Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What We Are Reading Now. . .

These days I’ve been reading non-fiction and biography – with a sprinkle of historical fiction. . .  
Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan is a fascinating biography for readers interested in the American West from the late 19th through early 20th century. Edward Curtis (1868-1952) was charismatic, a passionate mountaineer, and famous photographer -- the Annie Liebowitz of his time. In 1900, he abandoned his lucrative portrait studio to begin a thirty-two year project to capture the Native American nation on film before it disappeared. This incredible adventure narrative tells the story of Curtis's iconic photographs following him through Indian country as he struggled to document the stories and rituals of more than eighty tribes. Even with the backing of Theodore Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan, Curtis died destitute, divorced, but left an amazing historic legacy. 
Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life by Natalie Dykstra is the biography of Marian "Clover" Hooper Adams (1843-1885), American socialite and accomplished amateur photographer. Born into an elite Boston family, Clover married the renowned American historian Henry Adams (a great-grandson and grandson of American presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams). She thrived as an intimate of power brokers in Gilded Age Washington, where she was admired for her wit and taste by luminaries Henry James and H. H. Richardson. Clover possessed, as one friend wrote, “all she wanted, all this world could give.” Yet at the center of her story is a haunting mystery. Why did Clover end her life by drinking a chemical developer she used in her photography darkroom? The key to the mystery lies in Clover's photographs. 
Simon Mawer’s Trapeze is a novel of World War II espionage. Barely out of school and doing her part for the British war effort, Marian Sutro has a quality that makes her stand out—she is a native French speaker. This attracts the attention of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), which trains agents to operate in occupied Europe. Drawn into this strange, secret world at age nineteen, she finds herself undergoing commando training, attending a “school for spies,” and ultimately, one autumn night, parachuting into France from an RAF bomber to join the WORDSMITH resistance network. A fascinating blend of fact and fiction, Trapeze is both an old-fashioned adventure story and a modern look at a young woman’s growth into adulthood.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain may help you understand something about yourself or someone you know. According to Cain, American culture has more  and more belonged to the brash, the loud , and the extroverted. Those who talk, network, and collaborate aggressively are seen as the most intelligent and smartest. The quiet and reserved are often viewed as boring and less intelligent. Cain offers advice on relationships, business negotiations and helping introverted children. She explains why introverts and extroverts are the way they are and how people can succeed in a world that doesn’t seem to value them. A powerful book that helps underscore the value that all personality types bring to a successful world.
Sandy @ Woods 

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