Yesterday, I returned all the nonfiction books I checked out this month to the library; all except for The Wright Brothers
by David McCullough which I'm currently halfway through. That one I renewed. As for the other books I checked out, I managed to read all but one: The Girl Who Smiled Beads
by Clemantine Wamariya will just have to wait until next year. The seven books I did read this month were all very interesting, and I'm glad I read them, but I have to admit, towards the end I found myself developing a bit of nonfiction fatigue, and I'm really looking forward to diving into the stack of fiction and fantasy books sitting next to my bed. But before I do that, here are a few brief thoughts on the last two nonfiction books I read...and on the one I'm still reading:
"Safe now, the crushing strain of the preceding days lifted from my shoulders, I cried for my lost companions, I cried because I was grateful to be alive, I cried because I felt terrible for having survived while others had died."
After reading this book, I found myself wondering why anyone would ever want to try climbing to the top of Mt. Everest. I mean, they call the last 4,000 feet of the climb "The Death Zone". But people do. And sometimes they die. Like the twelve climbers who died in that fateful storm in May 1996. And even though I already knew the story, I still found Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air
a vividly compelling and harrowing read. And one I won't soon forget. 4 stars.
Five facts you may or may not know about the Spanish Flu:
- It came in three waves with the second wave in the fall of 1918 being the deadliest.
- It didn't originate in Spain.
- It infected one in three people on earth.
- It was a global pandemic, affecting almost every country and continent. (The one big exception: Antarctica.)
- Scientists figure it killed upwards of 50-100 million people; in contrast, 17 million died in World War I.
Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World by Laura Spinney is both interesting and informative. I liked the mix of science and history throughout this book, as well as Spinney's conversational narrative style. Plus, the chapters are short, which is always a bonus. 3.5 stars.
"Gentlemen, I'm going to fly."
While I haven't quite finished this one--I'm on page 178 and have about 100 pages still to go--I'm quite liking it. Wilbur and Orville Wright, two of "the workingest boys" ever, are such fascinating figures; I love how David McCullough has made them come alive in this biography. What they accomplished through their own hard work and determination is truly amazing. 4.5 stars.
The other nonfiction books I read this month:
Walking the Amazon by Ed Stafford
Live Long And... by William Shatner
I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel
Ten Tea Parties: Patriotic Protests That History Forgot by Joseph Cummins
Valley Forge by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin