Huzzah! It’s Nonfiction November which is motivation for me to get around to reading the massive pile of nonfiction books that I tend to accumulate. Nonfiction November is hosted by Olive and Gemma and the whole point is just to encourage people to read more nonfiction than they usually do. The four themes for this year’s challenge are:
Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute
In 1913 the San Francisco Bulletin published a serialized, ghostwritten memoir of a prostitute who went by the moniker Alice Smith. “A Voice from the Underworld” detailed Alice’s humble Midwestern upbringing and her struggle to find aboveboard work, and candidly related the harrowing events she endured after entering “the life.” While prostitute narratives had been published before, never had they been as frank in their discussion of the underworld, including topics such as abortion, police corruption, and the unwritten laws of the brothel. Throughout the series, Alice strongly criticized the society that failed her and so many other women, but, just as acutely, she longed to be welcomed back from the margins. The response to Alice’s story was unprecedented: four thousand letters poured into the Bulletin, many of which were written by other prostitutes ready to share their own stories; and it inspired what may have been the first sex worker rights protest in modern history.
For the first time in print since 1913, Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute presents the memoirs of Alice Smith and a selection of letters responding to her story. An introduction contextualizes “A Voice from the Underworld” amid Progressive Era sensationalistic journalism and shifting ideas of gender roles, and reveals themes in Alice’s story that extend to issues facing sex workers today.
This is my selection for the “Home” challenge. I live in San Francisco, which was once upon a time known as part of the Barbary Coast. I also have a slight obsession with Gold Rush era SF and how prostitutes have been viewed throughout history. Essentially, this book is the perfect combination of two very interesting topics to me.
Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny
A spontaneous decision at age twenty-one transformed small-town Oregon girl Holly Cullen into Holy Madison, Hugh Hefner’s number one girlfriend. But like Alice’s journey into Wonderland, Holly’s plunge down the rabbit hole took her to a world where she discovered that not all was as it seemed. What appeared to be a fairy-tale life inside the Playboy Mansion – which included A-list celebrity parties and Holly’s own number one television show – quickly devolved into an oppressive routine of strict rules, manipulation, and battles with ambitious, backstabbing Bunnies.
Life inside the notorious mansion wasn’t a dream after all, and it quickly became Holly’s nightmare. After losing her identity, her sense of self-worth, and her hope for the future she found herself sitting alone in a bathtub contemplating suicide – but instead of ending her life, Holly chose to take charge of it. Here for the first time, she courageously shares the real story, from the details of her demeaning and controlling relationship to the hard work of healing, a journey that culminated in her own successful television series, a live Las Vegas show, and the joy of motherhood.
It might seem a bit strange that I chose this one for “substance” but hear me out! “Girls Next Door” was the first reality TV show that I actually watched religiously. I was fascinated by the whole Playboy Bunny lifestyle and absolutely loved how calm/down to earth Holly was. When I first heard that she wrote a book I felt as if her time to prove that she has something substantial to say/contribute to the people who desired the Playboy Bunny lifestyle had finally come. Needless to say, I haven’t gotten around to reading the book until now, but I’m super duper looking forward to it.
Public Library Services for the Poor: Doing All We Can
Synopsis: Among public institutions, the library has great potential for helping the poor and disenfranchised. For many, the library is their only source for information, entertainment, language skills, employment help, free computer use, and even safety and shelter. Experts Leslie and Glen Holt, with decades of service to inner-city communities between them, challenge librarians to do more for poor people. While recognizing the financial crunch libraries are under, the authors offer concrete advice about programs and support for this group, showing you how to *Train staff to meet the unique needs of the poor, including youth *Cooperate with other agencies in order to form partnerships and collaborations that enrich library services to the poor and homeless *Find help, financial and other, for your library This groundbreaking work demonstrates how five Key Action Areas adopted by the ALA Council (Diversity, Equity of Access, Education and Continuous Learning, Intellectual Freedom, and 2lst-Century Literacy) apply especially to this disadvantaged population, and motivates librarians to use creative solutions to meet their needs.
I love libraries and I love the public servant aspect of library work. Honestly, I do believe that if I wasn’t hellbent on becoming some form of librarian I would have considered a career in social work. Anywho, I’m partially reading this because it’s one of my sources for a paper that I’m writing, but I’m still looking forward to it!
Synopsis: When Charlemagne died in 814 CE, he left behind a dominion and a legacy unlike anything seen in Western Europe since the fall of Rome. Distinguished historian and author of The Middle Ages Johannes Fried presents a new biographical study of the legendary Frankish king and emperor, illuminating the life and reign of a ruler who shaped Europe’s destiny in ways few figures, before or since, have equaled.
Living in an age of faith, Charlemagne was above all a Christian king, Fried says. He made his court in Aix-la-Chapelle the center of a religious and intellectual renaissance, enlisting the Anglo-Saxon scholar Alcuin of York to be his personal tutor, and insisting that monks be literate and versed in rhetoric and logic. He erected a magnificent cathedral in his capital, decorating it lavishly while also dutifully attending Mass every morning and evening. And to an extent greater than any ruler before him, Charlemagne enhanced the papacy’s influence, becoming the first king to enact the legal principle that the pope was beyond the reach of temporal justice–a decision with fateful consequences for European politics for centuries afterward.
Though devout, Charlemagne was not saintly. He was a warrior-king, intimately familiar with violence and bloodshed. And he enjoyed worldly pleasures, including physical love. Though there are aspects of his personality we can never know with certainty, Fried paints a compelling portrait of a ruler, a time, and a kingdom that deepens our understanding of the man often called “the father of Europe.”
I absolutely loved Fried’s “The Middle Ages” so when I saw that he wrote a book about Charlemagne how could I possibly resist? Obviously, I chose this one for scholarship since Charlemagne is often thought of when people think of early European scholarship. I don’t exactly plan on finishing this one this month – just because it took me nearly a year to read Fried’s last book, but I do intend on knocking out a decent chunk.
The Name of the Rose
Synopsis: The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon – all sharpened to a glistening edge by wry humor and a ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey, where “the most interesting things happen at night.”
Whenever ~literary~ people find out that I like to read and that I love medieval history they always ask “Have you read any Umberto Eco?” and when I say no they look at me as if I’ve just lied about my entire life. SO, I’m going to remedy that this month with this novel. I actually started on it last month and so far I’m enjoying the mystery aspect of it.
That brings to a happy close my TBR goals for November. Let me know what you plan on reading this month or if you’ve read any of the books mentioned above!
Hope you have a wonderful day & read a wonderful book,