Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday!

Hooray for Top Ten Tuesday, brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish. It seems like all I do these days is Monday Meme and Top Ten Tuesday, but being back to work for the school year is really putting me in a funk! I want to read but I have to get reviews done; I want to write reviews but I have to read because I am a bazillion books behind on my Goodreads Challenge for the year...AAUUGGHH! it is a never-ending cycle. But there is always this, and for the time being I just have to accept that!


This week's TTT is:

September 13: Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Books Of X Genre (I know, I know. Picking all time faves. I'm MEAN. But I like knowing people's definitive faves). Can also break it down into sub-genre if that helps?

This will be a tad easier for me than some - I technically get the whole encompassing blanket genre of non-fiction. I could narrow it down to my favorite books about Anglo-Saxon England, or Tudor England, but that is cheating because those are topics, not genres. So, ha, I get ALL of non-fiction to play with.

These are in no particular order, but are books I have supremely enjoyed. All are books I have rated 5 Stars. I may or may not explain why they are favorites, I haven't really thought that far ahead yet, since I am starting this on Sunday to have it ready for Tuesday in this brief time when my pre-schooler is asleep, yet before I too need to sleep as well. That window of time is shrinking rapidly, this kiddo does not want to sleep!

Anyway, again, here they are in no particular order, my most favorite non-fiction reads so far:

1. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

Love so much. So, so much. I did not think he could do better than Devil in the White City, because that book was a-may-zing and then I read this (in about three hours because I Could. Not. Put. It. Down). The book made me furious and devastated all at the same time. Such senseless loss of life. Such poor decision-making, all around. Fantastic research and writing, but I expect nothing less from Larson.


2. Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile

Prior to this, almost all my knowledge of Katherine (my most favorite of all the rightful queens of England during Henry's reign), was still somewhat limited in that all I knew of her was how she fit in to the Tudor dynasty. Sadly, I knew even less of her sister, Juana the Mad, the queen who dragged her husband's corpse around with her for months. Less sadly, here the women are both portrayed from childhood, and are figures in their own right and not only how they fit into the world of the men around them. Katherine was not simply a Spanish Princess, she was the daughter of the fierce Isabella (which I knew, though I did not know that Isabella went into battle with her troops). Juana's actions make a lot more sense now and it is pretty easy to see she was not 'mad' in the sense she has been viewed for centuries. She was controlled by her father, her husband, her brother, and they were always the ones telling her story. Here, we get to see the real Juana. Very worth the read.


3. Tudors vs. Stewarts: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary, Queen of Scots

I think what I loved most about this one is that it was not another rehashing of all the mistakes Mary made in those years she after she returned to Scotland. Instead, while those events are covered, the main focus of the book is the century's worth of incidents that occurred, before bringing Mary to her tragic end. There were many gaps filled in for me as to how the two kingdoms co-existed in that time and also helped me better understand the rulers before Mary.


4. St. Marks is Dead: The Many Lives of America's Hippest Street

I know what you are thinking if you have seen the other TTTs that I have participated in but I don't even care because I loved this book THAT much (I think this is its third appearance now?) It is just the kind of microcosm history that I love, and to take place in a city that fascinates me and eludes me yet - but I will see it for myself someday in the near-future - this one is a no-brainer. Calhoun is just the author for the job, having grown up on St Marks, and she writes a compelling history that moves swiftly but you are still able to see clearly each group as they move in, leave their mark, and fade away for the next group to take their place.


5. The Year 1000: what Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium: An Englishman's World

Despite knowing for certain that I would never have wanted to live in this time period, I still can not help but be endlessly drawn to this period of time - especially in England, Scotland, and/or Ireland. Now, I have the benefit of being 1016 years removed from this period, so I can also see that despite the progress made by my dear Anglo-Saxons, that will all come to a screaming halt just 66 years on. Darn you, William.


6. A Night to Remember

Titanic. Enough said.


7. The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power Behind Five English Thrones

Guh. I don't even know where to start with this one. For someone who early on did not seem destined for greatness, to see him rise and become one of the most powerful men in England almost defies logic. Time and again he was called on by the king (or almost-king in the case of Henry II's oldest son, Henry the Young King) he served and performed his duties admirably. Yet he is largely a footnote at best and altogether forgotten at worst. I could not put this one down and it was so wonderful to see him get the recognition he deserves.


8. Flight 93: The Story, the Aftermath, and the Legacy of American Courage on 9/11 


102 Minutes: The Unforgettable Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers

So it is kind of cheating, but the topics are incredibly entwined that I feel they belong together instead of separate entries. This terrible day is forever burned into my brain and I will never forget it as long as I live. I was a freshman in college, having just started school mere weeks before the attack. I was already in a time of upheaval and chaos, in a manner of speaking, being far enough of way from home that I couldn't just hop in the car and run home to my mom. I feel like both accounts paint a very clear and honest picture with what happened both in NYC and Shanksville. They are both difficult o read, in that we know the outcome for so many. But they are still worthwhile, and important to our nation's history.

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9. Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13


Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond

I secretly still want to be an astronaut, and I am now a grown adult with a career that is most definitely not related to the space program in any way. I love reading anything I can find about the space program, and the Apollo missions in particular. And, because Tom Hanks is one of my favorite actors of all time, I will always have a special place in my heart for Apollo 13.


10. Why Buffy Matters: The Art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

So many awesome books about this show. If you don't know why this show still matters, 10+ years after it went off the air, then please turn on Netflix and start watching from the beginning. Greatest show of all time. Do not be fooled by the 'silly' name. That was intentional. Watch it, understand it, thank me later. 



11. Anything written by Dan Jones.

He is pretty much my most favorite historian and you can not go wrong with any of his books. I adore him and his writing. He is awesome. Read his books.

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