Another way too long break, but at least I have some articles to share!
I knew it had been a while but I hadn’t realized it has been over a month since I last posted. The holidays and life have gotten in the way and kept me fairly busy. Additionally the last couple weeks politically have been more than enough that I haven’t felt like doing much of anything in a while. I’m back though, just with some interesting articles, but do have plans for three or four posts coming up; they’re all related to resources I’ve created at work, but that I found out more information about than could fit in those resources. I’m not exactly sure of a time frame for those, but since I already have the research and just have to write the posts and find images, they should go pretty easily and will come out soon. Now, articles!
Since there was just a Presidential Inauguration, I’ve had a lot of presidential
articles pop up in my various feeds. This one’s about presidential
scandals from the beginning of the U.S. until the early 20th century.
I was hoping to have a full post this week but work’s just been too much and I don’t want to do anything when I get home. If you’re interested though, you can see a few of the things I’ve created for my job here, then clicking on Civil Liberties or Women in Ohio and finding Frances Dana Gage, Women in Ohio for Annette Cronise Lutes, and African Americans for the Gist Settlements. These are all educational resources I helped create and are vaguely like what I do here. It’s a really good resource for a quick overview on any number of topics. (As of this writing I see that Frances Dana Gage’s name is spelled wrong and I’ll be letting them know right now!)
I shared this on Facebook the other day, but it bears sharing here too.
This is a really fascinating case, looking at the different ways different
people can interpret history and how that can lead to misinformation. Make
sure to click through to see the original piece from the New York Times,
as well as the response by Monica Green. It’s really interesting.
I will be gone for the majority of the next week, so there won’t be a new post next Monday. I’m not sure yet if there will be on the 2nd, or if it will have to wait until the 9th. But at any rate, I hope you have a wonderful whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of year, and have a very happy new year!
Happy repeal day!
Something a bit different today, though I know there are three Mondays left in the year (wow, that went fast…). If you use Goodreads, you might know about the reading challenges they run each year. At the beginning of the year you pick a number of books you’d like to read that year (I picked 50 this year; it’s been more or less in past years) and then just keep track of the date you finished them for them to be counted for the year. This year I hit my goal by the end of November, so anything I finish this month is gravy.
Goodreads, or probably any book-ish website like it, is great for keeping track of what you’re reading in so many ways. You can create your own shelves in addition to the three they start you with. You can cross-reference those shelves to see your stats for a year. For example, I have shelves for books read by year (so I have handy how many I read in addition to the reading challenge), as well as for author- if it’s written by a man or a woman. So doing that I can see that out of the 50 books I’ve finished so far this year, 29 were by men and 21 by women (I’ll have to try and read more women next year; a few series this year really cranked up the male numbers!). I can also see that I read 15 books I classified as non-fiction; I also have three non-fiction in my currently reading shelf as well. Basically this has all been a really long-winded way to tell you about some (I won’t get into all 15) of the non-fiction books I read this year.
Going from most recent to oldest…
A is for Arsenic by Kathryn Harkup. This was really interesting! This is subtitled “The Poisons of Agatha Christie” and it’s really excellent. I love Agatha Christie’s books and tv adaptations. I’ve been interested in crime and poison for years, and I think that’s why I like mystery books so much. This was the perfect blend. There are fourteen chapters, each titled like “A is for Arsenic”. The chapter then tells a bit about a story where Christie used the poison, as well as about true crime cases that may have inspired or been inspired by Christie (mostly the former). Harkup goes into the science behind how each poison kills as well and how well Christie did portraying that. As you might remember from my post on Christie, she was a trained pharmacist and knew her poisons, so it’s no surprise that she portrays them accurately in her novels.
The Greater Journey by David McCullough. I really enjoyed this. I started it once before and abandoned it, but used the audiobook this time and had no issue. (Seriously, I can’t recommend audiobooks highly enough. I don’t always have one going – sometimes there are podcasts I’d rather listen to – but I usually do and they really help with books I’ve struggled with before.) This is about Americans in Paris in the 19th century. McCullough discusses artists, writers, politicians, inventors, you name it really. I learned that Samuel Morse started out as a painter before he worked on telegraph and invented Morse Code. There were parts about John Singer Sargent too, which well supplemented Strapless by Deborah Davis which I read in 2015. I really liked the parts about Augustus Saint-Gaudens and James Fenimore Cooper too.
