Category Archives: Nonfiction

This House of Sky

Ivan Doig’s memoir about his childhood and adolescence in rural Montana, This House of Sky, is an interestingly angular book, all joints and rough skin and knobby knees. This comes from the two driving forces of the book smashing together: … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction | 9 Comments

The Force of Spirit

A few years ago, I read Staying Put, a collection of personal essays by Scott Russell Sanders. That collection had a sense of coherence around the same theme: what does it mean, to a geological place, and also to the … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction, Short Stories/Essays | 4 Comments

Masculinity in Breaking Bad

If you happened to see me in September 2013, you might have had a hard time escaping a conversation about Breaking Bad. I came to the show late, starting it not long before the final half of the final season aired and … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction, Short Stories/Essays | 4 Comments

Mountains of the Mind

For years, I’ve been a lover of the literature of exploration. I’ve read many books in which men (and some women, but mostly men) hurl themselves at intemperate climates and impossible peaks. In Mountains of the Mind, Robert Macfarlane goes … Continue reading

Posted in History, Memoir, Nonfiction, Travel/ Exploration | Leave a comment

Patrick O’Brian: The Making of the Novelist

As some readers here may know, I am a huge fan of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series of seafaring novels. When I was in college, my father introduced me to them, and after one false start (it took me two tries … Continue reading

Posted in Biography, Nonfiction | 9 Comments

How to Be a Victorian

Do you remember all the chatter a couple of months ago about the couple that decided to live like Victorians? The whole thing seemed silly to me (both the article and the backlash), but somewhere in the conversation someone mentioned … Continue reading

Posted in History, Nonfiction | 32 Comments

The Sagas of Icelanders

For several years now, I’ve adopted a practice of trying to read a major classic during the summer, when I (theoretically) have more time and brain-space for it. This year, I read The Sagas of Icelanders, the collection that Penguin … Continue reading

Posted in Classics, Nonfiction | 13 Comments

My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer

This book by poet Christian Wiman is not easy to describe. It’s not exactly a memoir, although it contains elements of memoir, and it’s not exactly an essay collection, although each chapter dances around a particular theme or idea. His … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction, Religion, Short Stories/Essays | 8 Comments

A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains

This book, perhaps Isabella Bird’s most famous, is actually her fourth. By the time she wrote it in 1879, she had already travelled from her native England to Australia, to Hawaii, 800 miles on horseback through the Colorado Rockies, and … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction, Travel/ Exploration | 14 Comments

March: Books 1 and 2

Growing up in the South in the 1970s and 80s, I learned about the 1960s Civil Rights movement in bits and pieces. It was recent enough to be in a lot of people’s memories, and too recent to be covered … Continue reading

Posted in Graphic Novels / Comics, History, Memoir, Nonfiction | 6 Comments