Nonfiction November: Worldview Changers

This week is another exciting week with a new prompt from our newest host, Rebekah at She Seeks Nonfiction. I’m not sure I have a good answer for this one, but I’m looking forward to having a fresh nonfiction topic to discuss with all of you. Worldview Changers : One of the greatest things about… Read more »

A Less Well-Known Book on the Opioid Crisis

Title: Death in Mud Lick: A True Story of Corporate Pill Pushers in Small Town America Author: Eric EyreSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: A great work of investigative journalism that benefited from the author’s depth of local knowledge. So far, the two books I’d heard the least about have been the… Read more »

Nonfiction November: Stranger Than Fiction

We’re revisiting one of our newer discussion prompts this week with host Christopher of Plucked From the Stacks and talking about nonfiction that you’d find too unbelievable if it were fiction. This prompt made me realize that I’ve done a decent amount of depressingly real nonfiction reading this year, but I did find a few… Read more »

Inspiration or Instruction? Homebody in Review

Title: Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave Author: Joanna GainesSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: A great design book for beginners, without much specific advice, but with pictures arranged to help you figure out your own style. This book from HGTV star and designer Joanna Gaines is… Read more »

CRAFT: How to Leave an Essay by Suzanne Farrell Smith

Deciding when and how to leave an essay is hard. You don’t want to drag on, but you don’t want to “dismount too early,” as a mentor once told me. You want to land, but precisely: not too light and not with a thud. You might want to restate or revisit, or is that too… Read more »

WRITING LIFE: My Reckoning with Reading by Maryam Keramaty

My decision to subscribe to The New Yorker mid-pandemic was short-sighted. When I clicked on the Facebook ad (such a deal, how could I pass it up?), I felt a familiar dread in the pit of my stomach. Subscribing to prestigious journals was something I often felt compelled to do, but that decision was always… Read more »

WRITING LIFE: My Reckoning with Reading by Maryam Keramaty

My decision to subscribe to The New Yorker mid-pandemic was short-sighted. When I clicked on the Facebook ad (such a deal, how could I pass it up?), I felt a familiar dread in the pit of my stomach. Subscribing to prestigious journals was something I often felt compelled to do, but that decision was always… Read more »

INTERVIEW: J. Michael Lennon, author of Mailer’s Last Days: New and Selected Remembrances of a Life in Literature

Interviewed by Vicki Mayk J. Michael Lennon’s literary identity has been intertwined with that of legendary writer Norman Mailer for more than a half century. As the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer’s authorized biographer and archivist, Lennon has written more about Mailer than anyone. The author of the biography Norman Mailer: A Double Life, published by Simon… Read more »

Wonderland by Laura Carraro

It’s cold outside, twenty degrees and windy. I’m eager to get inside my psychiatrist’s office, but only for this reason. It’s too cold for slush. The snow is so crunchy and dry it doesn’t attach itself to my boots, but once I’ve entered, I make a show of stomping on the mat and brushing myself… Read more »

Hair by Morgan Blair

My younger sister, Em, and I pulled into Walmart’s parking lot at 10 p.m. I’d never been to a department store after dark, but in Chesterfield, a suburb outside of St. Louis, Walmart was the only place open. “Come on,” I said, pulling the key from the ignition. I unclicked my seatbelt and opened the… Read more »

Hair by Morgan Blair

My younger sister, Em, and I pulled into Walmart’s parking lot at 10 p.m. I’d never been to a department store after dark, but in Chesterfield, a suburb outside of St. Louis, Walmart was the only place open. “Come on,” I said, pulling the key from the ignition. I unclicked my seatbelt and opened the… Read more »

on certainty by Shannon Ratliff

After the river rose, a kid ran screaming into town. Dead woman in a tree, strung up by stuff. A mile from the river, we saw the mangled body between the high oak branches, alive. The stuff a fabric rope of socks, underwear, flannel wrapped around her waist and legs. Her naked husband had strung… Read more »

Nonficion November: Book Pairing

It’s time for that classic Nonfiction November prompt – the book pairing! Our host this week is Rennie at What’s Nonfiction, so if you post some book pairings, be sure to go share it in the link-up on her blog. In the past, we’ve typically focused the book pairing on a fiction/nonfiction recommendation, but this… Read more »

A Memoir of the Opioid Crisis in Review

Title: In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids Author: Travis RiederSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Both the personal story and the thoughtful analysis in this book made it a clear favorite of the books I’ve read on the opioid epidemic. This memoir by a bioethics research is by far the… Read more »

An Academic and A Pop Take on the Opioid Crisis

Title: Drug Dealer, MD: How Doctors Were Duped, Patients Got Hooked, and Why It’s So Hard to Stop Author: Anna LembkeSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: When trying to read a lot on one topic, I worry that the books might get repetitive. So far though, I’ve found that each book brings something… Read more »

Nonfiction November: Your Year in Nonfiction

  Friends! I know it’s not yet November, but it will be tomorrow and we can’t wait, so Nonfiction November kicks off today! I’m so excited to have you all join me for our first weekly discussion prompt. As is tradition, we first want to hear about how your reading year has been going to… Read more »

Books on Home Decorating

Title: Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff Author: Myquillyn SmithSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: This book aligned really well with my goals for my space. I want things to feel cozy, but not cluttered. I’d like to achieve a cozy, homey feel with no more decorative items than are really necessary…. Read more »

Early Books on the Opioid Epidemic in Review

Title: Pain Killer: A “Wonder” Drug’s Trail of Addiction and Death Author: Barry MeierSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: I’ve been accumulating books about the opioid epidemic on my to-read list for years, so I’ve decided to just read them all in publication order. I was interested to understand how people thought about… Read more »

WWII Fiction Review: The Ways We Hide

Title: The Ways We Hide Author: Kristina McMorrisSource: from publisher for review Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Annoying choices by the protagonist and melodramatic outcomes meant I didn’t enjoy this much, despite a great premise. I don’t pick up WWII fiction all of that often because I find the sheer amount of it… Read more »

INTERVIEW: Adiba Nelson, Author of Ain’t That a Mother

Interview by Dr Tamara MC We are excited to feature this conversation between Dr. Tamara MC and Adiba Nelson. Adiba Nelson is the author of Ain’t that a Mother (Blackstone, May 2022) a hilarious and heartbreaking memoir about motherhood, palsy, and all the deets in-between. Adiba’s voice is unabashed, unflinchingly honest, and disrupts any stereotypes… Read more »

REVIEW: Castaway Mountain: Love and Loss Among the Wastepickers of Mumbai by Saumya Roy

Reviewed by Christy Moore In Castaway Mountain: Love and Loss Among the Wastepickers of Mumbai (Astra House 2021), Indian journalist Saumya Roy draws back the curtain to reveal a desolate landscape – the landfill on the outskirts of Mumbai where the refuse of urban life has grown into mountains. Deonar is more than a setting… Read more »

REVIEW: Castaway Mountain: Love and Loss Among the Wastepickers of Mumbai by Saumya Roy

Reviewed by Christy Moore In Castaway Mountain: Love and Loss Among the Wastepickers of Mumbai (Astra House 2021), Indian journalist Saumya Roy draws back the curtain to reveal a desolate landscape – the landfill on the outskirts of Mumbai where the refuse of urban life has grown into mountains. Deonar is more than a setting… Read more »

REVIEW: Promenade of Desire: A Barcelona Memoir by Isidra Mencos

Reviewed by Diane Gottlieb Desire. The word itself evokes our wants. Longings. But while our wants live in the brain and longings in the heart, desire is of the whole body. It moves us. Compels us to act. Action, guided by desire, can be dangerous. Throughout history, the very thought of women’s desires has sent… Read more »

Futuristic Friday: Find Your New Reads {Oct-Dec 2022}

  I’ve decided that Fall is my favorite season! In addition to beautiful cool weather, I’m excited for Dewey’s read-a-thon, Nonfiction November, and all of the great books that are going to be published in the next few months. I’m especially looking forward to seeing what Tamara at Traveling with T has to share –… Read more »

Nonfiction November is Coming!

