Commentary #95: “Non-Fiction That Changed My Life”

Non-Fiction Quote

Image Credit: AZ Quotes

I enjoyed Norees’ post so much, I wanted to share it.

Here’s the link to her original post:


The only book on Norees’ list that I have heard of is Quiet.

I’m intrigued by The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Alex Haley.


Her question was: What are some non-fiction books that had a big impact on you?

Here’s my list, in somewhat chronological order in terms of when I read it, or was assigned to read it.

The Diary of a Young Girl (1947)

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This was one of the first books I was assigned to read about World War II, the persecution of Jewish people during that time, and the Holocaust. I re-read it every couple of years as a reminder.

Night (1958)

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We read this as part of our Holocaust study in eighth grade. Now, I want to read the rest of the trilogy, after I re-read this one.

A Child Called “It” (1995)

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I was probably a bit too young to read this when I did (Middle school, I think), but it left a profound impact on me. I had legitimate nightmares and crying spells for weeks.

The Freedom Writers Diary (1999)

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This is one of those rare instances where I saw the movie adaptation, several times, before reading the book. I first read the book through one of the libraries, whether it was in Chesapeake or Farmville. I now have my own copy. I’m grateful for teachers like Erin Gruwell.

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2002)

Nickel and Dimed

This was one of the first books I was assigned when I started at Longwood in the fall of 2007. It left a profound impact on me. I’ve read it several times since then. Ehrenreich is now one of my favorite writers.

In Cold Blood (1965)

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I read this somewhere between high school and college. Capote was an incredible writer.

The Last Lecture (2008)

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I first heard about this book from one of my professors, Jeff Halliday. It’s one of the most moving, powerful books I have ever read. I believe everyone should read this book at some point in their lives. Also, if you haven’t seen Randy Pausch on YouTube, I highly recommend it. It’s powerful stuff.

Tough Choices: A Memoir (2006)

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I read this when I was in college. I found it at the library. Fiorina is an impressive woman!

Columbine (2009)

I learned about this book when the author, Dave Cullen, was a guest lecturer at Longwood in 2009. I had the pleasure of interviewing him for The Rotunda. It’s a tough book to read, but a good one.

The Glass Castle (2006)

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I first stumbled upon this book when I was in my junior or senior year at Longwood. This is another book, a memoir, that everyone should read.

Tornado Warning: A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and Its Effect on A Woman’s Life (2011)

Image Credit: www.shapingyouth.org

This is another book that I think many should read, both men and women. And, I’m glad I’ve re-read it a couple of times.

If I Am Missing or Dead: A Sister’s Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation (2007)

If I Am Missing Or Dead

This is another book that came into my life at the perfect time, in February 2016. I’ll never forget reading it, late at night, in the early months of being married to Al, grateful that I was able to escape. Thanks to my good friend, Mike H., I learned about Janine and her incredible story. This is another book I think many others should read.

Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood (2005)

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I found this book at a thrift store at the perfect time, about 12 years ago. It’s a compelling account of how alcohol can affect someone so early. I think I need to re-read this. I first wrote my book review in 2016!

The Unknown and Impossible: How a Research Facility in Virginia Mastered the Air and Conquered Space (2017)

The Unknown and Impossible

Remember Mike H. from earlier? He’s now a published author. I loved reading this compelling 100-year history of NASA!

Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond (2012)

Grace and Grit - Amazon

I learned about this book through my church bulletin, as one of the women’s circles was reading it for discussion. I’m so glad I found out about this book. Lilly Ledbetter has had an incredible life, and wanted to fight for what’s right.

Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide (2017)

Girls Auto Clinic - Amazon

Patrice Banks is a bad-ass! This was another author interview on Fresh Air. This is a must-have for every glove box!

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (2016)

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Matthew Desmond was interviewed on Fresh Air, discussing the book and his ongoing project on evictions and the database he has been building. Like Ehrenreich, Desmond is a true ethnographer, and I can’t wait to read more from him.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (2010)

Unbroken A World War II Story of Survival Resilience and Redemption

I’m glad I received this book through a book swap. Hillenbrand is a remarkable writer. This is not my most favorite non-fiction book in the world, but Louie Zamperini’s story is incredible and important.


