Birding without Borders and Wesley the Owl [2020 Nonfiction Challenge]

This past month my local library came through with two birding books I’d had on hold. The libraries were slow to open but once curbside service started, my books came flying in. Pun intended 🙂


If you enjoy reading about bird species populating our earth, Noah Stryker’s book Birding without Borders may capture your interest. In 2015 Noah set off with a backpack, binoculars and series of one-way tickets, the plan being to travel the full year and see as many birds as he could in as many countries as he could travel.

He managed all seven continents, 42 countries and …are you ready…6,042 species of birds!  This list is captured as one of his references at the end of the book, meticulously labeled by date, country and species.

1) Cape Perel (9 – 10) Date 1/1 Place Antarctica
2) Southern Fulmar Date 1/2 Antarctica – this list goes all the way to the last entry which reads
6042 Silver Breasted Broadbill date 12/31 India

Personally I enjoy looking at birds, love seeing visiting species as well as those unfamilar to me when we travel, but I don’t have this much interest or enthusiasum to consider such an epic venture.  It was an interesting book to read about his extreme focus and travels.

Noah Stryker is an associate editor of Birding magazine.  More about his books HERE.

Next up is Wesley the Owl.


Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien is a wonderful book.  I learned so much and probably bored my husband to tears by constantly quoting from the book.  Did you know baby owlets smell like maple syrup or butterscotch?  They bond with their caregivers for their lifetime. That they mate for life and just die of sadness when their mate dies? They are very playful, problem solvers and intelligent.

I loved this book, it was very informative, engaging and I cried near the end. You won’t hear me admitting that too often, doesn’t actually happen often. This was written by the biologist who cared for Wesley all his life.

I’m sharing with Shelley at Book’d Out for her 2020 Nonfiction challenge.  Check it out HERE.
Category: Nature


Left for Dead: My Journey Home from Everest by Beck Weathers


If you have read Jon Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air and wanted to know more about Beck Weathers, the man who nearly froze to death, Check out his book Left for Dead. The descriptions of the harsh climate and brutal conditions are well detailed in the first portion of his book.

Beck was is bad shape, helped down a portion of the mountain by Mike Groom. Once heading down the mountain and reaching the South Col, Weathers felt they were practically home free. In less than an hour they would be at camp, warming up with hot tea and sitting in their tents. But a blizzard came on them with zero warning.
Neil Beidleman later reflected it “was like being lost in a bottle of milk.”

As the climbers inched along trying to find camp it became clear the injured and physically exhausted climbers couldn’t continue. While a few went ahead to get help, Beck and four others stayed behind to await rescue. Yasuko & Beck were in such bad shape it was determined to leave them as they would die regardless of being brought back to camp.

By whatever internal motivation made Beck Weathers get up, injured and snow blind, he did manage to get back to camp on his own. By then his wife Peach had been informed he died. And then hours later, frost bitten and violently ill he shows up. Seriously, talk about against all odds.

Three quarters of the remaining part of the book tells about his early life with his brothers, how he and his wife met, the growing discordances between them as Beck was always away from home if he wasn’t working.  The deep depression Beck describes as a Black Dog is very sobering. Being on a climb made that go away, he could feel the fog lift.
Interjected into the chapters you get his wife’s point of view as well as his brother and colleagues.

Beck was a pathologist with a thriving practice so money didn’t seem to be an issue. It was $65,000 for the Everest expedition – mountain climbing is not a cheap sport!

Once you get into  the parts where he was rescued, an amazing feat there considering the conditions, you read about his recovery. His face and hands were frozen and he lost his hands and nose to frostbite. Lots and lots of surgeries.

Peach is quoted stating she understood why the team couldn’t risk lives to go after Yasuko or Beck as death was imminent. What she couldn’t understand was why Beck was left in a tent to die alone. Where was the human compassion? The other climbers were there anyway, in their tents, and what a gentle gesture it would have been to hear his last words, to let him know he wasn’t alone. I agree with her.

Overall an interesting story.

This is is my fifth book for the 2020 Nonfiction challenge hosted by Shelley at Book’d Out. Check it out HERE.

Category: Disaster.


Educated by Tara Westover


Tara Westover never set foot in a classroom until she was 17. She didn’t see a doctor, nor did her siblings, when they direly needed medical attention. Her father was a survivalist Mormon with very strong ideas about how the world ought to be. His faith in his religion certainly jeopardized his wife and children’s health as well as his own.

Tara’s older brother Tyler said, “There’s a world out there, Tara and it will look a lot different once Dad is no longer whispering his view of it in your ear.”

I couldn’t put this book down. It’s well written and amazing to read about the obstacles Westover had to overcome. There were times I thought, if this were me I think I would have wept and given up. I’d like to think I’m stronger than that but I know this, I never had the drive Westover did at the same age. Nor did I live in the same circumstances.

It would have been far easier for Tara to fall back into the fold, follow her father’s path and shut off the inquiring and intelligent part of her brain, plow through life with her survivalist family. Good for her for striving forward. She taught herself mathematics and history and managed to get accepted to BYU.  After massive culture shock she thrived and went on to Cambridge and Harvard, eventually earning a Ph.D in History.

As for the memories which Tara states she consulted her brothers for their recollections, there is an inconsistency here and there.  To read what her brothers stated after the publication of this book click HERE. I am also considering that she may well have been treated differently as a female in regard to her father’s and church expectations.

This is is my fourth book for the 2020 Nonfiction challenge hosted by Shelley at Book’d Out. Check it out HERE.

Category: Social Science. It’s a memoir but as social science focuses on relationships among individuals and society.


