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2023 Nonfiction Reader Challenge

I had so much fun this past Nonfiction November, that I decided that I would join the 2023 Nonfiction Reader Challenge hosted by Book’d Out. I read primarily nonfiction anyway, and there are so many books that I would like to tell others about.

According to Book’d Out, this is HOW IT WORKS

You can select, read and review a book from the categories listed below during the year for a total of up to 12 books; OR select, read and review any nonfiction book. A book may be in print, electronic or audio format.

Choose a goal:

Nonfiction Nipper: Read & review 3 books, from any 3 listed categories

Nonfiction Nibbler: Read & review 6 books, from any 6 listed categories

Nonfiction Nosher: Read & review 12 books, one for each category

Nonfiction Grazer: Read & review any nonfiction book. Set your own goal
Categories:

History
Memoir/Biography
Crime & Punishment
Science
Health
Travel
Food
Social Media
Sport
Relationships
The Arts
Published in 2023

Head on over there for the rest of the details, including how to register. Maybe I’ll see you there? Whatever you decide, I wish you happy reading.

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

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Nonfiction November 2022, Week 5

This week we are concentrating on the books that are new to our TBR list. I have really enjoyed the posts of the other bloggers that are participating in this challenge, and there are many books that I have put on my TBR list. Thanks everybody for sharing!

But before I share all my new books, I wanted to tell you abut a fantastic book that I just started to read. “Mushrooming: The joy of the quiet hunt” written by Diane Borsato and illustrated by Kelsey Oseid is not a traditional mushroom guide. Borsato encourages you to hunt mushrooms not to eat but for pleasure. Each entry includes not only identification features but also cultural notes. For example, did you know that Paul Stamets wears a mushroom hat made of hoof fungus? Yes, you can buy hats made out of mushrooms. I was into mushroom hunting last year, and I think I am going to pick it up again.

Now onward to this week’s prompt.

I have really enjoyed theocbookgirl’s IG feed (@theocbookgirl). I put several books on my TBR list including:

“Easy Crafts for the Insane” by Kelly Williams Brown
“These Precious Days” by Ann Patchett
“Novelist as Vocation” by Haruki Murakami
“The Hiking Book from Hell” by Are Kalvø
“Sacred Nature” by Karen Armstrong

Also from theocbookgirl’s blog, I really want to read:

“Fastest Thing on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood” by Terry Masear

From Pillow Fort:

“Affluence without Abundance” by James Suzman

From She Seeks Nonfiction:

“For Small Creatures Such as We” by Sasha Sagan

I’ve actually already started reading this book.

From Beverley A Baird:

“I’ve Been Thinking” by Maria Shriver

I love how Christopher from Plucked from the Stacks included children’s books on one of his lists. This are the ones I put on my TBR list:

“The Curious Story of Edward Gorey Nonsense! by Lori Mortensen; illustrated by Chloe Bristol

“Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks” by Suzanne Spade; illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera

I’ve already read this book, and I highly recommend it.

“16 Words: William Carlos Williams & ‘The Red Wheelbarrow’” by Lisa Rogers and Chuck Groenink

From Falling Letters:

“The Great Northern Canada Bucket List” by Robin Esrock

From What’s Nonfiction:

“Tunnel 29” by Helena Merriman

There are also a new to me category called “foodoirs” on another of What’s Nonfiction’s posts.

From Words and Peace:

“Revenge of the Librarians” by Tom Gauld

I’ve already read this book, which is in cartoon form, and I highly recommend it.

There’s a couple of books that I cannot remember, so I know that next year I need to do my information gathering weekly during the challenge.

I’m planning on participating in the 2023 Nonfiction Reading Challenge that Book’d Out is hosting. So maybe I’ll see you there too!

Happy reading!

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

WOW Blog Tour Stop: Review of “Rebirth”

Book Summary

When life is calling, often we need only the space and the support to remember our way. Sometimes we lean into our expansion, and sometimes we bolt from our greatness. The biggest shock is that big change happens in small choices. In Rebirth you will find real-life stories of people who made courageous leaps, inspiring you to make your own. It’s time to step out of line and back into the spiral of life—that’s where the alchemy is. This book fits right into the side pocket of your bag + your life to inspire you as you read others’ stories of how they listened and learned to make embodied changes in their own lives.