Want to Read

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010)

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I’ve been wanting to read this for years.

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (1997)

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I took a Linguistics course at Longwood. We read a different book by Bryson, and I really enjoyed it. I’ve always been fascinated by the Appalachian Trail, so I think this book would be great.

Hidden Figures (2016)

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I’ve wanted to read the book since the movie adaptation was released. The movie is excellent, so I’m pretty the book is pretty terrific, too.

Educated (2018)

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Tara Westover’s interview on NPR’s Fresh Air was one of the most riveting podcast episodes I’ve listened to. I hope to read this before the end of 2019.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (2016)

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I’ve been curious about this memoir since hearing the author’s interview on NPR’s Fresh Air.

Parkland: Birth of a Movement (2019)

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I’m not ready to read this yet, but just knowing that Cullen wrote it is enough to put it on my list.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (2012)

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Granted, I didn’t hear about this book until the movie adaptation with Reese Witherspoon was announced, but it peaked my interest.


 

Blog Awards #27: The Inspiration Award

The Inspiration Award

Image Credit: Life Lessons Around The Dinner Table

Thank you so much, Kristian, for nominating me for The Inspiration Award!

Here’s the link to where I was nominated / recognized:


Here are several blogs I find inspiring, in no particular order. Please, go give them some love!

Also, if I recognized you here, please don’t feel obligated to participate if you don’t want to. This award is designed to share other bloggers and recognize them!

BeautyBeyondBones

  • She used to be anonymous, but not anymore! Caralyn speaks her heart. She shares fabulous, mouth-watering recipes. In addition, she offers a powerful, thought-provoking Christian perspective on nearly everything she writes about.

J.N. Cahill

  • We became friends on Facebook earlier this year, after I joined a group called The Book Drunkard. She’s a talented writer, loves reading, and her blog is really cool.

Didi Oviatt

  • Didi is my kind of woman! She’s smart as a whip, funny as hell, and an amazing mother! She posts the best WIP writing prompt challenges every month. Can’t wait to do the August one soon!

The Tony Burgess Blog

  • Tony’s a great guy, and an even better writer. His daily entries give me insight in his world in Tennessee, his thoughts about his family, faith, and more.

Charis Rae

  • Charis is such a sweetheart! She’s great at interviewing authors, reads a ton, and writes beautifully.

Destiny at Howling Libraries

  • Destiny is one cool chick! I love her book reviews so much.

Sara at The Bibliophagist

  • Sara is another one of my favorite book reviewers! She’s so sweet, too, taking the time to respond to every comment!

Which bloggers inspire you?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #94: “How to Request ARCs from Publishers”

How to Request ARCs from Publishers

Image Credit: YA & Wine

I saw Krysti’s post recently, and felt I needed to share it!

An ARC means Advance Reader Copy.

Here’s the link to her post:


Her post is short, sweet, and to the point.

I really liked her advice about requesting a physical ARC from a publisher. She says to “focus on building your follower base first and foremost. Most publishers are looking for bloggers who have at least 500 followers across platforms (including your blog and social media) and have been blogging for at least six months.”

In addition, she gave a lot of tips and tricks for searching for publishers. One key takeaway I found was the following”

“Know that there are a TON of imprints for the big publishers (Harper, Penguin, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Scholastic, etc.) So sometimes you’ll need to figure out which publishing house the imprint belongs to. If you google ‘Greenwillow Publishing imprint of,’ you can see that they are an imprint for Harper.”

I’m definitely going to take this advice to heart.


Also, she graciously shared her template for email requests for ARCs copies:

Good Morning,

I’m such a huge fan of Flux Books, and I would like to request a review copy of Across a Broken Shore by Amy Trueblood to review on my blog YA and Wine, where I have previously posted about Amy’s debut novel, Nothing But Sky.
I started my blog in November of 2016 and as of today, I currently have:
 
– 8,200 WordPress Followers
– 6,750 Twitter Followers
– 2,200 Instagram Followers 
– 250 Facebook Followers / YA and Wine Facebook Group Members
– 250 Bloglovin Followers 
– 550 Goodreads Followers
– 110 YouTube Followers
This creates a total of 18,300 followers. 
 
