Quarter Four Non-Fiction Reading 2021

How did I forget to post this?

A very, VERY late quarter four 2021 non fiction round up. At least I’ve posted it before quarter one of this year was due. Read some great non fiction last year and I really ended on a high. I mean I ended the year with Michelle Obama!

Link to posts for quarter one, two and three at the end of the post.

Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders by Billy Jensen – 3.5

I initially gave this 4 stars but I’ve had time to think about it and while this was super interesting I don’t think I enjoyed Billy Jensen’s style of writing. The cases were interesting and even though I knew going in that Billy’s forte is unsolved cases I think I would have liked if he focused on just one case and did a deep dive. It was enjoyable and I’d likely read more books by him but it didn’t grab me like I thought it would.

Have you ever wanted to solve a murder? Gather the clues the police overlooked? Put together the pieces? Identify the suspect?

Journalist Billy Jensen spent fifteen years investigating unsolved murders, fighting for the families of victims. Every story he wrote had one thing in common―they didn’t have an ending. The killer was still out there.

But after the sudden death of a friend, crime writer and author of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara, Billy became fed up. Following a dark night, he came up with a plan. A plan to investigate past the point when the cops had given up. A plan to solve the murders himself.

You’ll ride shotgun as Billy identifies the Halloween Mask Murderer, finds a missing girl in the California Redwoods, and investigates the only other murder in New York City on 9/11. You’ll hear intimate details of the hunts for two of the most terrifying serial killers in history: his friend Michelle McNamara’s pursuit of the Golden State Killer and his own quest to find the murderer of the Allenstown Four. And Billy gives you the tools―and the rules―to help solve murders yourself.

Gripping, complex, unforgettable, Chase Darkness with Me is an examination of the evil forces that walk among us, illustrating a novel way to catch those killers, and a true-crime narrative unlike any you’ve read before.

Chase Darkness with Me Synopsis
Chase Darkness with Me
Amazon UK

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker – 5

This was not an easy read. Nobody in this family had an easy time of it and it’s hard reading about so many kinds of trauma but this is also an in depth look into schizophrenia which is scary and difficult to understand.

To be honest, this will not give many answers to the big questions around schizophrenia and won’t be very comforting in regard to outcomes but you get to see how far things have come since the 60’s and just the knowledge that there are breakthroughs still happening gives some hope.

I think my biggest take away from this is that not all schizophrenia is created equal. I have a family member who is diagnosed with schizophrenia so I know an awful lot of what people who have never come into contact with it think about it is incorrect but seeing how vast the spectrum is was insightful. Understanding that it is on a spectrum is definitely one of the most important things to remember and thinking about the fact that schizophrenia may well be a symptom of a brain that is not working correctly due to a genetic disease is a really big takeaway for me.

There was a lot about caregiving and how people deal with that but I’m not sure I’m ready to unpack that given some of my own issues so maybe I’ll come back to that someday.

Highly recommend this if you would like to learn more about a kind of unknowable disease.

Trigger warnings: Should be noted that along with obvious mental illness trigger warnings this also comes with a sexual assault/rape of minors warning.

At age nineteen, Natasha Trethewey had her world turned upside down when her former stepfather shot and killed her mother. Grieving and still new to adulthood, she confronted the twin pulls of life and death in the aftermath of unimaginable trauma and now explores the way this experience lastingly shaped the artist she became.

Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Natasha Trethewey explores this profound experience of pain, loss, and grief as an entry point into understanding the tragic course of her mother’s life and the way her own life has been shaped by a legacy of fierce love and resilience. Moving through her mother’s history in the deeply segregated South and through her own girlhood as a “child of miscegenation” in Mississippi, Trethewey plumbs her sense of dislocation and displacement in the lead-up to the harrowing crime that took place on Memorial Drive in Atlanta in 1985.

Hidden Valley Road Synopsis
Hidden Valley Road Amazon UK

Becoming by Michelle Obama – 5

What can I even say? I liked Michelle Obama while Barack Obama was running for President, I admired her during the presidency and after reading her book I’m a little in love with her. I really liked her and Barack’s story but my favourite part was ‘Becoming Me’. It was so insightful and I’m so glad she shared some of what, felt like her precious memories, with the world. She is a wonderful writer and storyteller. I’d love for her to try her hand at fiction. I feel like she’d be a force in the publishing world.

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Becoming Synopsis
Becoming Amazon UK

“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Previous non-fiction during 2021

Quarter One Non-Fiction Reading – 2021

Quarter Two Non-Fiction Reading – 2021

Quarter Three Non-Fiction Reading – 2021

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