A round-up of non-fiction books I’ve read so far this year but have not yet reviewed in any way, shape or form. Enjoy.
NB: Comments on Marie Kondo will be accepted but I reserve the right to disagree 😉
Notes from the Underwire – Adventures from My Awkward & Lovely Life by Quinn Cummings
Meet Quinn Cummings. Former child star, mother, and modern woman, she just wants to be a good person. Quinn grew up in Los Angeles, a city whose patron saint would be a sixteen-year-old with a gold card and two trips to rehab under her belt. Quinn does crossword puzzles, eats lentils without being forced, and longs to wear a scarf without looking like a Camp Fire Girl. And she tries very hard to be the Adult–the one everybody calls for a ride to the airport–but somehow she always comes up short.
This is one of those books that I didn’t know I needed until I read it. It’s totally delightful and quite moving in places, especially where she talks about her involvement in an HIV advice line when she was a young woman. I am so enamoured of Quinn that I am one of her supporters on Patreon, and she is very much worth following on Twitter (she’s @quinncy) It’s the kind of book that you just want to read bits of out loud to anyone near you. I had a load of quotes but I’ll leave you with just one:
Like most heterosexual males, he sensed but rarely understood why the emotional room temperature dropped thirty degrees.
Very pleased that this was the first book I read in 2019.
The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo
An obscure little book which has garnered minimal attention….. OK, just kidding. This is of course the book that will help you
[t]ransform your home into a permanently clear and clutter-free space with the incredible KonMari Method. Japan’s expert declutterer and professional cleaner Marie Kondo will help you tidy your rooms once and for all with her inspirational step-by-step method. The key to successful tidying is to tackle your home in the correct order, to keep only the things you really love and to do it all at once – and quickly. After that for the rest of your life you only need to choose what to keep and what to discard.
This was first published in 2014 and I bought it 2015 when I saw some YouTubers talking about it. I had always intended to read it this year because my home (and especially my study where I’m typing this at the moment) is in sore need of sorting out, but of course when I picked it up Marie’s Netflix series was being broadcast and all sorts of nonsense was hitting the internet. I feel she has been misunderstood, especially when it comes to books, and wonder how much those who object to her don’t like their consumerism being “criticised” or fail to note the cultural differences she brings from her Japanese heritage. Personally I found that the book gave me a lot to think about. My favourite tweet about the whole book thing was:
And if nothing else, charity shops are benefitting from us getting rid of stuff we no longer want or need. That works for me!
The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us by Dr Lucy Jones
The Big Ones investigates some of the most impactful natural disasters, and how their reverberations are still felt today. From a volcanic eruption in Pompeii challenging and reinforcing prevailing views of religion, through the California floods of 1862 and the limitations of memory, to what Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 tsunami can tell us about governance and globalisation. With temperatures rising around the world, natural disasters are striking with ever greater frequency.
As someone who has never been able to resist any TV programme that warns us what might happen if Yellowstone erupts or a chunk of the Canary Islands falls into the sea, I couldn’t resist this, especially when I saw it was written by a woman, Dr Lucy Jones, who is hugely qualified as a seismologist and expert in disaster planning. Some of the disasters she deals with I knew quite a bit about I remember vividly watching the TV coverage of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami), but others were new to me and reading about their impact served to show what short memories we have as we fail to learn from those experiences.
As the climate changes and there are likely to be a greater number of extreme weather events this is a very timely book, and an accessible read for the non-expert.