Nonfiction--again, I've lumped everything together: relationships, travel, politics. It's all here!
Review method--totally subjective and my personal opinion.
Five Stars are for life-altering books that I think you should keep and read again and again.
Four Stars are for great books.
Three Stars are for good books.
All of the above I recommend reading. You will very rarely see me give a review of One Star (awful) or Two Stars (not worth reading) because I usually don't finish books that I don't think are awful and/or not worth reading. Sadly, sometimes, I do get tricked into wasting my time.
Dave Barry Does Japan by Dave Barry
Travel, Commentary, Humor
The Miami reporter goes to the land of the rising sun and--surprise!--doesn't fit in. I've read a bunch of Dave Barry's nonfiction and I won't review them all, but I do recommend them all. He's smart and funny, insightful and poignant. Plus, you might accidentally learn something.
Dying to Cross: The Worst Immigrant Tragedy in American History by Jorge Ramos **** (Four Stars)
Remember when a whole bunch of illegal immigrants were abandoned and left to die in a commercial truck in Texas? Sounds familiar, right? Well, after you read the harrowing story of their ordeal you will never forget this tragedy.
Empire of Crime by Tim Newark **** (Four Stars)
"Opium and the rise of organized crime in the British Empire." I wish all of the history books I've had to read have been so well-written and utterly absorbing. The writer chooses to follow a series of interesting historical characters and succeeds in humanizing the story of crime in the British Empire. A great story, very well told, and very educational.
The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs *** (Three Stars)
"A.J. explores the big issues of our time--happiness, dating, morality, and marriage--by immersing himself in eye-opening situations." As a female, I am always wondering what the heck the male of the species is thinking (if anything). This entertaining book offers sometimes-frightening insights into a man's mind.
Help! The Beatles, Duke Ellington, and the Magic of Collaboration
by Thomas Brothers **** (Four Stars)
By no means a comprehensive history, this book talks about the magic created by the chemistry of creative genius working together. It was fascinating and a very enjoyable read.
Lost on Planet China: The Strange and True Story of One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation, or How He Became Comfortable Eating Live Squid by J. Maarten Troost **** (Four Stars)
This was a streetshot of real China, a place tourists rarely see. Fascinating and utterly foreign.
Manology: Secrets of Your Man's Mind Revealed by Tyrese Gibson and Rev Run ***** (Five Stars)
Should be mandatory reading for every human female, especially if she wants to write believable male characters. It's scary because it's so true.
The Orphan Train: Placing Out in America by Marilyn Irvin Holt *** (Three Stars)
This fact-filled book would have benefited (in my opinion) my more personal stories of the children, the caregivers, and their adoptive parents.
Pint-Sized Ireland by Evan McHugh *** (Three Stars)
I enjoyed this author's journal through the pubs of Ireland.
Stories I Couldn't Tell While I Was a Pastor by Bruce McIver *** (Three Stars) memoir
I really thought this could have been better. Where are all the hilarious secrets and human foibles? I want the scandals and secrets!
Why We Suck by Dr. Denis Leary *** (Three Stars)
You gotta love Denis Leary. His hilarious riffs are so funny because they're so true. And I love how much he loves his wife and family. He may be messed up but he knows what his priorities are.
Why the Toast Always Lands Butter Side Down: The Scientific Reasons Everything Goes Wrong by Richard Robinson ***** (Five Stars)
science, biology, and the evolutionary explanation for why people are so dang crazy
This science book is written so well that anyone can read it and everyone will enjoy it. I love the fact that I'm not really insane--or, if I am, then everyone else is, too. Must-read for writers who want to create believable characters.
Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor ***** (Five Stars)
Sent to prison for murder, the author describes the inhumanity of the prison system and his own personal enlightenment. It is well-written, eye-opening, and for this middle-class suburbanite, humbling and enlightening. Read it.
The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks *** (Three Stars)
This has a lot of great information for surviving the Apocalypse. And, if the Apocalypse comes in zombie form, you'd better have this book on hand. It's interesting reading, too.