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Library Matters

Library Matters is a podcast by Montgomery County Public Libraries exploring the world of books, libraries, technology, and learning.
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Library Matters is a podcast of Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) in Montgomery County, MD. Each episode we explore the world of books, libraries, technology, and learning. Library Matters is hosted by Julie Dina, Outreach Associate, Lauren Martino, Children's Librarian at our Silver Spring branch, and David Payne, Branch Manager of our Davis branch and Acting Branch Manager of our Potomac branch.  

Aug 1, 2018

Listen to the audio

David Payne:  Welcome to Library Matters with your host David Payne.

 

Julie Dina:  And I'm Julie Dina.

 

David:  And today we're going to be talking about historical fiction.  We're going back in time and visiting distant lands and times, and joining us today, I'm very pleased to welcome two very special guests, Anita Vassallo, our Acting Director of MCPL.  Welcome Anita.

 

Anita Vassallo:  Thank you David, I'm very pleased to be here.

 

David:  Or shall I say welcome back.  Our listeners may remember Anita from a very lively recording we made on the Game of Thrones.

 

Anita:  Oh yes, Game of Thrones.

 

David:  And joining us as well, we welcome Sarah Mecklenburg, a Library Associate from our Outreach Department.  So welcome Sarah.

 

Sarah Mecklenburg:  Thank you.

 

David:  And both Anita and Sarah are very avid historical fiction readers.

 

Anita:  Yes indeed.

 

David:  And we're looking forward to hearing all about your favorite books and authors.

 

Anita:  All right.

 

David:  So let's start with a bit about yourselves.  If you would just tell us a bit about yourselves and what you do, where do you work and what brought you here.  So let's start with Sarah.

 

Sarah:  Okay.  So, I’m Sarah Mecklenburg.  I've been in MCPL for three and a half years.  I started in December of 2014, and before that, I actually worked in museums and actually even interned at the American History Museum.  I was a history major, so I am very passionate about history.  So that has kind of led to a lot of people coming at me going, “Sarah, you should come to the podcast.  You read a lot about it and you should come in and talk about the fun you have reading historical fiction.”

 

David:  Glad you joined us.

 

Anita:  So I'm, as David said, the Acting Director of Montgomery County Public Libraries, to – a great honor for me.  And I’ve worked for the library system for more years than I would like to admit.  So I was always an avid reader as a child, I spent a lot of time in the library, loved just about anything.  And Historical Fiction is one of the genres that I do search out and enjoy in a lot of ways and I think that maybe if I had turned into a librarian, I would have liked to been a historian.  So, it sounds really fun that Sarah worked at the Museum of American history which I didn't know.

 

David:  So Anita, I have to ask you, you've been Acting Director since what, September or so?

 

Anita:  It's almost been a year now.

 

David:  Oh, almost a year.  That’s right.

 

Anita:  Yeah.  It will be a year at the beginning of August.

 

David:  Have you found – you've been able to find sometime in your busy schedule to read or has that affected you?

 

Anita:  Fortunately, I have a long commute.  So, as you know, I commute here usually about an hour and a half, sometimes longer.  So I definitely rely on audio books to keep me going with my reading.

 

David:  Right.  There are some benefits to being stuck on 270.

 

Anita:  Yes.

 

Julie:  So, what exactly is historical fiction and can either of you tell us examples of well-known historical fiction?

 

Anita:  Well, I looked up what is historical fiction.  Googled it, of course. And there is a British prize the Walter Scott prize for the best historical fiction, and their definition is, a novel that is set at least 60 years prior to its publication, which really seems like a random number.  Sarah, how would you define historical fiction?

 

Sarah:  I would say fiction that’s set within a historical time period or sometimes I would – I personally have a passion for alternate history or historical fiction that is blended with science fiction.  So, time travel, things like that.

 

Anita:  Connie Willis.

 

Sarah:  Yeah.  So, kind of – or historical mysteries as well.  So stories that are set within a past time period.  Often they cover major historical events.  Although there are some that are nice and cover a quiet historical event, or not even an event at all, but just a period or follow a family through various groups of time periods.