I happily accept both electronic ARCs and physical ARCs. If you consider me for this opportunity, my kindle email address is krysti.meyer_78@kindle.com. My mailing address is below:
Krysti Meyer
Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,

I really like her approach, and I definitely plan to adopt my own version for future use. I’m hoping to read at least three ARCs before the end of 2019. I have one physical copy in my hand now, thanks to my friend Jennifer who sold it to me. Check out her blog at J.N. Cahill.


Have you read any ARCs?

Have you requests any ARCs from publishers? If so, how did you go about it?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #74: “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption”

Unbroken A World War II Story of Survival Resilience and Redemption

Image Credit: Amazon

I received this book as part of a fun “book and chocolate” swap through an awesome Facebook group called The Book Drunkard. Thanks, Raquel!

I’ve been wanting to read this book even since its publication was announced. I’ve admired Laura Hillenbrand since reading Seabiscuit: An American Legend.


One thing I figured out quickly: This is a really long book! It’s nearly 500 pages. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, because Hillenbrand is incredibly detailed and well-researched. However, that’s one of the big reasons why it took me so long to finish it!

I’d heard about Louis “Louie” Zamperini through news reports, and press about the book (2010) and movie adaptation (2014). A sequel was released in 2018.

It’s jam-packed with details, beginning with Louie’s early life and Italian family in Torrance, California. I enjoyed learning about his life, his running career, and then him being thrust into the Pacific theater of World War II. He was a prisoner of war (POW) for several years, and reading about his life in Japanese camps was utterly horrifying.

Everyone should know Louie’s story, along with the other brave men he served with. I know I wouldn’t have the guts to fly the unreliable planes and dangerous missions.

This was a tough read for me. I’ve always enjoyed reading and learning about World War II, but I’ve always “done better” with fictional accounts. It’s been good for me to read more non-fiction and biographies over the years, but reading about Louie and the other men was more painful and difficult than I originally expected.

I don’t want to criticize Hillenbrand. I think this book is really good, and the research she did shines through. The list of acknowledgments at the end is profound!

But, I was not expected the length it would take for me to finish this book. I felt frustrated at times, only able to get through one chapter, and then finding 2-3 days passing before picking it up again. I was able to read more than 150 pages when we visited the farm in the middle of July, which was great, but that’s where I noticed this book takes significant concentration and emotional investment.

4 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #178: Reflections, On My Birthday

Jeremiah 29-11 - lilyandval

Image Credit: lilyandval.com

This is my fourth birthday reflection! I can’t believe I started this annual tradition in 2016. I’ve enjoyed reading the posts from 2017 and 2018, too.

Here we are, 2019! This year has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride. But it’s been mostly good!


This time last year, we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our greyhound. It was going to be our first dog together, and we were so excited. We welcomed Pablo to our house in September. However, we quickly realized this poor baby was experiencing severe separation anxiety. We had to return him to the greyhound agency after four weeks. Al and I were incredibly devastated. But, we knew he needed to be in a home with someone who was either retired or home much of the day, and with other dogs or greyhounds. By the time we returned him to the agency, there were at least four people who were willing to take Pablo!

We had a short cooling-off period, and gave ourselves time to heal. We continued working, finally got our HVAC system finished and working, and a few weekend trips away.

Around Thanksgiving, Al and I had been casually researching local rescue organizations, thinking we were going to be ready to try again after the holidays. We had heard good things about Saver of Souls Pet Rescue, based in Virginia Beach. A few people we know had great success with them and adopting from them. We fell in love with bonded brothers, older miniature pinschers named Phineas and Ferb. We filled out the application, and crossed our fingers. We didn’t want to get our hopes up, but we felt drawn to them.

Our lives changed on December 2nd. We learned at an event in Virginia Beach that our application was approved, and we could take Phineas and Ferb home!

