Publisher: Simon & Schuster Genre: Memoir/Nonfiction Pages: 291 Format: Paperback Buy Local My Rating: 4/5 stars
Horse Crazy is an exciting look into the world of horse lovers. In this tribute to these free-spirited animals, Nir explains her deep love for horses and how they have shaped her life, and the lives of many people across the globe. From Nir’s Jewish upbringing under the care of emotionally distant parents to her world travels as a journalist, Nir describes the way horses allowed her to feel accepted. She uses this book as an opportunity to express just how much animals impact our lives. Although the narrative is built around her personal experiences, Nir also explores the importance of horses in other cultures by acknowledging the different beliefs and practices surrounding horses in communities around the world. Ultimately, Nir shows her readers the way animals help us connect despite our differences.
Horse Crazy impressed me with its ability to simultaneously teach and entertain me. Nir’s experience as a journalist really shines through in this work. I was surprised to find myself feeling as if Nir had let me into a secret world—both in her personal experience as the child of a Holocaust survivor and the tight-knit world of horse lovers. Her blend of personal narratives and informational advocacy for the humane treatment of animals made the book consistently engaging. Horse Crazy was the perfect summer read. I would recommend this book to anyone who is an animal lover or who is looking for a lighthearted read.
Thank you to Changing Hands Bookstore for providing an ARC in exchange for this honest and unbiased reviews.
Publisher: The Penguin Group
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Buy Local My Rating: 4/5 Stars
What do aggressive facial hair, childbirth, an unhealthy obsession with the year 1993, and troll dolls have in common? Una Lamarche. Unabrow: Misadventures of a Late Bloomer is a hilarious collection of diary entries, observations, and convoluted graphics, some of which involve the correct way to use a public restroom.
Lamarche’s memoir tackles the most cringeworthy challenges of growing up female. Leapfrogging from one side splitting topic to another, and in no particular order, she takes the reader on a ride through the pitfalls of childhood, puberty, and even adulthood.
Lamarche recalls, with appalling and humorous clarity, her first-time experiences with drinking, sex, jobs-from-hell, and learning how to drive. As the book cover indicates this is “the book June Cleaver would have written if she had spent more time drinking and less time vacuuming.”
I am not sure which I did more of while reading Unabrow: laugh out loud or grimace. Anyone who has ever endured childhood, high school, or parenting will appreciate all the cringey and hilarious moments of this memoir. Lamarche is unapologetic, honest, and brash which makes for some entertaining stories.
Who wouldn’t identify with her obsession with the show Friends and the proclamation that she is the “Chandler” of her roommates? Or an apartment cleaning routine to the Led Zeppelin tune “Stairway to Heaven?” Then of course, there is the titular situation where Lamarche discusses her eyebrows, which, from birth, had joined to form a furry, face caterpillar. Her facial hair pact with her sister is one of those why-didn’t-I-think-of-that moments, and deserving of being the introduction to the book.
Despite my being slightly older than the millennial Lamarche, her stories are ones that any girl who’s ever memorized lyrics to an entire album, or has been dumped by their sixth grade friends can relate to. The random and chaotic format of the book just adds to its charm, and it was as if I was taking a peek inside Lamarche’s brain. As as a result there were some things, like the restroom graphics, that I can never unsee or forget!
Publisher: Seal Press Genre: Non-fiction, Travel Pages: 302 Format: Paperback Buy Local My Rating: 4/5 stars
What is it about a woman traveling alone that sparks such mystique? From the camaraderie of a “ladies compartment” on a train bound for Bombay, to one writer’s passion for the vulgarity of Las Vegas, A Woman Alone: Travel Tales From Around The Globe explores both the exotic, and not-so-exotic parts of the globe from the perspectives of solo female travelers.
Students, scorned lovers, and ex-nuns share their stimulating experiences while exploring both the good and bad that comes from hitting the road. These women writers recall forming unexpected friendships in Belize, saying “yes” to surprising suggestions in Paris, teaching in mountain villages in Bhutan, and battling feral dogs.
Edited by Faith Conlon, Ingrid Emerick, and Christina Henry De Tessan, A Woman Alone documents the freedom, exhilaration, and even the danger and loneliness that can come from traveling without a companion. Told by a diverse group of women, these twenty-nine true tales capture the essence of travel whether it be by plane, train, or camel.
The allure of heading into the unknown will surely have readers of this collection pining for the thrill of whatever adventure might lie around the next corner. I know that I was left with a strong urge to strap on a backpack, grab my passport, and make a mad dash for the airport! Written in inspirational, bite-sized chunks, this book kept me entertained during my own daily travels.
What I found impressive was the diversity of the writers’ backgrounds, and their even more diverse reasons for wanting to go solo. While immersing myself in their stories it was easy to discover some kindred spirits.