 

Anita:  Yeah, I agree with that.  I think some of the most interesting ones are the ones that are not centered around a major historical event but something a time period that maybe followed a historical event, because there are couple I want to mention like that, that I really liked.  I think there's some really well known historical fiction books from the past that I would mention are Michael Shaara’s book Killer Angels, which is kind of the quintessential book about the civil war.

 

Another much older book that was very popular and, of course, was made into a really popular PBS series was I, Claudius by Robert Graves which delves way down into those Romans and all their goings on.  So, those are two ones that I would consider well known.

 

Sarah:  I'm having trouble coming up with some of the more well-known ones off of the top of my head. But a librarian actually, Quince Orchard Library, growing up, gave me a local author’s Civil War books and they were historical fiction with time travel element.  That started me off in this path.  But actually, I did think of one series that – well, a series of series, that is often associated with historical fiction for younger readers and that's the American Girl series.  Also the Dear America series is another series that's really known.  That's what got me into a lot of these as well.

 

I read through all of those and then basically went to the librarian and said, “I need more historical fiction.”  And she was like, “Sure.”

 

Anita:  She got hooked in the series.  And those – the ‘Dear America’ books are usually centered around a historical event, but it's portrayed in the books which aren’t really very long through the eyes of a young person.  Usually, it’s like a tween, I think who would have been involved in sort of the periphery of the event.  So those are really interesting and I agree with you a great way to get kids hooked on historical fiction.

 

David:  But what actually makes a book historical fiction versus history? Is it a very clear distinction?

 

Anita:  I think it’s in a way – it's a little bit blurred because certainly, I have read books that are catalogued as nonfiction or biography that are written in a style that's very accessible and almost fictionalized.  But I think historical fiction can take liberties with the thoughts and motivations of the characters, which in a straight work of historical biography or nonfiction, the author does not inhabit the central character or other characters in the same way.  They are drawing from perhaps diaries, or letters, or research and they're laying that information out there.  They're not generally putting words in the mouths of the character unless they're part of documented fact.

 

Historical fiction often will have as its main character, someone who's kind of on the periphery of the action.  And so while you have the dates and the historical figures, you are really looking at it through the eyes of someone who was not directly involved in what was going on.  I think some authors who do a great job with that and one of my favorites would be Philippa Gregory, who's written that wide ranging series focusing on the tutor and the women around Henry VIII and Elizabeth and earlier on.

 

But there're characters that we don't really know that much about him, Henry Tudor’s mother.  Not a main character, but she has plenty to say in these books on the stage.  I mean, I could read historical fiction about the Tudor’s.

 

David Payne: Write about that yeah.

 

Anita:  It never stops and there's always more and different ways of approaching.

 

David:  You’ve got a whole Soap Opera there.

 

Anita:  You’re not kidding.  And Philippa Gregory does not like Henry VIII and she makes no bones about it.

 

David:  No, she doesn’t hide that fact.

 

Julie:  So, those are really, really interesting also sort of the minor character approaches, Ken Follett with his trilogy that began with the ‘Pillars of the Earth’ and he's focusing on stone masons and nuns and nurses and various people.  But it creates this whole picture of the society during that time period and the major events that impacted these kind of minor players on the stage.

 

David:  So, when you finish the book, do you find yourselves delving into researching what actually happens that peak your curiosity.

 

Sarah:  That's why I majored in history.

 

Julie:  So, historical fiction got you to major in history?

 

Sarah:  Oh yeah.

 

Julie:  Oh that's so cool.

 

Sarah:  Yeah.  I sat in my classes and I started – actually I was taking a number of classes on colonial America and that's my favorite time period that has been since I was a little kid when I was reading picture books that were done by the Plimoth Plantation and it actually were photographs, but it was following a actually historical child.  It's kind of where the history and historical fiction line blurs.  Because it's a fictional story about a real person and that’s how Plimoth Plantation presents everything in the museum – is everyone is the historical character, but it's a little bit blurry about is that the real presentation.