Fall is here, which means it’s almost time for Nonfiction November! Throughout the month of November, fellow bloggers Jaymi (The OC Book Girl), Rennie (What’s Nonfiction), Christopher (Plucked from the Stacks), Rebekah (She Seeks Nonfiction) and I invite you to celebrate Nonfiction November with us. Here’s how it will work: Each Monday, our weekly host… Read more »

Science Romance Review: Love on the Brain

Title: Love on the Brain Author: Ali HazelwoodSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: This romance checked all the boxes and featured some delightful, quirky scientists I loved getting to know. As I started to write this review, I realized that I have a lot of similar things to say about the romances… Read more »

Activist Memoir in Review: They Called Me a Lioness

Title: They Called Me a Lioness: A Palestinian Girl’s Fight for Freedom Author: Ahed Tamimi, Dena TakruriSource: from publisher for review Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: This was a good book to begin learning about Palestine with its simply written blend of memoir and history. This is the second memoir I’ve read recently that… Read more »

Memoir Review: Year of the Tiger

Title: Year of the Tiger: An Activist’s Life Author: Alice WongSource: from publisher for review |Goodreads Rating: Summary: This was a fun read that spanned a wide variety of topics and formats, constantly surprising me and teaching me new things. I really loved this “genre-bending” memoir, full of essays, interviews, photos, and drawings. Essay collections in… Read more »

HippoCamp Story Slam Recap: Taking 3rd in My First Story Slam

by Molly Bilinski This post is part of a HippoCamp 2022 recap series, with guest blog posts written by HippoCamp attendees. Learn more about our conference for creative nonfiction writers. It was after 10 p.m. when I finally got the chance to tell my story at Lancaster Story Slam: HippoCamp Edition the first night of… Read more »

WRITING LIFE: How A Lit Mag Can Grow You By Kristen Paulson-Nguyen

One day you’re in class listening to Donna Talarico’s voice on Zoom. Your teacher suggests you get involved with Hippocampus Magazine as a reader. That summer you’re at HippoCamp: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers, meeting Allison K Williams. She hugs you. You are surprised to discover this new community. Inside you is a writer… Read more »

CRAFT: Big Writing Dreams? Here’s Why You Need to Enter CNF Contests by Nicole Breit

Do you dream of getting your first publication credit or book out into the world? Then, writer, I have a question for you: Are you submitting your work to CNF contests? For many writers, literary awards aren’t really on their radar. They may know they exist, but they aren’t including contests as part of their… Read more »

Eruption by Yvanna Vien Tica

“On January 12, 2020, the Taal Volcano in the Philippines awoke…” Earth Observatory, NASA The night the volcano spewed ash into our lives, I dreamt about eating lava. It tasted like caramel or seared custard. My Bible study teacher sidled into the dream too and helped herself to some spilling over the crater, letting the… Read more »

Magical Realism Review: Other Birds

Title: Other Birds Author: Sarah Addison AllenSource: from publisher for review Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Charming but without much emotional depth. Before she starts school in the fall, Zoey moves to Mallow Island to learn more about her deceased mother. Living in her mother’s old apartment, she begins to connect with the other… Read more »

Favorite Fiction in Review: Carrie Soto is Back

Title: Carrie Soto Is Back Author: Taylor Jenkins ReidSource: from publisher for review Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: This is my favorite book I’ve read in a long time! Great characters I loved getting to know and a perfectly-paced plot. I’ve been reading a bunch of review copies this month and not completely connecting… Read more »

Hippocampus Magazine Submissions Update: Fall 2022 Reading Period Opens Oct. 15

Hello from Hippocampus Magazine! We’re sharing a quick update about a change to our next reading period, which was originally set to open September 1, 2022: Hippocampus Magazine will reopen for creative nonfiction submissions (essay/flash CNF) October 15, 2022, and will accept submissions through Jan. 15, 2023. This extra six weeks will give our reading… Read more »

On Finding Essay Titles: The Answer Is in Your Essay: A HippoCamp Recap

by Jaminnina R. States, guest blogger This post is part of a HippoCamp 2022 recap series, with guest blog posts written by HippoCamp attendees. Learn more about our conference for creative nonfiction writers. “Who waits until their essay’s complete before they start to think about the title?” Kristen Paulson-Nguyen asked innocently at the start of… Read more »

Drafting your First Drafts Club: A HippoCamp Recap

by Jaminnia R. States, guest blogger This post is part of a HippoCamp 2022 recap series, with guest blog posts written by HippoCamp attendees. Learn more about our conference for creative nonfiction writers. Think of yourself as Col. Nick Fury, the top agent, and mastermind behind Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. (If you’re lost here, it’s like if… Read more »

Beware of Implicit Bias in Writing: A HippoCamp 2022 Recap

by Lillie Gardner, guest blogger This post is part of a HippoCamp 2022 recap series, with guest blog posts written by HippoCamp attendees. Learn more about our conference for creative nonfiction writers. Dr. Stacie Walton and Dr. Linda Goodrich brought the implicit bias real talk to HippoCamp 2022. Their fascinating and reflective session “Implicit Bias… Read more »

The Art of Writing a Book Review by Vicki Mayk – A HippoCamp 2022 Recap

by Angie Mohn This post is part of a HippoCamp 2022 recap series, with guest blog posts written by HippoCamp attendees. Learn more about our conference for creative nonfiction writers. Most of us can recall from childhood the projects of reading an assigned book and then writing a book report. As a child, this was… Read more »

Getting Unstuck: Insight into Finding Words with Dawn Leas – A HippoCamp 2022 Recap

by Angie Mohn This post is part of a HippoCamp 2022 recap series, with guest blog posts written by HippoCamp attendees. Learn more about our conference for creative nonfiction writers. Writers oftentimes find themselves stuck… stuck to find words, stuck in their thoughts, maybe even stuck in traffic. Nobody likes to be stuck in the… Read more »

Narrative Nonfiction Review: The Scandalous Hamiltons

Title: The Scandalous Hamiltons: A Gilded Age Grifter, a Founding Father’s Disgraced Descendant, and a Trial at the Dawn of Tabloid Journalism Author: Bill ShafferSource: from publisher for review Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: This was a dramatic story well told, but there wasn’t enough material to sustain a book. This story of… Read more »

