo’s life. I think that some people may find his writing
style/ his narration a bit preachy. But coming from a church background or
religious background, I think that I kind of understand that and I kind of
understand why he would write a book like that. And if you see how the way he
talks to the show you kind of expect that anyway. But still a really good
memoir about a gay black man really making moves in the entertainment
industry and how he got there. His ups and downs and he was an alcoholic… he had
a very addictive personality. And how he became a father. That’s a really
interesting story to hear about, so yeah just really highly recommend this book.
Okay so my camera just died. [I] apologize if there’s jaring shift but what can you
do? So the next book that I want to talk about is The Collected Schizophrenias
and this is written by as my Esmé Wang. This was a book that really- oh my goodness. Oh
so good! It’s a collection of essays about a Asian-American woman that is
living with schizoaffective disorder and with a bipolar type and also lyme
disease. So it’s a really unique look into the mind of someone that is
plagued with such a heavily stigmatized mental disorder. So these essays really
cover a wide range of topics. There’s a essay about being diagnosed with this
disorder and what that means. And discovering what that means. There’s a
really touching essay about the decision not or to have children because a lot of
these mental illnesses are genetic and can easily be passed on from mother to
child. There’s a topic about the perception of what is named
high-functioning individuals with mental illness and how that plays into the
value that certain folks are given over those that are considered not as
high-functioning. And there’s discussions about being committed involuntarily. What
that- what is that like from a person that has been committed involuntarily.
There’s a discussion about her psychosis episodes. So just a really, really great
information and really well-written. I really enjoyed these essays. So I think
that Wang’s writing really approaches this topic- these topics of mental
illness with nuance and with complexity. That is really able to encompass an
entire array of sentiment about her diagnosis. So I really didn’t know much
about schizophrenia outside of the cultural understanding of schizophrenia.
Which is very incorrect. I mean I think that schizophrenia is one of those
mental illnesses that a lot of people kind of throw around but don’t really
understand because I don’t think that the experts themselves really understand
it. It’s a bit of a mixed bag of symptoms. There isn’t like a direct test or a
direct even array of symptoms that can a hundred percent diagnose somebody. Like
“oh yes, that’s schizophrenic disorder.” And it has been changed and reassessed many
times over the past few decades. So it’s something uh-uh mental illness of the
brain that really scientists even themselves don’t know a lot about. So a
lot of this book really feels like a memoir but there are also some parts
that I enjoyed that were more investigative in culture and insight.
It’s that- just really gave a lot of information that made this very, a very
well-rounded selection of essays. Outside of a couple of the essays that I feel
were a bit out of place that I didn’t connect to as much, I felt like this was
a really strong collection. And since it was pub-published in 2019 I hope
that it will go very far in the Booktube price for the nonfiction selection. Some-
some of these essays were also particularly emotional regarding Wang’s
personal life with her family and those really touched me. And I just think it’s
a really strong collection that if you’re interested in at all about mental
illness. Especially from women and, even more rarely, from women of color. You
should definitely give this one a try. So next step I want to talk about Brown
Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. No surprise here, I absolutely loved this
book. It’s a new favorite and I honestly recommend everyone read it. Jacqueline
Woodson is a black author that writes mostly middle grade and kid’s lit. She’s
a poet and very lyrical in her particular memoir here which is about
her childhood growing up in the south during the civil rights movement. And
this is a story that is written in verse. So it’s very beautiful and I loved it. I
loved listening to Woodson’s narration of this because it just
brought a lot of that home. I would say the hardcover book is also worth picking
up because in it she includes pictures from her family and family trees. So you
kind of get to orient to yourself with everyone that she mentions and is
talking about in this book. So this is a middle-grade story about Jacqueline
Woodson’s life and I’m just really baffled by people that don’t enjoy
memoirs because they feel like they can’t connect to a certain story or
relate to a certain story. Because I don’t feel that you have to relate to
memoirs to enjoy them and to recognize how good they are. For me it’s not about
rating someone’s life or decisions made in life. I think it’s more about the
experience of reading about that life. Which i think is a pretty clear
distinction but anyways that’s a rant that I have for reviews that we’re not
talking about right now. So in this case, of course
Woodson’s craft is just remarkable. It’s extraordinary. Its says a lot for the
genre for writing in verse and I just think it’s it’s really well done. And I- I
think it’s a really great addition to anybody’s shelf. This book creates very
vivid portrayals of what it’s like growing up in the south during the civil
rights movement, learning about the Freedom Riders, and Martin Luther King
Jr. and Rosa Parks and Malcolm X. And living in with a family and then moving
