I have spent the last few years (well, heck, really my entire life) reading kids books. I love me a great junior fiction book or young adult book. But lately, I have been drawn to a lot of adult nonfiction books. Which is about as far away from my normal reading habits as possible. My usual Friday afternoon habit at work is to scan the children’s shelves looking for a few interesting things for the weekend. The past few weeks I have been browsing the adult nonfiction shelves instead!
It is still only February and I have already read 17 adult nonfiction books!!! So much for my resolution of not reading obsessively this year. Here are a few of my favorites.
The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin—-I randomly picked this one up at my library because I was intrigued by the title. Even as a history major in college, I had never even heard of what is most widely known as “The Schoolchildren’s Blizzard” (I actually know an embarrassingly small amount of history). This blizzard took place in January of 1888 and affected a huge part of the midwest including the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Iowa. It got its name from the fact that most of the victims of the blizzard were children on their way home from school.
I adored this book!!! I will admit that the beginning was a little slow, because Laskin spends a lot of time introducing the various groups of people who were affected by the storm. But once he gets to actually talking about the blizzard itself, the book gets awesome. I must say that I probably should not have enjoyed reading about horrifying death and destruction, but I found it all so fascinating! The blizzard occurred on the first warm day after a string of freezing temperatures, so most people were outside without adequate clothing. Laskin mentions that the blizzard was timed perfectly to hit large groups of people at their most vulnerable. It hit some places right as people were out doing morning chores, and other places right as children were leaving school.
The thing that I could’t wrap my head around was just how fast it happened. There are numerous eyewitness accounts that say they could see a gray mass in the sky and then BAM it just hit! Most people died within yards of their house because visibility was so bad. There were many sad instances of people trying to walk less than a quarter of a mile and never making it.
I liked the book so much that I interlibrary loaned another book about the blizzard called In All Its Fury: The Great Blizzard of 1888 and I am super excited to read it because I think it is mainly composed of first hand accounts of the storm.
The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond—-Ree Drummond is the author of The Pioneer Woman blog where she posts pictures of her life on the ranch along with funny stories and delicious looking recipes. I had never visited her blog before I read the book, but I saw the cover when it came in to the library and immediately put myself first in line to check it out.
Man, did I love this book. It is basically a nonfiction romance novel. It tells the story of how Ree, a vegetarian city girl, fell in love with her (literally) cowboy husband. It is basically a story of my dream come true (I don’t know why, but I totally have a thing for cowboys). I loved that fact that she never calls her husband by name, he is always referred to as Marlboro Man, and he retains a sense of mysterious sexiness throughout where you never really find out a lot about him, just enough to know that yes, I would totally marry him if I had the chance. And reading the last part of the book, reinforced the fact that I never, ever want to have kids.
Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert—-Speaking of marriage…I had already read Eat, Pray, Love and enjoyed it, so I was excited about reading Gilbert’s other book. Committed is about how Gilbert and her partner Felipe, both of whom have decided to never marry again, are forced to marry in order for Felipe to be allowed into the US. While waiting for all the immigration proceedings to get cleared up, Gilbert researched as much as she could about marriage and ended up with the basis for this book.
I really found this book interesting because I tend to be much more in Gilbert’s camp when it comes to marriage. I am not saying that I will never get married, but right now, I just don’t think it seems like the right fit for me. (I know I just said a few paragraphs ago that I want to marry a cowboy, but since that is probably not a possibility…) I have been on my own for a long time now and I really love my independence. When I think about sharing my life with another person, it makes me shudder instead of all the happy thoughts that should come my way. I’m sure that will change someday, but I have one married friend who is very jealous of my single life and keeps telling me, “listen Jen, you have got it made. Don’t get married just because everyone else is doing it.”
In the book, Gilbert makes some very good points about the history of marriage and how the ideas and concepts surrounding it have been constantly changing. I also liked how she interwove the story of what she and Felipe had to deal with while waiting for their own marriage. After reading about how they met in Eat, Pray, Love I enjoyed learning the rest of their story. It felt like a nice wrap up to the other book.
So, that is what I have been up to for the past few weeks. Hopefully all of you have been reading great books as well!