Historical Fiction Review: A Map for the Missing

Title: A Map for the Missing Author: Belinda Huijuan TangSource: from publisher for review Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: An interesting story, but the characters’ own emotional detachment made it hard for me to get into it. When Tang Yitian’s mother tells him that his father had disappeared from their village in rural… Read more »

The Essence of Being Grounded: A HippoCamp Recap of Writing About Trauma to Heal Ourselves and Others

by Trish McDonald, guest blogger This post is part of a HippoCamp 2022 recap series, with guest blog posts written by HippoCamp attendees. Learn more about our conference for creative nonfiction writers. Karen Carnabucci is the essence of grounded. In her presence, I am safe. As a woman with adverse childhood experiences, I know immediately… Read more »

Do the (Writer’s) Hustle: A HippoCamp Recap on Gentle Networking Tips for Writers

by Denise Bike, guest blogger This post is part of a HippoCamp 2022 recap series, with guest blog posts written by HippoCamp attendees. Learn more about our conference for creative nonfiction writers. Amy Fish is a Tesla in the speed lane on the superhighway of hustle. She’s the kind of writer who can spin traffic… Read more »

A Fragment Is Its Own Thing: A HippoCamp Recap on Segmented Essay and Micro-Memoir

by Denise Bike, guest blogger This post is part of a HippoCamp 2022 recap series, with guest blog posts written by HippoCamp attendees. Learn more about our conference for creative nonfiction writers. As a writer and reader of fragments and flash frequently frustrated by feedback that they’re just a draft, Lara Lillibridge’s session, Let the… Read more »

Memoir Review: Fly Girl

Title: Fly Girl: A Memoir Author: Ann HoodSource: from publisher for review Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: A fun, light memoir perfect for summer reading. This memoir about the author’s time as a flight attendant was a fun, easy read. I always enjoy learning about interesting careers and there was so much here… Read more »

Science Nonfiction: The Disappearing Spoon

Title: The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements Author: Sam KeanSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: I expected to love this, but it was disjointed and short on exciting, new-to-me anecdotes. This collection of fun facts… Read more »

Not at HippoCamp 2022? Ways to Follow Along

Claire O’Brien reading her award-winning essay, “Dead Weight” at HippoCamp 2021’s Night of Nonfiction. Photo by Lina Seijo for Hippocampus Magazine.   HippoCamp: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction, at the time of this post, is going strong! There’s a lot of live-tweeting and Instagramming — if you’re not here, we encourage you to follow along…. Read more »

Futuristic Friday: Find Your New Reads August & September 2022 edition

Happy Futuristic Friday! Tamara and I may have missed our July quarterly post, but we decided to still gather up some great books we’re looking forward to in August and September to share. We’ve both had a lot of life things keeping us from posting in July, but I particularly want to say a huge… Read more »

Contemporary Fiction Review: Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Title: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow Author: Gabrielle ZevinSource: Bought Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: I loved getting to know the characters in this book, although I had hoped for something a little happier. I really loved Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry but I didn’t think much of Young Jane Young. When… Read more »

INTERVIEW: Johnathan Alexander, Author of Dear Queer Self: An Experiment in Memoir

Interview by Lara Lillibridge  Dear Queer Self (Acre Books), is an unconventional memoir in which Jonathan Alexander addresses wry and affecting missives to a conflicted younger self. Focusing on three years—1989, 1993, and 1996—Dear Queer Self: An Experiment in Memoir follows the author through the homophobic heights of the AIDS epidemic, the fall of the… Read more »

WRITING LIFE: How to Keep Writing by Katie Bannon

Whether you’re working on a book-length work or on shorter pieces, the fellowship of other writers can help maintain your writing momentum. Perhaps your work was recently rejected, and you feel discouraged, or you must produce a certain number of pages on deadline. Two free resources you may find helpful are NaNoWriMo, a month of… Read more »

CRAFT: Pedal and Prose: 3 Writing Tips from the Tour by Stephanie Hunt

Summer is an endurance test. Here in the Deep South as July melts into August my once perky garden starts shriveling, on strike against the heat, and daily thunderstorms become the meteorological expression of my mood—feisty, dark clouds grumbling with an atmospheric “Enough!” My writing projects tend to go limp in the humidity as my… Read more »

Women in Journalism: Fiction

Title: Savage News Author: Jessica YellinSource: from publisher for review Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Kind of fun, but not good, with cartoonish villains and a simplistic plot. This fictional account of a female journalist and wannabe news anchor was a fun read, but not a good one. It held up particularly poorly… Read more »

HippoCamp 2022 Speaker Q&A: Rae Pagliarulo

Rae Pagliarulo is more than a returning HippoCamp presenter. She’s also Hippocampus Magazine’s associate editor and flash editor (and leads an A-team of flash readers) — and she’s also heavily involved in the behind-the-scenes of HippoCamp. Rae, a Philadelphia native who works as a nonprofit consultant by day, was kind enough to answer a few… Read more »

HippoCamp 2022 Speaker Q&A: Randon Billings Noble

Randon Billings Noble is an essayist. Her collection Be with Me Always was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2019 and her anthology of lyric essays, A Harp in the Stars, was published by Nebraska in 2021. She is the founding editor of the online literary magazine After the Art and teaches in… Read more »

HippoCamp 2022 Speaker Q&A: Sue Repko

Sue Repko’s essays have been named notable three times in Best American Essays and won the 2019 Maine Literary Award for Short Nonfiction. She is a freelance writer and editor with an MFA from Bennington. It took her over fourteen years to complete STANDOFF: Memoir of a Gunsmith’s Daughter. At the moment, she is just… Read more »

HippoCamp 2022 Speaker Q&A: Margaret Whitford

After earning an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Margaret Whitford spent 20 years in the not-for-profit field in senior management roles. She then returned to graduate school at Chatham University to pursue an MFA. Margaret was kind enough to answer a few questions about her upcoming trip to Lancaster for our annual… Read more »

Writing Conference Scholarships: Announcing Our 2022 HippoCamp Scholarship Recipients

Allison Hong Merrill, a 2021 scholarship recipient (third from left) with three new friends — Cheryl, Melodie, and Jeannette — at HippoCamp 2021.   Each year, HippoCamp: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers offers writing conference scholarships (as many as we can afford!) to writers who require a little financial assistance to make the journey…. Read more »

Women in Journalism History

Title: To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells Author: Mia BaySource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: A great blend of scholarly rigor and pop history approachability. This biography of Ida B Wells started slowly for me, but ended up being a great read. I’d obviously heard of Wells before,… Read more »

Women in Journalism: Silicon Valley

Title: Special Characters: My Adventures with Tech’s Titans and Misfits Author: Laurie SegallSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: A gossipy, but thoughtful look at Silicon Valley through the memoir of a tech journalist. This was a delightful memoir from one of the first reporters to pay attention to companies that are big… Read more »

Women in Journalism: The Middle East

Title: I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad Author: Souad MekhennetSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Of the three memoirs I’ve read by female journalists in the Middle East, this was by far the best, in part because it had the most cohesive framework for understanding… Read more »