to Brooklyn. To the north and what that whole changes life- like. And also
what…how she falls in love with writing. So if you’re looking for just a
very elegant well-written story about a black girl living in the South, growing
up in the south, and coming of age, and falling in love with literature and
writing- I’d highly recommend to read this. Next up I want to talk about Money
Diaries by Lindsey Stanberry. This is a nonfiction business book about all
things finance and a business and navigating adulthood for specifically
Millennials. And learning about all kinds of things that you probably wouldn’t
learn about unless you seek out information for yourself. So what it’s
like buying a house, and applying for a 401k, and asking for a pay raise at your
job, and budgeting. And all these things that I think are really important to
learn about as a young adult / young professional. This is a story that is
based on the very well received- I think it’s a Refinery29 series on
YouTube. You can look up those videos yourself where they will deep dive into
someone’s finances for the past month. They all talk about their salary and go
line by line what they’re spending their money on. And what their budgeting is. And
their outlook on money. So all that is just fascinating to me. One thing that I
took away from this book is setting up an emergency fund and really looking
more into savings because I’m really bad about savings. And setting up like a
separate savings account and having like a rainy day fund if I decide that I hate
my job and I want to change my life, for instance. But there’s lots of reasons to
have that. Also I would like to live my life
outside of student debt one day so budgeting is actually something that’s
kind of very important to me and on my mind lately. So that’s why I particularly
took a lot from this book. But I will say that the book itself is more of a
workbook. It’s written in a diary format with some of these women talking about
how they’re spending their money day-to-day. Like literally by time and
day: one o’clock I go by lunch kind of thing. And 2:30: I’m sitting at my desk
and what I’m thinking about kind of thing. And then it will deep dive into a
specific topic and give pointers from a financial adviser of what you should or
shouldn’t do in a specific situation. I opportunity like the diary sections but
I don’t think that everyone would like them because it’s not all about money.
But in my mind, I feel like it just evenly dispersed these topics in a way
that wasn’t boring. That wasn’t like going buying a textbook about finance at
a university store. It made it more entertaining for me. And if that is
something you might struggle with I would recommend the audiobook because it
reads more like a memoir esque diary section. And then it’ll dive deep into a
finance topic. So I think this book is just really easy to follow for people
that are new to finance. That don’t know anything about budgeting, about student
debts, about what it means to have health care in the United States particularly.
And what kind of budgeting you should be doing towards having the lifestyle that
you want. So some of the topics I think could be easily skipped if they’re not
pertaining to you. You’re not interested in. But I really like the part about
student debts because it was just really nice to hear some feedback from other
professionals like myself that feel that heavy burden of having to pay off their
student debt. And feeling like it’s never gonna happen. But how they’re handling it
and what they’re doing and what motivates them to pay it off or just to
live with it and make the best of their financial situation. I feel like those
topics along with the rainy day fund discussion were motivating and felt
within reach for the first time since ever thinking and knowing of those
things. I will say there were some chapters and there was some bit of
advice that annoyed me. For instance, Stanberry
mentions that, you know, you could save money by doing little things if you want
to. By not having Starbucks every day and using your company and coffeemaker
instead. Come on! I mean not every millienial is buying Starbucks every day. And
not every millennial has the privilege of going into a work office that has free
coffee every day. So things like that can be really annoying that graded my nerves.
But you can just overlook those issues and get to some of the other topics and
discussions and really get something from this if you wanted to. It’s just a
blind spot and not recognizing the privilege that some people have and that
some people may not have access to. And I know that some people appreciate more of
an aggressive approach to paying off student debts and others don’t
others want to live. And I think that the message in this book is just making your
situation work for you setting goals and understanding the different options that
you have to meet those goals. So- so this book is really basic in its format. I
wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. It is very specific in who it’s targeting so
obviously I would recommend it to those kinds of people that are new to finance
and don’t really know anything about budgeting and paying off their student
loan debt. So next I want to talk about The Reckonings by Lacey K. [M.]* Johnson.
This is a nonfiction collection of essays from a local Houston author. She teaches
creative nonfiction at Rice University. So as you can imagine she can write. It’s
really well written and this is probably the closest that I’ve come to reading an
essay collection and rating it five stars. So Lacy Johnson wrote a memoir
called The Other Side which details a very horrific event that happened to her.
