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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Out Of The Lowbrow Zone

Though admitting it puts me in lowbrow land, my preference in non-fiction reading to this point has favored memoirs, books aimed at self-improvement or, on middlebrow days, stuff about adult learning or psychology. I enjoy history and biographies but those are usually not at the top of my non-fiction queue. "Mornings on Horseback" (1981) by David McCullough could help change that.

McCullough is a well-regarded historian and this book about Teddy Roosevelt's early life helps explain why. Though it is meticulously researched (31 pages of end notes & an eleven page bibliography), it is highly readable. Because Roosevelt's family were faithful letter writers (McCullough estimates Teddy himself wrote 15,000 over his 60 years) and diarists, a reader is never far from actual words that tell a story of intense family love and unwavering loyalty. The post-Lincoln Republican party, NYC in the Tammany Hall era, and the most contested presidential contest in US history form the fascinating political backdrop.

What was the last book you finished and enjoyed that you would have been unlikely to choose on your own? For me, the top benefit to being in book clubs is being regularly exposed to gems like "Mornings on Horseback", a book this lowbrow would not have chosen. 

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