Books I’ve Recently Read – Nonfiction!

Posted 3 May, 2017 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 18 Comments

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Books I've Recently Read


We meet again! While blogging hasn’t been high on my to do list over the past couple of months, I have been enjoying books. Now that I’m working every day, I’ve added audiobooks back into my rotation…for the days that I’m not listening to the Hamilton soundtrack (yes, still). I’m only in the car about 40 minutes a day, but every so often I’ll put on my earbuds while cooking dinner (if I’m not in charge of any littles) or while cleaning up around the house for some bonus listening time.

Below are three books that I listened to late last year…that all happen to be nonfiction. Nonfiction is definitely my go-to on audio–I find that I can usually get into the book more quickly than listening to fiction where it’ll take me hours to be invested (ahem Lonesome Dove ahem). For better or worse, it also doesn’t seem so detrimental to my experience if I zone out a few times here and there, though I think that I tend to stay more focused on nonfiction than fiction on audio. My mind doesn’t wander quite as much.


isaac's storm book cover

Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson

Audio Narrator: Richard Davidson | Audio Duration: 9 hrs and 38 mins
Published: 1999 | Pages: 323 | Genre: Nonfiction/History
On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible

In Short: In 1900 a hurricane swept over Galveston Island (in Texas) and killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people. Isaac’s Storm follows Isaac Cline, the Weather Service Director, and how he and others failed to recognize the danger of the city as the hurricane approached from the Caribbean. Because this happened over a century ago, this event has always felt so far away in history but Larson put a human face on the disaster by including many first hand accounts from the days leading up to the hurricane to the weeks after.

Bottom Line and Recommendation: Audio was a great format for Isaac’s Storm. Richard Davidson’s narration reminded me a lot of Edward Herrmann’s narrations and I had to keep checking to make sure it wasn’t him (Herrmann did narrate the abridged version). I wasn’t quite as captivated by this book as I was The Devil and the White City, but it was still a fascinating listen. After listening, I found myself scouring the internet for pictures of Galveston before and after the hurricane. I had no idea that Galveston was such an up and coming city in the 1800s. Sadly the hurricane had a great affect on its status as a major gulf port.


h is for hawk book cover

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Audio Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
Published: 2014 | Pages: 300 | Genre: Memoir

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible

In Short: In short, H is for Hawk is about Macdonald’s journey through grief after her father’s passing and her relationship with her hawk Mabel whom she trains during that time. The book is part reflection on her emotions and existence after her father’s death and part field guide on what it takes to train a hawk. She also throws in some biographical information on the author TH White (The Sword in the Stone) and his experience with training goshawks.

Bottom Line and Recommendation: H is for Hawk is one of the most amazing audios I’ve listened to, even though the actual subject wasn’t always interesting to me. I don’t know how else to explain that and I realize how ridiculous it sounds. Macdonald’s voice was like a salve and I soaked in it.  I’d listen to it again…but it’s one of those that I can’t automatically recommend because the subject doesn’t seem universally interesting? But please give it a try, and if it feels a little slow at first just let her words wash over you. The writing is gorgeous.


As You Wish Book Cover

As You Wish by Cary Elwes

Audio Narrator: Elwes and other cast | Audio Duration:  7 hrs and 1 min
Published: 2014 | Pages: 259 | Genre: Memoir

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible

In Short: Cary Elwes, who plays Westley in the classic movie The Princess Bride, reminisces about the making of film. He brings in the remembrances of other cast members to provide a full picture. He starts with the the failed productions and conceptions of The Princess Bride to how the cast was put together, to how the film became a surprise cult classic.

Bottom Line and Recommendation: I smiled from ear to ear while I was listening to As You Wish. I loved hearing all the tidbits and gossip surrounding the production and actors/actresses. It was fun to learn that Arnold Schwarzenegger was originally pinned as The Giant (later went to Andre the Giant) and that Elwes and Mandy Patinkin (Inigo) took very serious swordfighting lessons to make their scenes as authentic as possible. And so much more. If you’re a fan of The Princess Bride, you must listen to this book. The paper copy is great and has pictures, but you won’t regret choosing audio for this one.


