One of my goals for 2022, was to read 24 NonFiction books, 2 per month. I am trying to read a variety of genres, as I tend to read a lot of memoirs or biographies. These 3 were all enjoyable with one being a memoir of growing up, another a biography of a feminist that includes a lot of history and finally a recounting of early exploration.

Walking with Ghosts by Gabriel Byrne

Published January 12th 2021 by Recorded Books, Grove Press

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have read and/or listened to many memoirs from actors/actresses, but Gabriel Byrne’s Walking With Ghosts was very different. This was not a tell all, or a regurgitation of his career, but a story of his life, especially as a boy growing up in Dublin and the ghosts that still haunt him. We learn about his family; I especially loved what he shared about time spent with his dad, going to the seminary, dabbling in illegal activity, early dating and how he got into acting. This was a beautifully written book, that evoked many feelings as I listened to it. His writing is so eloquent and descriptive. This was a Gabriel Byrne I loved getting to know. I listened to the audiobook narrated by the author himself. It felt like sitting an chatting with a down to earth person or friend.

Ms. Gloria Steinem: A Life by Winifred Conkling

Published June 30th 2020 by Feiwel & Friends

3.5 Stars:

I knew that Gloria Steinem had infiltrated a Playboy Club to write an article and that she was a founder of Ms. Magazine, but that was about it. I learned a lot about her young life that set her on the path of fighting for women’s rights as well as the women’s right’s movement. When Gloria was only ten years old, her father divorced her mother and moved away, leaving her to take care of her mother who suffered from mental health issues. The way her mother was treated during this time while trying to work, raise her daughter and survive while in and out of mental health facilities made young Gloria angry and set the stage for her future. I am in awe at everything she did to support women and fight for women’s rights. This is a YA nonfiction book, so is written more as narrative nonfiction. We meet many other people involved in the feminism period, and Gloria’s relationship to them. There are various quotes from Gloria, mention of her books, her accomplishments and awards. There is a timeline, short descriptions of other people mentioned in the book and recommendations for further reading. An interesting biography.

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing, Simon Prebble (Narrator)

Published April 24th 2008 by Blackstone Audio (first published 1959)

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I knew the name Earnest Shackleton, but had no idea about this voyage of Endurance. The first line of the synopsis perfectly sums up what this book is about. “This is a new reading of the thrilling account of one of the most astonishing feats of exploration and human courage ever recorded. Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men set sail in August of 1914 on the British ship Endurance. The ship got trapped and then crushed in the ice. The crew all survived the sinking by scrambling into two smaller boats, spending five months living on small islands, dodging ice flows and finally being rescued, with all the crew surviving.

Alfred Lansing based his book on diaries written by the men themselves. It was a gritty story, detailing the dangers and risks the men faced. Having to split up, it is a wonder they all survived. With resilience, bravery, tenacity and luck, they faced the odds. I was pleasantly surprised that the men didn’t turn on one another and they supported each other all the way. This also showed how well Shackleton knew his men and what affected some of the decisions he made. I know there are a few movies that were made about this story, and I would like to watch one of them. This book was originally published in 1959, but this audiobook was published in 2008, narrated by Simon Prebble. I found his performance excellent. I could feel the danger and emotion as the story unfolded. If you are interested in the history of early exploration, I recommend this book, especially the audiobook.