Category Archives: Doing Dewey’s Nonfiction Book Club

Nonfiction November – I Am Malala Discussion

Nonfiction November 2015

I’m super excited to be participating in Nonfiction November again this year. Last year, I read some great books that I would have otherwise never picked up, so I’m thankful that this event exists to expand my knowledge base. Week 2 is hosted by Katie over at Doing Dewey, where we are discussing this year’s official read-along book, I am Malala.

What did you think of the tone and style in which I Am Malala was written?

I wasn’t a huge fan, to be honest. You can definitely see Malala’s voice coming through, and it’s definitely the sort of writing one would expect from a teenager. Lots of rambling thoughts and some disjointed paragraphs. Not necessarily bad, just not my style.

What did you think of the political commentary in the book?

I enjoyed the political commentary – I’ve read several things lately that have helped to educate me as to the true nature of American politics. More and more I’m finding myself outraged at how we think we can play God with many of the world’s countries. Setting up regimes that depend on us, maneuvering trade deals that are favorable towards us, interfering in other countries against the will of their populations. I think it is despicable when political motivations take precedence over human rights and dignities.

Did anything particularly surprise you about Malala’s daily life or culture?

I was a little bit astonished at how they lack some of what we would call the basic necessities of life in some cases (running water, electricity), but have access to thoroughly modern and American products. It’s an interesting juxtaposition.

Do you think you would act similarly to Malala in her situation? If you were her parents, would you let her continue to be an activist despite possible danger?

I hope I would make a similar stand. And as a parent, I’m not sure. I hope that I would be willing to make those sacrifices and teach those lessons, but at the same time, I would be worried about the very real dangers.

What did you think of the book overall?

It wasn’t my favorite book ever, but I believe that it is undeniably important. I believe that stories like this one must be told. We all have a story and we all have a role to play – building each other up and getting behind worth causes is a great way to change the world! So in that aspect, this book is very appealing and very important.

 

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Filed under Doing Dewey's Nonfiction Book Club, Reading Challenges

Doing Dewey’s Nonfiction Book Club – The Devil in the White City Part 2

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One of my favorite things about being part of this community is joining with other bloggers to participate in a challenge or read-along or some other sort of bookish project. I especially love read-alongs because they often expand my reading horizons and I get to answer discussion questions. I love discussion questions! This month over at Doing Dewey, we’re reading Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City.

What was your favorite fun fact from the book?

So many fun facts to choose from. I’m gonna have to go with the story of the Ferris wheel, how it was the first of its kind and everyone thought it would never work. The design was crazy, nothing like that had ever been attempted, and Ferris was actually expecting people to ride on the thing when it was completed. One thing I did wonder was about the scale – why are the Ferris wheels of today so scaled back compared to the original? Maybe I’m just not riding the right wheels.

Did reading about this era make you want to live then? Why or why not?

Absolutely not! It seems like every few pages, someone was suffering from a different ailment. Plus, the police force sounded pretty incompetent, not having the resources or time or enough concern to mount search parties for missing women. And all of those modern conveniences that I so appreciate hadn’t even been conceived yet.

I will grant that the magic and mystique of the fair would have been cool to witness. With today’s instant access to information, it’s harder to keep things under wraps in the same way. And it would have been amazing to be in the presence of Tesla, Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, Theodore Dreiser, and more. To see Wrigley’s chewing gum, shredded wheat, and Pabst beer for the first time. It must have been wonderful and so futuristic!

Do you think this story will make a good movie?

I certainly hope so. There are so many angles and perspectives that the movie could take…and no shortage of material. I hope the movie focuses equally on the fair and on Holmes, because both stories are fascinating. I hope the movie will evoke the sort of wonder and mystery that the actual fair evoked back in 1893.

What are you thoughts on authors sharing sexist or racist views of their characters/people from another era?

I think I’m confused by this question. I think it the author is sharing an opinion or view from a historical source and it fits within the context fine. But if an author has those opinions and just wants to share what he/she thinks in the book for no great reason, let’s keep it classy please.

Do you plan to read more books by Erik Larson?

Definitely. He writes well and has a knack for weaving together one story from many. I think that in the future, I will try to read print copies of his books instead of going the audio book route, as that ended up being a tad confusing at times.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

 

 

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Doing Dewey’s Nonfiction Book Club – The Sixth Extinction Part 2

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One of my favorite things about being part of this community is joining with other bloggers to participate in a challenge or read-along or some other sort of bookish project. I especially love read-alongs because they often expand my reading horizons and I get to answer discussion questions. I love discussion questions! This month over at Doing Dewey, we’re reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction.

If you want to read my discussion answers for the first half of the book, check those out here.

Did you learn anything from this book that surprised you?

I learned a ton! I had never heard of ocean acidification, I apparently had a huge knowledge gap regarding the Neanderthals, and I didn’t know that all of this science was quite so recent! I was really impressed by all of the facts that she managed to cram into each chapter – history, science, geography!

Have you ever participated in any citizen-science projects, such as bird counts?

I haven’t. To be honest, I’m not sure these things existed. And even if I knew about them, I’m not sure that I thought regular, everyday people could participate. I think I would want to help out, but I would be scared to screw everything up. It’s like, what they’re doing is so important, what if I do something wrong?

Still, this is something people should know about. I feel like if you could form a good partnership between schools and community organizations, projects like this would be great hands-on type activities to get kids interested in science!

Are human-driven extinctions inherently bad or unnatural? As Kelly asked in our discussion, should this be considered natural selection?

I think human-drive extinctions go way beyond natural selection. I think natural selection is we win in a fight, so we get to survive. We use resources to eat and survive. You know, primal needs. Instead, we dominate. We kill things because we can. We expand because of greed. We are driven by what we want now, instead of what we need.

Do you think that programs attempting to keep otherwise extinct or nearly extinct animals alive in zoos are worthwhile?

I want to believe so. I want to believe that we can successfully build populations and reintroduce animals to the wild. The truth is though, after growing up in such an environment, it’s gotta be hard for animals to adapt into an environment where they suddenly have to take care of themselves. I know in some cases, these projects are super effective. Others are not. So I’ll go with yes. It’s better to at least try than just stand by and watch.

Were you surprised the author’s conclusion was so bleak?

By the time I got to the end, no. The book is fairly bleak from the beginning. Chapter after chapter, I was growing a bit more hopeless, to be honest. Especially because she didn’t really offer up any suggestions as to how to change things.

What did you think of the book overall?

It was a bit dry. Honestly, the more I read, the more bogged down I got. But I’m glad I read the whole thing. I think the book is important, even if it could use some humor or a more narrative tone. I also wish the book was better structured and had a chapter at the end on some things we can do to change our future into a more positive one. But I don’t regret reading this book at all.

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Filed under Doing Dewey's Nonfiction Book Club, Read-Alongs, Reviews