Non-Fiction Round Up November

murder by canlelight book cover

Non-Fiction Round Ups are an opportunity for me to share non-fiction I’ve read with mini-reviews. Even though I enjoy non-fiction, I can’t always say as much about it as fiction. Enjoy.


the upside of your dark sideThe Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being your Whole Self–Not Just your “Good” Self–Drives Success and Fulfillment
Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener

Non-Fiction, Psychology
304 pages (hardcover)

Buy: Amazon
Borrow: Worldcat

In The Upside of Your Dark Side, two pioneering researchers in the field of psychology show that while mindfulness, kindness, and positivity can take us far, they cannot take us all the way. Sometimes, they can even hold us back. Emotions such as anger, anxiety, guilt, and sadness might feel uncomfortable, but it turns out that they are also incredibly useful. For instance: – Anger fuels creativity – Guilt sparks improvement – Self-doubt enhances performance – In the same vein, we can become wiser and more effective when we harness the darker parts of our personality in certain situations. For instance: – Selfishness increases courage – Mindlessness leads to better decisions – The key lies in what the authors call “emotional, social, and mental agility,” the ability to access our full range of emotions and behavior-not just the “good” ones-in order to respond most effectively to whatever situation we might encounter. Drawing on years of scientific research and a wide array of real-life examples including sports, the military, parenting, education, romance, business, and more, The Upside of Your Dark Side is a refreshing reality check that shows us how we can truly maximize our potential. With an appreciation of our entire psychological toolkit, we become whole-which allows us to climb the highest peaks and handle the deepest valleys

–Description from Publisher


After participating in a webinar called Looking at the Glass Half Empty: Using your Negative Emotions to Fuel Success, I was compelled to pick up this title. The webinar and this book turn the “be positive” movement on its head, revealing that, in some cases, negativity is a good thing.

Who’s it for: readers interested in making their pessimism work for them instead of against them; or that whole understanding people better thing.



murder by canlelightMurder by Candlelight: The Gruesome Slayings Behind our Romance with the Macabre
Michael Knox Beran
Pegasus Books, 2015

Non-Fiction, Crime
265 pages (Hardcover)

Buy: Amazon
Borrow: Worldcat

In the early nineteenth century, a series of murders took place in and around London which shocked the whole of England. The appalling nature of the crimes—a brutal slaying in the gambling netherworld, the slaughter of two entire households, and the first of the modern lust-murders—was magnified not only by the lurid atmosphere of an age in which candlelight gave way to gaslight, but also by the efforts of some of the keenest minds of the period to uncover the gruesomest details of the killings.These slayings all took place against the backdrop of a London in which the splendor of the fashionable world was haunted by the squalor of the slums. Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Thomas De Quincey, Thomas Carlyle, and Percy Bysshe Shelley and others were fascinated by the blood and deviltry of these crimes. In their contemplations of the most notorious murders of their time, they discerned in the act of killing itself a depth of hideousness that we have lost sight of, now living in an age in which murder has been reduced to a problem of social science and skillful detective work. Interweaving these cultural vignettes alongside criminal history, acclaimed author Michael Beran paints a vivid picture of a time when homicide was thought of as the intrusion of the diabolic into ordinary life.

–Description from Publisher


It’s safe to say this book most likely started life as a dissertation or other academic work and given an interesting subtitle and description by the publisher. What I ended up reading was not at all what I expected.

The writing feels stilted at times, and often a connection was not made between the atrocities and the fascination of the various authors of the time period. To some extent it does describe the shift in the way murder was viewed and handled by the public and authorities.

Who’s it for: lovers of sophiticated murder-porn

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