HippoCamp 2022 Speaker Q&A: Ruth Nasrullah

After a couple of bonkers summers (thanks, pandemic), Ruth Nasrullah will finally make her trip to HippoCamp to present “A Sacred Trust: Getting it Right When Writing About Religion.” An independent journalist and poet, Ruth writes about religion, civil rights, and the environment, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about her… Read more »

HippoCamp 2022 Speaker Q&A: Suzette Mullen

Suzette Mullen is a book coach who helps LGBTQ+ folx write memoirs that bring light, hope, and connection to readers who feel alone or othered. Together with her collaborator Julie, she’ll be talking to HippoCampers about building their own query audit toolkit! Suzette was kind enough to answer a few questions about her upcoming reading… Read more »

HippoCamp 2022 Speaker Q&A: Dave Pidgeon

Dave Pidgeon started his HippoCamp journey behind the camera, snapping candid photos and even author headshots early on in our conference days. But, an accomplished writer himself, he will be putting on the lens cap to talk to us about—what else?—photography for writers! Dave was kind enough to answer a few questions about his upcoming… Read more »

Review: How To Read Nonfiction Like a Professor

Title: How to Read Nonfiction Like a Professor: Critical Thinking in the Age of Bias, Contested Truth, and Disinformation Author: Thomas C. FosterSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Basic, more political than necessary, and full of long, extraneous examples from specific books. I found this book about how to read nonfiction disappointing… Read more »

Memoirs By Female Journalists in Review

Title: On All Fronts: The Education of a Journalist Author: Clarissa WardSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: The writing in this book was good, but what made it really enjoyable was the author’s interesting life experiences. She spends only a chapter on her childhood, highlighting experiences that influenced her choice to be a… Read more »

Climate Nonfiction: Under a White Sky

Title: Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future Author: Elizabeth KolbertSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: This book raises some fascinating questions and made for a great book club read. This book about potential ways to use technology to counter climate change was a good book to read by myself and… Read more »

The Dying Room by Leanne Pierce Schneider

When they arrive, she is propped up on pillows in the hospital bed. Her body is thin and frail, her head slumped down onto her neck. She looks like a rag doll that has been tossed aside by a child who’s grown tired of playing with dolls. The noise in the room is deafening. The… Read more »

The Dying Room by Leanne Pierce Schneider

When they arrive, she is propped up on pillows in the hospital bed. Her body is thin and frail, her head slumped down onto her neck. She looks like a rag doll that has been tossed aside by a child who’s grown tired of playing with dolls. The noise in the room is deafening. The… Read more »

Pulses by Kathy Davis

Once, arms waving in frustration, my father said, “If no one’s alive who remembers you, it’s like you never existed.” I was driving him on a trip from his home in North Carolina to the Hudson River Valley, a place Dad had never been but wanted to see. He no longer trusted himself behind the… Read more »

Foreign by Terri Lewis

In the seventies, I went to Würzburg, Germany, to perform with the ballet. A stony castle loomed over the city, the grape harvest had ended, the hills outside town were dark with broken earth. Those first days of deep river mists and strange language woke in me an urgency. I needed to see. Understand. But… Read more »

Women in Film Fiction Review: The Animators

Title: The Animators Author: Kayla Rae Whitaker, Alex McKennaSource: Library |Goodreads Rating: Summary: I was trying something new with this one and it didn’t work for me, but I think it would be a great fit for people who like messy, contemporary fiction about creating art. I picked this book up because I’m reading about… Read more »

Women in Film Nonfiction Review: The Queens of Animation

Title: The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History Author: Nathalia HoltSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: This was a great read, full of engaging stories that taught me a lot of about animation and the role women have played… Read more »

Memoir Review: Chasing Lakes

Title: Chasing Lakes: Love, Science, and the Secrets of the Arctic Author: Katey Walter AnthonySource: NetGalley Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: There were a few good bits of science and nature writing here, but they weren’t worth the slog through a disjointed religious memoir. I decided to read this lake science book/memoir as… Read more »

Investigative Journalism in Review: She Said

Title: She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement Author: Jodi Kantor, Megan TwoheySource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Fantastic investigative journalism telling an important story. As you’ll probably notice over the next month or so, I’ve decided to do a bit of a deep dive on the… Read more »

Women in Cinema Nonfiction Reviews

Title: The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick Author: Mallory O’MearaSource: from publisher for review Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: This is the story of Milicent Patrick, the designer of the monster in The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Few people have heard of her, because… Read more »

INTERVIEW: Lizz Schumer, Author of Biography of a Body

Interview by Lara Lillibridge I was drawn to lyrical, fragmented form of Lizz Schumer’s Biography of a Body and I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of thoughts on writing interspersed throughout the book. Schumer tackles themes such as religion, disordered eating, sexuality, and the complexity of inhabiting a female body. About the book: This is less… Read more »

CRAFT: The Hermit Crab Essay: Forming a Humorous Take on Dark Memoir by Susan Mack

Many of us feel challenged when trying to add humor to a darker memoir piece. Perhaps we don’t think of ourselves as funny, we don’t want to cheapen the depth of a traumatic experience with a formulaic or cheap joke, or we don’t think the experience was funny. We may worry humor is so subjective… Read more »

WRITING LIFE: The Arc of Disappointment by Kristen Paulson-Nguyen

The recipients of a major creative nonfiction writing grant I’d applied for had just been announced. I wasn’t among the winners of thousands of dollars. An email had recently thudded into my inbox. “…we regret to say that your application was not recommended for funding this cycle….” I logged on to Twitter and squinted, as… Read more »

Math Nonfiction Review: Humble Pi

Title: Humble Pi: A Comedy of Maths Errors Author: Matt ParkerSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Surprisingly light, fun, and entertaining! I enjoyed math in school, but when it comes to nonfiction reading, I’m definitely a life sciences kind of reader. Several other members of my book club shared my doubts about… Read more »

True Crime Review: Last Call

Title: Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York Author: Elon GreenSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: This was engaging and focused on victims rather than a serial killer, but it was also quite light. This is the story of a serial killer who preyed on… Read more »

Contemporary Fiction Review: Like a House on Fire

Title: Like a House on Fire Author: Lauren McBrayerSource: from publisher for review Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: The relationship at the heart of this book was intriguing, but the plot was lighter than I hoped. “After twelve years of marriage and two kids, Merit has begun to feel like a stranger in… Read more »

Dark Fairy Tale Retelling Review: Darling Girl

Title: Darling Girl: A Novel of Peter Pan Author: Liz MichalskiSource: Bought Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: A gripping read, but not special enough to be memorable. This dark, modern, adult retelling of Peter Pan was a pretty decent thriller. The story focused on Wendy Darling’s granddaughter, Holly, who’s a scientist at a… Read more »

Two Pandemic Nonfiction Reviews

Title: The Helpers: Profiles from the Front Lines of the Pandemic Author: Kathy GilsinanSource: from publisher for review Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: This is definitely the most optimistic book I’ve read about the ongoing pandemic. It was uplifting to read about the heroic individuals who put their lives on the line to help… Read more »