Review

I chose to review this book for this WOW blog tour, because I am currently in limbo—again—so I wanted to read something inspirational. Already the introduction this “mosaiced memoir” of Benton’s own rebirth caught my attention with the line “I have lived through the time of transition from ‘what is no longer’ to ‘what is becoming’ several times over.’ Oh, so I am not the only one who finds herself repeatedly in limbo.
Although Benton also writes in the introduction that not every chapter—which has a “guest star” as an example—will appeal to everyone, I found that there was wisdom in all chapters. However, I will focus on a couple of my favourites:
“Continuous Becoming”
Kim Murriera, a “Midwife of the Creative” says in this chapter, “When you hear that someone’s overarching theme matches your own, it helps you to realize life is not all about me and my traumas…Life is cyclic, and that is what I like to illuminate. There is a breathing in and a breathing out. There is a waxing and waning. There is happiness and there is sadness.” As well, Murreira notes, “We may realize, It’s not just me and my life; it’s how life is. We can settle into breathing into it with more calm and vitality and acceptance.”
Wisdom such as this underscored that I am just going through a temporary period of my life, and that “This too shall pass”, and I found this comforting.
“Trust Your Place”
In this chapter, David Newman, sacred mantra artist, singer-songwriter, and teacher says, “Consider how much noise is out there in the world on so many levels…Whatever aspect of mind that has been drilling or driving at a person, when that’s released…an opening takes place where healing happens. Now there are many ways that can happen, but mantra is a very powerful and ancient one.” Later Newman continues, “For me, mantra is the closest sound to silence.”
This chapter reminded me of the importance of taking breaks, and of silence, and it also made me more interested in learning more about Sanskrit and mantras.
You can listen to Newman’s mantras on Youtube.
My third favourite chapter (“Doubt and Grace”) I mentioned in my previous post for Nonfiction November, and if you want to read it, I direct you to that post.
That’s just a small taste of what’s available to you in the book. I hope that you take the time to slowly savour this book. I am sure that you will find something of comfort in “Rebirth”, and I am betting that it will be more than one thing.
You can stop by WOW’s blog to read an interview with Brenton and also to enter to win a copy of the book (enter by December 4).
Be sure that you stop by the other blogs to read what others have to say about “Rebirth”.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

Nonfiction November, Week 4

This week in Nonfiction November, we are looking at “worldview changers”. I’m going to suggest three books that I have read or been reading this year, but certainly my mindset has been changed by a vast plethora of books over the years.

“How to Make a Plant Love You” by Summer Rayne Oakes
This book is the latest in the books I have been reading over the past few years, which have given me a different view of the plant world. Focussed on the plants that we take into our homes, there is a practical exercise at the end of each chapter to help you understand your plants and plants in general more deeply. The book is scattered throughout with ideas that made me pause, such as ‘…one of the more common inquiries from aspirant urban plant owners is, “What plant is hard to kill?” I want to get there by positing a different question…Next time you go to a plant shop, or purchase a plant online, don’t just ask what plant you’d like to live with, but ask what plant would like to live with you.’

“Rebirth” by Kate Brenton
This is a book that I am going to be reviewing this weekend for a WOW blog tour, so be sure to stop by again, if my description piques your interest. Rebirth is Brenton’s “mosaiced memoir” of her own rebirth. Every chapter has a theme with an example of someone’s life journey. I was struck many times by key points in the book, such as “…the more we consume, the more bloated and extended away from ourselves we are. The modern pace leaves little time for digestion.” This to me was an appropriate metaphor of what is happening in our society. You wouldn’t eat food all day long and never allow it to digest, but many of us are doing that with information, including me. It’s a good reminder to sit with whatever you have recently read or seen or listened to, and allow yourself time to process it, instead of moving immediately onto the next thing.

“Native Wisdom for White Minds” by Anne Wilson Schaef
Written in 1996, this is a book that I picked up at a little library, which has a daily reading related to indigenous wisdom. I am mainly exposed to North American indigenous teachings, so it’s interesting to read perspectives from other indigenous cultures, such as Maori or Aborigine, and, interestingly, they tend to be similar. Some of the language is outdated in this book, but the concepts are not.

So another three books like my post from last week. I hope you’ll leave a comment about which of them you have read or which books that you would recommend to me.

See you next week for a wrap-up.

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

Nonfiction November 2022, Week 3

This week in Nonfiction November it’s “Stranger Than Fiction”. This week’s host is “Plucked from the Stacks”.

I’m starting with a recent book that my book club partner Bev and I just finished reading, and that’s “The Year of Living Biblically” by A.J. Jacobs. A.J. Jacobs is a master of doing personal quests and then writing about them. Jacobs’ books all seem to be in the line of “stranger than fiction”, and you might have read “Know-it-all” about Jacobs’ quest to read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica, but I have not. However, I cannot wait to read Jacobs’ latest book, “The Puzzler”.

In the “Year of Living Biblically”, Jacobs decides to follow the bible as literally as possible—so long as it’s not dangerous—which includes following some of the most perplexing rules, such as not wearing mixed fibres. His journey takes him on some truly jaw dropping adventures, including wearing a white robe in public, which Jacobs discovers is a “polarizing garment”. I highly recommend this book, as it discusses biblical history and different takes on the bible from a wide range of Jewish and Christian faiths.

