Monday, November 29, 2010

Reading Notes: A People’s History, Part II

So I’m a couple days behind schedule…but it was a holiday weekend and my parents were visiting!

Chapters 6 through 10 cover post-Revolutionary War to the post-Civil War era in American history. So many groups in America were angry during this time period—women, Indians, slaves, farmers, workers, poor whites. The only group that was living easy was, of course, the upper class, and they aimed to keep it that way. The period before and after the Civil War involved a lot of manipulation by the elite to benefit their economic wealth and support a growing nation. Each of these five chapters have the same point but are pretty individual, so this will be long. I’m thinking it will come together later with 20th century reform, though.

Chapter 6, “The Intimately Oppressed”, WOMEN—

What’s interesting is how the status of women evolved as a result of the capitalistic environment of the new nation. A chain of events:

  1. Europeans brought to America a capitalistic society that sharply contrasted the egalitarian society of the Native Americans.
  2. “Societies became based on private property and competition in which monogamous families became practical units for work and socialization.” A “cult of domesticity” was created for the woman…a way of pacifying her with a doctrine of ‘separate but equal’—giving her work as equally as important as the man’s but separate and different.” A common theme in history books.
  3. Many women in the early 1800s refused this idea and began to rally behind causes such as equal rights, voting, abolition of slavery, and, especially once women were a strong part of the factory workforce, labor reform. And these are the strong women of history that we know—Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman—proving the point of one author: Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History. Of course, women wouldn’t gain the right to vote until 1920, but that’s neither here nor there…
Chapter 7, “As Long As the Grass Grows or the Water Runs,” INDIANS—
A simple cause and effect here. A) Americans wanted to expand their territory. B) These lands were already occupied by the native Americans.

“Indian removal was necessary for the opening of the vast American lands to agriculture, to commerce, to markets, to money, to the development of the modern capitalist economy.” 

It’s that money thing again. President Andrew Jackson took charge of this mission and, in a series of conniving maneuvers, turned Indians against one another to weaken their defense and take their land. Zinn talks about this a lot. I don’t think he likes Andrew Jackson. He may be upset with how many times I’ve been to his home, the Hermitage, back home in Tennessee….Anyway, it’s interesting because basically, it was a tactic of “civilizing” them—introducing them to western thought and forcing them to abide by national and state laws—that led to the disintegration of their own cultures and, along with it, their solidarity. Which I’m sure was Jackson’s evil plan.

Chapter 8, “We Take Nothing By Conquest, Thank God,” MEXICO—

Texas was part of the Union after 1845, of which the Rio Grande may or may not have been the Texas/Mexican border. Either way, President James Taylor decided to move troops into this debatable area just to provoke Mexico. And it did, obviously. He wanted Mexico’s territory (present-day New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, and part of Colorado). And he got it by moving in and taking it, all in the name of “manifest destiny”—because God wants the American people to spread over the entire continent as they multiple, spreading liberty and democracy to more people. Yes, God wants it. In the end, America provoked Mexico into a war, forced them into surrender, and then “bought” the land for $15 million as if the statement, “we take nothing by conquest…Thank God,” were actually true. Ha!

Chapter 9, “Slavery Without Submission, Emancipation Without Freedom,” SLAVES—

The Civil War has always been tied to the issue of slavery, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Yes, there had been rumblings to end it prior to war—outlawing slave importation, slave rebellions, abolitionist causes. But there were many other people in the country suffering from their own economic hardships, and the nation couldn’t unite behind this one cause. This is why Abraham Lincoln is important:

“Such a national government would never accept an end to slavery by rebellion. It would end slavery only under conditions controlled by whites, and only when required by the political and economic needs of the business elite of the North. It was Abraham Lincoln who combined perfectly the needs of business, the political ambition of the new Republican party, and the rhetoric of humanitarianism….Lincoln could skillfully blend the interests of the very rich and the interests of the black at a moment in history when these two interests met. And he could link these two with a growing section of Americans, the white, up-and-coming, economically ambitious, politically active middle class.”

