Facing Death: My Top 5 Nonfiction Books About Death

Death is a part of life. There’s no escaping it and while some people dread death and others embrace it, we’re fascinated by it. For example, think of the last movie you saw without a death in it. Even Disney movies kill off their villains most of the time.

So lately, I’ve been reading a lot about death. I was always fascinated by the True Crime side of things, but never really thought about what it would be like on the other side. Books about death or facing death can take on all sorts of feelings. Usually they fall into two camp: the serious and the irreverent.

For obvious reasons, I find the irreverent more fun. While they can still be terrifying and unnerving, they take the edge off a bit. I’m not including adventure nonfiction in this list, but if you’re looking for those, you can find them here.

So, which books should you look at to learn more about death? Continue reading “Facing Death: My Top 5 Nonfiction Books About Death” »

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch – Review

I’m going to level with you right now. My first instinct was to call shout from the heavens that I’ve found Eat, Pray, Love for young adults, but… I haven’t read Eat, Pray, Love and I only have the loosest idea of what it’s all about (I do know that Julia Roberts was in the movie though, so that’s something). So let’s not be disingenuous or misleading and instead look at Love & Gelato it’s own merits.

The title is apt and I guess what I wasn’t expecting out of this was the interesting dynamic between all the main characters. Normally parents in young adult novels play strictly supporting roles. They’re there to smile, help out, and then possibly die when the stakes need to be ramped up in a hurry.

Not so with Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch. Kind of… It’s complicated.

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The Changeling by Philippa Gregory – Review

From the very beginning of this novel, I was thrown off. Although this is set in the 15th century, the very first sentence threw me out of the book:

“The hammering on the door shot him into wakefulness like a handgun going off in his face.”

I had to put the novel down and go to Wikipedia, determined to find out the truth of the matter and grow about my own superior knowledge. I skimmed some of the entry and then happened upon this small paragraph in the handguns entry:

Handheld firearms first appeared in China where gunpowder was first developed. They were hand cannons (although they were not necessarily fired from the hand, but rather at the end of a handle). By the 14th century, they existed in Europe as well.

You win this round, Philippa Gregory.

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We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson – Review

So what if I were to tell you that we weren’t the center of the universe and what if I were to tell you that I held the future of the entire world in the palm of my hand? That’s right. The aliens chose me and I don’t know why, but they told me I could decide whether or not the world keeps on existing.

Easy choice, right?

Not… exactly.

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The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin – Review

It should be no surprise to anyone that we live in a nostalgia driven world. I mean, take a look at the movies and TV shows that are coming out and you’ll see many appeals to our nostalgia, some predatory, some not. It’s nostalgia that started me on the road of rereading all the Baby-Sitter’s Club books and looking back at the things I’d read as a kid as an adult. It can almost feel like opening up a time capsule to peer inside when you crack open an old book again, looking back into the past with every turned page.

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Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon – Review

Everyone is afraid of death. It’s one of those universal truths that we all live with and while we may feel like we’re invincible when we’re teenagers, there’s always been fiction which undercuts that. Were you into fiction that was set in our world? There are books that will satisfy your young adult death craving such as John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars or Nicholas Sparks’ A Walk to Remember. Want to be more fanciful? Harry Potter and the Hunger Games have you covered.

There’s an allure to reading about death. At first, I was puzzled about why there were so many deaths in Young Adult fiction before I looked over at my bookshelf and saw all of the true crime that was waiting for me there. Death fascinates us all and when written well (like it was in Everything, Everything), for the purpose of telling a good story rather than simply trying to write porn for emotions, the death of teens can be incredibly cathartic to read about.

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A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez – Review

There are beautiful accidents in the world and this was one of them. I was in the library and let someone pick out a book for me. Normally, I tend to stay away from the witchy side of things. It’s been done to death and it would just mean either a really ugly woman or a disgustingly sexy vixen who left drooling men in her wake. Neither of them would really interest me so I was ready to dismiss the novel out of hand. Then I saw the tagline:

“A tale of vengeance, true love, and cannibalism”

How on earth can you go wrong with that?

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The Chimes by Anna Smaill – Review

Imagine a world where music is more than something you listen to, where music is the way that you find your way to places. Maps don’t exist and even if they did, would you remember how to read them without music to remind you how? Instead of moving quickly, you move presto. If time seems to slow, time goes lente. The world moves to the music in the most literal way that a society can manage.

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To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Review

The world can be a scary place when the mob takes over. When people band together, put their hands over their ears and refuse to listen, it can be dangerous to step out of line or go against the grain in any way. It is in times like this, when injustice is being perpetrated, that the people who aren’t being victimized need to stand up against those forces. Atticus Finch, one of the most beloved characters in literature, goes against his neighbours and the people in his small town to make sure that justice is served.

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Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald – Review

I don’t know what it is between me and books about strange families. Whenever I hear that a novel that I’m going to be reading has an unusual family structure, I’m chomping at the bit to read it. It may be simply that the world is a messy place and a family that has an unusual shape seems more real to me than the nuclear family that I had shoved down my throat when I was a kid. Or it might just be that there’s a mystery to unusual families that isn’t there with conventional ones. There’s a need to figure out how the different pieces of the family fit together to form a family unit which adds a depth to the proceedings that comes naturally.

Enter stage right: Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald.

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