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Non fiction book reviews

(14 Posts)
HQ1 Mon 03-Aug-15 16:18:59

As part of our preparations to get the mobile site up and running we are changing the way we do reviews to make sure they work just as well on a phone or tablet as they do on the desktop site.

This means discontinuing the old-style review pages and moving them onto the forums instead. We will also be losing the product reviews topic on the forums as we reckon it's far easier to find reviews for beauty products, say, under 'Style and beauty' or great hotels under 'Travel' than it is to trawl through reams of things that are not relevant to your search.

That bit coming soon - but for now we will be reposting all your reviews for non fiction books on this thread so that the info is still available to anyone who'd like to use it. Of course if you have others that you would like to rave/moan about do feel free to add here too.

HQ1 Mon 03-Aug-15 16:20:52

D-Day: Minute by Minute, Jonathan Mayo - overall rating 10/10

(From BrenML)

(2014) I thought this would be a book I could dip in and out of, but instead I've found hours slipping away. It is so fascinating reading about the day from so many different perspectives. I highly recommend it.

HQ1 Mon 03-Aug-15 16:22:25

Message deleted by Gransnet for breaking our forum guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

HQ1 Mon 03-Aug-15 16:23:37

Emperor of all the Maladies by Siddartha Mukherjee - overall rating 10/10

(From JessM)

(2011) Mukherjee is an American oncologist who laboured over this history of cancer for five years and was rewarded with a Pulitzer prize for non-fiction. It is a long but fascinating read. He takes us from archaeological evidence of cancer in the ancient world, through to today's world of oncogenes and cutting edge gene-focused treatments. He brings together history, politics, science and his own experience with patients to keep the reader interested.

Most of the action takes place in the USA - but that perhaps reflects the fact that this is where most of the money has been spent and most of the advances taken place.

If you want to know why Nixon's "war on cancer" was a misconceived disaster or why scientists are amassing the genomes for as many cancers as possible then read this book.

HQ1 Mon 03-Aug-15 16:25:17

Garden Crafts for Children by Dawn Isaac - overall rating 10/10

(From cattymog)

(2012) Fantastic ideas to keep little fingers busy. There are a range of garden crafts which can be done both in and out of the garden so great for getting out in the sun but also good to stay indoors on a rainy afternoon.

Equally there are ideas for boys and girls alike, 35 projects in total ranging from a window box garden to a bird scarer, simple crafts and growing projects. It is beautifully illustrated with photos and includes templates for the various projects.

HQ1 Mon 03-Aug-15 16:27:20

Growing a reader from birth by Diane McGuinness - overall rating 10/10

(From geekygran)

(2011) For grandparents with a strong interest in their grandchildren's speech, language and literacy development - it's all here, and written in a clear and easily understandable fashion for laypeople.

HQ1 Mon 03-Aug-15 16:28:59

Life, Love and the Archers by Wendy cope - overall rating 10/10

(From Maggiemaybe)

(2015) I thoroughly enjoyed Life, Love and the Archers, as much as any previous GN Book Club choice. A collection of unpublished and published essays, reviews and personal recollections, it would be perfect for dipping in and out, but I couldn't stop once started and just read straight through. Split into sections with loose themes (education for instance, covers the author’s own education, her years as a teacher, and her thoughts on poetry in the classroom). Much of it was like having a wine and chat session with an old friend. Some chapters were thought-provoking, others laugh out loud funny. I particularly enjoyed the last section, Settee Life, which consists largely of TV columns written for the Spectator. This brought back memories of some corking TV series of the 1980s, but the reviews of programmes I didn’t know and hadn’t seen were so well written I enjoyed them too. The Head in a Book section was for me both fun and educational. The sparkling review of Geoffrey Willans’ and Ronald Searle’s Molesworth books nudged me to order Down with Skool! even before I’d finished the chapter. All in all, a great read.

HQ1 Mon 03-Aug-15 16:30:10

Nurturing New Families - overall rating 10/10

(From EmilyGransnet)

This is a fantastic book for someone who wants to help a new family in the first (tough!) few weeks with a newborn. The fact that it's geared towards health professionals such as doulas, means it has a very factual and informative approach which is really insightful and useful.

For grandparents taking on the role of being able to 'mother the mother' this is a great companion to help you do just that.

HQ1 Mon 03-Aug-15 16:36:43

Our Hidden Lives by Simon Garfield - overall rating 10/10

(From SophiesMum)

(2012) I absolutely loved this book. Five Diarists from the Mass Observation archives. An accountant in his mid-forties, a writer in her mid thirties, a 72 year old widower, a gay antiques dealer and a 43 year old housewife. They all write well, are extremely informative and you really get a flavour of their lives. The diaries start in May 1945 and finish July 1948. I found it unputdownable and I wanted to learn more about what happened to them. Well worth reading.

HQ1 Mon 03-Aug-15 16:38:49

Smile Or Die: How Positive Thinking Wrecked America And The World

(From JessM)

(2011) Brilliant critique of positive thinking. She takes us on a journey through breast cancer US style, where anything less than chirpy and courageous is unacceptable, through the roots of positive thinking, in the religious landscape of 19th Century America and on to the causes of the credit crunch - managers and investors for whom negativity was a dirty word. For anyone who is tempted by positive thinking gurus who tell you all your problems, or health issues, will be the answer, read this first. And for anyone who would like to better understand modern day America, it is a compulsive read.

