IT’S BACK! The Dare is back!
Years ago, we had a regular feature called The Dare (and its sibling, the Guest Dare) in which we dared each other to read books outside of our comfort zone. For no real reason, we stopped doing those until we decided to bring it back this year. So without further ado: The Dare 2.0.
Today, the dare is a little bit different. This time, in a true testament of strength, we’ve both agreed to review a category completely outside of our comfort zones: nonfiction. Yesterday, Thea reviewed Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan (not a great reading experience, unfortunately). Today, Ana reviews Gossip of the Forest by Sara Maitland (about the intertwined relationship between fairy tales and actual forests).
Title: Gossip From the Forest – The Tangled Roots of Our Forests and Fairytales
Author: Sara Maitland
Genre: Nonfiction, Nature, Fairytales
Publisher: Granta Books
Publication Date: November 2012
Hardcover: 256 Pages
Fairytales are one of our earliest and most vital cultural forms, and forests one of our most ancient and primal landscapes. Both evoke a similar sensation in us — we find them beautiful and magical, but also spooky, sometimes horrifying.
In this fascinating book, Maitland argues that the two forms are intimately connected: the mysterious secrets and silences, gifts and perils of the forests were both the background and the source of fairytales. Yet both forests and fairy stories are at risk and their loss deprives us of our cultural lifeblood. Maitland visits forests through the seasons, from the exquisite green of a beechwood in spring, to the muffled stillness of a snowy pine wood in winter. She camps with her son Adam, whose beautiful photographs are included in the book; she takes a barefoot walk through Epping Forest with Robert Macfarlane; she walks with a mushroom expert through an oak wood, and with a miner through the Forest of Dean. Maitland ends each chapter with a unique, imaginitive re-telling of a fairystory.
Written with Sara’s wonderful clarity and conversational grace, Gossip from the Forest is a magical and unique blend of nature writing, history and imaginative fiction.
Standalone or series: Standalone book
How did I get this book: Bought
Format (e- or p-): print
Why the Dare: I think this dare has more to do with the reviewing of rather than the reading of this Gossip from the Forest because given its premise and connection to fairy tale retellings why would I not want to read it? So the dare here for me is: HOW do I even approach the book when reviewing it? In any case this was the perfect opportunity to read non-fiction something that I have been wanting to do for a while now but haven’t had the time – the dare allowed me to make the time.
I first heard about Gossip From The Forest when I attended a panel on fairy tales at a local university and Sara Maitland was one of the panellists. She talked about Gossip From The Forest and I was immediately intrigued by its concept: there are 12 chapters in the book, one for a different forest in England and Scotland. Each chapter features an essay with observations of the author’s visit to one of those forests as well as one fairy tale retelling that closes the chapter. The idea is to (loosely) investigate the connections between the “woods” and fairy tales and the way that how forests are central to European fairy tales (much like, for example, the desert is central to stories of The Arabian Nights).
Gossip From The Forest is an interesting blend of travelogue, essay and fairy tale retellings and what strikes me the most is how this is at once a very personal, intimate book that follows the author’s trip to the forests (often accompanied by a family member or a friend) as well as a thought-provoking exploration of wider issues such as child rearing, history, feminism, politics, education, preservation and ecology.
There is also an interesting dynamics between the local and the general – each forest has its own historical past which often relates to a wider political context. It was all really interesting for a history buff like me but most of the data the author talks about comes across as more anecdotes than facts. Although there are notes at the end of the book these are extrapolations on the author’s assertions rather than further information or bibliographic back-up. I only mention this because I feel it is important to make a special note that scientific rigour is not the point of the book. In fact, the author is very clear in disclosing the fact that hers are granted, educated but still meandering thoughts:
Suddenly I do not feel I have “proved” my thesis – that we have the stories we have because we are people whose roots are in the northern European forests – but this is because it is about a sort of knowledge that is not amenable to, not available to the sort of “proof” we have come to accept. It is an imaginative rather than a logical connection, and none the worse for that.