John Glenn: A Memoir

773BEF7F-8CE7-4715-925E-181DB7FB9856If you were a fan of the space program you’ll remember when Glenn orbited the earth. I was a kid but my family and I were glued to the television and watched the story unfold. What I didn’t know until I read this book was how long it took for Glenn to go up in Friendship 7. There were many delays, incredibly invasive testing and, didn’t know this either, several attempts were first made with monkeys.

He went into space again when he was 77. In talking about the crew on Discovery he describes himself as “Another subject was a 77 year old 190 lb specimen known as a payload specialist.”  He Said he was as much a guinea pig as he had been in in 1962

Muscle loss in elderly is thought to be primary from lack of exercise, but in space astronauts lose muscle from decreased protein production. NASA wanted to monitor and gauge this with a former older astronaut.

While it was the flying and astronaut stories that initially interested me in this book I have to say I enjoyed hearing about his early life.

He met his wife when they were plopped into the same playpen as infants. Their parents were good friends and the friendship, eventually love, blossomed for John and Annie.

Every time he would go away for a long period of time, especially on dangerous missions, they would part with these words.

“I’m just going to the corner store to get a pack of gum” and her response was always “Don’t be long.” The same corny line from that kept the tears in check when left for war,  the Korean conflict and being launched into space.

The New York Times stated “At age 36, Major Glenn is reaching the practical age limit for piloting complicated pieces of machinery through the air.” This was after his supersonic flight across the U.S. which took 3 hours and 23 minutes at an average speed of 723 mph.
They’d certainly had no idea what was in store for John Glenn!

I learned quite a bit about John Glenn, his war experiences, his love of flying, the space program and what a patriotic and ethic man he was. There were things I’d forgotten about Glenn such as his bid for the presidency and some of the details of how he ended up in politics.

John Glenn is my third  book for the nonfiction challenge hosted by ShelleyRae at Book’d Out
Category is Memoir.


The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell & Woodstock: 50 Years of Peace & Music

2E92B626-28D9-439E-906B-E5DEFD24A9B1 I have become a big fan of Lisa Jewell’s mysteries but this one was just meh…ok for me. There is a lush garden in the middle of a housing complex, setting is the middle of London.

A woman moves in with her two daughters, Grace and Pip, and has a bit of adjustment to the communal lifestyle of the garden. Children freely wander around, into each other’s homes. There’s an Earth Mother sort who home schools and feeds everyone natural healthy fare, her very handsome charming husband Leo and a few dysfunctional characters.

During a birthday party that runs late in the evening, children are still up running around mind you, 13 year old Grace is found in the bushes, bloodied and in a coma.  The resulting investigation reveals some interesting facts about both the adults and children. I’ll say I very much enjoyed Jewell’s other mysteries more but this wasn’t a DNF.


Woodstock: 50 years of Peace and Music.
I had expected this was a CD from the library but it was a book.  I brought it home anyway. It’s an Interesting compendium of stories about the bands, events, peaceful interactions and basically an overall historical account of one of the most famous concerts. For the most part the concert goers were nice young people, helping push police cars out of the mud, a phone operator stating everyone she spokes with said thank you and many other stories attesting to a civil and peaceful event.

bands I would have loved to see such as Santana, Credence, The Who & Joe Cocker. I have seen Crosby, Stills & Nash as well as Johnny Winter, just not at Woodstock. 🙂

Sharing with Joy for British Isles Friday

Woodstock is my second  book for the nonfiction challenge hosted by ShelleyRae at Book’d Out
Category is History.



Sea Fare by Victoria Allman


Quite a long time ago I read Victoria Allman’s book SEAsoned and enjoyed it very much. This is her second book and it’s packed with more sailing and cooking stories as well as recipes.

Honestly, these stories should have been in her first book as she explains where she received culinary training,  the various kitchens she has worked in, what she’s learned on the fly and how she was hired as a yacht chef, her first sailing chef position.  The interview, if you could call it that, was amazing.

Besides sailing to various exotic ports  you’ll read about her fishing experiences, how she met her husband (you’ll read about these two in her first book), a story about fire on ship (Yikes!) and get a general snapshot of this out-of-the-ordinary profession and the challenges and freedom that come with it.

Lots of seafood recipes but there was one for a white chocolate and cranberry cookie that sounded pretty good.  Instead I opted for cranberry muffins with vanilla.


As this book was kindly passed on to me by Eliot’s Eats I am going to do the same. I have renewed my account with Book Crossing. If you don’t know about this bookish site you may check it out Here. It’s a method to leave a book somewhere or pass it on with a code that allows people to track where the book travels and where it ends up.  I’m about to “release it into the wild” and will report on where it ends up.  Hoping whoever finds it will log it at the website.

Sea Fare is my first book for the nonfiction challenge hosted by ShelleyRae at Book’d Out
Category is Occupation.


Nonfiction at Book’d Out: a new challenge for 2020

This year I am going to participate with Shelley at Book’d Out for her 2020 Nonfiction challenge.  Check it out HERE.


I’m going to go with the Non Fiction Nibbler category.  Six books ought to be manageable this year as I am also trying to become more active in the Kindle English Mystery Book Club so...dividing my time and interest here!

Categories are as follows

1. Memoir

2. Disaster Event

3. Social Science

4. Related to an Occupation

5. History

6. Feminism

7. Psychology

8. Medical Issue

9. Nature

10. True Crime

11. Science

12. Published in 2020

 I am already started on a book about John Glenn, astronaut and U.S. senator.  This could be science, history or memoir.  As I know I’ll probably find a memoir this year to dig into Ill make that a History category.  Looking forward to Sea Fare for Occupation category; a chef on a yacht with lovely recipes.

Educated is definitely on my list but there is such a long wait at the library so that one will be latter in the year. Still making my list.


Join in if you’d like!