 

So I got really into that as a kid and I ended up taking a bunch of classes in that time period and other topics in history, I was an Art History major too.  Surprise.  And I just really had always loved reading about these different time periods especially historical fiction and I was like, I want to know more, I want to know everything.  I have always been someone who just wants to know more about everything.

 

Julie:  Yeah.  I think something I usually wind up doing during reading the book or immediately after is getting the family tree and figuring out who –

 

David:  Who was who.

 

Julie:  –Belongs to who and how they’re related, that's always interesting.  Also, just going back and fact checking everything.  I love the series by Patrick O'Brian, the Aubrey/Maturin books and I've read all of them more than once.  And that's really informed all the knowledge that I have about the Napoleonic wars at sea, and then if you read Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe series, that's the Napoleonic wars on land.

 

So together, they really form a great picture of what went on during that time period.  I'm trying to branch out more and kind of get away from the Brits, no offense, but there has got to be a whole body of work say about French, the French history.  I've read much more nonfiction about French history than I have fiction.  So kind of I'm looking for some good writers who would probably translate it in the English from the French.  That would have that for us.

 

One of the other questions that we had here was do you have favorite time periods or countries for your historical fiction?  And I like I really love stuff about The Tudors but I love ancient Rome, Steven Saylor.  And that's when Sarah when you get into those historical mysteries, you probably have read those ones by Ruth Downie, the Medicus books.

 

Sarah:  I don’t think so.  No.

 

Anita:  Those are great  There's about four or five and they’re centered on a character who is- well a doctor, a Medicus. But he's found himself kind of shipped off to ancient Britain where there we are again back to the Brits.  And he’s slogging through this kind of total backwater and he gets involved with some of the local tribal people who were living there.  But they're funny and they do have a good mystery aspect to them and they also have that whole history.  So, she's got a new one in – that's about ready to come out.  I can't wait for that.

 

Medieval Europe also even going back to the Brother Cadfael mysteries and on all of those.  So wonderful and there’re quite a few that have nuns, I guess, or other religious central characters.  I think because they were able to move around more, they worked with people from both the upper echelons of society and then down to the lower, so you get that whole flow of people.  It's the people that really make the historical mysteries interesting, but I love those.

 

And then, you've probably read these books by Margaret Lawrence.  These are mysteries also.  I believe the first one, I’m not 100% sure, was called Blood in Ashes or Blood in the Snow, anyway, they're set immediately after the end of the Revolutionary War.

 

Sarah:  Oh, and now I have to find them.

 

Julie:  And they're really good because it was a horrible time.

 

Sarah:  Yeah, it really was.

 

Julie:  When people were trying to recover from what had happened and you still had people who had supported Britain and were Tories and they’re trying to make a life with these people who had won the Revolutionary War.  And so, that whole thing is just fascinating.  Not so much the war itself but what happened afterwards and I hope that – the author is definitely Martin Lawrence, L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E, but I can't quite remember the titles.  What are some of your favorite time periods?

 

Sarah:  I’ve done – obviously done a lot of Colonial American Revolution, but I recently have gotten into World War I, World War II, but also the 1920.  I started watching the Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries yes, but those are actually based on a fiction series.  And I've read all of the books and they're really great series of books, very different from the television series which in itself is a historical mystery, but they're set in the 1920s.

 

The author doesn't actually want to go beyond 1929 with the stories, so she doesn't really want to go into the Great Depression.  And so, she basically follows this young socialite, the character is younger in the books as she solves some really interesting mysteries.

 

Anita:  Who’s the author on this?

 

Sarah:  Kerry Greenwood.

 

Anita:  Kerry Greenwood.  Okay.

 

Sarah:  And she also does write contemporary stories as well.  And so she's writing in Australia.  I've also really enjoyed Laurie R. King also set in the same time period. Her Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes of books are really interesting.  It's a different portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.  I haven't read the whole series yet, but I'm working my way through them.  The audio books are amazing.  That was actually – I started them years ago because of the audio book, it was a summer reading for school and we turned on the audio book all the way to Minnesota.  And then I also have been enjoying Jacqueline Winspear’s books on the series-

 

Anita:  It’s Maisie Dobbs.

 

Sarah:  Maisie Dobbs, yes.  And it’s a Maisie Dobbs series and so she is a really interesting character, she's a detective.  It starts off in the aftermath of World War I and now the series is actually progressed to the middle of World War II.  And so it's kind of following how war has impacted people, how war continues to impact people.  It goes into a in-depth discussion of PTSD and how that effects people, not just the soldiers, but those who are caring for the soldiers, the nurses on the battlefield, that's also something that Kerry Greenwood goes into.

 

I also personally really enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which is historical fiction set on Guernsey Island, which is a really unique part of the British Isles because it – it’s own government and was actually- I did not realize was actually invaded during-

 

David:  It was occupied during-

 

Sarah:  Yeah.  It was occupied during World War II and the book is about that basically about the aftermath of that.  And Netflix is coming out with it, a movie of it – it was released in England recently and then they're going to be releasing it here.  So I'm excited about that.

 

Anita:  That sounds cool.  So you were – when you were speaking there you mentioned the Laurie R. King books which are about Mary King and Sherlock Holmes or Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, so that's kind of what you would call I guess historical fantasy because, I mean, Sherlock Holmes, not real.  So, but I think they do mesh the historical events that would be happening during his life time well in those mysteries.

 

I think another kind of historical genre, there are historical romances, there's that whole Diana Gabaldon series, Outlander which was historical fantasy, romance [crosstalk] [00:17:46].  But boy, those are- they’re definitely page turners if you like those sagas.  I don't think that the giant sagas are quite as popular as they were when books like the R L Delderfield series about the – I can’t remember the name of the family, but those were so incredibly popular at one time period.

 

David:  They were classics, they were classics.

 

Anita:  There was another really long series about a family, it was set in Canada prior to World War I and they were by the author Mazo de la Roche, it's called the Jalna Series.  And those probably spanned 30 or 40 years in the life of this one family.  I don’t even think they’re in print anymore.  You can really just pick up a whole lot.  It’s like painless learning when you're reading or listening to even better historical fiction.

 

Another genre that I think is popular right now and I don't know where you would put it because it's not really- it's more like fantasy, but the novels that are based on mythology, Greek mythology or on the writings of Homer.  I just, just finished yesterday listening to a book called Circe by a really good author Madeline Miller and a wonderful reader her name was Perdita Weeks.  This book just drew in the stories of the gods, the story of Odysseus and Daedalus. It was a great, I guess, historical fantasy, whatever you want to call it.

 

David Payne:  So it was like an adult version of Rick Riordan.

 

Anita:  Yeah, it kind of was like that and that's a real trend.  People are loving these.  This woman also wrote another novel called The Song of Achilles, which is about Patroclus and Achilles in the Trojan War.  So not really real but history, kind of.

 

Sarah:  Elizabeth Peters, she’s a really interesting author, not only because she wrote the Amelia Peabody series which is set in an archaeological dig, but she sets it at this particular time in that history I – that was another period of time I studied in college, where archeology was just becoming what it was.  And so it's also kind of this – it's another one that's not based around historical event, but it's kind of set in that world of historical movement which is also kind of a slightly different thing.

 

Anita:  Yeah, as that series progresses, you definitely bring in more of the political impact of the British imperialism in Egypt and the movement of the Egyptian and Arabic peoples to recover their own independence.  And the characters in the book interact with both sides of the conflict in that and particularly as the character’s – you know, her son Ramsey's ages and he’s more involved in that. So that is a whole another wonderful series of books.

 

Julie:  So now that we've heard a lot about your favorite time period, your favorite books, can you tell us about your favorite authors and why you like them.