I felt the book was a success in what it sets out to do: it was thoughtful, interesting and elicited not only a strong sense of a particular place but also a sense that it is all connected. Each chapter was an absolute pleasure to read even when some the author’s ideas felt slightly out of place and time. For example I felt that there was a distinct feel emanating from the book that glorified tradition and vilified certain aspects of progress.
On the downside I felt terribly sad that most of the fairy tales retold were of Grimm’s tradition. I understood the author’s claim that the UK shares the same traditions and the Germanic backstory with those stories but I couldn’t help but to wonder about what kind of very local stories and folklore each particular location wouldn’t have. Of course the point is that the “very local” is connected to a widespread, shared tradition linked to forests. And what a shame that the photographs included in each chapter were not in colour – the black and white images did not add a lot to the book and I can only but imagine the difference that colour photos could have made to the overall feel of the book.
I have said all that but I have yet to say anything about the fairy tale retellings. I loved them. As much as I enjoyed reading about everything else, the fairy tale retellings were easily the best part of the book. They had the author’s own brand of twists and beautiful writing – sometimes poetic or funny, sometimes harsh and sad, often thought-provoking, always engaging. So we have Hansel and Gretel as adults, about 50 years later and still each dealing with the consequences of their ordeal; Rapunzel is from the stepmother’s (not really a witch) perspective as is Rumpelstiltskin’s (not the only villain in that story) .
The Seven Swan’s Sister opens with:
Once upon a time there was a young woman with a fierce integrity
And The Little Goose Girl ends on:
You are a sweet child. You are innocent, whatever happened, and you will be vindicated. You do not have to marry the Prince, though I hope you will want to one day. But no one will touch you until you ask them to. And no one in my kingdom, peasant or princess, will ever again have to marry a stranger. In your honor and always, women will marry if they choose, when they choose and where their hearts and their intelligence lead them. I promise”
And he kept that promise.
This was a brilliant choice of dare for me and I highly recommend Gossip From The Forest if you like fairy tales, nature and history.
Notable Quotes/Parts: The book OPENS with a thought provoking question about the way that the Oxford English Dictionary (and in fact most dictionaries), defines gossip by equating it with women’s idle talk with definite negative connotations when the origin of the word is anything but: the original meaning is that of close friend or a godparent. She says:
“This is one of my favorite examples of how the trivialising of women’s concerns distorts language. The Gossip of my title is the encouraging, private spiritual talk that we all want in times of trouble. Stories that are not idle; tales that are not trifling.”
Additional thoughts: This dare was a success – even if Thea didn’t particularly liked her book – and we want to read MOARS. So….we are open for non-fiction suggestions. Anything you have loved and think we NEED to read? Suggest away!
Rating: 8 – Excellent
Buy the Book:
(click on the links to purchase)
Ebook available for Kindle US, kindle UK, nook, kobo, google play & iBookstore
Laura LamJuly 19, 2013 at 10:34 am
Ah, thanks for reviewing this! This fits perfectly into the next book I’m researching. *purchases*
PaigeJuly 19, 2013 at 12:06 pm
All of Mary Roach’s nonfiction is fantastic, including the audiobook versions. Sue Macy’s feminist biographies for kids are also pretty cool.
GabiJuly 19, 2013 at 12:52 pm
“The Summer of Ordinary Ways” by Nicole Helegt and “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments” by David Foster Wallace.
Shannon HJuly 19, 2013 at 1:56 pm
1491 by Charles C Mann is a really well written history of the Americas before European colonization, and looks at the way Native American histories are passed over and why that needs to change.
Also, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
Andrea KJuly 19, 2013 at 7:23 pm
I found Justine Larbalestier’s “The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction” very interesting.
hapaxJuly 19, 2013 at 9:49 pm
“the intertwined relationship between fairy tales and actual forests”
Thea, this review makes me think you’d like Anne Dillard’s classic PILGRIM AT TINKER CREEK. No fairy tales (unless you consider a sort of universalistic mysticism to be such), but a gorgeously written, clear eyed, intensely intimate close observation of a small patch of nature, taking the author and reader to some very profound places indeed.