Conference Scholarships 2022 | Funding Opps for HippoCamp

Hippocampus Magazine is pleased to announce that it’s offering an increased number of scholarships to HippoCamp: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers this year, including three donor-supported (two of which are new this year. HippoCamp 2022 is an in-person conference, scheduled for Aug. 12-14 in Lancaster, PA. All conference scholarships cover full registration and entrance… Read more »

Contributor Updates: Spring 2022

We’re always pleased to share updates from our family of contributor-alumni and HippoCamp presenters. Here’s what we’ve collected between our last update now. We’d really LOVE to grow this feature, so please submit your news here for inclusion in a future update. Rachel Cann, who had a story in our inaugural issue, reported that she’s… Read more »

Nonfiction Review: Dedicated

Title: Dedicated: The Case for Commitment in an Age of Infinite Browsing Author: Pete DavisSource: from publisher for review Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: I enjoyed hearing about the many different things committed people have accomplished, but I think this book would be more helpful for someone earlier in their search for the… Read more »

A Trip to the Pit by Nilsa Rivera Castro

The gray mattress the officer gave me almost slid out of my sweaty hands. I dug my fingers into the plastic to stabilize it over my chest and shoulder. I wanted to see what I had gotten myself into, but the cushion covered my view of the cell. I changed it to my other shoulder,… Read more »

On the Pandemic, Baby Gawking and Unshakable Love by Nancy Townsley

“Uck! Uck!” My little grandson is looking up, so I look up, too, shading my face with my right hand, maintaining a firm hold on his wriggling body with my left arm. All I can see is a yellow blur, far off in the distance — a blimp, perhaps, gliding over the Cascades — but… Read more »

Flail Not by Elisabeth Gray

“Your soul has left your body, lady! You better find it out ‘dere on ‘da beach!” The kahuna manning the gate yells this to me every time I flip-flop past; I have been walking this beach for months now, looking for it. I make pilgrimage to the lava rocks at either end without ceasing. Commemorating… Read more »

Nonfiction Review: Bittersweet

Title: Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole Author: Susan CainSource: Bought Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: This book was interesting and well written, but I’d have liked to see more time taken to explore each topic in depth. I loved Susan Cain’s previous book, Quiet, so I was excited to pick up… Read more »

Books on Segregation in Review

Title: The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America Author: Richard RothsteinSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: One small problem I had with the beginning of this book was the framing. The author was inspired to write this book about the active role of the US government in… Read more »

More Pop Neuroscience in Review: The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons

Title: The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery Author: Sam KeanSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Entertaining, wide-ranging look at what we know about the brain and how we know it. I enjoyed Sam Kean’s earlier book… Read more »

True Crime in Mini-Reviews

Title: Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation Author: Erika KrouseSource: Bought Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: It took me awhile to figure out why this book didn’t feel more special to me, because the writing was impeccable and the story was hard to put down. It immediately felt a bit light… Read more »

Self-Help Review: The Power of Ritual

Title: The Power of Ritual: How to Create Meaning and Connection in Everything You Do Author: Casper ter KuileSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: This sometimes felt light or repetitive, but I definitely took away from helpful ideas! I had mixed feelings about this book on giving some of your everyday activities… Read more »

Futuristic Friday: Find Your New Reads { April-June 2022 Edition}

Whenever I post our April-June list of upcoming books Tamara of Traveling With T and I are excited about, it also reminds me how glad I am that it’s spring! Whichever hemisphere you’re in, we hope you can find some books on our list to be your next read whether you read it by the… Read more »

REVIEW: Khabaar: An Immigrant Journey of Food, Memory, and Family by Madhushree Ghosh

Review by Layla Khoury-Hanold Madhushree Ghosh’s Khabaar: An Immigrant Journey of Food, Memory, and Family (University of Iowa Press, April 2022), is titled for the Bengali word for food. Even if we don’t know that going in, the cover image, depicting a steaming cup of fragrant chai on a rustic table, invites readers to join… Read more »

REVIEW: Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative by Melissa Febos

Melissa Febos dedicates her latest book, Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative (Catapult, March 2022), to her students. After reading the book in one sitting, I feel as though I am one of them, a kind of disciple of the author’s patience and deep well of wisdom. Febos states in her author’s note… Read more »

REVIEW: Big Reader: Essays by Susan Olding

Reviewed by Angela L. Eckhart For any bibliophile, a collection of essays about the love of books can be appealing and perhaps relatable. Essayist Susan Olding’s newest book, Big Reader: Essays (Freehand Books, 2021), features personal essays linking various works of literature she loved to moments in her life, among other reflections. Although Olding’s education… Read more »

Romance Review: By Any Other Name

Title: By Any Other Name Author: Lauren KateSource: from publisher for review Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: This wasn’t particularly unique or substantive, but it was exactly the sort of heartwarming, bookish, sweet romance I was looking for. This is the first romance I’ve ever been offered a review copy for and I was… Read more »

Essay Collection Review: They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us

Title: They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us Author: Hanif AbdurraqibSource: Bought Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Not quite as perfect as the author’s later essay collections, but still an incredible medley of pop culture analysis, memoir, and existential questions. This is Hanif Abdurraqib’s first essay collection, although it’s the last of three… Read more »

YA Retelling Review: Within These Wicked Walls

Title: Within These Wicked Walls Author: Lauren BlackwoodSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: I thought this was a perfect retelling, keeping the heart of the original while making the story feel fresh and modern. This YA retelling of Jane Eyre focuses on Andromeda, a young woman kicked out of her training to… Read more »

Romance Review: Party of Two

Title: Party of Two (The Wedding Date, #5) Author: Jasmine GuillorySource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Another great book in this series, with delightful characters and a convincing, heartwarming relationship. Like Royal Holiday, this lovely romance kept the strengths of the first books in the series while eliminating my least favorite tropes. Olivia… Read more »

HippoCamp 2022 Sneak Peek

We’re busy working behind the scenes building out the conference schedule and website, but since registration is open, we wanted to give you a sneak peek at confirmed speakers and sessions so far (more to come!) We’re also posting this from, live, behind our AWP booth so for the sake of time, we’re pasting in… Read more »

Two Books on Forest Conservation in Review

Title: The Treeline: The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth Author: Ben RawlenceSource: from publisher for review Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: I really enjoyed the organization of this book, which looks at different geographic regions of the forest that circles the Northern reaches of Europe, Asia, and North America. Each… Read more »

Out of Office in Review

Title: Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home Author: Charlie Warzel, Anne Helen PetersenSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Interesting look at the past and potential future of work, but not very actionable for non-managers. As someone who permanently transitioned to working from home during the pandemic,… Read more »

Pop Science Review: A Molecule Away From Madness

Title: A Molecule Away from Madness: Tales of the Hijacked Brain Author: Sara Manning PeskinSource: from publisher for review Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Not enough details given that this is so closely related to my professional interests, but I think the fascinating stories and clear descriptions will make this a winner for most… Read more »

HippoCamp 2022 Keynote Speaker Announced: Carmen Maria Machado; Registration Opens March 23