In so many words, once the South seceded, the North fought to keep those territories and resources, and the issue of slavery was tied in as part of that crusade. And once Southern slaves abandoned their work to fight with the North, the South’s resources were crippled, leading to defeat. However, the emancipated slaves didn’t find much freedom after the war as whites began taking control of the South again, violence against blacks escalated once the slave profits of the old South disappeared, and most states still did not allow blacks to vote. The Civil War is a lot more complicated than grade school textbooks let on, always pinning it as a clear-cut, black-white issue. This is one of the most interesting chapters so far.

Chapter 10, “The Other Civil War,” FARMERS AND WORKERS—

The people of America were agitated before the Civil War with many groups suffering at the hands of the wealthy. The gap between rich and poor was widening, technological advancements were lowering the value of human labor, farmers and workers were rebelling, immigrants flooded the country spurning racial hostility as a substitute for class frustration. This movement was put on hold when the country was sidetracked by the Civil War in the 1860s, but only briefly. As soon as the war ended, people quickly began to focus on their own survival, forming labor unions and organizing strikes against unfair business practices. For decades after the Civil War, the “common man” was struggling for his rights and equality as promised to him by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But it was a disheartening period, exacerbated by economic depression, and as Zinn states, “…working people learned they were not united enough, not powerful enough, to defeat the combination of private capital and government power.”

People are angry and starting to actually act on it. We’ll see what that action leads to as we enter the 20th century. But, enough for now…

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

When Kafka was the rage and West Village real estate was cheap

The most recent discussion of the Idlewild book club focused on Anatole Broyard’s Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir. For all you New York enthusiasts out there, listen up.

Here’s how it goes according to Broyard’s story—

Broyard was a WWII vet from Brooklyn who returned to New York after the war and moved to Greenwich Village to become a part of its literary and artistic movement (sort of early rumblings of what would become the “beat generation” but much less “anti-academic”). Broyard moved in with Sherri, an eccentric woman who presented herself more as performance art than a realistic person. For a young and naive veteran, Sherri opened doors to a world of art, academia, psychology, sexuality—all those “movements” credited to the Village at the time.

And in reality—

Broyard was a WWII vet from Brooklyn who returned to New York after the world and moved to Greenwich Village. But, he had also just divorced his wife, with whom he’d had a daughter. So that whole “naive war vet” facade was not too accurate of a portrayal. And while Sherri is a real person (and apparently really as crazy as she seemed), his relationship with her should by no means be interpreted as a “love story” (despite the book’s two sections being title “Sherri” and “After Sherri”); she served a vessel, carrying him from one place in his life to the next.

Really though, the details about Anatole’s life are not what’s in focus in this short memoir; it’s called “A Greenwich Village Memoir” for a reason. He uses his own story, maybe loosely, to describe the Village scene—a scene in which late night conversation at pubs was intellectual in nature; books were highly desired and coveted commodities; West Village rent was extraordinarily cheap (!!!). And though the credibility of some of the occurrences is questionable in Broyard’s own life, his story certainly could be true of this place and time. The detail and personalization with which he writes his scenes—particularly of parties and clubs and various locations around the city—are very effective.

Broyard wrote this memoir 40 years after the fact, right before his death at age seventy in 1990. Forty years is a long time during which one’s memory can fade or rewrite personal history, so we’ll probably never know the exact “truth” of his own story. However, this memoir is incomplete; it contains an epilogue from his wife, indicating that Anatole was planning another chapter dedicated to the death of his father which would’ve perhaps shed some light onto the truths of his own life…

While this book is an interesting portrait of a moment in NYC history, the author’s biography has proven to be equally as interesting. In fact, much discussion has been focused on him since his death when it was revealed that Broyard was actually part black (of Louisiana Creole descent), a fact that he mostly hid all his life and certainly omitted—or at least cleverly masked—in this novel.

An interesting article to serve as a follow-up to this memoir can be found here, titled “The Passing of Anatole Broyard,” an essay in Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man (pub. 1997).

Another note for NYC history enthusiasts: check out Ephemeral New York, a recent happy discovery!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Reading Notes: A People’s History, Part I

History is a tricky thing to study and certainly a difficult thing to interpret and analyze. Think about it this way—an event happens and individuals walk away from it with their own experiences; this is simple enough. But then time passes. Memories fade. Later events change the dynamic or meaning of earlier ones. Individual interpretations differ. But the history is still recorded. Well….who records it? From whose perspective is it told? We often accept textbook history as unbiased, straightforward fact because what other option do we have when there’s only one book sitting in front of us? And with things long since past, does it really matter if all the complexities and nuances aren’t related along with the dates and places?