*Amazon and Indiebound links are affiliate. If you purchase anything through those links, I will receive a small commission which will help support this blog. Thank you!


If I didn’t think your eyes were starting to glaze over, I’d also include little write-ups for The Happiness Project (which I’ve now listened to twice) and Evicted (which was so eye-opening). Maybe next time. ;)

Have you listened to anything fabulous lately??


18 Responses to “Books I’ve Recently Read – Nonfiction!”

  1. I’m still listening to Hamilton too! H is for Hawk does not sound like my kind of book at all, but I’m fascinated by what you said about it. I love the idea of beautiful words washing over me. So maybe I’ll try it!

    • For avid readers, I don’t think you can go wrong with H is for Hawk–though I don’t think I’d recommend it to a casual reader. Does that make sense? But it really was a gorgeously written book! Definitely go with audio if you can. :)

  2. Hello!! Glad to see you back! And nonfiction is my audio go-to as well for the exact same reason as you. I might try Evicted at some point. I’m currently listening to Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood…memoir out yesterday and it’s really good so far!

    • Evicted was very compelling listening–also tough listening. Sad stories, and a lot of hopelessness all around, but I’m glad I listened. I haven’t heard about Priestdaddy yet…will look into it!

  3. Hello Trish!!!

    I have H is for Hawk sitting on my shelves. I will have to see if the written word works as well as the audiobook.

    I’m listening to Cinnamon and Gunpowder right now, although I’m realizing I have a bad habit of not checking how long audiobooks are!

    • Because of how little listening time I get, length of audio is a big deal for me. If it’s really long I try to do print as well (hello Lonesome Dove!). I’ve heard such great things about Cinnamon and Gunpowder–hope you’re enjoying it! And if your library has a copy of H is for Hawk audio, it’s definitely worth checking out!

  4. I feel like As You Wish will be on my list forever. I so want to try the audiobook – yet never get audiobooks. I think I’ll have to break down and get it from the library. H is for Hawk is a some day book for me, I need to distance myself from my own grief to be able to read it I think.

  5. I just finished When Books Went to War and thought it was the perfect audio for the car. It was a little bit repetitive at times, but heartwarming for a book lover. It was quite funny to hear which books were the most popular with soldiers during WWII.

  6. Raidergirl3

    I want to listen to all three!
    I think all Larsen’s book after Devil in the White City pale by comparison. It was so good. I’ve read a couple other books by him, and they were okay, but not as good as Devil.

  7. Ti

    I’ve never seen The Princess Bride. I know. I’ve seen maybe 15 min of it but I was watching with the Hub and he just looked at me like, “What the heck is this” and the channel got changed. I want to give it a look again soon.

    • When you’re in a silly and goofy mood, watch Princess Bride. It’s so dated now that I’m not sure what it would be like to watch it for the first time–actually just had this conversation with my mom. I think it’s one of those that the more you watch it, the more you can’t help but love it. ;)

  8. I like non-fiction on audio too except when it’s too heavy on the history and I’m meant to be keeping track of dates or lots of names. It’s been a while since I listened to anything but the books of The Raven Cycle and the Tiffany Aching books — all rereads. I’m ready for something new though!

  9. I loved listening to H is for Hawk even though the book itself was not my favorite. I just wanted to listen to her read anything for a long long time.

    As You Wish was fun. I made The Hubster listen to it too then we watched the movie again.

  10. I felt the same way about H is for Hawk! I loved it so much and would also hesitate to recommend it. I can’t imagine anyone not loving it though. I felt the same way about Lab Girl.

  11. That’s so funny about Arnold Schwarzenegger being in The Princess Bride – he’s really quite short! I am kind of finding that nonfiction reads have been the books that have most interested me this year as I’ve struggled through a reading slump. Of course, what qualifies as a reading slump is still more reading that most people do and still at least as much as I used to read. But I feel like my blog is a pet that needs to be fed and isn’t getting enough to eat. I admire you for being able to step away from it for as long as you need to and come back to it when you feel like it!