Hippocampus Magazine is thrilled to share that Carmen Maria Machado, author of the acclaimed memoir In the Dream House, will be the headlining keynote at this year’s HippoCamp: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers. This annual writing conference is scheduled for Aug. 12-14, 2022, at the Downtown Marriott in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Carmen’s keynote will… Read more »

Long Form Journalism Review: Vanity Fair’s Women on Women

Title: Vanity Fair’s Women on Women Author: Radhika Jones, David FriendSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Some interesting insight into the lives of current celebrities and women from history, but also clear proof that just because a woman wrote an essay doesn’t mean it’s feminist. This is a collection primarily composed of essays… Read more »

Interview: Mary Laura Philpott, Author of Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives

Interview by Leslie Lindsay This “gorgeous, life-affirming, gut-wrenching” (Lori Gottlieb) memoir had me gasping—in a ‘she totally gets it’ way. Mary Laura Philpott brings to life the absurd, delightful, and profound. She is at once hilarious and resonate, a slip of what we all crave now: humanity. The big questions of life, death, existential fear,… Read more »

Interview: Andrea Thatcher, Publicity Manager at Smith Publicity

Interview by Lara Lillibridge This month, interviews editor Lara Lillibridge at down with Andrea Thatcher, a publicity manager at Philadelphia-based Smith Publicity. Read on to learn more about what goes into publicizing a book, including the difference between marketing and publicity.   Andrea Thatcher LL: How did you wind up in the publicity field? Andrea… Read more »

REVIEW: Knocked Down: A High-Risk Memoir by Aileen Weintraub

Reviewed by Kerry Neville Aileen Weintraub’s memoir, Knocked Down: A High-Risk Memoir (University of Nebraska Press, March 2022), opens with the four-months-pregnant author and her husband Chris at an emergency OBGYN appointment. She is vulnerable and exposed–naked but for a ripped paper gown and spread-eagle on the exam table. This was the first time her… Read more »

Book Club Read Review: Because Internet

Title: Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language Author: Gretchen McCullochSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: This book felt delightfully light and I still learned a lot! My science nonfiction book club’s latest read was this story of how language has evolved through online use. A lot of the linguistic changes… Read more »

Nonfiction Review: Black Faces, White Spaces

Title: Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors Author: Carolyn FinneySource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: A little academic, but still fairly accessible and I learned a lot! This book looks at ways that African Americans are underrepresented in nature, outdoor sports, and environmentalism. The author… Read more »

AWP 2022 Round-Up: Hippocampus & CNF-related events

Past AWP fun with Books by Hippocampus author Rebecca Fish Ewan and founder/publisher Donna Talarico. Hippocampus Magazine (and Books) and our annual conference, HippoCamp, is so proud to have been a home and community for so many amazing voices in the creative nonfiction world. Many of them will be part of AWP – The Association… Read more »

Romance Review: Royal Holiday

Title: Royal Holiday (The Wedding Date, #4) Author: Jasmine GuillorySource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Awesome protagonist in a fairy tale setting, with a few great sex scenes, perfect relationship building – I loved everything about this one! In The Wedding Party, protagonist Maddie’s mom Vivian was by far my favorite secondary… Read more »

Nonfiction About Romance in Review: Black Love Matters

Title: Black Love Matters: Real Talk on Romance, Being Seen, and Happily Ever Afters Author: Jessica P. Pryde, Carole V. Bell, Sarah Hannah Gómez, Jasmine Guillory, Da’Shaun Harrison, Margo Hendricks, Adriana Herrera, Piper Huguley, Kosoko Jackson, Nicole M. Jackson, Christina C. Jones, Julie Moody-Freeman, Allie ParkerSource: NetGalley Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: This… Read more »

REVIEW: Cost of Living: Essays by Emily Maloney

Reviewed by Sandra Hager Eliason In her introduction to Cost of Living: Essays, Emily Maloney relays the reality of so many: “I kept talking to women whose experience mirrored mine. Who had been diagnosed with some injury or illness, and that illness tended not to be a medical failure, but a failure of personality…. I… Read more »

REVIEW: Odyssey of Ashes: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Letting Go by Cheryl Krauter

Reviewed by Rachael J. Hughes Odyssey of Ashes: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Letting Go (She Writes Press, 2021) is the story of Cheryl Krauter’s journey from loss to healing through the unexpected hobby of flyfishing. Her late husband, John, revered the sport, and posthumously wins a trip that was a lifetime dream. Krauter… Read more »

REVIEW: Odyssey of Ashes: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Letting Go by Cheryl Krauter

Reviewed by Rachael J. Hughes Odyssey of Ashes: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Letting Go (She Writes Press, 2021) is the story of Cheryl Krauter’s journey from loss to healing through the unexpected hobby of flyfishing. Her late husband, John, revered the sport, and posthumously wins a trip that was a lifetime dream. Krauter… Read more »

WRITING LIFE: How Writing in Community Rocked My Writing by Laura Sturza

I’m an unabashed fan of writing groups. By joining a community of writers, we can ward off isolation, forge friendships, and inspire collaborations. Members swap information about craft and publishing; and watch one another realize their big dreams. In 2015, I’d reached a turning point in my writing life and realized a group might help… Read more »

January Wrap-Up

I feel like I’ve really gotten back into enjoying reading this month after a bit of a slump and I’m excited to check in! In particular, I’ve been fitting in some really delightful romances, which has kept me reading quickly and helped add some variety mixed in with my nonfiction reading. I’ve also found some… Read more »

Essay Collection in Review: Half and Half

Title: Half and Half: Writers on Growing Up Biracial and Bicultural Author: Claudine Chiawei O’HearnSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: An interesting subject but a very average collection. I wanted to love this collection, but my actual feelings are closer to ‘eh, it was alright.’. I liked that it included an incredible… Read more »

Science Memoir in Review: Heartbreak

Title: Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey Author: Florence WilliamsSource: from publisher for review Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Fascinating science and engaging memoir, well blended! Science memoirs are rapidly becoming one of my favorite genres. Like any something + memoir, I’m sure it could go wrong if the balance was off, but I… Read more »

Self-Help Review: Four Thousand Weeks

Title: Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals Author: Oliver BurkemanSource: Library |Goodreads Rating: Summary: I found this relatable and helpful, but it was sometimes repetitive and didn’t do enough to address systemic issues. The big idea of this time management book is given away by the subtitle – “time management for mortals”. By pointing out… Read more »

Romance Review: The Wedding Party

Title: The Wedding Party (The Wedding Date, #3) Author: Jasmine GuillorySource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating:   Maddie and Theo may share a best friend, but it doesn’t mean they have to like each other! In fact, they both really dislike each other, so when they have a drunk hook-up, they expect it… Read more »

Futuristic Friday: Find Your New Reads { January-March 2022 Edition}

Although I’m a few days late sharing this, I’m excited to point you to our Futuristic Friday post, hosted this month by Tamara at Traveling with T. As usual, between the two of us, we have a wide variety of books we recommend across genres that include thrillers, historical fiction, science and history nonfiction, and… Read more »