This collection also raises questions—and provides enlightening answers—about cultural differences and the sometimes surprising ways in which we interact with each other. While the concept of women traveling alone has become more commonplace since this book’s publication date of 2001, A Woman Alone still has the power to inspire those to strike out on their own.
Publisher: Anchor Books Genre: Nonfiction Format: Paperback Pages: 240 Buy Book My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
In this nonfiction book, journalist Jon Krakauer uncovers the story of Chris McCandless, a young man from a successful family who donates his money, abandons most of his possessions, and adopts the name “Alexander Supertramp” on an adventure across the States and into the Alaskan wilderness north of Mt. McKinley.
Four months after his descent into the wilderness, a moose hunter found his body, and several news stories follow, stirring up public criticism about his supposed reckless behavior.
Krakauer follows clues to discover more about McCandless’ adventure and to answer the questions he has about this young man. What exactly was McCandless’ motivation? How should we understand his surprising death? What can we learn from his story?
My first interaction with the true story of Alexander Supertramp was not from Krakauer’s bestseller, nor was it from the 2007 award-winning movie adaptation. Instead, I learned about his legendary travels through my older sister Jessica, who adores this story so much that she begged our parents to stop by the famous Slab City and Salton Sea (which Chris McCandless visited on his journey) on the drive home from a vacation. 11 years old at the time, I hadn’t read the book or watched the movie, nor did I appreciate this lengthy detour in our already long drive. However, it proved extremely memorable, filled with bizarre creations and interesting caricatures, including Leonard, an artist of the desert.
Now, almost a decade later, I’ve returned to the story with Krakauer’s book for a proper explanation of Chris McCandless…and a new understanding about why Jessica dragged us out an hour and a half into the middle of nowhere. (Jessica, I might not have been grateful for this detour at the time, but thanks for urging us to take this mini adventure while Leonard was still around!)
I enjoyed reading this book, not only for an explanation of this Slab City visit, but also for Krakauer’s excellent, detailed storytelling and writing style.
Krakauer’s Into the Wild is a book about a journalist’s interest in a young man’s adventure as much as it’s a story about McCandless’ travels into the wild. While it details clues about McCandless, it also provides a deep look into Krakauer himself as he reflects on why Chris’ story resonates with him so much. He even reserves two chapters to discuss his own story and the connections he feels it might have to Chris’ life.
Throughout the book, the author includes pieces of evidence to explain how he constructed an understanding of the Alexander Supertramp adventure: postcards, letters, a journal, photographs, book annotations, and several eye witness and family interviews. Later, when he tries to pinpoint the cause of Chris’ death, he even describes his encounter with researchers and critics as he explores different possible explanations. Since Krakauer unravels little pieces along the way, it sometimes reads more like a mystery than nonfiction, adding intrigue and a need to continue reading.
Each chapter begins with a passage, either from Krakauer’s own choosing or, in some cases, a passage highlighted in one of the books McCandless carried into the wild. Krakauer points out these highlighted passages to show a progression in the traveler’s ideology, ending in his famous scribbled annotation: “HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED.” I found this detail extremely interesting, and, being a bookworm at heart, it makes me wonder if Chris would have drawn the same conclusion if he were carrying a different set of books with him into the wild. That is, was this revelation a discovery bound to occur from his life experiences, or were these books essential to creating this understanding?
Now that I finally took the time to appreciate a more concrete telling of McCandless’ story, I’m excited to watch the film, which gives more details about Leonard himself, to learn more about the Supertramp adventure.
If you’re not much of a nonfiction reader, it’s worth noting that the author’s prose often reads more like fiction than dry facts, which made Chris’ story beautiful and enjoyable to read. I’d recommend this book to any lover of nonfiction, adventure, or mystery.
Looking for action and emotion amidst starkly realistic events? Come to Changing Hands Phoenix on Tuesday, August 6th at 7 p.m., where local Arizona author Faye Hamilton will be signing and speaking about her book, Rescue 12 Responding—a novel based off her decades of paramedic experience.
Hamilton’s book follows paramedics David and Jonathan, whose lives are profoundly impacted by a call about a drug overdose at a teenage party. Answering deep questions and provoking poignant memories from various characters, Rescue 12 Responding reveals the surprising depth of emotional complications and insights of paramedics.
If you want to understand others, read on: Changing Hands Bookstore is hosting an author event with Elizabeth A. Segal, a professor in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University, with her latest release, Social Empathy.
In this essential guide for anyone navigating a multicultural world, Segal’s explanation cuts through misconceptions to provide an illuminated picture into understanding across social groups, covering both the necessity of the skill of empathy and also how to achieve it. Founded on cognitive neuroscience, sociology, and psychology, Social Empathy provides a guide to overcoming barriers of fear, skepticism, and power structures to broaden perspectives, allowing individuals to move out of their narrow groups and become advocates for justice.