Nonfiction Reviews

I’ve read five Nonfiction books so far in 2017:

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeremy McCarter

#Hamiltome is the perfect accompaniment to the musical phenomenon. This book is much more than simply annotated show lyrics, although reading the notes from Lin himself was definitely one of my favorite parts. Hamilton: The Revolution chronicles the journey of the show from its first inception during LMM’s Caribbean vacation to its success on Broadway. Throughout we hear from the original cast and creative team on how they brought the show to life and on what makes it so revolutionary.

The book itself is gorgeous. Designed to look like an aged leather-bound complete with deckled edges, it wouldn’t look out-of-place on an eighteenth-century bookshelf. The pages aren’t glossy but instead have a natural finish.  Photos of the staging, closeups of the costume design, candids from events, and of course scenes from the show’s production, allow you to feel as if you are in the room where it happens. All these details combine to create a book that is a great keepsake or souvenir.

I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in all things Hamilton. Now I just need to find the time to read the doorstopper Chernow biography that started it all.

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon, Shana Knizhnik

In the past few years, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has really become a celebrated feminist icon. This book playfully charts her rise as a pop culture meme while simultaneously doing justice to her extraordinary accomplishments.

I feel I have a much better understanding of RBG as a person after reading this. The writers’ respect for their subject shines through on each page. I also thought the law components were well-explained and contextualized.

This was a good introduction to Justice Ginsburg’s life and career.

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This book is so incredibly beautiful, empowering, and impactful. Written as a letter to a friend offering advise on how to raise a daughter, Dear Ijeawele is also a universal proclamation. Adichie tackles every issue related to feminism, gender equality, and being female in a patriarchal world. She brilliantly articulates core feminist ideas in well-crafted, breathtaking sentences.

I highlighted so many lines from this powerful 80 page guide. I tore through this and plan to return to it again and again.

I think this, along with Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists should be required reading.

Shrill by Lindy West

Shrill is a funny and heartfelt memoir that covers body image, rape culture, sexism in comedy, Internet trolls, loss, and love.  Lindy West is honest, hilarious, and one hell of a writer. I’m so inspired by her fearless feminism and can’t wait to read more of her work.

An enjoyable read.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

I must admit I found this a tad disappointing after all the hype. I guess I thought all of the essays were going to have a feminist bent. Instead, there are many pop culture reviews, musings on academia, even an essay about competitive Scrabble. I felt that some of these essays didn’t quite belong together in the same collection, and that the book would’ve been stronger if it had been more carefully curated.

Some of the review essays may cause Bad Feminist to feel dated more quickly. Reading reviews of Bridesmaids and Fifty Shades of Grey years after their release did not make for especially compelling reading.

The essays in which Gay discussed issues of race, sexism, representation, and equality were the strongest. I just wish there had been more of them! Roxane Gay is a phenomenal writer and I look forward to reading Difficult Women and Hunger. 



What Nonfiction have you read lately? 

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