This is the major thought behind Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States—to view history from the perspective of the masses instead of the powerful few who inevitably record history to their own liking.

Zinn starts the story of American with Columbus’ discovery. And not with his “heroism” for which we celebrate a national holiday but with his massive genocide of native peoples and exploitation of their land. In the opening chapter, Zinn pretty much concludes that America was built on land of unjust bloodshed—the obliteration of a “savage” culture for the sake of progress, automatically labeling them as “inferior” without ever taking the time to determine how true that assumption was.

Yes, this all sounds incredibly extreme and pessimistic because it is—Zinn is not a positive guy. But I think it’s an interesting and important perspective to consider.

Beginning in chapter two, “Drawing the Color Line,” Zinn determines that one thing influenced the behavior of early Americans from its discovery to its founding and independence—money.


  • The slave trade was justified, even by religious groups, because of its economic benefits. 
  • The strong distinction between the rich and the poor was manipulated and strengthened to preserve the social arrangements of the “Mother country.” 
  • The unprivileged groups—slaves, Indians, and poor whites—were numerous and had the potential to be very powerful, but the upperclass pitted one group against another, in the form of racism and class scorn, to avoid a united uprising. 

Despite internal conflict, the ruling class of the new colonies found that by manipulating language and creating a false sense of patriotism and unity, they could persuade everyone to direct their rebellious energies towards England in a fight for independence (which would, of course, economically benefit the upperclass). Even if men were not behind the cause, the opportunity to enter the war as a soldier and exit with more money and an improved social status—in other words, economic reasons—was motivation enough to unite against Britain.

Some notable, underlined statements:

“We have a forecast of the long history of American politics, the mobilization of lower-class energy by upper-class politicians, for their own purposes. This was not purely deception; it involved, in part, a genuine recognition of lower-class grievances, which helps to account for its effectiveness as a tactic over the centuries.”

“Indeed, this became characteristic of the new nation: finding itself possessed of enormous wealth, it could create the richest ruling class in history, and still have enough fore the middle classes to act as  a buffer between the rich and the dispossessed.”

“…town mechanics, laborers, and seamen, as well as small farmers, were swept into ‘the people’ by the rhetoric of the Revolution, by the camaraderie of military service, by the distribution of some land. Thus was created a substantial body of support, a national consensus, something that, even with the exclusion of ignored and oppressed people, could be called ‘America.'”

“…[The Constitution as] the work of certain groups trying to maintain their privileges, while giving just enough rights and liberties to enough of the people to ensure popular support.”

This first section of the novel concludes with one basic idea: governments are not neutral; they represent the dominant economic interests, and the United States was essentially founded on exploitation of the lower classes by the upper class. I think this book is definitely one capable of inciting completely polar reactions. There are reactions like this one that find Zinn incredibly whiny and pessimistic. And then there are reactions like this one that find Zinn’s words to be more truth than the words in any other history book and declare this a must-read for every American.

I’m not sure where I fall in all of this, because I kind of see both sides. I think it is important to read a perspective that is unknown or rarely seen, yet Zinn is just another opinion; he has his own biases, and this book is full of them. He is essentially taking primary sources and drawing his own conclusions, which is something anyone and everyone has the capability of doing. And he does take into account and acknowledges that actions taken by our ancestors need to be viewed and judged in the context of their own times. I’m going to enjoy this history lesson from a different perspective, but I don’t think it should be taken as fact any more than any other history textbook.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Where was Betsy-Tacy during my childhood? Part 3

Moving right along in my little Betsy-Tacy project—I just finished the next two in the series, Betsy Was a Junior and Betsy and Joe (books 7 and 8, if you’re keeping track!).

So…are Betsy-Tacy fans everywhere going to shun me if I say I didn’t absolutely love these?

Now let me explain! These books cover Betsy’s (and Tacy’s and Tib’s) junior and senior years of high school. When I look back at my own late years of high school, I remember having fun but I also absolutely shudder at my level of immaturity—in terms of how I related to my peers and how I presented myself. And I thought I was soooo mature, so far above every other 17-year-old. I mean, I read books for fun! And I listened to jazz and I liked old movies! So as I read these two, particularly Betsy Was a Junior, I just cringed as I thought about my own experiences.

