This is actually a BookTube tag, originally created by Iain Broome, as well as being quite similar to the Booking By Numbers feature I took part in this time last year, which was created by Jess Hearts Books. Basically the idea is to use random 'coordinates' to pick books from your shelves, which you then talk about. Simple! I decided to do a Non-Fiction November edition using just that section of my library. I have 24 Kallax cubes (Ikea shelves) full of non-fiction, plus a 'bonus shelf' of oversized books, I used a random number generator to pick numbers from 1-25, then picked again using the exact number of books in each particular cube. Here we go...
1. Cube 10, Book 18
Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce and Culture, by Taylor Clark
I... haven't read this yet. This is going to be a running theme, as always. I bought it while I was at university and working on an essay about advertising and consumerism. It is, basically, the story of Starbucks - the context behind it (ie. the rise of coffee houses), the change in American coffee-drinking habits, ethical issues, economics and how the company became the giant it is. Should be interesting, when I finally get to it!
Shelved near: Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich (about Facebook), To Die For by Lucy Siegle (about ethics in the fashion industry)
2. Cube 7, Book 1
The Vampyre Family: Passion, Envy, and the Curse of Byron, by Andrew Stott
Another study of the relationships between Byron, Shelley, Polidori, Claire Clairmont et al. I can't get enough of this group of volatile and romantic individuals, and this book is SO FRICKIN' BEAUTIFUL to boot. Ellie Bookworm sent it to me last Christmas and... did I mention it was beautiful? I stroked it for a while.
Shelved near: Selected Prose by Lord Byron, Byron in Love by Edna O'Brien
3. Cube 22, Book 23
Duende: A Journey in Search of Flamenco by Jason Webster
I think I bought this one in my first year of university, which is why it's even more disgraceful that I haven't read it yet. These exercises really are good for making me think twice about my book buying habits. Anyway, I took Spanish to AS level, went to Spain for a whirlwind tour around the Santander area, and really got interested in the cultural side of Spanish history. I became a fan of flamenco music over the coming years, read a couple of books on its traditions from the university library, and then bought this one!
Shelved near: Cream Teas, Traffics and Sunburn: The Great British Holiday by Brian Viner, Venetian Dreaming by Paula Weideger
4. Cube 13, Book 7
Six Feet Over: Adventures in the Afterlife, by Mary Roach
I've read Bonk by Mary Roach, and also part of Stiff (back before my stomach was as strong as it is now, oops), and those reading experiences were enough to catapult the author onto my must-read list and I now have, I THINK, all but one of her books. She's scattered throughout my science and natural history shelves; in this instance, between my other 'life stages' titles (sex, growing up) and my neuroscience books. BRING ON THE HILARIOUS FOOTNOTES!
Shelved near: Teenagers: A Natural History by David Bainbridge, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker
5. Cube 5, book 5 (seriously, what are the chances?!)
A Curious Invitation: The Forty Greatest Parties in Literature, by Suzette Field
This one pretty much does what it says on the tin - and what a gorgeous tin it is. Just take a minute and look at that lovely cover... It contains analysis of all kinds of literary parties, including Bilbo Baggins's Eleventy-First birthday party, Jay Gatsby's famously debauched gatherings, and Mrs Leo Hunter's costumed breakfast in The Pickwick Papers, which I've LITERALLY just reached in our readalong. My plan is to read each chapter when I've read the source material in question, at least for the more famous or accessible ones. It might be the other way round for the more obscure books - but maybe I'll discover some new novels to try in the process, who knows?
Shelved near: The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies by Susan Elderkin and Ella Berthoud, Howards End is On the Landing by Susan Hill
6. Cube 13, Book 2
Kinsey: A Biography, by Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy
Another one that does what it says on the tin. The history of sexual research is fascinating, and Kinsey was quite a character - a proficient pianist, a keen botanist, biologist and entomologist, and of course, arguably the most famous sexologist in history. He was also the man who developed the Kinsey scale of sexuality, and 'liberated female sexuality' by pointing out that women are actually sexual beings after all. Should be an interesting read...
Shelved near: Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Nicholson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love by Thomas Maier, A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World's Largest Experiment Reveals About Human Desire by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam
7. Cube 19, Book 7
A History of the World in Six Glasses, by Tom Standage
I love non-fiction books with an interesting slant, and this one sounds fascinating. Basically it takes six different beverages - beer, wine, spirits, tea, coffee, and Coca Cola - and explores how they've impacted our culture and history over the years, from our earliest foray into agriculture up to the present day. Standage has also written An Edible History of Humanity, which I'll definitely be checking out if I enjoy this one!
Shelved near: The Devil's Cup: Coffee, The Driving Force in History by Stewart Allen, Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay
8. Cube 3, Book 10
I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales from a Happy Life Without Kids, by Jen Kirkman
One from my general (auto)biography shelf this time. As a late 20-something woman with no partner and no desire to have children even if I HAD, it's easy to feel a bit 'Bridget Jones' sometimes as everyone around me starts to pair off and have babies. It's very reassuring to occasionally have another woman turn around and say, "ME TOO!" And so I bought Jen Kirkman's book...
Shelved near: Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis, Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
9. Cube 23, Book 16
21st Century Dodos: A Collection of Endangered Objects (And Other Stuff), by Steve Stack
This was one I'd heard about when it was first published - I have one of Stack's other books, a response to the popular Is It Just Me or is Everything Shit? encyclopedias - and then stumbled across serendipitously in a newly-opened bargain bookshop nearby. It's a humorous look at inanimate objects and aspects of daily life on the verge of extinction, including cassette tapes, milk bottle deliveries and typewriters. Should be a fun nostalgia kick!
Shelved near: It Is Just You, Everything's Not Shit by Steve Stack, What's Going On?: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion by Mark Steel
10. Cube 14, Book 4
Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body, by Jennifer Ackerman
Yet another book that does exactly what the title suggests! It's about the changes to the human body throughout a 24-hour period, and how these changes impact our lives. Why do we do better at certain things at particular times of day? How can we use the biological processes occurring in our bodies to our best advantage? My sister's already read this one and said it was very accessible and absolutely fascinating, so... bring it on!
Shelved near: The Back Sufferer's Bible by Sarah Key, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
That's it! I hope you've enjoyed this little wander through a few of my non-fiction books - it's definitely inspired me to go back to them in the near future and give my brain a work-out instead of constantly picking up whatever's easiest... I'm a lazy reader, it's such a bad habit!
Have you been tempted by any of these in turn?