Next week, I will be writing my 50th nonfiction book review on this blog. Learning brings me great joy, and when I learn fascinating things in my books, I can’t help but share them with you!
With Nonfiction November coming up, I know that many fiction book bloggers will try their hand at reading and reviewing nonfiction, and that many people aren’t used to it. There is often no character development, plot, setting, or allegory to critique, so what is left? Well, there is actually a lot to talk about, and I think reviewing nonfiction books is a lot of fun! I hope that through this post, my passion for writing nonfiction book reviews can inspire the unsure to give it a try.
At long last, this week I completed the final book of my first “15-book reading challenge“. Ibram X. Kendi’s 2019 bestseller How to Be an Antiracist seemed like a great end to the series, as it is one of the most popular books in the antiracist movement right now.
I created my blog using WordPress.com on November 27th, 2016. I wanted a simple way to anonymously air my grievances to the world from my dorm, and my only requirement at the time for a blogging platform was that it allowed for a .blog domain extension (so that I could be theclosetatheist.blog, of course). I saw an ad that WordPress had just made .blog available, so I immediately jumped on it! That was all the convincing I needed to fly with WordPress and not a competitor. What a simple time.
A little over six months ago, I wrote a post called 15 Nonfiction Books I Can’t Wait to Read. My intention was just to share some of the books on my to-be-read list, but it actually turned into a lot more than that. After completing four books from that list in a row, I decided to challenge myself to read the entire list without stopping! This might not sound revolutionary, but it did a lot for my reading experience. Not only did it make it easier for me to choose what to read next by narrowing down my options, but it saved me a lot of money on books I didn’t need.
When I posted Inaccuracy, Eurocentrism, and Antitheism in Carl Sagan’s Cosmos last month, it caused a bit of a stir among Carl Sagan fans (especially on Reddit). Not the least constructive of the criticism was the point that Carl Sagan was not even an atheist. Of course, I already know that he did not identify as an atheist, and in that post I never said he did. I suppose that people who used that as a rebuttal were assuming that one can’t be antitheistic without even being an atheist.
The day after publishing this post, I feel I must add a small caveat. I’ve realized since reading the book and writing this review that Katha Pollitt is opposed to the usage of gender-inclusionary language surrounding abortion. While she did not use gender-inclusionary language in the book, I tried my best to use it in my review when I could. Pollitt goes further into her justification for this in this article, but I urge you to read this response article by physician Cheryl Chastine explaining why Pollitt is not justified in excluding non-cisgender people from her abortion arguments. Chastine did an amazing job. In giving cisgender women the right to bodily autonomy, we do not need to be erasing people with diverse gender identities from claiming that same right.
After owning the book for over two years, this week I finally stopped procrastinating reading Katha Pollitt’s 2014 persuasive powerhouse of a book Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights. Ironically, my timing had nothing to do with the recent “heartbeat bill” in Texas, but the urgency that the bill caused definitely lit a fire under me to enthusiastically jump into the book. If you want the context around the pro-choice argument, then I can’t recommend Pro enough.
This week, I stumbled upon a blog post by a pastor at a church from my old denomination, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The pastor, Duncan McLellan, wrote the post a few days after his church had hosted a “Genesis Seminar” in which “several experts in Creation Science and the Old Testament spent three days at the church, teaching and discussing the flaws with the Evolutionary Model and explaining many passages in the Bible that describe the Creation.” This post was particularly fascinating to me, because McLellan definitely did not come to the conclusion that one might think. But his attitude actually revealed to me a pattern in the LCMS’s views towards creationism.
On the surface, Dick Teresi’s Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science—from the Babylonians to the Maya is an eye-opening and thought-provoking book on the history of non-Western science. It is a book I would recommend to anyone who believes in the “Greek miracle,” who takes Carl Sagan’s words about the Ionian birth of science at face value, and generally anyone who wants to take a less white, less Western perspective on both science and history as wholes. However, anyone who reads this must also be able to question what they are reading, ask for the author’s sources and motivation, and be ready to think for themselves despite the author’s biases.
I love learning. The time in my life that I have done the most learning has been since graduating from college three years ago. I don’t mean learning life lessons, but reading, writing, and researching my favorite topics just to learn them. When I was in high school and college, I didn’t love learning the way I do now, but school was my time with the most readily available resources, and I’m wistful that it’s passed me by.