So her ex-boyfriend kidnapped her, held her hostage, raped her, and attempted to
murder her. And this book is sort of the aftermath to some of the questions that
she got when she was on tour for that memoir. A lot of these essays I think
tackle the topic of justice. What does justice look to you? To Johnson after
having been put through hell by someone that she trusted. And what she thinks
should happen to her Ex. Does she want him to serve in prison for the rest of his
life? Do you think that he deserves to be deserves
to be tortured or served a death penalty? Those were the kinds of things that she
had to grapple with. And she uses this idea of justice in her personal life and
kind of applies it to a array of topics in a number of different essays. So I was
immediately intrigued by this premise alone. The first essay titled the
reckonings was probably the strongest of all these and it’s such a well-written
piece of creative nonfiction. Johnson has a very analytical kind of approach to
writing about justice. And looks into like the cultural, artistic, a number of
different approaches to what justice could look like. And historically how its
looked like. Scientifically what it could look like. Environmentally. It’s just a
really, really wide breadth look at what justice is. So just to be clear, Johnson
doesn’t want her boyfriend, her ex, to be killed. She actually wants him to be held
accountable and that is what justice really looks like to her. So I think that
that moral code as applied to a number of topics like the BP oil spill. Like
hurricane victims. Like having a disgruntled white colleague not like
that’s other students call his work racist. That lens of looking through and
looking at injustice issues and justice issues was just fascinating. It’s such a
well-written book I highly recommend that you read it. So next step I want to
talk about Algorithms of oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Noble. So Noble happened to Google the term “black girls” in the Google search
engine I believe in 2004. And she was just
really taken aback by the automated searches and the results on the first
page of Google. And this prompted her to understand a bit more about Google’s
algorithm and why it’s racist because it’s undeniable it is racist. And the
search results on the first page back then came out with a lot of pornographic
sites. And she was looking up things to do with her own
black girls during the summer and was just taken aback by the results that she
found. So the claim of this book is algorithms in itself are racist and the
results that come of that are racist. And that is the model that is at the heart
of most computer systems. So I think Noble makes a great point that the
algorithms that are used for Google, for instance, are the results of bad
decisions made by designers. By the people behind them. And there is the
possibility for them to be made better. Which Google has done over the years
when they have been called out but is done at their discretion. Google in
itself is first and foremost a business. And I think that people forget that
because these search results that come from Google are often taken as fact. And
that’s not true. They’re taken based on a number of algorithms that are unknown to
Noble and to anyone that doesn’t work for Google. That that are paid, that are
adsense. There’s a search engine optimization that is taken and they are
first and foremost a business. So I think the perception by the general public is
that you can take what Google spits out at you as fact. As true. As peer-reviewed
and it’s not. In this book, Noble strives to understand algorithms, Google’s
algorithms with a race theory lens. So this book is very hard to critique. It’s
very academic. I will say it’s kind of a harder book to read because it’s very
data-driven. There’s a lot of examples and a lot of different takes on why it
could be but there isn’t like a definite understanding about everything. And I
think that this book is great for her field, for the industry a great resource.
But not necessarily good for an average reader to pick up or easy to read for an
average reader to pick up. I should say so there were parts in this book though
I was really glad that I did read. There was a part for instance about Dylan Roof.
If you don’t know Dylan roof was a white supremacist- is a white supremacist who
is currently, I believe, serving the sentence for his crime. He, one day,
decided to go into St. Emmanuel Church which is a historical black church
and kill a bunch of black people. And, allegedly, in his manifesto he states
that he googled “black on white crime” and the search results that he got were
very right-winged, very uh discredited searches. Results that shouldn’t have been taken
as fact but that in many cases most people may take as fact. So the questions
that Noble is asking is why is it that these are the resources that are
solicited first? Why wouldn’t you know, for instance, the FBI sites come up? Or
maybe local police reports come up that would that would say that black on white
crime isn’t a thing? That- that isn’t a high number of crime experienced by
white folks. Those are the things that she’s asking and those are the things
that back up her theory that these algorithms are racist. And that reinforce
racism the main point of this book is that Google promotes misogynistic ideals /
racist ideals especially on black women and women of color. While Google is
perceived as a neutral / authoritative site, it shouldn’t be. It’s a business
first and foremost and that’s something that I wish more people understood. Like
when the Obamas were in office, if you searched for “Michelle Obama,” the results
would recommend “Michelle Obama ape.” Or like if you research “professional women”
a lot of white women come up versus nowadays maybe, maybe a little bit more
multiracial. But the heart of these algorithms are based in racism. And I
thought a lot about how this could possibly affect YouTube. I think there’s
a lot of discussion about diversity on YouTube and why white creators are
always a more successful in subscriber count and visibility in the
algorithm and I think that this might be why. I don’t
know maybe that’s just me reaching but I mean Google owned YouTube. Has owned YouTube? Does own YouTube at a time ? There’s no way that they evaded that sort of background /
foundational algorithms. So that’s something I thought about[while] reading and
that’s why I really appreciated this book. Okay so the last book that I want
to talk about and read for Latinx Heritage Month called My Beloved World
by Sonia Sotomayor. So Sonia Sotomayor is a Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx who
is currently sitting on the Supreme Court Justice- U.S. supreme court justice
bench. So the memoir follows her from childhood being diagnosed with diabetes
type 1. Which is a very rare form of diabetes where you have to inject
yourself with insulin every day. Which she learned to do at a very young age
and which really, I think, grounded her and made her realize that a very young
age that she could only rely on herself. Between that and her father’s untimely
death and his alcoholism and traveling to and from Puerto Rico and growing up
in poverty really was driven had to drive herself and motivate herself to do
well in life. And that’s what she did and this follows her going into Princeton
and then Yale and climbing the ranks as an attorney at a private law firm. And
then of course being appointed as judge. So it does end at the point where she
becomes judge. She doesn’t talk about anything after that. So if you’re looking
for that, you’re not gonna find that here. You’re not gonna find anything about her
experience as a Supreme Court justice. So I think that Sotomayor’s story will
resonate with a lot of people because of her candor but also her moral compass.