Betsy said throughout Betsy Was a Junior that she was “growing up,” and I get the impression that is not something Betsy wants to do. Well, we’re exactly alike in that regard (I could make a very long list of ways I’m still a 12-year-old at heart)! Julia’s left home for University, and Betsy is determined to fill that void  by being as mature as Julia is—filling the Ray house with music, acting mature and mysterious around boys, presenting herself as sophisticated. But Betsy is still Betsy and despite her school year resolutions, she gets caught up in frivolous fun with the Crowd. The girls start a sorority, emulating Julia’s college experiences, but they lack an understanding of how exclusive their group seems to their peers and, in turn, earn a poor reputation. Between incidents at school and at home, Betsy realizes that all of her unsettled feelings stem from disappointment with herself! And this disappointment is what finally leads her on the path to growing up. Betsy always gains self-awareness when she actually has the time to reflect…so we hope this time it will stick!

And then next up is Betsy and Joe which, honestly, I found a little…dare I say…tedious? I just felt like nothing happened until the end! Julia was out exploring the Great World in Europe; Betsy’s crowd had mostly given up childish parties and games, so everything felt routine; and about three chapters were devoted to a single football game, which didn’t seem to have much of an overarching point! The real fun and tension lay, of course, in Betsy’s relationship with Joe, which is always either swell or on the rocks (yes, I said swell!). The point I think was made in this one was that hey, Betsy’s not trying to grow up; Betsy has grown up. She’s a 1910 high school graduate planning to attend the U in the fall. We’ve followed Betsy as she’s expanded her world to beyond the Big Hill and now (eventually) beyond Deep Valley and, more notably, her childhood.

A discussion with my neighborhood friendly Betsy-Tacy enthusiast informed me that many B-T fans find Betsy Was a Junior pretty hard to read. I’m wondering if junior year is just universally a tough year for everyone, because it was by far the worst in my adolescence. It definitely was the year of growing up, for both me and Betsy, as you have to start thinking for the first time of what’s next, of life beyond what you know. And that can be very scary. So while I say I didn’t enjoy these two titles as much as previous ones, maybe it’s just because they remind me of that horrible unsettling feeling that comes with maturing!

On a final note, there were a couple great lines that caught my eye:

“Miss Cobb struck a note and said, as she had in previous years to Julia and Betsy, ‘This is middle C.’ Betsy liked that. She always liked things to go on as they had before.”

“People were always saying to Margaret, ‘Well, Julia sings and Betsy writes. Now what is little Margaret going to do?’ Margaret would smile politely, for she was very polite, but privately she stormed to Betsy with flashing eyes, ‘I’m not going to do anything. I want to just live. Can’t people just live?”

…and the great final line of Betsy and Joe. But I’ll save that for next time so as not to spoil the ending for you!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Don’t know much about US history.

Photo credit: Flickr

So I’m probably in the minority here…but, I value my high school education more than my college one. For me, college was a lesson in experience, and yes, I got a whole lot out of it. But I learned that practical life and career stuff. It’s the high school kind of learning that makes me feel…well, educated. Math equations and sentence structure and important dates and places….I like learning substantive information where you either know it or you don’t, instead of the analytical, subjective stuff you have to do in college where you’re measured against everyone else in your class.

Since it’s been about six years since high school, my brain has been aching for some learnin’. Therefore, I am embarking on a big reading project—Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.
I’ve had this book since senior year AP US History where we had to read excerpts here and there…and I thought it was so boring and pointless. I thought it was just my left-leaning, aged hippie history teacher trying to spread his “liberal agenda” to Tennessee’s 11th and 12th graders (because I was completely apolitical at the time and was wary of any side). And unfortunately for my teenage self, I completely lacked the analytical questioning skills required to read this book (didn’t learn those until college…so I guess I did get something out of it!), nor did I really care to spend the time on it. Please, it was SENIOR YEAR. I just wanted the facts I’d need for the AP test and then to get the hell out of there!
So now I am reading it chapter by chapter in full marginal note-taking mode. I’ll be taking this five chapters at a time and posting on every Friday. I have the 2003 edition, so there are 25 chapters. If anyone else is interested in embarking on this mission with me, as little or as much as you want, I invite you to join. The schedule I’ll (try to) stick to:

November 19: Chapters 1–5 — roughly, Columbus to Revolutionary War
November 26: Chapters 6–10 — Independence to the Civil War
December 3: Chapters 11–15 — Post-War to The Depression
December 10: Chapters 16–20 — WWII to the 1970s
December 17: Chapters 21–25 — The 1980s to the “War on Terror”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wait, you mean Avenue C hasn’t always had hipsters?