Or as one of the reviews at Amazon puts it: “The precision of individual words, the vitality of metaphor, the sheer profusion of sources, the vivid sensory and cerebral impressions all combine to make Pilgrim at Tinker Creek something extravagant and extraordinary.”
One of the few books I would honestly call “life-changing.”
NataliaJuly 19, 2013 at 10:01 pm
I highly recommend “Woman: an Intimate Geography” by Natalie Angier its a book all about female anatomy and physiology by a wonderful writer.
BethanyJuly 20, 2013 at 1:40 am
“Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed is an amazing memoir. I usually never have time and/or the desire to read non-fiction either, but I treasure this book. Please, read it! I promise that you won’t regret it!!
Britta B.July 20, 2013 at 8:52 am
What Paige said: Mary Roach is brilliant. I just finished Packing for Mars, and have read Stiff and both books are funny, educating, incredibly well researched and written so well. Spook and Bonk are next and I see that she has a new one out, Gulp. Highly recommended.
ElizaJuly 20, 2013 at 7:20 pm
Given what’s said in the Notable Quotes, it’s interesting to note that “Gossip” is dropped from the title the US publication.
I did list a few nonfiction books under “Nonfiction/Dare” category when you asked for recommendations for OSW. Hee, so glad you’re picking up the dare (even if you haven’t read one of my suggestions – yet). As you know, I can’t resist giving a list of recommendations, so here are some (repeating the OSW suggestions just so they’re all in one place). It’s kind of a long list so I probably will break them up into several comments.
I can second the recommendations for books by Mary Roach. She’s brilliant.
A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel (2001). I love this book and give it out to everyone. It really captures small town America. Somehow Haven Kimmel can keep the story in the memory and voice of a third grade girl without an adult sensibility and later understandings inform it. It remains in a completely self-involved world of a small child. This is a girl who pretty much was allowed to run wild but was dearly loved by her family and neighbors. Kimmel evokes her childhood as vividly as any novel in a collection of vignettes comprising the things a small child would remember: sick birds, a new bike, reading comics at the drugstore, the mean old lady down the street. The truths of childhood are rendered in lush yet simple prose; here’s Zippy describing a friend who hates wearing girls’ clothes: “Julie in a dress was like the rest of us in quicksand”; or, regarding Jesus, “Everyone around me was flat-out in love with him, and who wouldn’t be? He was good with animals, he loved his mother, and he wasn’t afraid of blind people.”
She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana If you liked Zippy, its sequel (which Haven didn’t intend to write but did so after everyone asked her about her mother at book readings and “if she ever got off the couch”), is equally as good. The difference is that Zippy is older and is developing an awareness of others and what’s happening to them. We follow Zippy from one story to another, but this is really her mother’s book: the poignant tale of a woman who found a way to save herself and set a proud example for her daughter.
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller (2001) – Born in England and now living in Wyoming, Fuller was conceived and bred on African soil during the Rhodesian civil war (1971-1979), a world where children over five “learn[ed] how to load an FN rifle magazine, strip and clean all the guns in the house, and ultimately, shoot-to-kill.” With a unique and subtle sensitivity to racial issues, Fuller describes her parents’ racism and the wartime relationships between blacks and whites through a child’s watchful eyes.
Wait Till Next Year: a memoir by Doris Kearns Goodwin (1997) – Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of the best historical biographers around. You can’t go wrong with any of her biographies (e.g., No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: the Home Front in World War II; Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln; Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream). This book, however, is more personal. It’s about her childhood and perfectly captures growing up in America in the ’50s. From Amazon “Set in the suburbs of New York in the 1950s, Wait Till Next Year is Doris Kearns Goodwin’s touching memoir of growing up in love with her family and baseball. She re-creates the postwar era, when the corner store was a place to share stories and neighborhoods were equally divided between Dodger, Giant, and Yankee fans. We meet the people who most influenced Goodwin’s early life: her mother, who taught her the joy of books but whose debilitating illness left her housebound: and her father, who taught her the joy of baseball and to root for the Dodgers of Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, and Gil Hodges. Most important, Goodwin describes with eloquence how the Dodgers’ leaving Brooklyn in 1957, and the death of her mother soon after, marked both the end of an era and, for her, the end of childhood.”