And her ability to overcome hardships like poverty and chronic illness and
being raised by a single mother. One thing that rang true for me while
reading this book was over and over again Sotomayor mentions that
nobody- successful people are not self-made. No one is ever self-made and
if you realize that at an early age you can start seeking out help. And there’s a
number of times that she reached out for a mentor. For someone to help. And to help
her to learn from and it was in those moments that she really saw a lot of
growth in herself. She learned that at a very young age, I
think, it was in middle school when she asked another girl how to study. How does
she study? And how does she do so well on tests? And this girl told her. And there’s
a number of times that people don’t even realize that they have an opportunity to
mentor someone else and you have to be that person to ask for help. And
she did that over and over again. And that’s how she got to where she is. Sotomayor is brilliant. She’s so ambitious. She’s such a beacon of light for the Latinx
community. I love that she has that connection to the Latinx
community and giving back. She’s still writing books.
She wrote some children’s books that I talked about in another video in
a Latinx Lit video. So I just love that she is the first
Latina Supreme Court justice that we can all aspire and look to as
inspiration. She’s also really fantastic at capturing the raw energy of the Bronx
of Puerto Rico and of her life. Especially in the earlier years. I loved
hearing about her family and the dynamics within her family. And the
parties that they had. And how, anytime you leave a social gathering, there’s
that whole goodbye tour where you have to tell everyone goodbye, individually.
And, you know, you’re never gonna leave because your mom won’t stop talking.
There’s little things like that that I thought were really great to include.
Some of the scarier things about Brujeria and her family and just the
connection to her cousins and how she got married. And the struggles with her
marriage. And the struggles with going to an Ivy League school as a Latina. And [the]
ridiculous things that she heard from other people of how she must have only
gotten in because of affirmative action. Which is not true. She got in because she
deserved to be there. Which is something that I think Latinx people kind of
have to deal with the entirety of moving forward in life, right? Because we feel
like, at least from experience, I can say that the idea of deserving to be in a
place and take up space in a place where you don’t belong is always there. As a
Latinx person in white spaces and spaces that are made for white people. So
that’s something that I really liked hearing from someone that has been
through it and that has navigated it and has made it. I will also say that the
audio book is narrated by Rita Moreno. I actually listened to a lot of audiobooks
in this wrap up but that audio book is amazing because I love Rita Moreno.
She’s just an icon in film and as a Latinx person in film. So if you want
to listen to the audiobook that’s also a great option. Okay! So that’s
is all books that I have recently read that I want to talk to you about that
are nonfiction. So if you have read any of these books, or if you want to read
them now, you should come talk to me in the comments down below because I would
love to hear from you. Oh! Actually I also wanted to mention that the booktube
prize for nonfiction is happening next year in 2020. And there is a Google Doc
form if you would like to be a nonfiction judge and contribute. I will
say that I have decided to be a judge for next year and I’m really excited
about it. So I’ll make sure to leave that down below. But other than that ,thank you
so much for watching! And I hope to see you in the next video. Bye! 🎵 Instrumental 🎵

4 Replies to “✨ Recent Nonfiction Reads || 2019”

  1. oooh thank you for reminding me to bump Brown Girl Dreaming up my list!
    oh boy I wondered if the budgeting example was going to be the coffee "tip" and it was! 🙄 but it does sound like a helpful book otherwise, in those specific circumstances like you said
    Sotomayor's book sounds wonderful, and I love that it's narrated by Rita Moreno!

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