Top 5 Wednesday – Non-fiction November

The week’s topic was suggested by Ariel (arielreads).

Non-fiction November is a month-long read-a-thon dedicated to reading non-fiction. So for this weeks T5W the prompt is to share non-fiction book’s you’ve read and enjoyed.

T5W is a weekly blog meme hosted over at the Top 5 Wednesday Goodreads group


I don’t know if I can accurately convey just how much I enjoyed this book. Seriously it did such a good job of presenting the craziness of medical history in a hilarious and informative way. The writing was great, the examples were well presented, and the humor was right up my ally.

Discover 67 shocking-but-true medical misfires that run the gamut from bizarre to deadly. Like when doctors prescribed morphine for crying infants. When snorting skull moss was a cure for a bloody nose. When consuming mail-order tapeworms was a latter-day fad diet. Or when snake oil salesmen peddled strychnine (used in rat poison) as an aphrodisiac in the ’60s. Seamlessly combining macabre humor with hard science and compelling storytelling, Quackery is a visually rich and information-packed exploration of history’s most outlandish cures, experiments, and scams.

A humorous book that delves into some of the wacky but true ways that humans have looked to cure their ills. Leeches, mercury, strychnine, and lobotomies are a few of the topics that explore what lengths society has gone in the search for health.

Lydia Kang & Nate Pedersen
A delightfully hilarious and informative read. I originally heard about this one on a podcast and I’m so glad I got around to checking it out.

Beyond a deliciously voyeuristic excursion, Sex in the Sea uniquely connects the timeless topic of sex with the timely issue of sustainable oceans. Through overfishing, climate change, and ocean pollution we are disrupting the creative procreation that drives the wild abundance of life in the ocean. With wit and scientific rigor, Hardt introduces us to the researchers and innovators who study the wet and wild sex lives of ocean life and offer solutions that promote rather than prevent, successful sex in the sea. Part science, part erotica, Sex in the Sea discusses how we can shift from a prophylactic to a more propagative force for life in the ocean.

Marah J. Hardt
A heartfelt and endearing memoir, though if you aren’t a fan of morbid humor you might not enjoy this one as much as I did.

Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty—a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre—took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes. Caring for dead bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, Caitlin soon becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. She describes how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes) and reveals the strange history of cremation and undertaking, marveling at bizarre and wonderful funeral practices from different cultures.

Her eye-opening, candid, and often hilarious story is like going on a journey with your bravest friend to the cemetery at midnight. She demystifies death, leading us behind the black curtain of her unique profession. And she answers questions you didn’t know you had: Can you catch a disease from a corpse? How many dead bodies can you fit in a Dodge van? What exactly does a flaming skull look like?

Honest and heartfelt, self-deprecating and ironic, Caitlin’s engaging style makes this otherwise taboo topic both approachable and engrossing. Now a licensed mortician with an alternative funeral practice, Caitlin argues that our fear of dying warps our culture and society, and she calls for better ways of dealing with death (and our dead).

Caitlin Doughty
I really enjoy history books and documentaries that focus on the every day life of normal people in times past.

Crusader and concubine, laundress and troubadour, mystic and midwife and miniaturist, beguine and bondwoman and the bersatrix rocking the cradle of kings- all find their rightful place in this bountiful compendium. With vast resourcefulness and a lively (and often irreverent) eye for the creaturely real, the authors make it impossible to sustain any last lingering illusions about the Middle Ages being ‘a man’s world

Marty Newman Williams & Anne Echols
I don’t even know if I can properly put into words how much I loved this book. An absolutely amazing memoir that was a crazy feels trip. As someone who has struggled with mental health issues my whole life as well, it was very nice to read something like this written by someone who experience so many things that were similar to things I went through. I just really loved how her personality shone through in this book. The little snippets from the more positive and healed present day also really helped to break up the crazy and oftentimes heartbreaking retelling of the past.

Stacy Pershall grew up depressed and too smart for her own good, a deeply strange girl in Prairie Grove, Arkansas (population 1,000), where the prevailing wisdom was that Jesus healed all. From her days as a thirteen-year-old Jesus freak, through a battle with anorexia and bulimia, her first manic episode at eighteen, and the eventual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, this spirited and at times mordantly funny memoir chronicles Pershall’s journey through hell-several breakdowns and suicide attempts—and her struggle with the mental health care system.

After her 2001 suicide attempt, broadcast live on a Webcam, Pershall realized the need to heal her mind and body. She found a revolutionary cure (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) and a new mood-stabilizing medication. She also met a tattoo artist and discovered the healing power of body modification. By giving over her skin and enduring the physical pain, she learned about the true nature of trust.

Stacy Pershall

I hope you enjoyed this list.
If you’ve read any of these, or have any non-fiction recommendations you think I would like please let me know in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Top 5 Wednesday – Non-fiction November

Add yours

  1. I’m fascinated by medical history and often do read non-fiction books about the development of medicine and some of the weird medical practices over the years so Quackery sounds brilliant. I don’t think that’s ever one I have come across before but it is definitely one I’ll be checking out in the future. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Liked by 1 person

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