Our current book club read also has some jaw dropping moments, and I am sure many of you have already read “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls. Barely into this memoir, I am already shocked by the contents. Chapter 1 gives us a glimpse of Walls as an adult, as she avoids her mom who is rooting through a dumpster. In subsequent chapters, she sets herself on fire while cooking hot dogs at age 3 and learns how to handle her father’s gun at age 4. Truly a life I cannot imagine!

A book I am reading on my own is Emily Urquhart’s latest, “Ordinary Wonder Tales”. Urquhart had me hooked with the first line: “The year that I turned three I slept in a bedroom that was known to be haunted.” Urquhart is a folklorist, so she weaves folklore throughout her own stories, and the result is a beautiful patchwork of personal stories, folk stories, and history. Jaw dropping moments come in not only in the stories themselves, but also when we see how Urquhart is treated whether it is being shamed after relating her haunted story or during some perplexing medical encounters.

I leave you with three books, and hey! Three is supposed to be a satisfying number in literature.

What about you? Have you read any of these books? What nonfiction have you read this year that is stranger than fiction?

See you next week!

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

Poetry Ponderings

Lately I’ve become interested in learning how to write poetry. I’ve given it a sporadic shot over the past few years, but now it’s become a focus of mine. I’ve even thought about making “poetry” my word of the year for 2023 (although magic wasn’t all that successful for 2022…)

I liken poets to jesters in the court. Jesters can say what they want without retribution from their leaders, and they often do so in a clever and/or hilarious way. So too are today’s poets able to critique current conditions, calling attention to culture’s conundrums.

I am particularly interested in Ecopoetry. I have been concerned about the environment for many years, but now it has become a burning issue for me. If you have any suggestions about books that you recommend, please let me know.

Consider the housing crisis. Yes, I understand we need more houses, especially affordable ones, but why do I never hear about the balance between construction and the environment?

Build, build, build
We need more houses, they say
So let’s build, build, build
But what about the animals?
Did you ask them about their houses?

That’s my first draft of a poem that has been circling through my mind for some time now. I tend to stick with my first drafts, but certainly I realize that there is much room for improvement. I don’t pretend I am an awesome poet, I am just a curious poet.

So I decided to do something I promised myself I wouldn’t do—because I am a recovering courseaholic—yes, I signed up for another course. True, this one is free through Coursera. It’s called “Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop”, and it’s a California Institute of the Arts course. I am excited yet scared, as we will actually be sharing our poems, which will be critiqued. Deep breath. I can do it!

I also am in the midst of another free course through Coursera, which is the famous “ModPo” one from University of Pennsylvania. Admittedly I have been stuck on that one for some time. I am 20% through—perhaps I will give it another try.

A book I have been reading that I have found helpful despite its dubious title is “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Poetry” by Nikki Moustaki. I have borrowed the e-book, but I think I will buy my own copy.

I hope to touch base with my poetry discoveries through my blog.

What about you? Do you write poetry? Is there a new adventure you are on? I love to read your comments.

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

Nonfiction November, Week 2

It’s time for week 2 of Nonfiction November, which is hosted this week by “What’s Nonfiction?”

This week we are concentrating on book pairings. I find pairing books to be a very challenging exercise, so it took me a while to come up with one. Next year I will be sure to think ahead and make pairings throughout the year.

If you loved “To Speak for the Trees” by Diana Beresford-Kroeger…

From Goodreads:

“When Diana Beresford-Kroeger–whose father was a member of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy and whose mother was an O’Donoghue, one of the stronghold families who carried on the ancient Celtic traditions–was orphaned as a child, she could have been sent to the Magdalene Laundries. Instead, the O’Donoghue elders, most of them scholars and freehold farmers in the Lisheens valley in County Cork, took her under their wing. Diana became the last ward under the Brehon Law. Over the course of three summers, she was taught the ways of the Celtic triad of mind, body and soul. This included the philosophy of healing, the laws of the trees, Brehon wisdom and the Ogham alphabet, all of it rooted in a vision of nature that saw trees and forests as fundamental to human survival and spirituality.”

…then read “Pursuing Giraffe: a 1950s Adventure” by Anne Innis Dagg

From Goodreads:

“In the 1950s, Anne Innis Dagg was a young zoologist with a lifelong love of giraffes and a dream to study them in Africa. Based on her extensive journals and letters home, Pursuing Giraffe vividly chronicles Dagg’s realization of that dream and the year she spent studying and documenting giraffe behaviour. Her memoir captures her youthful enthusiasm for her journeys–from Zanzibar to Victoria Falls to Mount Kilimanjaro–as well as her naïveté about the complex social and political issues in Africa.”

