Saturday, July 21, 2007

two for the price of one

I finished reading The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan this morning. Wonderful, wonderful book. I joke around a lot that I seem to have an addiction problem with these book challenges. But I must say this book epitomizes one of the reasons why I keep joining. If I hadn't joined the The Non-Fiction Five Challenge or The Book Awards Challenge, it is very likely that I would never have gotten around to reading this book. And that would have been my loss.

I've long been stuck in a rut in my reading habits, reading almost nothing but psychological/mystery/political thrillers. These challenges have forced me to expand my horizons. Don't get me wrong...I still love my thrillers, but I've found that I can very much enjoy books from other genres as well. Another case in point...if not for Maggie and her Southern Reading Challenge, it's highly unlikely that I would have read The Secret Life of Bees. And that book now holds a place in my favorite books of all time list.

Anyway, back to The Worst Hard Time. Again, I feel like I really need to come up with a some sort of disclaimer to post with each of my book reviews. Because frankly, I'm just not good at writing them. Simply not a talent I am blessed with. Maybe I'll improve with practice...who knows. But now that I'm off-track again, let me just throw something else in here. If you want to read some phenomenal book reviews, I suggest you visit Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot. Her books reviews are so incredibly beautiful and well-written...she's an incredibly gifted writer!

O.K., O.K., again, back to the book...

The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan tells the story, or maybe I should say "stories", of the Dust Bowl. This is one of those pieces of history that I had merely a passing acquaintance with. Egan, with his wonderful writing, brought this history to life. One of my favorite things about this book was the way he managed to not only convey the "big historical picture", but also told the tale from the perspective of real people. Yes, I learned the history of this area of the Midwest, and learned about all the events that led to this horrendous man-made environmental disaster, and learned about the destruction wrought by the dust storms to this area. But I also got to see this period of time through some very real, very courageous, very hard-working people. That these people survived at all is miraculous...many people didn't. And I have a feeling that these people will stay with me for quite some time. Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was the way he left me wanting to learn more. Not necessarily about the Dust Bowl, as he told what seems to be a very complete, well-rounded version. But about subjects that in one way or another had a connection with this piece of history...everything from the Comanche, to Catherine the Great, to FDR. Anyway, keeping in mind that this is just my opinion...I highly recommend this book. (Annie read this book a few months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, too.)

(And, of course, we're not the only people to enjoy this did win The National Book Award for Non-Fiction in 2006.)


Scarlet said...

Our book club is reading The Moments Lost by Bruce Olds. It's a tough read, our toughest yet, but it's the kind of book that when you're through with it, you come away more educated and with a sense of accomplishment.

After this, I'm back to Harlan Coben. I recommend all his books if you like suspense.

gail@more than a song said...

Well that does sound interesting but I just hardly ever read non fiction.....I have to make myself read it! And I haven't joined in any challenges for it either!
I loved Secret Life of Bees.

Framed said...

Don't be so hard on yourself. This was a great review. I have been reading more non-fiction lately. I recommend anything by David McCullough. He packs so much information in his books but makes it so interesting. I'm just finishing "The Path Between the Seas" about the Panama Canal. Who would ever think to read about that but it is fascinating. Should have a review up soon. I agree with you about challenges. I've read some incredible books this year because of them. By the way, thanks for visitng my blog.

Sherry said...

I already had this book on my list of books to read, but I'm even more anxious to get around to it after reading your review.

Thanks for linking at the Saturday Review.

Stacy at Exceedingly Mundane said...

My comment will sound suspiciously like Gail's (my sister) :) It does sound good, great review, but I rarely read non-fiction. It seems to be like pulling teeth for me to start, much less finish, one. I LOVED Secret Life of Bees though :)

Great review Debi! Yeah on another book finished, and yeah for progress on all of your challenges!

Nymeth said...

Aww Debi, you are much too kind!

I have to disagree with you about your own reviews, though - you write good reviews! They are informative and they convey your impression of the book perfectly. I remember your review of "Secret Life of Bees", for example - you managed to transmit the things the book made you feel so well! You infused me with your enthusiasm.

I really agree with you about challenges. There are so many books I wouldn't be reading if it wasn't for them. I'm very grateful to those who host them.