 

Anita:  Well, I had mentioned a few of them earlier.  I think Philippa Gregory, I also very much like Geraldine Brooks who doesn't write about one time period in particular, but chooses different topics.  She wrote a book about the plague called ‘Year of Wonders’ that had some wonderful characters in it.  It was about a town that basically sealed itself off from a village, from the rest of the country in order to try and contain the plague.  She's written one called ‘The Song–’ something, it has chord in the title.  Anyway, it's about David from the Bible.

 

She just does a really good job with her characterization.  So I think you can pretty much pick up any book by her.  She wrote one if we're going to talk about that kind of historical fantasy again, March, which is centered about Mr. March, the father of the family and little women and what happened to him when he went off to war and left his wife and his girls at home. So that was really interesting so I do like Geraldine Brooks.

 

Julie:  How about you Sarah?

 

Sarah:  Right now, the author that's really speaking to me when I'm reading historical fiction is definitely Jacqueline Winspear.  There's something about her books that just draws me in and doesn't let me go.  And so she’s just one of the authors that’s really stuck with me, Kerry Greenwood.  Kevin Crossley-Holland wrote a really wonderful historical fantasy that I read a long time ago, but it has stuck with me and I'm actually- I just put a hold on it so I could reread it.  And it's about a young boy who is living in the footsteps of King Arthur in a way and is mentored by a man named Marlin and basically watches the story of Arthur through a magical stone.

 

The first book is called The Seeing Stone and Kevin Crossley-Holland is the author.  MCPL has the series as well as a follow-up that he did about one of the female characters.  I personally also have been really, really into S.E. Groves.  It's a middle grade book series that transcends being middle grade and it's a- I'm not sure if I would call it historical fantasy, but it's historical fiction with a time element where she really kind of challenges what we think of time by basically having the world rewritten as of 1791.

 

I've written actually a review for the MCPL Librarians Choice about the series and this first book is called ‘The Glass Sentence’ called the Mapmakers Trilogy but basically in 1791 the whole world is interrupted and the United States is no longer the United States. You have to pay in order to have your voice heard in Congress and you’re paying for the amount of time, it actually becomes a parliament and then other regions of the world and even what the United States was has been broken up.

 

She covers all sorts of really pertinent topics.  The whole book starts off with the Prime Minister closing the borders and ordering all of the immigrants to leave the country.  And so it is a very prescient series and doesn't have fantastic elements to it, but the author is a historian who specializes in Central American and Spanish history, focusing on middle ages and colonial periods as well.

 

And so it's a whole book on kind of talking about xenophobia and colonization and the impact of colonization.  It's a really amazing series I just I can't get enough of talking about it and I recommend it to everyone.  I read it as an audio book series.  Each book is about 11-13 hours.  So it's an [crosstalk] [00:25:40].

 

Julie:  What was the author again? Who?

 

Sarah:  S.E. Grove.

 

Julie:  S.E. Grove.  G-R-O-V-E, Grove?

 

Sarah:  Yeah, Grove.  And it is in MCPL.  We have digital copies and paper copies of the whole series.

 

David:  So let's go from books you've read to historical fiction you’d perhaps like to read about.  Is there any time period, place or event that you really want to read historical fiction about, but haven't found any?

 

Anita:  I haven't really found in any good historical fiction about pre-Columbian, Central America or the United States.  So that's my family background, from Mexico, so I would like to be able to read more about the prehistory prior to the Europeans coming over and doing what they did.  But I don't really know of an author who focuses on that time.

 

Julie:  How about you?

 

Sarah:  I just visited the Canadian Maritimes recently for my honeymoon, so I would love to read more about that region.  I would really like to read more Southern Asia I think would be a good thing to do because I haven't read enough Southern Asia.  I just – to spread my experiences.  I did read some- when I was younger but I'd like to have some more experiences of that and also just basically places that I haven't been which is most of the world.  My Canada trip was my first time out of the US, so I want to be able to expand my experiences a lot more.  And historical fiction sometimes does that because once you've got that- you start that learning about that place, you want to read more about it and then you’re like, “Maybe I want to go there.”

 

And that kind of expands kind of your interests in that.  So I would just read, yeah.  I’d also really like to read more fiction set in this area historically because-

 

Julie:  Like the Washington DC area?

 

Sarah:  Washington DC area.  I would love to find more history and not particularly focusing on Washington DC, but the areas surrounding it or – and I know we did a few set in the civil war, but I would love to read a book written about the Smithsonian, the historical fiction.  Early Smithsonian has amazing stories and there's a club that they would go out and serenade the director's daughters because they lived in the Smithsonian Castle and I’d love to read stories about those sorts of things.  Maybe that's just the truth is stranger than fiction.

 

Julie:  Maybe you just need to be writing that story.  There you go.  Now, how accurate do you want your historical fiction to be?

 

Anita:  Well, I like it to be pretty accurate, but I wouldn't really notice unless something was so far off the rails that- something that didn't belong in the time period popped up and sometimes I do think – did they really have that then.  And I might go back and check that if like a character picks up a telephone to make a call and it's 1842, that kind of thing you would probably notice.  But again because I like the ones that focus on the minor characters, I don't think it pops up that much.

 

What does kind of jar sometimes is when a character in a historical fiction novel will speak in a way that is contemporary.  And that it is kind of jarring and you do think to yourself a woman, or a child, or a servant or whomever, would probably not have spoken in that way during that time period and Sarah is nodding her head like crazy.  So that must bother her.

 

Sarah:  I have a story about that.  I once read a book that was set in American revolution in the South and I'd read a few others that were set in that time period, had read about it and what we qualify as the South nowadays is actually you really would go a bit farther north than even this book qualified it as.  The book itself, the characters started speaking in like thick Southern American drawls and then they were using language that felt so civil war that I felt very confused.  They referenced some things like clothing, the way it really wasn't accurate and I finally looked at the back of the book and I realized the author had no background in the American Revolution and spent most of his time writing about the Civil War.

 

And then I realized that that was probably why.  I really like my books to be accurate.  I once was very upset.  I was skimming a book, trying to make sure I knew if I could reference it for someone, help someone find a book that they're interested on.  And I was really upset because the author started talking about historical family, the Greene family, Nathanael’s Greene family in a way that was disconcerting and I was like I think something seems off.  What I've read and what I know of his family, this doesn't seem right.

 

And then I found in her author's note and I really appreciate author’s notes, is that she actually used a rumor and played it up in order to create more drama that wasn't necessary.  So I was quite upset about that.

 

Julie:  You won’t be recommending that one.

 

Sarah:  No, I won’t.

 

David:  Well, the whole genre of historical fiction goes back quite some way.  Can you give us some sense of how it's changed over time and has it changed let's say within the past 20 or 30 years, any recognizable changes that you've seen?

 

Sarah:  One of the things that I've noticed is there has been a larger push for greater diversity in authors and their books.  We're having a more diverse authors writing more historical fiction as well, which I think is really, really important and I think will be really good for us in the future too.  And they're writing on stories that we are not – I know we've been talking so much about books that have really been Anglo centric, they have been mostly focusing on England and the US and I was looking at the books that I read, Oh Laurie R. King, set in England, Jacqueline Winspear, set in England, Kerry Greenwood, set in Australia, oh yeah, that was an English colony and is now- you know, American Revolution.  US separating from England.

 

So, trying to kind of get away from that centralization I think is really good and will actually be really good for us for history in the future.  And I think has a lot to say hopefully for direction we could be going.

 

Anita:  Yeah, and I think you're right.  Diversity in both the characters and in the authors as well as the time periods is really important for us right now.  And I'm pretty sure that there are authors that may be available to us in translation that what we have not picked up with Montgomery County being as diverse as it is and people would enjoy reading about their cultures and where their history and ancestors came from.  That's on us to find those things that are well written and good and bring them into our collection.

 

Julie:  So, is there historical fiction for kids and teens are can you recommend any?

 

Anita:  Of course, there are So many tons of historical fiction books for kids and teens.  I do think that in some cases now, we want to think about the way that things are portrayed in some of the historical fiction that was very popular.  Of course, when I was a child, I know there's a discussion right now about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her books and the portrayal of native Americans or first peoples in those.  So I think that as we move forward and we see as Sarah said, more diversity and more thought given to the role that everybody played in history moving all of humanity forward to this point, we’ll see some different things.

 

But certainly, I think historical fiction has always grabbed children as they try to imagine themselves in another time or place and what it might have been like for them to be there.  There are some great books out there that kids love.

 

Sarah:  That's something I'm passionate about historical fiction for kids because that was what got me into my love of history.  My mom grew up in near Plymouth, Massachusetts and so I grew up reading “The first Thanksgiving.”  And then, studying it in college, wrote a independent study on it and the Samuel Eaton's day and Sarah Morton's day are two that Plymouth actually did, and then I’ve continued on with that series and I have actually improved upon them, made the stories even more accurate.

 

There's a story that's even told from the perspective of a young Native American Wampanoag boy.  Done in the same process and thanks to that staff member a QO years and years ago, and she really nurtured that interest in me.  So I was able to find some really wonderful books.  And the S.E. Grove books are a different perspective on historical fiction, there's the Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood.  He's also written Alternate History as well which he did the year of the Hang Man, and so I think that giving kids and teens a new perspective on history is good.

 

I love to mention the plethora of graphic novels and webcomics that we have that are out there that you might not see as common.  There are a number of them that are webcomics only on the Internet like The Dreamer by Laura Innes in which the main character ends up kind of traveling back in time and experiencing the American Revolution.  Lackadaisy Cats was set in probation era St Louis Missouri.  So we have graphic novels too that are out there that are a different way to engage with history and can really encourage young people and older people to really engage with it in a different way.

 

Julie:  That one the The March the John Lewis book.

 

Sarah:  Yes. I want to read that so badly.

 

Julie:  So, I'm really glad you brought up the graphic novels.  I hadn't thought about those.

 

David:  Well Sarah and Anita, we usually close each recording by putting you on the spot and asking what are you reading right now? So I'll start with Anita.

 

Anita:  Well, as I said, [crosstalk] [00:36:51].  I am making my way painfully slowly through Column of Fire, even though it's a good book and I don't want to say that it's slow going.  It's totally me.  And then the Circe that I just finished by Madeline Miller was really good.  I would recommend that to anyone with an interest in that.  And I think I just finished the- is Jessica Mitford?  No, it’s Nancy Mitford, Love in a Cold Climate.  I love all those books by the Mitford sisters so go back to those from time to time.

 

David:  Great.

 

Sarah:  I've been bouncing around a little bit.  I've been reading the third book of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher and I can't actually place what the title is at the moment, but based on the main character fighting ghosts.  So kind of I enjoy fantasy and science fiction a lot, so that's what I've been doing.  I also just checked out A Wrinkle in Time for another reread.  I've already read it twice and I just, I think that having books to reread is really important.  There are a number of books that I reread regularly.

 

Julie:  I want to mention one more author because we kind of passed her at the beginning is Connie Willis who writes a wonderful series of books that are sort of set in the future and in the past at the same time about a group of researchers at Oxford. It is Oxford not Cambridge I think, who are able to travel back in time to do their own in person, first person research in the Doomsday Book where the woman is sent back to the plague year and they get it a little bit wrong is just wonderful.  And then the ones To Say Nothing of the Dog and Blackout.  So Connie Willis is a great author to pick up if you like historical fantasy.

 

David:  Yes.

 

Julie:  Well, we will like to say thank you so much to Anita and Sarah for taking us down historical lane today.  Let's keep the conversation going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.  Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast on the Apple podcast app, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.  Also please review and rate us on our Apple podcast.  We’ll love to know what you think.  Thank you for listening to our conversation today and see you next time.

 

[Audio ends]

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