I have connected these books in several different ways. Both women are pioneering scientists, both reside in Canada, and both have a lot to say about sexism in the field of science.

I had the pleasure of interviewing zoologist Anne Innis Dagg, who lives fairly close to me. That interview led to a picture book manuscript that made it all the way to acquisitions but ultimately was rejected. I was disappointed for myself but also for Innis Dagg, whose story had been long ignored.

So I was thrilled when years later a movie called “The Woman who Loves Giraffes” debuted, finally giving Innis Dagg the recognition that she deserves. More recently a picture book about Innis Dagg written by a more famous Canadian writer has been released, which I greeted with mixed feelings (and a few tears).

Innis Dagg also has a more recent memoir called “Smitten by Giraffe”, which is on my TBR list.

I admire both Beresford-Kroeger and Innis Dagg for their groundbreaking studies and feminist activism, and I recommend that you read about both.

Have you read either book? Do you have a related book you’d like to share? I love to read your comments.

See you next week.

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

Nonfiction November, Week 1

I love reading nonfiction books. So I was excited to see that there is such a thing as Nonfiction November. Who knew?

The challenge I am taking part in starts at Doing Dewey’s blog.

In week 1 we are asked to answer the following questions:

  1. What was your favourite nonfiction read of the year?

Ah so many books…I have read a lot of nonfiction this year, and it is hard to choose, but my favourite is “Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness” by Ingrid Fetell Lee.

From Goodreads:

“In Joyful, designer Ingrid Fetell Lee explores how the seemingly mundane spaces and objects we interact with every day have surprising and powerful effects on our mood. Drawing on insights from neuroscience and psychology, she explains why one setting makes us feel anxious or competitive while another fosters acceptance and delight–and, most importantly, she reveals how we can harness the power of our surroundings to live fuller, healthier, and truly joyful lives.”

  1. Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?

In general I prefer to read memoirs, but I will also read self help books.

  1. What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

That would be “Joyful” (see above). I also follow and recommend Ingrid Fetell Lee’s blog.

  1. What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

I am hoping to reflect on my year of nonfiction reading and also find some new nonfiction books to put on my TBR list.

So, what’s your favourite nonfiction book this year? Leave me a comment.

I am looking forward to seeing what the other weeks bring in Nonfiction November. Maybe I’ll see you there?

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

“Our Own Backyard Challenge”, Part 4

It’s hard to believe that I am posting part 4 of the “our own backyard” challenge. That means I have done one post for every season!

The idea is to document a part of my backyard every season for a year. My friend Bev is also sharing pictures of her backyard.

Same City
2 Friends
2 Yards
2 Views

I had decided to document the Linden tree in my backyard. This fall the colours on the trees have been stunning! Apparently the reason they look so vibrant is because we had cold temperatures with no frost.

Whatever the reason, my Linden tree is looking particularly pretty in yellow this fall.

Lots of leaves to rake up!

The oak tree on the right doesn’t drop leaves in the fall.

That wraps up this challenge. Thank you to all who visited my backyard virtually.

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

“Our Own Backyard” Challenge, Part 3

Welcome to part 3 of the “Our Own Backyard” challenge, in which my friend Bev and I will share pictures of our backyards during the seasons.

Same City
2 Friends
2 Yards
2 Views

The idea is to document a part of our backyards every season for a year. I had decided to document our European Linden tree and how it changes throughout the seasons.

I was disappointed this year, because there were no flowers on my Linden tree. It’s one of my favourite times of the year, as the bees buzz loudly, visiting the heavenly smelling Linden flowers, also called lime flowers.

It’s not unusual that Linden trees don’t flower every year. However, it’s been a tough year, as we did have the driest June in 15 years, and I wonder how much of an impact that has had.

The tree does look impressive this time of the year.

I have been visiting my tree lately, sitting underneath it. The view from underneath is really cool.

I just finished reading Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s book called “Rooted” in which she has a chapter dedicated to trees. Haupt suggests visiting the same tree every day for a season or a year or a life. Well I haven’t been able to do that, but I am making a conscious effort to spend more time sitting underneath my Linden tree.

I highly recommend Haupt’s book. My favourite quote from the chapter on trees:
“Might the trees, if writing their own poem, look at us with pity, instead of the other way around? So uprooted, meandering, separate, skimming the soil’s surface, shielding ourselves from the night, our heavy limbs unresponsive to light wind. Lacking in fragrance, unvisited by birds, nothing nesting in our hair…” (pg. 176)

Head on over to Bev’s post to see how much her gardens have changed. I particularly like her coneflowers.

What’s it look like in your corner of the world?

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler