Books I’ve Recently Read | Nonfiction November

Posted 25 November, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 27 Comments

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Nonfiction November Books Recently Read


Oh hi! Look at that! A book post! I’m not going to go into the whole “Ugh I’m so tired this pregnancy is kicking my butt” song and dance, but if I disappear for a few days (or more) that’s likely why. Because OMG I’m so tired and this pregnancy is kicking my butt. I keep meaning to get some posts drafted up, but then hours pass and I look at the clock and wonder where the heck the time has gone.

But! But I’ve listened to a few great nonfiction titles this month and I definitely want to share them with you! Dad is Fat is HILARIOUS. Listen to it right away, especially if you have young children. The Walmart Effect was fascinating…and a bit frightening in terms of how much power and sway one corporation can have. And All Joy and No Fun is now my new life tagline–I am having all the joy and none of the fun. Ha! But seriously…see above about being tired. Otherwise, life is good.


Dad is FatTitle: Dad is FatAuthor: Jim Gaffigan
Audio Narrator: Jim Gaffigan | Audio Duration: 5 hr, 26 min
Published: 2013 | Pages: 288 | Genre: Memoir/Humor
Rating: It’s so freaking funny because it’s true

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible

In Short: Jim Gaffigan, comedian and father of five small children, dishes about life in the parenting trenches. No topic is too sacred to cover and Gaffigan is a master at laughing at himself. I especially enjoyed the parts about his wife being pregnant, getting five kids out the door, and bedtime routines. I have never laughed so hard at an audiobook–at times so hard that I had tears streaming down my cheeks.

Bottom Line and Recommendation: If you’re looking for a good laugh, I highly recommend Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan. I’ve been trying to convince Scott to listen to the book, but finally settled on occasionally sending him YouTube clips of some of his stand-up acts. Though I think Scott has a bad taste after seeing me whip through the house while listening to this book with headphones and laughing hysterically. While I think anyone might appreciate Gaffigan’s humor, I especially recommend it to anyone who is down in the trenches of parenting little ones. Sometimes we all need a good laugh at some of the things that are so frustrating or difficult at the moment. And absolutely absolutely go with audio on this one!


The Wal-Mart EffectTitle: The Wal-Mart EffectAuthor: Charles Fishman
Audio Narrator: Alan Sklar | Audio Duration: 10 hr, 27 min
Published: 2006 | Pages: 352 | Genre: Business/Economics
Rating: Hmmm–now I get those low prices!

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible

In Short: Walmart’s core value is to bring the lowest prices possible to its customers. Fishman explores exactly how Walmart is able to provide such low prices and how their business model has created a ripple effect across the world economy. As someone who is not keen on shopping at Walmart (except for a few things I can’t find elsewhere and this is my absolute last resort), listening to The Walmart Effect was a fascinating experience. In many ways it felt like Fishman was vilifying Walmart, but Walmart is just the way that Walmart is and they do very well at what they’ve set out to do (bring the lowest prices…it’s always about this bottom line). Listening to this book, I was constantly amazed at the power that Walmart has in the market place. I do wonder how much of the book, written a decade ago, might be out of date, but after talking to my cousin last weekend who lives in Bentonville and works at the home office…it sounds like not too much has changed!

Bottom Line and Recommendation: 10 and a half hours seems like a lot of time to devote to just Walmart, but it felt like a quick listen and I was rarely bored with the book or the information presented. I didn’t love the audiobook narration but would have likely never made it through the paperbook at the same speed. If you are interested in economics, business, or Walmart in general, it’s definitely a fascinating read and one that I would recommend. Plus–there’s lots of “did you know…” opportunities within the pages! (Did you know that Walmart is the one responsible for doing away with the packaging that deodorant came in once upon a time? Get rid of the boxes and cut a few pennies per item sold!)


All Joy and No FunTitle: All Joy and No FunAuthor: Jennifer Senior
Published: 2014 | Pages: 320 | Genre: Parenting/Sociology
Rating: The title that defines my life

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible

In Short: This isn’t your typical parenting advice book–in fact Senior makes it clear that parents likely will not find any advice–at least not on purpose of the author. Rather, All Joy and No Fun looks at the evolution of parenting over the past century and a half and how parenting affects the parent, not how parenting affects the child. I was fascinated by this sociological look at parenting and how our parenting today looks different from that of our parents and their parents. She highlights the different stages of children–baby, toddler/preschooler, teenager–as well as how parenting affects oneself and a marriage.

Bottom Line and Recommendation: My finger worked overtime highlighting all of the things in this book. I really would like to write up a more detailed review of All Joy and No Fun because I have a billion thoughts and a billion quotes I would like to share, but I figured that my track record of saying I’ll talk about a book in more detail isn’t so hot these days. As mentioned in the title, Senior talks about the joys that parenting brings as well as the work and frustration. I found myself at the same time encouraged and discouraged by All Joy and No Fun–it was so easy to recognize myself in the pages of this book, especially in the early baby and toddler sections–and I often asked myself, “Is this really as good as it gets?” (It being parenting).  But thankfully Senior also discusses the immense joy that parenting brings and for all of the hard moments that I experience, the joy always wins out in the end. Again, a billion thoughts…  While this book won’t help you sleep train your babe or give you the keys to teenage rebellion, it is a fascinating look at parenting and one that I would recommend to anyone interested in the sociology and history. (pst…as of today, the kindle edition and Nook edition are $2))


I’m not done with the book yet to include it in today’s post, but I’m also halfway through 10% Happier by Dan Harris. I’m surprised so far at how much more Harris’s book reads like a memoir rather than a self-help manual–it certainly isn’t what I was expecting. It’s a quick little read and I hope to finish it this month (I’m reading and listening to it). But again–that reviewing track record of mine. ;)

What excellent Nonfiction have you read lately? Anything else (fiction or non) on your bedside table?


