Nonfiction November: Week 1 – A Year in Nonfiction

It is my second year participating in this challenge and I am very excited about it! I feel more prepared this year – last year was such an amazing experience and I was like a crazy kid let loose in a candy shop – all the books!! Week one takes a look back at your year in nonfiction, and is hosted by Leann @ Shelf Aware.

I have had a weird year of reading this year – I just couldn’t always focus on reading like normal. I still managed to read some fantastic books this year, including more nonfiction than I normally read.

Not tons, but I feel like this was a good amount for the reading year I had this year. By far, my favorite and most recommended nonfiction read this year was The Call of the Wild and Free. It was a book that resonated in my bones, and I knew that this was the journey I wanted to start with my son. I had a feeling we would be homeschooling this year, and then when I read Arment’s book, it brought everything together for me. Wyatt has cerebral palsy that mainly affects his mobility, with some developmental delays, and Arment said something in her book that just rang so true for me – that in the classroom, the focus is on the disability; at home, the focus is on ability. (I am paraphrasing here) I know that this is not the right solution or experience for everyone, but it works for us, at least right now.

It sparked a year of reading more books about homeschool and alternative types of schooling, about creativity and adventure. And I still have two more of this type on my shelf, waiting to be read. I have found inspiration not just for our homeschool, but also for our everyday lives in these books. It just works for us!

Last year, I was introduced to just how many fabulous nonfiction topics are out there waiting to be explored. There really is a book out there for everything, and for everyone. I think this year, I am just excited to see what everyone else is reading, what their interests are, and to maybe find a few new topics of interest to learn about as well. I also “met” so many new people and found new blogs – the community that arises from this event is incredible, and I am looking forward to that aspect as well!

Book Review: Honey and Venom

From the Publisher:

Considered an “industry legend” by The New York Times, Andrew Coté has one of the most intriguing, challenging, and unique jobs in New York City—maintaining millions of honey bees atop some of the city’s most iconic buildings. His apiaries have crowned the Waldorf Astoria and the Museum of Modern Art; reside on the North Lawn of the United Nations; reign above stores, hotels, restaurants, schools, churches, and synagogues; and are situated in community gardens, and even cemeteries, throughout the five boroughs.
 
In this debut collection, Coté takes readers with him on his daily apiary adventures over the course of a year, in the city and across the globe. Here, among his many duties, he is called to capture swarms that have clustered on fire hydrants, air-conditioning units, or street-vendor umbrellas. Annually, he travels with his father to regions like remote Fijian islands, rural Uganda, Haiti, Ecuador, or Iraq with his organization, Bees Without Borders, where he teaches beekeepers how to increase their honey yield and income via beekeeping endeavors.
 
Written with Coté’s trademark humor, acumen, and a healthy dose of charm, Honey and Venom illuminates the obscure culture of New York City “beeks” and the biology of the bees themselves, from the humble drone to the fittingly named worker to the queen herself—who is more a slave than a monarch. The hive world, Coté reveals, is full of strivers and slackers, givers and takers, and even some insect promiscuity—startlingly similar to the prickly human variety.
 
For Coté, a fourth-generation beekeeper, this is a family tradition, and this personal significance pervades his celebration of the romance and mystery of bees, their honey, and the beekeepers whose lives revolve around these most magical creatures.

My Thoughts:

When I think of beekeepers, I think of pastoral, rural, peaceful settings, a life full of flowers and honey ; Andrew Coté is far from this image. His life and career is globetrotting, star studded, and full of rooftops and city streets, hard work and long hours (although I am sure those rural type beekeepers also work long and hard hours!)

I was pleasantly surprised by this book! I should have realized that the life of an urban beekeeper would be leagues different from those on farms and homesteads, however I never would have imagined the amazing things that Coté, has done in his life as a beekeeper. One such thing is his Bees Without Borders program that he founded to help fight poverty, and he has travelled to such countries as Kenya, Nigeria, and Iraq and others, to teach them beekeeping skills. Some of the stories he had to tell about his travels were were humorous, while some highlighted the dangers he faced in his mission to help others, and bees.

Coté, also had stories to tell of commercials, tv show appearances (Cake Boss, for one), and being a beekeeper to the rich and famous – namely one very famous woman renowned for her lifestyle whose name begins with M. In addition to all of this, Coté, also founded the New York City Beekeepers Association, maintains his own empire of bees, and assists with dangerous bee situations that plague the city – such as a hoarding house whose bees became a danger and nuisance to the city, working side by side with the police in such cases.

I really loved this book – I loved hearing about all of Coté’s adventures, his family history with bees and beekeeping, and the little facts that he threw in about bees as well – such as the fact that the scent of bananas enrages them! This book was a great read and I loved learning about a whole different world, the world of the urban beekeeper.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Nonfiction November – Ask the Experts!

Wow, week 3 already! I have been finding so many great books – I am so glad that I participated this year. This week’s prompt is:

Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert (Hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey)
Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

This is the week I was really nervous about. In the past few years I haven’t read much nonfiction. Not enough to consider myself an expert at anything. Maybe years ago, when I was reading more. But now, not so much. So, I am opting for a blend of the remaining two options! I am asking for recommendations as well as sharing a list of the books I had already started. If you have a suggestion on my topic, I would love to hear it! If you have an opinion on any of the books I am sharing, I would love to hear that too! And finally, if you don’t have one on this particular topic exactly, I would love your suggestions for nature reading!

Rewilding/Wilding our Family

For much of my adult life, I have suffered from anxiety. When things began to pile up, I would find a walk in the woods always made me feel so much better. Years later, I have learned that this is something that has been studied and scientists are finding that nature and a connection to nature is so important to our health, mental and physical. My son has cerebral palsy, so sometimes finding the accessibility is tough, so I have joined a million groups online and read all sorts of different philosophies to find different ideas that I can adapt. I really believe that some of his progress is due to the way we are trying to raise him, with a closeness to nature. Yes, he has multiple therapy appointments a week, and monthly doctors appointments, but I believe this nature connection is providing a healthy balance to that world, and they are working in tandem. So,with all that being said, I need your suggestions! I have read a few already, like The Nature Fix and There is No Such Thing as Bad Weather, but I am looking for more!

These are the few I have found but I would love to hear your recommendations or suggestions! If you don’t have a rewilding/widling specific book suggestion, I would love to hear your nature book suggestions!