August 25, 2014

Monday Five's - Embark on a non-fiction adventure!

Soft spot for non-fiction? That would be me. Time and again I've been asked about reading recommendations in general, but as it turns out one of the most prevalent questions seems to be about the best way to approach the (for some folks) unfamiliar territory of non-fiction in the first place. Not to worry, I'm here to help you slowly ease yourself into reading books that put a non in front of the fiction. Being willing to dip your toes into non-fiction waters is certainly a good start, but sometimes it's not that easy to make those first steps. So I figured it was high time I offered a few suggestions that might wet your appetite for some un-fictitious fare.

Stay on familiar turf aka in the realm of your preferred genre(s).
Like science fiction? Go where you haven't gone before.*
Like historical romance? Read up on the good ol' times then. 

Read magazine articles before going for the big tomes.

Make it a cinematic event by watching documentaries on TV or at your nearest IMAX theater.

For a more tactile experience visit museums or exhibitions.
Don't forget to take a brochure or catalog with you afterwards.

Expand your hobbies by doing some background reading.
Think travel guides or cook books (yep, those qualify as non-fiction too).

* the popular science section of your local library or, if you're really daring, head straight for the astronomy stacks

How do you like my suggestions? Do you think they might help you to grow a liking to non-fiction after all? Or in case you're already a big fan of everything that isn't fiction - is there any tip/idea you'd like to add? Please share.

August 22, 2014

Non-Fiction Views On The Faithful American

Our Great Big American God: A Short History of Our Ever-Growing Deity (Matthew Paul Turner)
August 19th 2014, Jericho Books

Americans love God. We stamp God on our money, our bumper stickers, and our bodies. With a church on nearly every street, it's hard to deny our country's deep connection with the divine.
Yet culture critic Matthew Paul Turner says that God didn't just change America-America changed God. As a result, do we even recognize the "real" God?
Whip-smart and provocative, Turner explores the United States' vast influence on God, told through an amazing true history of faith, politics, and evangelical pyrotechnics.
From Puritans to Pentecostals, from progressives to mega-pastors, Turner examines how American history and ideals transformed our perception of God. Fearless and funny, this is the definitive guide to the American experience of the Almighty-a story so bizarre, incredible, and entertaining that it could only be made in the U.S.A.
No matter what your political or religious affiliation, this book will challenge and delight with its razor sharp wit, social commentary, and savvy historical insight. It will make you reconsider the way you think about America as a "Christian nation," and help you re-imagine a better future for God and country.
Ultimately, Turner dares to ask: Does God control the future of America-or is it the other way around?

August 20, 2014

Spruce up your blog with free stock images!

I guess we all agree that pictures are often the cherry on the blog post cake or at least they do a great job of luring in readers to start with. Of course this doesn't mean you can just "borrow" any ol' picture you find on the web. Sadly this is something many bloggers still aren't quite aware of and some even deliberately ignore it.

So basically you have two possibilities - either you snap your own pics OR you resort to free stock photography. Not handy with a camera? Fear not, my friends, I am about to share some fantastic websites that offer tons of free stock photos yours for the taking!

Download sizes vary widely yet even the smallest available are usually more than big enough for blogging purposes. Please note that while being free, signing up is required on some of the websites!

Were you already familiar with these websites? How do you like the variety of images available there? In case you know other sites that are offering free stock photos, feel free to share them in the comments.

August 18, 2014

What's your number?

We've all got numbers. There's your phone number and the number of your apartment not to mention the number on the sole of your shoes or the amount of socks you pack when you go on vacation. Of course this wouldn't be a book blog, if I started discussing these numbers with you now. Hence ...

books read but unowned
*according to LibraryThing stats

highest number of books ever read in a year
*Goodreads Reading Challenge 2012

greedily downloaded (and as of yet unread) freebies
*which in all likelihood will never ever get read

planned to read this year

unread books

books read so far this year

books I'm currently trying to re-sell

"second life" books (books read which will find a new home with friends)

books bought so far this year

books loaned and never received back

eReaders owned

books read last week

books accidentally bought more than once
*that's all thanks to lists, not my brilliant memory

Now the truly interesting numbers would have to be the amount of books ever read or how many books I bought in my whole life. As much as I'd love to know the former I can't help but think that maybe some things aka the latter are better left unknown. Just adds to the mystery, right? *wink*

What are your bookish numbers? Are any of mine surprising compared to your own? Please share.

August 15, 2014

Non-Fiction That Will Consciously Judge You

Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in Our Daily Lives (Howard J Ross)
August 13th 2014, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

If you are human, you are biased.
From this fundamental truth, diversity expert Howard Ross explores the biases we each carry within us. Most people do not see themselves as biased towards people of different races or different genders. And yet in virtually every area of modern life disparities remain. Even in corporate America, which has for the most part embraced the idea of diversity as a mainstream idea, patterns of disparity remain rampant. Why?
Breakthroughs in the cognitive and neurosciences give some idea why our results seem inconsistent with our intentions. Bias is natural to the human mind, a survival mechanism that is fundamental to our identity. And overwhelmingly it is unconscious.
Incorporating anecdotes from today’s headlines alongside case studies from over 30 years as a nationally prominent diversity consultant, Ross help readers understand how unconscious bias impacts our day-to-day lives and particularly our daily work lives. And, he answers the question: “Is there anything we can do about it?” by providing examples of behaviors that the reader can engage in to disengage the impact of their own biases. With an added appendix that includes lessons for handling conflict and bias in the workplace, this book offers an invaluable resource for a broad audience, from individuals seeking to understand and confront their own biases to human resource professionals and business leaders determined to create more bias-conscious organizations in the belief that productivity, personal happiness, and social growth are possible if we first understand the widespread and powerful nature of the biases we don’t realize we have.

August 13, 2014

Quote Garden - We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect ...

The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.

We are like sculptors, constantly carving out of others the image we long for, need, love or desire, often against reality, against their benefit, and always, in the end, a disappointment, because it does not fit them.

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it.

I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn't impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.

I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live.

Anais Nin