Operating Instructions: a Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott (1993) – From Amazon: “It’s not like she’s the only woman to ever have a baby. At thirty-five. On her own. But Anne Lamott makes it all fresh in her now-classic account of how she and her son and numerous friends and neighbors and some strangers survived and thrived in that all important first year. From finding out that her baby is a boy (and getting used to the idea) to finding out that her best friend and greatest supporter Pam will die of cancer (and not getting used to that idea), with a generous amount of wit and faith (but very little piousness), Lamott narrates the great and small events that make up a woman’s life.”. This book is honest, and because Anne Lamott is a naturally funny person, hysterical, and deeply moving.
Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje (1982) – From the back cover: “In the late 1970s Michael Ondaatje returned to his native island of Sri Lanka. Recording his journey through the drug like heat and intoxicating fragrances of that ‘pendant off the ear of India,’ Ondaatje simultaneously retraces the baroque mythology of his Dutch-Ceylonese family. It is a story of broken engagements and drunken suicide attempts, of parties where exquisitely dressed couples tango in the jungle, a tale whose actors pursue lives of Baudelairean excess with impeccable decorum.”
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy (1994) – From the book jacket: “Lucy Grealy’s ruthless self-examination, rich fantasy life, and great derring-do inform this powerful memoir about the premium we put on beauty and on a woman’s face in particular. It took Lucy 20 years of living with a distorted self-image and more than 30 reconstructive procedures before she could come to terms with her appearance after childhood surgery left her jaw disfigured. As a young girl she absorbed the searing pain of peer rejection and the guilty pleasure of wanting to be special. Later she internalized the paralyzing fear of never being loved.”
Truth & Beauty: a Friendship by Ann Patchett (2004) – Ann Patchett writes of her long, deep and often difficult friendship with Lucy Grealy (see Autobiography of a Face above). From Amazon: “Ann Patchett and the late Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and, after enrolling in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work. In Grealy’s critically acclaimed memoir, Autobiography of a Face, she wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, years of chemotherapy and radiation, and endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth & Beauty, the story isn’t Lucy’s life or Ann’s life, but the parts of their lives they shared. This is a portrait of unwavering commitment that spans twenty years, from the long winters of the Midwest, to surgical wards, to book parties in New York. Through love, fame, drugs, and despair, this is what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined . . . and what happens when one is left behind. This is a tender, brutal book about loving the person we cannot save. It is about loyalty, and being lifted up by the sheer effervescence of someone who knew how to live life to the fullest.”
Old Books, Rare Friends: Two Literary Sleuths and Their Shared Passion by Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine Stern (1997) – From Amazon: “Louisa May Alcott once wrote that she had taken her pen for a bridegroom. Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine Stern, friends and business partners for fifty years, have in many ways taken up their pens and passion for literature much in the same way. The “Holmes & Watson” of the rare book business, Rostenberg and Stern are renowned for unlocking the hidden secret of Louisa May Alcott’s life when they discovered her pseudonym, A.M. Barnard, along with her anonymously published “blood and thunder” stories on subjects like transvestitism, hashish smoking, and feminism. Old Books, Rare Friends describes their mutual passion for books and literary sleuthing as they take us on their earliest European book buying jaunts. Using what they call Finger-spitzengefühl, the art of evaluating antiquarian books by handling, experience, and instinct, we are treated to some of their greatest discoveries amid the mildewed basements of London’s booksellers after the Blitz. We experience the thrill of finding one of the earliest known books printed in America between 1617-1619 by the Pilgrim Press and learn about the influential role of publisher-printers from the fifteenth century.