27 Responses to “Books I’ve Recently Read | Nonfiction November”

  1. I haven’t heard of two of the books you are highlighting but Dad is Fat is absolutely hilarious! I read it rather than listen to it and man, he always makes me laugh. I could hear his voice as I read it.

    Billy Bobbette will be here soon and while she’ll tire you out, you’ll get some energy back!

  2. HA – I read Dad is Fat when I had a young toddler in a NYC apartment…and I was always complaining about the difficulties of raising my one child in NYC. I remember thinking “well, at least I don’t have 5 kids in my NYC apartment” the entire time I was reading his book!

  3. First off, can I just say how much I LOVE that you got a lot from All Joy & No Fun. That is such a great book, definitely one of my favorites for the year. Second, the most interesting part of that book for me was the difference between parenting to middle class children as compared to parenting lower class children. She makes it clear in the beginning that this is a look at middle class families, and later in the teen or tween years, talks about how many of the things she’s discussing would be irrelevant in a family without a lot of money. That was crucial for me, because I grew up in a very poor family but am raising middle class children, and with my kids entering teenagehood, I was very frustrated. J grew up middle class and parents that way, but I was parenting the way my parents parented (heh), and there were a lot of conflicts. Understanding the sociology helped me to adapt, which was crucial for my boys!

    • Interesting. I could make assumptions but am really curious what the conflicts were and how you adapted/melded parenting styles. I suppose I should wander over to your blog to see if you address this in a review? :)

      • Who will get this email reply–Care or Amanda? But glad you reminded me to respond to Amanda’s comment because I’ve been curious about the same thing! Scott and I had very different upbringings and it’s been a bit of a struggle at times to agreeably be on the same page. Of course I’m the one who is ALWAYS right in the end. :P

  4. Dad is Fat is HILARIOUS! I listened to it during some long run days and he had me laughing almost the entire time; I’d come home and have to tell all of the stories to my husband. We both really enjoy his standup comedy, but I had no idea how good this would be! As a resident of the state of Arkansas, I know this is probably NOT a good thing to profess but…I am such a Wal-Mart hater. I’ve had friends who’ve worked for them at their HQ and many of them have said that it’s cult-like; not in a good, Google/Facebook sort of way, but in a creepy way. I wonder if your cousin has had a positive experience there? They have certainly set the bar for other retailers, but have been struggling lately. Thanks so much for sharing these and I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday!

  5. I love Jim Gaffigan. I loved Food and we watched a stand up routine of his not too long ago where he talked about bedtime and I laughed until I cried. All Joy and No Fun sounds like a good read and definitely useful. I like what you have to say about 10% Happier. I’ve had it on my TBR but I’m not much of a self-help fan so I’ve hesitated to read it.

  6. Just requested Dad is Fat (on audio) from my library. Can’t wait to get it!

    I’m reading a collection of essays called Saturday Beans & Sunday Supper (Edie Clark) and thoroughly enjoying every chapter! It’s pulled me out of a serious reading slump and I can’t wait to crawl into bed and read!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your fam! That babe will be here before you know it!

  7. I think the Walmart Effect is one I’d like. In college, I read a few books about Walmart and other large corporations and the way that huge corporations can change so many other things in society is fascinating to me.

  8. You have done Non-Fiction November proud. I got one in at the start of the month and there is a remote chance I’ll finish another before Monday, but it’s pretty remote.

  9. Dad Is Fat sounds like so much fun. I bet the audio is great, but most of my audio time is during a commute with a little one. Somehow I imagine there might be some words I’m not ready for her to pick up yet!

  10. I tried reading All Joy and no Fun at the end of my pregnancy but the book wasn’t working out. I think I may get more from it now so will have to give it a try.

    • I would definitely try it again–especially in a year or so. I think you’ll be able to relate more when you’ve hit the toddler stage. Even still I had a tough time relating to the teenager parts of the book but know it’s coming one day! Rather than read it as a parent, I almost read it looking back to my own teenage years (if that makes sense).

  11. Oh, Walmart… They just opened a new Neighborhood ctr type walmart by me, whatever they are called and I have tried 3 times. I have ended up having to walk out because they have no one managing self-checker and I always end up ‘needing assistance’. Eventually, I have to just walk out cuz who has time for that crap?! I won’t go back.

    • I LOATHE going to Walmart. Meanwhile I rarely leave Target in a bad mood. And I will gladly spend more money on “nice” produce at my local grocery store because the baggers still do carry out service and with two kids it’s a huge help! I guess those little savings I would make at Walmart are just not worth the stress to me in the end.

  12. Well, you certainly seem to be cranking the books … pregnancy or no. Bummer that you feel so tired. I will be thinking of you and watching your twitter for the “blessed news”. xxx

  13. I’m a huge Gaffigan fan so I’ll have to check it out. The other book looks like a good one too. Bryan from Still Unfinished brought me here.

    • Thanks for visiting Lisa–Bryan is one of my favorites. ;) Dad is Fat is hilarious–definitely worth checking out, especially on audio if you enjoy that way. Happy New Year!