My head is swimming with all the presidential and White House trivia I've stuffed into it the last year or so. I'm nearing the end of my "read 20 books about presidents or the White House" challenge, and I'm thinking I might have to do it again some day. I've loved my time with these books. History classes never teach you the "fun" history. Under This Roof was a very good book that examines 21 presidential administrations and how the president lived, worked, and changed the White House. I found the first half or so of the book rather dull (which I hate admitting considering how much I loved the second half), but once we got to about Abraham Lincoln (and definitely by the time we got to Teddy Roosevelt), I was hooked. At the turning point, I began to dearly love the book. I guess I have a hard time being interested in the early presidents. Don't know why. Brandus put forth a fair book. Considering how short it was, there was much that had to be cut (he only presented half of the presidents, for instance), but I didn't feel like things were cut or included to disparage any particular presidents or administrations. He told both sides of the story, and he did it succinctly and fairly. Never has Nixon gotten such even treatment! I do quibble a bit with a few of his modern choices. He wrote about Reagan, but that chapter seemed to be nothing but which presidents watched which movies in the White House theatre (Carter watched the most), which didn't quite fit with the tenor of the rest of the book. It was interesting, but a bit fluffy. Also, I was looking forward to a chapter on George W. Bush and 9/11 and the subsequent wars. But Bush was excluded and 9/11 was discussed in the Barack Obama chapter. I understand this decision--he wanted to include the sitting president--but I wish that day of American history would have had its own chapter. Small quibbles, though. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and learned a lot about presidents I didn't know much about before but was definitely intrigued by, like Hayes and Wilson. My rating: 4 stars.
Last week I began:
Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. I fell in love with his story through the film 42, but I had no idea that he later became very vocal and political. Interesting stuff.
This week I continue with:
Elements of Style is a bit disappointing, but then it's really hard to find a stellar decorating book. My tastes run toward the traditional, and Erin Gates's run a little more modern/eclectic. The patter about her life is mildly entertaining, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of substance about decorating itself, just a lot of talk about things anyone who watches HGTV knows (for instance, renovations go over budget).
There's a reason they call them coffee table books: you need a coffee table on which to read them. I don't know how to read those large format books like Dogs. My lap is only so big. This sounds funny, but it prevents me from picking the book up and getting into it. It's so unwieldy.
I'm savoring Show and Tell. The poems are working-man poems, and I love them. Thank you, Jim Daniels, for "writing what you know".
I'm getting back into The 50 States, and I'm enjoying it again. I think I'm at New Hampshire. I learned in Mississippi (I think) that shoes didn't used to be sold in pairs until about 1870. Isn't that interesting?
I'm absolutely adoring Ruth Reichl's novel Delicious! It's a home run for me.