Bookends: Tow Women, One Enduring Friendship by Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine Stern (2001) –- From book jacket: “The rare book dealers who delighted readers with the history of their bookselling days in Old Books, Rare Friends now offer the other side of their story — an intimate look at the joys of a relationship that has lasted more than half a century. After publishing Old Books, Rare Friends, Rostenberg and Stern received a flood of fan mail asking about their personal lives, and they have responded with poignant honesty and the warmth for which they are famous, as they reflect on their lives and their remarkable partnership. Bookends recounts their fascinating histories: family backgrounds, business adventures, the men they did not marry, and their approach to the bittersweet trials of aging. More than just a dual memoir, Bookends is also a chronicle of the cultural changes of twentieth-century American life and a loving farewell to the golden age of book collecting. Filled with wisdom and humor, this volume is a tribute to Rostenberg and Stern’s passion for the written word and for life itself.”
ElizaJuly 20, 2013 at 7:27 pm
The Lost Generation – Paris in the ‘20s (or if you watched Midnight in Paris)
I love the whole idea of the Lost Generation. So many brilliant minds all together in a beautiful city. I was fascinated especially by one person in particular – Sylvia Beach. Here are some of the books I read during the height of my infatuation of this period:
Shakespeare & Company by Sylvia Beach (1991) (University of Nebraska Press/Bison Book edition, introduction by James Laughlin) – From the back cover: “‘Miss Beach’s book is intimate, not scholarly, and thus full of interesting information. Her reminiscences are literally an index of everybody in the twenties, and she knew them all.’ (Janet Flanner, New Yorker). Sylvia Beach was intimately acquainted with the expatriate and visiting writers of the Lost Generation, a label that she never accepted. Like moths of great promise, they were drawn to her well-lighted bookstore and warm hearth on the Left Bank. Shakespeare and Company evokes the zeitgeist of an era through its revealing glimpses of James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Sherwood Anderson, Andre Gide, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, D. H. Lawrence, and others already famous or soon to be.”
Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties & Thirties by Noel Riley Fitch (1983) – “In 1917, Sylvia Beach walked into a Paris bookshop, where she met Adrienne Monnier, the woman who would become her life companion. In 1919, Beach opened her own English-language bookshop and lending library, Shakespeare and Company, which would become the cynosure of an entire literary movement. Literary expatriates were drawn to her shop, and Ernest Hemingway declared of Sylvia, “No one that I ever knew was nicer to me.” But her most celebrated literary efforts are those she made on behalf of her literary idol, James Joyce, undertaking the publication of Ulysses. Noel Riley Fitch uses Beach as the focal point for a fascinating portrait of an artistic community filled with anecdote after anecdote. From the intellectual salons at Natalie Barney’s residence–of which “William Carlos Williams would recall only the lesbian women dancing together”–to the seemingly constant presence of Ezra Pound, Fitch’s account solidifies the importance of the time and place he so vividly re-creates.” –Ron Hogan (Amazon)
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway – Okay, you have to get past the whole macho persona of Hemingway but he was a brilliant writer. Published posthumously in 1964, A Moveable Feast is his classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s, filled with irreverent portraits of other expatriate luminaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein; tender memories of his first wife, Hadley; and insightful recollections of his own early experiments with his craft. It is a literary feast, brilliantly evoking the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the youthful spirit, unbridled creativity, and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomized.
Other Nonfiction Works
Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky (1997). A book about cod? Believe it or not, this is a fascinating read. Mark Kurlansky has written a fabulous book–well worth your time–about a fish that probably has mattered more in human history than any other. Kurlansky has also written:
• Salt: a World History (2002) – The story of the only rock we eat, including its origin, the other discoveries made because of it, and tales of salt and the people who have been involved with it through the ages.
• The Eastern Stars: how baseball changed the Dominican town of San Pedro de Macorís (2010) – Kurlansky examines the staggering amount of baseball talent that has originated in the impoverished area of San Pedro, in the Dominican Republic, and discovers wider meanings about place, identity, and, above all, baseball.