One Favorite and One Dud in Mini-Reviews

Title: The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town Author: Brian AlexanderSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: I particularly wanted to review this book I read in December about a hospital in small town Ohio because it was one of my favorite reads last year for many reasons. First of… Read more »

Another Great Essay Collection in Review: Disability Visibility

Title: Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-first Century Author: Alice WongSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: I learned a lot from this multi-author essay collection, which didn’t have even a single dud. Well, I must say, it’s been an incredible reading year already. Kicking it off with a heartwarming romance helped… Read more »

Essay Collection in Review: A Little Devil in America

Title: A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance Author: Hanif AbdurraqibSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Beautifully written essays that blend pop culture and memoir to address big topics in ways that are both thought-provoking and moving. I really loved Hanif Abdurraqib’s previous essay collection, Go Ahead in the… Read more »

Contributor Updates: January 2022

We’re always pleased to share updates from our family of contributor-alumni and HippoCamp presenters. Here’s what we’ve collected between our last update in September and now. We’d really LOVE to grow this features, so please submit your news here for inclusion in a future update. Steph Auteri has broken a steady streak of rejections by… Read more »

These Should Be the Real Marriage Vows by Tatyana M. Sussex

I do solemnly swear, that I will give you your afternoon nap. When we spend a midsummer week in a Colorado mountain town to visit family and share a condo with my parents, I will not insist that you hike up a nearby dirt road into a rough forest after we’ve already taken a morning… Read more »

Machines Against the Rage by Mark O. Hodgson

Case 1. False warning of a bad outcome, when one knows what to do: likelihood of bad outcome — remote; severity — catastrophic. We should have been more suspicious once we discovered that the door lock on the little Cessna 152 was frozen. Good God, it was one cold morning in Beverly, Massachusetts. My instructor,… Read more »

CRAFT: What’s the Difference Between Memoir and Personal Essay? by Suzanne Farrell Smith

It’s the most common question my creative nonfiction students ask. We know memoir and personal essay overlap. Both tell true stories from the author’s life with intimacy and honesty. And both are crafted with literary devices: scene, dialogue, sensory detail… That’s what makes creative nonfiction compelling. We love true stories and we love to be… Read more »

Interview: Judy Bolton-Fasman, Author of Asylum: A Memoir of Family Secrets

Interview by Lara Lillibridge About the Book: Judy Bolton, girl detective, embarks on the life-long exploration of her bifurcated ancestry; Judy inherits a Sephardic, Spanish/Ladino-speaking culture from her mother and an Ashkenazi, English-only, old-fashioned American patriotism from her father. Amid the Bolton household’s cultural, political, and psychological confusion, Judy is mystified by her father’s impenetrable… Read more »

CRAFT: What’s the Difference Between Memoir and Personal Essay? by Suzanne Farrell Smith

It’s the most common question my creative nonfiction students ask. We know memoir and personal essay overlap. Both tell true stories from the author’s life with intimacy and honesty. And both are crafted with literary devices: scene, dialogue, sensory detail… That’s what makes creative nonfiction compelling. We love true stories and we love to be… Read more »

Interview: Judy Bolton-Fasman, Author of Asylum: A Memoir of Family Secrets

Interview by Lara Lillibridge About the Book: Judy Bolton, girl detective, embarks on the life-long exploration of her bifurcated ancestry; Judy inherits a Sephardic, Spanish/Ladino-speaking culture from her mother and an Ashkenazi, English-only, old-fashioned American patriotism from her father. Amid the Bolton household’s cultural, political, and psychological confusion, Judy is mystified by her father’s impenetrable… Read more »

REVIEW: American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation by Sarah M. Wells

Reviewed by Amy Fish Onward to the good part: Sarah Wells’ writing is compelling. Her language is beautiful and lyrical. Her descriptions make it easy to picture her characters, as though they are right in front of us. For example, she meets her first boyfriend for the first time in the park while she was… Read more »

Romance Review: Red, White, and Royal Blue

Title: Red, White & Royal Blue Author: Casey McQuistonSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Practically perfect in every way, with convincing relationship development, fantastic banter, and a wonderful supporting cast. This story of the First Son of the United States falling in love with a British prince was delightful. I’m so glad… Read more »

Pondathon Sign-Up

I saw the first pondathon read-a-thon last year and thought it looked adorable, but was too busy to sign up. This year, Ponadathon II feels a bit more laid back to me and I am super excited about the work CW from The Quiet Pond has put into making graphics you can update to show… Read more »

Favorite Fiction of 2021

It turns out that I’ve not read much fiction and I’ve not done a good job of reviewing some of my favorite reads! This was another incredible book from Fredrik Backman which falls in one of my favorite genres – apparently unconnected people coming together and finding that they can all help each other. It… Read more »

My Year in Review: 2021 Reading Stats

  This is one of my favorite posts of the year. I often don’t even keep up with tracking book stats during the year, spending a few days updating my spreadsheet over winter break. That means that putting this post together is my first check-in on how I’ve been reading over the last year. It’s… Read more »

Nature Nonfiction Review: The Glitter in the Green

Title: The Glitter in the Green: In Search of Hummingbirds Author: Jon DunnSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: This was a beautifully written blend of travel and nature writing with a little bit of science and history. I don’t read much travel or nature writing, but I have started to really enjoy reading… Read more »

Books on the Camp Fire in Review

I was interested in reading about the 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, CA because of experiencing the long-distance, air quality effects of several large fires (including this one) while living in the Bay Area. My connection to these events is only tangential. Even from the Bay Area, though, it was clear from the smoke and… Read more »

Sociology Nonfiction in Review: Work Won’t Love You Back

Title: Work Won’t Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone Author: Sarah JaffeSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: The best of narrative nonfiction – moving personal stories plus informative history, both of which helped me better understand the world. This book covers a wide variety of… Read more »

Biology Nonfiction in Review: Gut

Title: Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ Author: Giulia Enders, Jill EndersSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Engaging and easy to follow, but I found it overly simplistic. This book about the microbiome came out about 5 years ago, just as people were starting to explore this exciting new… Read more »

CRAFT: Brain Science, Mental Health, and Our Craft by Carina Sitkus

As writers, it can be helpful to acknowledge that in the same way we shape our sentences, our mental health impacts our craft in powerful, albeit not always positive, ways.  Developing good habits that keep our brains healthy, and avoiding negative ones, is as important, if not more important, to our writing craft as correct… Read more »

WRITING LIFE: Finding a Voice for Myself and My Son by Jaclyn Greenberg

Almost a decade ago, I bought a laptop. The purchase felt like a way to clean the slate. I had just learned that my son was born with disabilities because I caught Cytomegalovirus (CMV) when I was pregnant. I was not prepared for the adventure of being his mother and caregiver. I hoped that writing… Read more »

INTERVIEW: Sonya Huber, Author of Supremely Tiny Acts: A Memoir of a Day

Interview by Amy Fish About Supremely Tiny Acts: A Memoir of a Day: “I think we have to get to the real, to catch the facts we have, to hold on to what we see … in this time where lies are currency,” Sonya Huber writes in her book-length essay Supremely Tiny Acts: A Memoir… Read more »