The Clockwork Universe by Edward Dolnick. This one I’ll mention because I didn’t really care for it and I think it’s important to discuss those sorts of books as well. This sounded really good – subtitled “Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World” – but it didn’t live up to expectations, so you may enjoy it. I felt like this was too much of a pop-science book and didn’t really discuss anything in depth. It was written almost conversationally and made reference to The DaVinci Code and posters you hang on your wall, which just lost me a bit. This is another one I listened to the audiobook for, and it’s totally possible that some of my issue was the narrator and not always the book. (The The DaVinci Code reference is still in the book though, so…)
Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon. This was wonderful. A dual biography of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley, Gordon interwove their lives and stories really well. Chapters would alternate from mother to daughter, highlighting some of the parallels in their lives. I’d read a little about Shelley before – The Monsters by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler – but nothing about Wollstonecraft. It was fascinating.
How to be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman. This one took me a while to get through, but I really enjoyed it over all. Goodman takes you through a day of a Victorian. The chapters go from waking up to bathing to breakfast to work to play or school for children and so on. The chapters on clothing and other relatively superficial things were probably my favorites, while I slowed down with the chapters on work and school and games. Overall it was really interesting and could be a really good resource if you’re writing about the era. Goodman also has other books on Victorian life as well as How to be a Tudor and how to live in other eras.
The Bronte Cabinet by Deborah Lutz. I loved everything about this book. It’s set up to act like a sort of curio cabinet of the Brontes lives, hence the title, and so each chapter is about one of those items and how it relates to them. I didn’t know a lot about the Brontes going into this, and I’ve only read Jane Eyre, but I just find them really interesting and this book was a great beginning biography. Lutz uses items like the miniature books the children created, walking sticks, a dog’s collar, and writing desks, to really illuminate the lives of Emily, Charlotte, and Anne, as well as bits of Branwell and their father.
In addition to the books I’ve finished this year, I’m technically currently reading six books (oops!), three of which are non-fiction: The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff; Fracture: Life and Culture in the West, 1918-1938 by Philipp Blom; and When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning. Of these, I’m only actively reading the last, and it’s really interesting. It’s about the Armed Services Editions that were published during WWII to help with soldiers’ morale, and also pulled some books out of obscurity; did you know The Great Gatsby had fallen from popularity before it was chosen as an ASE? (The others… I might be a little Salem-d out lately, and with Fracture, once I passed the years I’m interested in, my reading really dropped off…)
I will try and have a real post before the end of the year, but I hope you enjoyed this about books I’ve read this year!
Sorry for the silence for the last few weeks. The election took a lot out of me and I did nothing for a little while but go to work. I’ve been in a funk since then, knitting less, reading a bit more, still watching too much TV. But we’ve passed Thanksgiving and are nearly into December, so I figured it’s a good time to get back to this, and ease into it with an article round-up.
If you’re anything like me, you binged The Crown when it premiered on Netflix.One episode addressed the Great Smog of London of 1952. Chinese researchers maybe cracking what happened in London, while researching their own issue.
Weird Wikipedia pages, including past subject Stedhal syndrome, the related Paris syndrome, and some other interesting sounding pages. (The poisonous plants one reminds meof A is for Arsenic, which I’d recommend reading if that sort of thing interests you.)
Happy almost Election Day! I can’t wait for this joke to be over… If I can find something in my closet, I plan on wearing some white tomorrow (#wearwhitetovote), if not I’ll wear green and purple. I cast my vote early a couple weeks ago and have just been sitting back waiting for election day since then.
I have a lot of links for you today. I tried to find interesting stuff about Presidents and candidates and voting, but then I also have non-political links that are just neat.
Today we have Hillary, but in the 1870s we had Victoria Woodhull.
(I really recommend The Scarlet Sisters about Victoria and her sister.)
Now, go vote tomorrow!
I was planning on doing a Halloween related post today but came up short. None of the ideas I had seemed right, though, and I didn’t want to do a topic that had been done to death. I finally settled on trick-or-treating, but even with that, I realized there wasn’t different enough information anywhere to warrant me doing a new post of my own. Instead I’m doing another article post, but with some of the fun Halloween-y stuff I’ve found in the last week or so. Happy Halloween!