My goal for the Non-Fiction Challenge is to read two per month. I read these back in January, but I am a bit late getting my reviews posted. As far as what category they fit, I would say Celebrity and Social History for the Amanda Gorman book and Self-Help for the Happiness book.

Word Up: The Life of Amanda Gorman by Marc Shapiro

Published July 14th 2021 by Riverdale Avenue Books

3.5 Stars:

After hearing Amanda Gorman perform her reading of The Hill We Climbed, during President Joe Biden’s inauguration, I was captivated. I wanted to know more about this young woman and was quite intrigued when I saw this biography written by Marc Shapiro. I find her writing inspirational and her words necessary for the times we are living in. Shapiro is a journalist by trade, did a lot of research to learn about Amanda’s path from skinny black girl to a phenomenal woman with passion, beliefs, and an amazing way with words. This snapshot of Amanda Gorman’s life is written in a detached journalistic style, based primarily on interviews, which prevented me feeling engaged with his subject. I enjoyed learning more about Amanda Gorman and did spend a lot of time on google and youtube watching video and reading about many of the things mentioned in the book. Although not about Amanda Gorman, the final two chapters highlight all the inaugural poets (there have only been 8) and Female Authors of Colour, which once again sent me down the rabbit hole. Overall this is an informative biography, but not one that I loved.


Why Being Happy Matters: Discover How The Power Of Joy Will Energize Your Life by Peter Jennings

Published August 12th 2016 by Kobo Writing Life

3 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐

“Why Being Happy Matters” presents interviews with people in the U.S., Canada, Asia, Europe and Australia, each of whom reveal to the author what happiness means to them and why it matters. That is the premise behind this book. The title is a bit deceiving to me as it doesn’t really talk about why happiness matters, as much as what makes you happy, how to be happy and then how it changes your life and outlook. Interviewees range from PhDs, teachers, professors, bloggers, authors, business persons and just normal everyday people. According to Jennings, Happiness is blooming all over the world, yet in the United States, we find an extremely low happiness index. He sets out to find out what makes people happy. I found parts of this book extremely interesting and inspirational, but other parts monotonous and dry. He included 37 different interviews, which to me was a few too many, but who to leave out is a difficult decision. One theme that resonated with most interviewees is that money does not necessarily make you happy, but having enough to feel secure to provide, food, shelter, healthcare and needs for your family will help people begin to move toward happiness. I am not going to reiterate the themes as there are many, but I do think this is a worthwhile read and you can be selective and skip interviews that don’t call to you.