Recently Read

Damnation Spring

Damnation Spring

Although one could never say that there is one way to write historical fiction, this book certainly does it correctly. The core of this story is a group of families living along the California coast in the 1970s. The men work in the logging industry while the women raise the families. At first the story seems to focus just on the families, however, the early environmental movement, and the use of DDT gradually work their way into the plot in a way that feels natural and real. If you've been a bit perplexed by the popularity of Where the Crawdads Sing, you might prefer this book instead.

More info →
Homesteading the Plains: Toward a New History

Homesteading the Plains: Toward a New History

The authors of Homesteading the Plains, Richard Edwards and Jacob Friefeld, examined the major myths related to the Homestead Act. These myths were often accepted as truth and had permeated the literature on the subject without any critical analysis of the historical details. Edwards and Friefield seek to correct that record by looking at the actual data surrounding the Homestead Act and the settlers that moved to that territory.

I found this book when I was researching the Homestead Act. Like the authors, I found that the topic was full of anecdotal stories and there wasn't much statistical or historical analysis. Despite its methodical approach, I still found the text quite readable and very convincing.

More info →
Four Treasures of the Sky: A Novel

Four Treasures of the Sky: A Novel

Four Treasures of the Sky takes on the history of Chinese immigration during the era of the Exclusion Act. Daiyu is abandoned by her grandparents at a very young age after her parents are kidnapped for their political activism. Teetering on the edge of existence, Daiyu's life is largely controlled by her gender and her race, and those issues remain constant as she smuggled to the U.S. and then migrates to Idaho. This is not an uplifting story - but unlike many historical fiction novels, this book reflects the reality of the history during this time. In many ways, it seemed like an adult companion to Prairie Lotus.

More info →
How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question

How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question

Like many students of history, I took a philosophy course as an undergraduate student. As a freshman in college, I definitely didn't appreciate the idea of philosophy. Now, with my age and wisdom (laughs in millennial) I've grown to greatly appreciate the discussion of the great questions of life. I watched The Good Place with absolute glee and I picked up this book with certainty that I would enjoy the content. After all, I've pretty much devoured everything that Mike Schur has created.

Of course, I was not disappointed. This book reviews the basic philosophical discussions that were inherent to the Good Place, but with the luxury of the written word, Schur is able to go into much more depth. As he is not a philosopher, however, he places the ideas of philosophy (existentialism, utilitarianism, deontology, and ubuntu (among others) within the context of practical questions that humans face in their daily life. There are also jokes - he is a comedy writer after all.

The book had me brimming with possible questions for students and possible applications for my classes next year. I know that this book will be read more than once, and I'm so glad I added it to my shelf.

More info →