One of the things you always hear living in NYC is, “Oh, the city has changed so much.” I’m fully convinced that statement is a some kind of special phrase used by NYC residents—no matter how long you have been a resident—to prove, “Hey, I am a New Yorker and I know it so well that I know its history, too.” I’ve lived here six years, four of which were spent in the Greenwich Village bubble that is NYU. So trust me when I say I don’t know firsthand how the city has changed so much. But because I’m quickly approaching that ten-year mark which will then unofficially deem me a “New Yorker,” I find myself quick to use this phrase as well—as if I have actually spent decades here and can see the gentrification of neighborhoods and the crime rate drop (or, apparently, be back on the rise, as I am now hearing around town).

So while I have seen no noticeable changes in the past six years, I can assure you things were very different 20 or 30 years ago. Times Square used to be disgusting (in a different way than it is now…more drugs, less tourists); the Meatpacking District actually was meatpacking before it had drug dealers, prostitutes, and the Mob, BEFORE it had trendy restaurants and nightclubs; and the Lower East Side, once housing immigrants, was full of drug dealers before it was full of the hipsters that currently reside there. And this drug-infested Lower East Side (or specifically, Alphabet City, which one could argue is more East Village than LES, because the LES is technically below Houston) of the seventies and eighties is the one in which author Josh Karlen was raised and reflects upon in his memoir, Lost Lustre. Karlen lived during a very specific moment in this neighborhood’s history (and every NYC neighborhood has a colorful history) that, in a way, led it to what it is today. Cheap rent attracted the bohemians that created the strong music scene (think CBGBs) of these two decades, for which the neighborhood is still known.

But enough about NYC history—Lost Lustre is a great blend of the memoir of a person and of a place. It’s Karlen’s individual story, but his experience was entirely dependent on his environment. Surviving as a middle-class white kid in a neighborhood that was primarily lower-class African American and Latino was no easy task for Karlen. He describes how fear and defense dominated his mindset; you couldn’t count the number of times he was mugged on only two hands. His reminisces, told in an essay sort of format, range from his innocence of the sixties to being dropped in a new environment where he’s afraid of walking after dark, to the rise of the East Village music scene and the ease of underage drinking, to his first teenage love and his adjustment to life at a midwest college.

Karlen must be a talented writer, because I was so sucked into a place and time I never experienced that I felt like I knew it intimately. His attention to detail—something like describing how the light hit a room—perfectly set a tone to take the reader back in time, to put the reader in Karlen’s own memories.

As I was reading this, I intuited two things about Karlen:

  1. He’s a hopeless nostalgic. And I mean that in the way the phrase “hopeless romantic” is used, as a good thing, which indicates someone who treasures memories and uses his experiences to learn and grow as an individual.
  2. He probably has more issues with his adolescence than he is letting on.
And after a couple of email exchanges with the author, in which I asked him if there was, in fact, anything he “got out” of his experiences, he summed up his feelings quite well:

“If there is anything positive resulting from growing up in Alphabet City in the 70s it is only in the sense that any negative experience tends to broaden one’s view of the world, expand one’s vistas, however dismaying they may be. I often felt that the drugs, violence, poverty and Latino culture surrounding me, a white, middle-class kid, on Avenue C, gave me early on a broader context of seeing my life than those of my middle-class, New York school friends…

…In writing my book, I sought only to convey my own personal experience of growing up in that particular time and place, and for me it was mostly a dark and difficult time, partly because growing up is difficult anywhere, and partly because in downtown New York we were allowed to run it out to our furthest limits without any real boundaries in a city that was itself struggling to survive. So while I do have a certain nostalgia for pieces of my adolescence in New York, and I write of them in the book, it’s very much mixed with other feelings that are not especially fond. I hope I managed to convey both the light and the dark of those growing up years in New York, if not equally, at least in proportion as I felt them then, and see them in retrospect.”