Science Nonfiction Review: Life’s Edge

Title: Life’s Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive Author: Carl ZimmerSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: This was interesting and clear, full of new-to-me biology stories, and really made me think. This book was one of several I spotted on the new books shelf at my library and… Read more »

Hippocampus Magazine’s Announces 2021 Pushcart Prize Nominations

Each year, literary magazine editors are invited to submit up to six nominations (for work published within that same calendar year) to the Pushcart Prize. Hippocampus Magazine is pleased to share this year’s creative nonfiction nominations: Author Name(s) Essay Name 2021 Issue Sayuri Ayers “The Gift of Lilies” Jan/Feb Vanessa Chan “Sharp” July/Aug Chantha Nguon… Read more »

#NonficNov: New to My TBR

As always, I’m sad to reach the last week of Nonfiction November, but I really appreciate all of you who’ve stuck with us so far! Even four weeks in, there were still almost 30 of us linking up our stranger than fiction reads last week. This week, we’ll wrap up by sharing who we have… Read more »

Medical Nonfiction: Uncaring

Title: Uncaring: How the Culture of Medicine Kills Doctors and Patients Author: Robert PearlSource: Library Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads Rating: Summary: Occasionally repetitive, but incredibly informative and interesting! This is a book about the way physician culture contributes to the dysfunction of the American health care system. The author carefully acknowledges the heroic efforts… Read more »

#NonficNov: Stranger Than Fiction

Sorry to be a little late posting this. Believe it or not, we are already kicking off week 4 of Nonfiction November. Thanks so much to everyone who’s already participated by sharing discussion posts and reviews or by joining our Instagram challenge! This week we have a fun new prompt talking about nonfiction that’s almost… Read more »

Nonfiction November Week 4: Stranger Than Fiction

Nonfiction November continues to fly by! I’ve been very excited for this week’s prompt, courtesy of Christopher at Plucked from the Stacks: Week 4: (November 22-26) – Stranger Than Fiction with Christopher at Plucked from the Stacks: This week we’re focusing on all the great nonfiction books that *almost* don’t seem real. A sports biography involving overcoming massive… Read more »

Ideas of Memory From a Family in Russia

In Memory of Memory, by Maria Stepanova, translated from Russian by Sasha Dugdale The subjectivity and selectiveness of the memory means we can fix on a historical “excerpt“ that has nothing in common with history itself – there will be people out there for whom the 1930s were a lost paradise of innocence and permanence. Especially during… Read more »

Nonfiction November Week 3: Be/Ask/Become The Expert: Foodoir and Food Writing

Week 3 here we go! This week our host is Veronica @ The Thousand Book Project and here’s our topic: Week 3: (November 15-19) – Be The Expert/ Ask the Expert/ Become the Expert: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you… Read more »

Mini Reviews: The Quiet Zone, Mystery at the Blue Sea Cottage, Sex Cult Nun

Some minis today: A town with no WiFi, growing up in a sex cult, and the unsolved murder of a Jazz Age dancer. They have nothing in common besides their blue-green cover schemes. I didn’t plan it that way, but I like it! The Quiet Zone: Unraveling the Mystery of a Town Suspended in Silence… Read more »

Teeth by Gavin Paul Colton

We build a ramp on the road outside our house using cinder blocks and a long sheet of plywood that we find in a neighbor’s skip. My older brother Andrew has a new BMX he got for his birthday. He wants to see what it is made of. It is the middle of summer and… Read more »

Up by Michelle Bailat-Jones

It’s late. Light from the streetlamp outside pours through the stained-glass windows of the unused choir alcove, inking shadows across the far wall. Several broken pews lay stacked; in the dim light, they are felled trees. Pinned behind them are bundles of the squeaky metal folding chairs no one ever likes to use and, in… Read more »

Seeing Bone by Emma Bruce

When I get home from ballet, take off my leotard, a mark from the waistband of my tights leaves a crooked line across my abdomen. While hot water fills the tub, I turn sideways in front of the mirror and suck in my stomach. As I breathe in, lungs expanding, I can see my ribs… Read more »
Writers Depot Non Fiction

Readers! Considered this just could justify a look see. Ideas?

Greetings Freelancers, this could potentially be worth a read.

Review by Ariel M. Goldenthal

­­­cvoer of faculty brat - school building with ivyDominic Bucca’s Faculty Brat: A Memoir of Abuse is the winner of the 2019 Iowa Prize for Literary Nonfiction (University of Iowa Press, 2020). The memoir is broken into three sections, each carrying the title of a different last name that Bucca took in his journey for justice. Rather than a simple observer, Bucca asks the reader to immerse themselves in each of these three stages of his life.

In Faculty Brat, Dominic Bucca recounts thirty years of life shaped by the sexual abuse that he suffered at the hands of his stepfather. The sexual abuse is compounded by years of verbal abuse that continue even after Bucca moves to live with his biological father’s family. Slowly, the cracks from the abuse turn to breaks in his family and the legal system, revealed when he finally decides to tell his mother and sisters the truth. And long after the abuse itself ends, the dissociation remains, evident in Bucca’s decision to distance himself from his past by referring to himself as “the boy.”

The strength of this work is Bucca’s specificity—an all-too-common tale of abuse shaped into a unique and courageous memoir. The specificity reaches from the memoir’s structure to its language and stylistic choices. Each section of Faculty Brat begins with an aptly titled, “Orientation,” that tells the reader which role they will be playing for those pages. The title of “Orientation” plays on themes of college welcome weeks, but instead sets the reader in the specific context of the memoir: not only a preparatory school, but one of the most prestigious preparatory schools in the nation; not only a child, but the child of a teacher at the school—a faculty brat.

The first “Orientation” chapter tells the reader to “imagine you are the single mother of a toddler,” and gives us just enough detail to inhabit that woman’s life with her young son before the turn. The chapter ends with, “Now, remember your boy.” The suddenness of the switch allows the reader to sink into the role of the mother just long enough to forget, as she seems to do at times, about that son.

Throughout Faculty Brat, Bucca employs turns in the plot, and in the language itself, to remind the reader that nothing is ever what it seems. The “you” of the first chapter shifts from the mother to a powerless observer, and finally to the author himself; mirroring the separation and emotional transformation that Bucca endured.

Bucca balances the devastating darkness of his story with emotionally open language that draws the reader into his world and holds them there, even in the deepest moments of despair.

“You’ve finally found at least some of that unnamable strength, the opposite of a lifetime of silence, finally managed to access your anger, finally found the proper outlet for Gozer, that frighteningly strong, self-righteous part of yourself, the subversive keeper of all your rage.”

In a memoir of growth and the struggle for power and control, it is the hurt and angry part of Bucca that finally succeeds in sharing the truth of his stepfather’s abuse. Faculty Brat: A Memoir of Abuse is more than what the title suggests: It is a story of strength and quiet hope, expertly drawn and beautifully told.

 

Ariel M. Goldenthal is an assistant professor of English at George Mason University, where she also received her MFA in fiction. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Grace in Darkness; An Anthology of D.C. Women Writers, Fiction Southeast, and Flash Fiction Magazine, and has received an Honorable Mention from Glimmer Train.

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