HQ1 Mon 03-Aug-15 16:42:32

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre - overall rating 9.7/10

(From carolineandryan)

(2012) With a plethora of 'popular science' books on the shelves these days it's hard to sort the good reads from not so good... this book is definately one of the better offerings in this genre. The subject matter is dealt with in a humorous and witty way and the book is very readable and comprehensible without being overtly patronizing, as many similar publications are.

It can easily be read cover to cover and it is, indeed, hard to put down, but it's small sections mean it is also ideal to read in shorter stints- ideal for a bit of light bedroom reading or filling those odd moments when the grandchildren are quiet (or asleep) for 5 or 10 minutes!

Certainly a must-read and I'd highly recommend it.

(From geekygran)

(2011) I agree, Goldacre's Bad Science is a 'must read'.

(From juggler1000)

(2011) This is an absolute must read - Goldacre systematically debunks many of the myths and scare stories of the last twenty years, in a witty, informative and easy to understand style that is breathtakingly original.

HQ1 Mon 03-Aug-15 16:54:05

Vivienne Westwood - overall rating 9/10

(From bumblebee)

(2015) The first ever personal memoir from punk/activist/fashion legend Vivienne Westwood proves to be a 464-page tour-de-force. Writing in collaboration with award-winning biographer, Ian Kelly, we get a lot more than just a scrapbook of memories, with the text structure jerking back and forth via snapshots of the author's life. Instead, we receive an exceptionally insightful look at the life of an icon. The book is incredibly well-written, with detailed additional narrative expanding upon the themes explored, and is packed to the brim with never-before-published photographs from Vivienne's life.

The book charts her humble beginnings, and early struggles as a single mother after her decision to end her brief first marriage. Her tumultuous partnership with Malcolm McLaren is then recounted, simultaneously providing a vivid portrayal of the inception of punk, the fusion of fashion and music, and the impact of the British punk scene in the late seventies. First-hand accounts from her sons, friends, and colleagues, illustrate how Vivienne worked her socks off to make her designs, her business, her clothes store at 'World's End', etc., a success. However, McLaren, for all his great ideas, seemed to be conspicuous by his absence when it came to compulsory hard labour. He was hardly ever there for their child (let alone Vivienne's first son), and was constantly putting her down and taking sole credit for her work. The 'Sex Pistols' arrived, and departed. Not too long after, McLaren followed suit, leaving for America, chasing his latest affectation, another woman clung to his arms. However, this proved a catalyst for Vivienne to come into her own on a truly global scale. The book follows her rise and rise, right up to her current status as fashion mogul extraordinaire, world-renowned activist, and 73-year-old grandmother.

An aesthetically striking book. Though over-long (it does appear to drag on in parts), it is a discerning look into the life of a pioneer. An icon who re-invented herself as she moved with the times. But who remained an artist throughout, true to her calling. Frank, comprehensive, and inspiring.

"Insightful look into the life of an icon. For fashion aficionados everywhere! 8/10"

(From JonFlorrie)

(2015) A great read (in depth and volume at 464 pages) which shows Vivienne to be a passionate lovely woman who cares deeply about many things aside from her family. Ian Kelly has really listened to her story and then expanded it to explain wider implications, e.g. the effects of actions by artists and activists (of which Vivienne was and still is) on social change; who knew that flash-mobbing was a derivative of Situationist "happenings"? I'm learning such a lot from this book and why we need art in our lives. It is not all about clothes, it is part of the history of this country. I am taking my time getting through the volume and so far have enjoyed it immensely

HQ1 Mon 03-Aug-15 16:56:13

Fishing in the Footsteps of Mr. Crabtree by John Bailey - overall rating 9/10

(From happytraveller)

(2014) I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book, together with a bobble hat and a DVD. My grandson and I often walk along the River Lark in Suffolk and we both became aware of the intense quiet that fishing evokes. It is almost palpable. This appealed to Joe and sparked both our interests in this pursuit, which is why I put in for this wonderful book.

We sat together (Joe wearing the bobble hat in the heat). First we went from beginning to end just looking at the photographs and the superb illustrations (drawn by Rob Olsen): Pictures of a kindly patient-looking relaxed man smoking a pipe and wearing a v-neck jumper under a suit; sitting in an armchair with the enthusiast Peter hanging on to his every word and looking like they both have all the time in the world. The text evokes a bygone almost romantic age where life was much simpler in many ways. "The glorious 16th June tomorrow, Peter. Let's be up at Sunrise to fish the lake for Tench!"

There are chapters on the best way to catch Pike, Perch, Roach, Rudd, Tench etc. To be truthful I've never heard of Roach or Rudd or Tench before reading this book. There is also a useful guide towards the back of do's and don'ts, together with a section on Knots, Baits and Rods.

The Foreword, written by Hannah Bruford - the daughter of Bernard Venables, is fascinating and gives a real insight into their family life.

This a book to dip into again and again; where you will learn something new about Bernard Venables, his world and fishing in general every time you do.

HQ1 Mon 03-Aug-15 17:00:00

The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom - overall rating 7/10

(From wallers5)

(2015) The book draws you in because you want to believe in such things, It is a story about the power of belief. It certainly makes you think but do you believe. A stirring heaven story for this troubled world.