For both memoir fans and NYC enthusiasts, this is a must.

This is a stop on Lost Lustre‘s TLC Book Tour. To hit up its other stops, visit this list.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Reading Notes: More tea, please.

Photo Credit: Flickr

I know my first comments on Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea were less than stellar. And surprising to me, a lot of you agreed! But literally, about three pages after I left off my comments, things picked up, and I ended up finishing this book on the subway, trying to hold back tears so I wouldn’t be that crazy person crying on the subway. I know. I was as surprised as you.

Yeah, so the dual author thing is still kind of weird (though I hear that Mortenson is the only author on his next book, so maybe the dual author thing was common criticism). But I wonder if writing from a first person perspective on this whole experience would make it sound more…narcissistic. And my thoughts are—it probably would.

So a lot happens in the second half of this book. Mortenson gets held quasi-hostage for a few days; he seriously expands his school-building efforts thanks to the formation of an official foundation, the Central Asia Institute; and 9/11 happens and changes a lot in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Suddenly, he’s not the only American interested in the region, as the cities he frequents are now flooded by news media. But the contrast of intentions between Greg and everyone else is like night and day, which is pretty telling in how our nation thought and reacted immediately after an attack. One reporter who happens to meet Greg and hear his story ends up writing an article in Parade magazine that seriously boosts Greg’s notoriety. While the funds in his foundation’s bank account receive a big surge, he also gets a lot of threats and negativity about his efforts from a conflicted, sensitive American public.

I finished this book feeling both inspired and frustrated, which is how, I’m sure, a lot of people walked away from it. And it wasn’t frustration from anything about the writing or the structure—I forgot all of that once I got into the meat of the story. It was that this is such an inspiring story, such evidence of how (as lame and cliche as it sounds) one person can make a difference. But what’s frustrating is that people don’t care. Some people have such a limited view of the world that they don’t realize the logic in Mortenson’s efforts; and the people in charge don’t see how small gestures are more effective than sweeping, expensive power-trips. And beyond mentality, most people will never take such risks to do something like this (myself completely included).

So I am left here in my comfortable, privileged apartment feeling completely inferior and unhelpful. But, that’s why there are people like Greg Mortenson who can share their story, hopefully enlighten a lot of people, and get enough continued support from the people like me who aren’t about to pack up and head to the Middle East to keep doing what he does.

I think if I was a librarian or a high school teacher, I’d make this a book club selection or required reading. Because, it’s a story that contains a great look at a different perspective, which is something I think is always necessary to seek out and explore. I actually do want to read his follow-up, Stones into Schools now.

Monday, November 1, 2010

For the rest of 2010, I shall read…

Um, can you believe it’s already November? I am not ready for 5+ months of frigid cold in which my skin doesn’t see the sun. Last week was marvelously warm and now it’s 38 degrees. And I am notorious for my hatred of the cold. I walked in my office this morning and people looked at me with concern and slowly asked, “….so….how are you feeling about the weather?” Yeah. I’d rather be in bed. And that’s probably how I am going to feel for the next five months.

So anyway, it’s nearing the end of the year, and I had big reading goals for 2010. BIG GOALS. But when I look at my bookshelves, I see lots of books that I was supposed to read in 2010 and just haven’t seemed to get around to yet. A couple of them are extra long, which is most definitely going to prevent me from tying/surpassing 2009’s record of number of books read in a year, but I really want to get these done.

On my list:

  • Lost Lustre by Josh Karlen — the current book I’m reading for a TLC book tour. As a NYC resident, I am really enjoying it so far because I know the places he’s talking about.
  • New York by Edward Rutherford — seriously, it’s been on my shelf for more than a year, and for all of 2010, I’ve been “saving it” for some undetermined time in the future when it will be perfect for reading. First that was a beach vacation. Then it was summer. Then it was a trip in September. I guess the time is now.
  • A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn — I started reading this a couple months ago, since I’d only read snippets in high school. Have a strong desire to get a history lesson, so this is a must.
  • The rest of Betsy Tacy — even though I almost wonder if I should save some instead of speed through them. Once I’m done, there are no more left! There are other non-Betsy Tacy novels by the author, though, right?
Any books you’re trying to squeeze in the next two months?