 

Image may contain: Al Vardaro and Laura Beth Vardaro, people smiling, dog, eyeglasses, beard and outdoor

The day we adopted our two furbabies – December 2, 2018. Al is holding Phineas and I’m holding Ferb. They are our goobers!

They have changed our lives for the better! I can’t imagine not having them. It’s hard to believe December will be a year since we adopted them. We’re hoping for many years with them. We believe they will turn 10 sometime in November.

Aside from adopting Phineas and Ferb, we’ve stayed busy! I truly think turning 30 was a huge turning point for me. I’ve enjoyed finding and making new recipes, celebrating many birthdays, taking trips with Al, and soaking up as much time with family and friends.

Here’s a few other big things that happened this year:

  • I read 17 books in 2018, including two Advance Reading Copies (ARCs).
  • On March 30, 2019, I hit a HUGE milestone with my writing. I finally finished the first draft of my 2012 WIP, tentatively titled, “Experiences From Camp.” It’s just over 50,000 words. It feels incredible! Two of my friends have graciously offered to look it over and begin the editing process with me!
  • I paid off some significant credit card debt!
  • I have seven American Girl dolls now. Mia, Girl of the Year 2008, is the newest addition.
  • I participated in a wonderful group of Gal Pals on Facebook, and really enjoyed it. I look forward to participating in another round, either later this year or the beginning of 2020.

Cheers to 31!

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Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #177: Camp NaNoWriMo July 2019 Recap

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2019

Image Credit: Camp NaNoWriMo

This was my fourth Camp NaNoWriMo session!


I wanted to give my 2014 WIP, tentatively titled “Discussion of Differences,” some attention this round. It was a bit painful, recognizing the influences that one of my ex-friends had on this particular work. However, I pushed through the pain and awkwardness, and made decent progress!

Goal: Write 20,000 new words.


Here’s the synopsis I put together:

Online conversations can inspire great change. Six friends, almost on a whim, decide to leave everything behind and head to Europe. But, will they come to regret this snap decision? Travel along with Bethany, Hunter, and their friends, as they discover more about themselves, each other, and the facts of life.


Original word count: 16,237 words (48 pages)

Day 1

Today: 7
Total: 7

This was strictly reading through my original 48 pages and getting reacquainted with the work.

Day 2

Today: 346
Total: 353

Day 3

Today: 159
Total: 512

Days 4-14

All zeroes
Total: 512

Day 15

Today: 300
Total: 812

The slump was finally broken!

Days 16-17

All zeroes
Total: 812

Day 18

Today: 731
Total: 1,543

Day 19

Today: 468
Total: 2,011

Day 20

Today: 409
Total: 2,420

Day 21

Today: 570
Total: 2,990

Day 22

Today: 0
Total: 2,990

Day 23

Today: 926
Total: 3,916

Day 24

Today: 597
Total: 4,513

Days 25-31

All zeroes
Total: 4,513


Final Thoughts

I was very pleased to add more than 4,500 words to this WIP! I fell short of my goal, but it was a combination of pushing through the pain of the influences of this work, and pure exhaustion with real life. However, I feel like the story is progressing in a good direction!

I’m excited to work on something brand-new for NaNoWriMo in November!

Current word count: 20,780 words


Have you done NaNoWriMo in November before?

Have you done Camp NaNoWriMo before?

Let me know what you think!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #176: August Goals

August Goals - transforminglifenow

Image Credit: transforminglifenow

Welcome back! August is my birthday month. Every year, it seems like August is far away when the year begins. But, then, it always sneaks up on me! And it seems to go by faster than the other months. I guess time really does fly by when you’re having fun!

Here are my goals for the month of August:

  1. Donate blood.
  2. Celebrate my birthday!
  3. Celebrate others’ birthdays!
  4. Read at least two books.
  5. Complete at least two Writing Prompt posts.
  6. Plan a fun Writing Prompt series for the month of September.
  7. Catch up on Commentary and Tags posts.
  8. Research You Need A Budget! (YNAB).
  9. Read my Daily Guideposts book every day.
  10. Dedicate at least an hour every weekend to working on my office.
  11. Participate in my church’s clean-up day.

What about you? Do you have any goals for the month of August?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