• The Food of a Younger Land: a portrait of American food before the national highway system, before chain restaurants, and before frozen food, when the nation’s food was seasonal, regional, and traditional (2009)- Using long-forgotten WPA files archived in the Library of Congress, bestselling author Mark Kurlansky paints a detailed picture of Depression Era Americans through the food that they ate and the local traditions and customs they observed when planning and preparing meals.
Memoirs of a Medieval Woman: The Life and Times of Margery Kempe by Louise Collis (1964) – From the back cover: “The story of an extraordinary fifteenth-century woman who journeyed all over Europe from England to the Holy Land. MargeryKempe was married and had 14 children when she deserted her family to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to expiate a “secret sin” in her early life. Along the way she meets many famous prelates and dignitaries, gets into all sorts of scrapes, and survives a feverish voyage in the stinking galleys of a Venetian boat. Drawing on the chronicles of her contemporaries and on her own clear-eyed autobiography – dictated to a priest near the end of her life and said to be the first written in English – these memoirs reveal a woman who has strange ideas about such things a sin and sainthood, diet and sex, and provides a colorful and detailed picture of everyday life in England and around the rim of the Mediterranean.”
Autobiographical Fiction or semi-autobiographical stories
Hotel Bemelmans by Ludwig Bemelman* – a collection of semi-autobiographical tales (so not strictly nonfiction), the 26 stories, accompanied by 73 of Bemelman’s charming illustrations, brilliantly evokes the kitchens, back passages, dining rooms and banquet halls of the author’s years at the Hotel Splendide – a thinly disguised stand-in for the Ritz Carlton. And what a strange, fabulous, and sometime terrible universe it is, populated by rogues, con-men, geniuses, craftsmen, lunatics, gypsies, tramps, and thieves, among others.
*Ludwig Bemelman (1898- 1962) wrote and illustrated more than 40 books (including the Madeline books). He wrote for Hollywood, owned restaurants, designed the sets for Broadway, and painted everything from magazine covers to hotel frescos. Born in the Austrian Tyrol, he was sent to America at the age of 16 after her shot a head waiter at his uncle’s hotel.
Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (1949) – another autobiographical fiction book and also offers a behind the scenes look at restaurants as a plongeur. In the book, Orwell narrates, without self-pity and often with humor, the adventures of a penniless British writer among the down-and-out of two great cities. In the tales of both cities we learn some sobering Orwellian truths about poverty and society.
JamieJuly 21, 2013 at 4:36 am
“Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle” is good. The author deals with privilege, alternate ways of life, different views of spirituality, and of course a does a deep study of a very strange language. The language talk can be dry, and he never completely gets over his privilege, but it’s a really good story all the same.
ElizaJuly 22, 2013 at 1:07 pm
Here are two middle grade nonfiction books. I think that middle grade books are a great resource as the author has to really edit and consolidate the subject matter so you’re able to get the essentials of and issue or event. It’s a great way to learn a bit about something you’re interested in or as a starting place for your research (plus the best of these books offer bibliographies for further research).
Here are some choices:
Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin (2012) – This book is the story of the plotting, the risk-taking, the deceit, and genius that created the atomic bomb. It reads more like a spy novel than a dry history book.
Moonbird : a Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose (2012) – The ultimate survivor story. Documents the survival tale of an intrepid shorebird who has endured annual migrations between Argentina and the Canadian Arctic throughout the course of a long lifetime while his species continues to decline. Phillip Hoose is brilliant. Here are some of his other books:
— Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (2009) – Before there was Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin but instead of being celebrated, as Rosa Parks would be when she took the same stand nine months later, Claudette found herself shunned by many of her classmates and dismissed as an unfit role model by the black leaders of Montgomery. Undaunted, she put her life in danger a year later when she dared to challenge segregation yet again– as one of four plaintiffs in the landmark busing case Browder v. Gayle.
