Saturday, April 30, 2016

Recommended Reads, April 2016

(Insert standard cliche here about the year flying by, can't believe it's May tomorrow, etc.)

I finished 11 books in April, three of which I'm recommending today. And unlike last month, none of these are deep into a series where you'd need to read at least three other books just to know what's going on!

Let it Shine by Alyssa Cole

This is one of the finalists for this year's Rita Awards in the novella category, and IMHO it's extremely worthy of the honor. It's an interracial romance set in the 1960's South with a black heroine and a Jewish hero, both of them active in the Civil Rights Movement, and it's so romantic and moving, and feels so complete despite its short length. And, in a way, it made the history from ~10 years before my own birth feel more real to me than all the serious nonfiction I've read, or that college class on 1960's protest movements, just by reminding me that most of the men and women involved were very young, with all the personal dreams and passions that entails, none of which stop just because you're fighting for justice and earning a place in history.

The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation by Jonathan Hennessey

I wasn't expecting much when I picked up this book--I was mainly looking at it to see if it was accurate and interesting enough to be worth giving to my 12-year-old daughter as part of my ongoing plan to trick her into becoming a history geek like Mama and generally get a little more American history into her than the Seattle Public Schools seem to be bothering with. (I have a whole rant on that. Seattle schools are actually quite good as big city public schools go, but thus far my 6th grader has learned almost no history in school. And how do you expect kids who don't have history geek parents to even learn the basics, much less develop the nuanced understanding of how our past informs our present they need to be wise citizens and voters?)

Anyway, I ended up enjoying this book a whole lot myself for being the kind of nuanced lens on history I think we need more of--it uses Lincoln's address to look at slavery and racism, states' rights, and the ongoing tension between those rights and the need for a strong federal government, both before and after 1863.

Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before by Tony Horwitz

Half 21st-century travelogue, half 18th century history, and a wholly compelling read.