I first stumbled upon Heather Cox Richardson’s writing back in 2020 when I read How the South Won the Civil War. Which I found fascinating. Her premise is insightful, the research was well done and the writing even better. It was the kind of book that makes you see the impact of historical decisions playing out in the day-today news and happenings all around you. It’s also the kind of book that leaves you with questions as you may not see eye-to-eye with her, but man is the conversation worth having. There is no downside to reading whatever Heather Cox Heather Cox Richardson writes.
Her new book Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America is just 250 pages broken into 30 chapters. As she tells it: “…it tries to explain how we got to this political moment…and how we get out.” Sounds like another worthwhile and thoughtful read – whether you agree with her or not.
I love stories like this one. In the 1970s and 1980s, Terry Pratchett wrote under a different name. Now someone has connected the dots, and 20 of his “lost to time” stories are being brought back and published in a new book.
According to The Guardian story, the twenty-story collection will be released on October 5th. They have some tidbits to share about what kinds of stories have been found. You’ll have to click through to that news story to read about those.
My favorite part of this whole saga is that it was fans that did the digging and connected all the dots to find these once-published-but-lost stories.
Things are still a tad chilly, wet, and gray, but I’ve bagged a few great reads at the start of 2023. Here are a few short reviews as I’d love the chance to chat with folks about any of these books.
River of the Gods by Candice Millard.
This book is a straight-up history of the search for the source of the Grey Nile portion of the Nile River. River of the Gods is one of those books I would never have picked up had it not been selected as a book club pick. In less skilled hands (which many history books suffer under), this would have been bone dry and b-o-r-I-n-g. Still, Millard did a masterful job weaving in the characters, the political and social climate of the times, and the expeditionary journeys. It was time well spent. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.
This Isn’t Going to End Well: the True Story of a Man I Thought I Knew by Daniel Wallace.
Nothing I’ve read online about this book has done this one justice. Coming out in April 11, 2023, Wallace’s book is a unique first-hand account and dive into what it means when we find out those we love, learn from, and share life with, are flawed and have real struggles of their own.
Up front, Wallace shares that his brother-in-law William Nealy committed suicide. The rest of the book explores the lives, the stories, and the conditions that were to this tragic event. Much of This Isn’t Going to End Well is set in Birmingham, AL. Nealy was an artist, author, handyman, paddling instructor, and adrenaline junkie. He was a master of everything he attempted. Memoirs are pretty standard. People using primary source materials in writing about others is pretty standard.
But, finding a memoir that tackles some of the most challenging topics, filled with the primary source material, plus having first-hand knowledge of the subject AND being in the skilled wordsmith-y hands of an author like Daniel Wallace is unheard of.
This book is a fast read. It hits you in the head and the heart. Sometimes at the same time. Throughout this rollercoaster the book shows off some of Nealy’s more famous as well as lesser known comic illustrations.
This book is for you if you like Hollywood memoirs about larger-than-life folks. If you enjoyed Big Fish, this book is for you. This book is for you if you enjoy reading about creative people, art, and the creative process. If you now live in or lived in Birmingham, AL, in the 1980s-2000s, this book should be required reading.
It’s my first 5-star read of 2023, and I can’t wait to be able to talk with other local folks about this book.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Zevin’s newest novel Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrowwas an entertaining read. The cover is excellent, and the story lives up to the hype. The story follows some college buddies who code a video game together and build a gaming company. Zevin (The Storied Life of AJ Fickry) creates some characters here that are so fun to follow. Their conversations are sincere, and with some much love and closeness, their losses feel natural to the reader as well. The whole story is dripping with techie talk and retro video game references. So all that was fun for someone my age.
Books about books are my absolute favorite. I love them all and if this batch of new books hitting store shelves this September are any clue, it’s going to be a great fall season. Anyway, I figure, if you’ve happened to land on this blog, these may be books you’d want on your radar as well.
Here are three that I am looking forward to reading. They all come out in September 2018:
The Lost Art of Reading: Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time by David Ulin. I LOVE the idea of “reading as a political act”. I honestly believe that if everyone would just sit down, slow down and read more books, the world would be a much better place. I’m anxious to see what Ulin has to say on the matter. This one came out back in 2010, but this new 2018 hardcover edition (releasing September 4, 2018), being published by the cool folks at Sasquatch Books, has a little extra added in reframing the book in light of the current condition of things.
Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany by Jane Mount. There are a gazillion miscellany books out there about books, reading and the like. But Mount’s new hardcover book will certainly earn a place on the bookshelf due to her unique book-loving artwork. Back in 2012, she did a book with Thessaly La Force titled My Ideal Bookshelf and it remains a fun one to pull down to flip through. It’s a big hit with visitors at the house too.