— We Were There, Too!: Young People in U.S. History (2001). Draws from first-person accounts, journals, interviews and other primary sources to tell the true stories of over seventy young people from a variety of cultures who played a role in the making of the United States, including explorers, patriots, rebels, slaves, miners, and activists.
Candy bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s “Chocolate Pilot” by Michael O. Tunnell – a lovely story of how a small gesture of kindness impacts lots of lives and gains momentum. Describes the efforts of US Air Force Lieutenant Gail Halvorsen to aid the children in Russian-blockaded West Berlin by dropping packages filled with candy from the air. Features personal photographs, along with letters and drawings from the children of Berlin.
Some nonfiction books that I haven’t read yet but are on my TBR list and sound fascinating:
The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child by Francisco Jiménez. From Anita Silvey’s blog: “In the The Circuit, he [Francisco Jiménez] explores his own story, showing it through the eyes of young Francisco. That life begins as he enters the United States, “Under the Wire,” and ends with the immigrant guard (INS) removing him from his eighth grade classroom for deportation. In between, the family constantly moves around searching for work. Francisco struggles with English and has to repeat first grade because he does not understand anything his teacher says. Yet nothing in these chapters, which work independently as single stories, even hints at bitterness or anger. All contain moments of grace, where good things happen to the family.”
The Secret of the Yellow Death: a True Story of Medical Sleuthing by Suzanne Jurmain (2009) – Tells the story of the doctors and researchers who worked to track down the cause of yellow fever and find a way to eliminate the disease. YA.
It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw by Don Tate and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (2012) – Picture Book. “A biography of twentieth-century African American folk artist Bill Traylor, a former slave who at the age of eighty-five began to draw pictures based on his memories and observations of rural and urban life in Alabama. Includes an afterword, author’s note, and sources”–Publisher description.
A Voice of Her Own : the Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet by Kathryn Lasky and illustrated by Paul Lee (2012). Picture book. A biography of an African girl brought to New England as a slave in 1761 who became famous on both sides of the Atlantic as the first Black poet in America.
Charles and Emma: the Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman (2009) – Charles Darwin and his wife, Emma, were deeply in love and very supportive of each other, but their opinions often clashed. Emma was extremely religious, and Charles questioned God’s very existence.
Let Me Play: the Story of Title IX, the Law that Changed the Future of Girls in America by Karen Blumenthal (2005) – A look at Title IX, the legislation which in 1972, mandated that schools receiving federal funds could not discriminate on the basis of gender. This work focuses on the effects of Title IX in schools, politics, sports and the culture as a whole.
Let me know if you’re interested in adult nonfiction books I haven’t read yet but are on my TBR list, such as:
Governess: the Lives and Times of the Real Jane Eyres/Other People’s Daughters (UK) by Ruth Brandon (2008) – For all us Gothic novel or Austen fans out there a look at the real lives of governesses. If a nineteenth century lady had neither a husband to support her nor money of her own, almost her only recourse was to live in someone else’s household and educate their children – in particular, their daughters. Marooned within the confines of other people’s lives, neither servants nor family members, governesses occupied an uncomfortable social limbo. And being poor and insignificant, their papers were mostly lost. But a few journals and letters have come down to us, giving a vivid record of what it was to be a lone professional woman at a time when such a creature officially did not exist.
Axl Hazarika VEVOJuly 29, 2013 at 8:45 pm
I drop a comment each time I like a post on a site or I have something to add to the discussion.
Usually it is caused by the passion displayed in the article I browsed.
And after this post The Book Smugglers | The (Nonfiction) Dare: Gossip
from the Forest – The Tangled Roots of Our Forests and Fairytales by Sara Maitland.
I was moved enough to drop a comment 🙂 I do have a few questions for you if
you tend not to mind. Is it simply me or do some of these remarks look like written
by brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are posting on additional online sites, I would
like to keep up with everything fresh you have to post.
Could you list all of your social sites like your twitter feed,
Facebook page or linkedin profile?
Feel free to surf to my blog post: Axl Hazarika VEVO
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