Category: Non fiction reviews

A review of White Tears/Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad

Hamad spoke with more than two dozen women from across the Western world and found she was not alone in her experiences. In her book she manages to contextualise how these imbalances in tone-perception came about. She lays bare the results of colonialism.

A review of The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Ethical marketing all about relationships, giving people work they will get value from, and working within carefully obtained permissions. It’s about creating a brand that people will continue to trust, so you’re not just selling one book, but yourself as a person. This kind of work builds on itself and each thing that you do increases the overall messages you’re putting out, creating a cumulative effect.

A review of The Clean Body: A Modern History by Peter Ward

The book is full of interesting nuggets of information; for instance, in 1814, the British Parliament banned nude bathing in the Thames. It includes thirteen illustrations, ranging from a late eighteenth century engraving showing members of a family picking lice out of each other’s hair, to a 1920s German advertisement for Persil detergent.

Gladwell pulls punches with the shocking Talking to Strangers

He reveals information that will fundamentally change one’s perception about talking to strangers, and one might swear off speaking with strangers ever again. This seems like an exaggerated claim, but it isn’t because the book’s facts are that unnerving, and Gladwell’s technique, casually dropping factual bombshells as if he hasn’t really noticed the ramifications, supplies the book with a constant source of understated humor.

Only Disconnect: A review of Television: A Biography by David Thomson

All told, Thomson’s is a critical assessment of television’s effects on society. At times, the author appears to accept the medium for the lurid wasteland that it is—says the film critic, “snobbery melted away with television, and worthlessness became entirely acceptable. Time could be wasted.” Still, at no point does Thomson quit his suspicion that this new way of living—of watching life in living rooms—warps our conceptions of civic duty, morality, and life itself.

Leaning into the “Crazy”: Reflections on The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

Wang’s genius partly comes from her ability to write about her illness with seemingly perfect clarity, as the sufferer and the scientist. The book is a testament to her brain—a brain working so well that it can so effectively describe the torment it causes her. Especially since, as Wang reminds us, schizophrenia is a disease of “loosening of associations,” in which the mind is working so hard within the person—against the person—to rid itself of itself.

A review of Writers on Writing: Conversations with Allen Mendenhall

Each included author has something important to say and Mendenhall has a talent for finding just the right way to allow the authors to express themselves. Mendenhall has a knack at getting to what is significant, and revealing truths both about the writers and about their books. Nor do the interviews shy away from topical issues or cultural conflicts.