Monday, February 5, 2018

Reading Challenge Week 5 - A Non-Fiction Book

This week's challenge in the 52 Book Challenge (which we shamelessly stole from Hannah Braime - if you're new to the challenge, catch up here) was a non-fiction book, which is easy-peasy if you happen to be in an academic library.

While we love showcasing our fiction books, we have a lot of non-fiction about the place, so it's good to be able to dust that off for the challenge.

Did you find some interesting books to read? Here are some of the books we've been reading:

Brenda Carter read The Events That Shaped the History of Japan, by Sachiko Iwayama.

Japan has become a popular holiday destination for Australians; it’s relatively close, airfares are reasonable and the culture is refreshingly different.  The Events That Shaped the History of Japan by Sachiko Iwayama (952 IWA) is the perfect way to gain an overview of Japanese history and culture.

The 79-year-old Edge Hill (Cairns) author has condensed thousands of years of Japanese history, culture and traditions from almost 800 sources into a thoroughly readable and engaging book. It explores Japanese beliefs and religion, the role of women and samurai, haiku, sushi and the tea ceremony, along with key events from Japan’s political and economic history.  The clear, chronological storyline and fascinating anecdotes will take readers on a journey through Japan from 10,000 BC to the 1940s.


Scott Dale read George Orwell: Essays, by George Orwell.

This week I picked up George Orwell: Essays (820 ORW 1B GEO) although I must admit I did not read it completely. One of the good things about a book of essays is that you be selective in the order you read and go straight to the title that most interests you.

I started with “Politics and the English language”. In this essay, Orwell laments poor writing, gives five examples of bad writing of the time (1946) and suggests six simple rules to avoid writing like the examples provided. He does point out that it is possible to follow these rules and still write poorly – but I think they are a great tool for all of us to use when writing. One fun game is to apply the rules to the essay itself and see if it adheres to its suggested standards.
1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
(Excerpt from George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language)



When I saw the theme for this week was “A Non-Fiction Book”, I couldn’t help myself – I had to revisit this book (which can be found at 808.042 MIN)

Literary nonfiction (or creative nonfiction [or non-fiction]) is a highly successful genre in the world of book selling. If you aren’t sure what literary nonfiction is, just imagine a book on the same subject as your textbook, only actually fun to read. The point of literary nonfiction is that it’s enjoyable as well as informative – it’s something you would read for fun and pleasure while learning something at the same time.

Minot’s book provides some advice and guidelines for budding authors thinking about being the next Bill Bryson or Oliver Sacks. It provides writing advice as well as some examples of different writers’ work. You'll also find some exercises to get you started. The book has its strengths, but personally a think a better introduction to the subject is David Starkey’s Creative Writing: Four Genres in Brief – which we also have.

PS, if you want to find out what the other three genres are, you’ll just have to read the books.

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