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November 18, 2019

3 Books for Nonfiction November

by Susan Roberts

A nonfiction book is one that tells you facts and information about the world around you. It can cover almost any topic, from wild animals to Vikings. If it's about something that really happened or something that really exists, it is nonfiction.

I don't read many non-fiction books but I set a 2019 goal to read 10.  I just finished my 11th non-fiction book so there's one reading goal that I've met this year.  Here are reviews of the last three non-fiction books I've read.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The Family Next Door: The Heartbreaking Imprisonment of the Thirteen Turpin Siblings and Their Extraordinary Rescue by John Glatt

July 2019; St. Martin's; 978-1250202130
audio, ebook, print (320 pages); true crime
"The unspeakable crimes that David and Louise Turpin stand accused of committing against their own thirteen children are unparalleled.  When Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin first briefed reporters about the depths of depravity the couple had sunk to, he elicited gasps from even the most hardened reporters."  (page vii)

This book about the abuse that the thirteen children of the Turpin family suffered at the hands of their parents is a ripped from the headlines story.  It's unbelievable that anyone could treat their children like this but it happens again and again all over the world.

This book is basically divided into three sections:
  • Section 1 - The seeds of Evil is about Louise and David's younger years - growing up and going to school.  David first had feelings for Louise when she was 10 and they eloped when she was 17.  David's upbringing was fairly normal but Louise and her sisters were physically abused by their grandfather.  
  • Section 2 - The Family centers around David and Louise's lives as a young married couple and follows them as their family begins to grow.  Even though they are in debt, they spend lavishly especially when there is family around to impress.  Their every growing family moved several times during these years, always leaving a totally trashed house behind.
  • Section 3 - The Magnificent Thirteen is about the torture that the children received, the escape of one of the daughters and the subsequent police investigation and trial.  It was so hard to believe the way these kids were abused - not allowed to shower, chained to their beds, frequent beatings - yet no one was aware of it - not the neighbors and not the family.

This was an interesting compilation of the news reports about the Turpin family.  There isn't much here that couldn't be found elsewhere but it is all well put together and an interesting book to read. It reports what happened but there are no answers to WHY it all happened.  I also thought that there were too many quotes from psychiatrists who never met the family- how can a person be an expert on a family that they've never met.  It is sad to think that no one called Child Protection about these children - not the school when the oldest daughter was going to school, not the neighbors and not the other family members.  When it finally went to trial, David and Louise were given life sentences with a chance of parole in 25 years - so they are finally being punished for their sins.

Buy The Family Next Door at Amazon

Green Card & Other Essays by Áine Greaney

April 2019; Wising Up Press; 978-1732451421
print (88 pages); essays
"Now I've lived in America for over three decades-longer than I lived in Ireland.  Still, on both sides of the Atlantic, there is a large part of my American life that feels secret. Often, this is my own doing, and this invisibility is made easier by the fact that many folks auto associate 'immigrant' with 'non-white' or 'doesn't speak American English'.  As a Caucasian, long-term immigrant, I often 'pass' as American and there are times when I let this happen." (p 3)

In this short book of essays, Áine Greaney shares her journey from Irish citizen to naturalized US citizenship. The essays offer an intimate look at the feelings that she went through - feelings of fear of leaving Ireland and starting a new life and her assimilation to American life - issues that are felt by all immigrants no matter where in the world they come from or emigrate to.

A few of the topics of the essays:
  • America the Story about how Americans have told her how brave she was to make the move and she knows how unsure of herself she really was.
  • St. Patrick's Day - Her first St. Patrick's day in America was in 1987 and she found it totally different than the way it is celebrated in Ireland.  
  • Green Card - her nervousness when she had to be interviewed for her green card.
  • Citizen Me is about when she decided to become a naturalized citizen.  

This is an interesting little book with a lot of information on being a new immigrant in America - no matter where you come from.  In this day of political discussions on immigration, it was refreshing to read her essays.

Buy Green Card at Amazon

The Little Book of Bob: Everyday wisdom from Street Cat Bob by James Bowen

Oct 2019; Thomas Dunne Books; 978-1250215369
audio, ebook, print (176 pages); memoir
"This book is a collection of some of the experiences and insights I've gained during my years with Bob.  A guide to his street wisdom.  I hope it helps you as much as he has helped me." (p4)

First I need to tell you that Bob is a cat.  James found the injured ginger tom cat in a shelter in London.  When James found Bob, he was making his money by playing music on the street and barely making ends meet.  This is one in a series of books about Bob the cat and how he's helped James through his life.  In this book, James shares little pearls of wisdom that he's learned from Bob - all things that we should know but it was an interesting way of presenting it.

The topics in the book range from What we Need to be Happy to Lessons in Day to Day Life.  Here are a few of the things that James learned from Bob:

"One of the great blessings of a strong friendship is that it gives you the freedom to be yourselves together, to let your hair down and go a little bit crazy now and again.  You know each other well enough not to take it seriously.  It doesn't change anything long term. (p25)

"Cats aren't weighed down by a lack of self-confidence.  They don't harbor any self-doubt." (58)

"While every day may not be good, there's something good in every day."  (p68)

This is a fun little book to read through filled with wisdom - nothing too deep but things we should already know about life.  If you are a real cat person, there is a whole series of books about Bob.

Buy The Little Book of Bob at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter. Read Susan's reviews.

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  1. they all look great, but the family next door is one that really speaks to a horrendous way
    sherry @ fundinmental

  2. Oooh! I bet the Family Next Door is an insanely powerful read.