Jimmy Carter… not our favorite President, even though he seriously seems like a really good person.
Dang! We might actually see him when we’re there!
There were family items…
(Yeah, you’re not gonna wanna click that Play button, cuz that song is an earworm that will keep crawling for hours… Political campaign songs? They ain’t good.)
And Darth Vader and Luke and Princess Leia were there…
And the obligatory replica Oval Office. (I’m a total sucker for the Oval Office replica.)
And they did a really lovely thing here… which made me gasp:
A full wall of archival boxes on dramatic display! Rapture in the librarian heart!
And then, this moment of triumph…
I buttoned up in its honor.
And to top it all off, there was a farmer’s market in the parking lot, so: Georgia peaches!!
The Carter Center, the public policy organization run by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, shares the same grounds, and the whole place is lovely and peaceful and filled with good feeling. It’s right there in the city of Atlanta, but it feels like a world apart.
The museum brought back lots of very early memories… like being in the voting booth with my mom when she cast her vote in the 1976 election. In that moment, a political junkie was born.
So, my fellow Americans… What are your memories of the Carter years?
(Were you even born yet?)
Black Hawk: An Autobiography by Black Hawk
3 words: personal, dramatic, frank
While on a recent road trip, the Dear Man and I noticed a fair number of references to the Black Hawk War. And then we realized that we were living right in the middle of a place filled with history, and we knew precious little about it.
Being industrious, curious types, we set out to fix that.
The Dear Man asked the Librarian if she’d considered reading Black Hawk’s autobiography.
Flash forward one week, and I had a copy in my hands.
Flash forward another week, and he also had a copy in his hands.
And then we started learning all kinds of cool stuff about a nearly forgotten period of history.
If you’d asked me what I had on the Black Hawk war, I would’ve said, “Um… young Abraham Lincoln?”
Cuz, YEAH: dude served in the Illinois militia (never saw battle, but buried some scalped soldiers).
The cool thing about this book is that it’s told in Black Hawk’s words. Or at least, sort of. My only real complaint with the book is the inclusion of way too many exclamation points and italicized words for emphasis. And in some places, I doubted that Black Hawk would have spoken in the way the words were written on the page.
But at least we get his viewpoint.
And that’s explanation enough for this book to still be in print more than 175 years after its initial publication.
This is a book that doesn’t go down easy.
I found myself seething at the way Black Hawk’s people’s land was taken from them.
I kinda got worked up.
Then I recalled the passages where they’re doing the scalp dance, and I shuddered.
Then I thought about them approaching the militia with a white flag of peace and being fired on. And I got worked up again.
It was fascinating to see the episodes through Black Hawk’s eyes, and to understand it from his perspective. He’s narrating the story as an older man, near the end of his life, and while he’s faced plenty of hardship, his spirit is still lively.
Besides describing the battles and difficulties faced by the Sauks, Black Hawk also paints a detailed picture of their daily life.
Visiting the Hauberg Indian Museum, located at the Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island, Illinois, reinforced the descriptions of the Sauks’ annual cycle of farming, hunting, and trading. The museum has a fine display, some great artifacts, and some really good maps that helped us find our way to the area nearby where Black Hawk was born and lived.
We read the Donald Jackson edition, which is also the edition on display at the Hauberg Museum, so it’s got some decent cred.
The thing I liked about this edition was Jackson’s terrific introduction. He sets the scene, including some unexpected details, such as a riveting description of Black Hawk’s hair in comparison with the hairdo of Andrew Jackson.
And Donald Jackson analyzes the validity of the autobiography and its various versions over the years, and that’s good stuff, too.
So… what books have inspired you to take to the road?
So, my fellow book lovers… What are your bookish travel plans this summer?
Author interview: Amor Towles
Such as this: In his new book A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles completely invented the scene in which the electrical grid is powered up in segments throughout the city. (I totally can’t wait to read this book, and only partly because it takes place in a luxury hotel. But mostly because Rules of Civility rocked my world.)
This can be scary, my friends.
Authors. I know they’re people just like us, but seriously: scary.
So, thank you, authors of BEA 2016, for your kind forbearance.
My favorite book signing experience was when Jane Hamilton — such a gracious and lovely human! — signed a copy of The Excellent Lombards. I adore her books, and I like her every bit as much. Since she is a remarkably nice person, we had a normal human conversation (though it lasted too long for her assistant, who started hustling the line along. Sorry, Katie! I’m still feeling bad about that.) Years ago, Jane Hamilton had spoken at the library where I worked, and we were reminiscing, I was gushing, it was maybe a little weird on my part.
Encountering an author in the wild
We ended up walking to the El station, which was nearer than I’d realized. I asked him what brought him to BEA, and he said he was a journalist.
Then he said something that made me realize he was also an author, and I asked his name.
I had been directionally rescued by a bestselling, award-winning mystery author.
I did a mild freak-out, then calmed down and requested photographic evidence of this episode (because that’s normal behavior; see “authors freak me out,” above).
At BEA, not only are there authors all over the exhibit floor, but they’re also unleashed on the wider world to wander at will. You May Encounter Them In The Wild.
Charles Finch: not only an excellent writer, but also a thoroughly nice human being
The random author encounter: pure serendipity
But I gotta say: it’s all about the people.
The book bloggers who are now friends in real life, the librarians who swapped stories and tips, the authors who withstood the onslaught of our nervous admiration, and back again to the bloggers and librarians who understand exactly what we mean when we say, “I met [famous author person] and it was amazing, even though I made a complete fool of myself. I think I’m gonna go hide somewhere now.”
We’re right there with ya.
*and also Julie of JulzReads, but I think she was off on one of her marathon autographing sprees that made us all marvel
|Partway through Day 1|
|End of Day 3|
Side note: Thank goodness for eGalleys. They Weigh Nothing!
(NetGalley: you guys make my world a more beautiful thing.)
|So much fun! Daily Dosage, JulzReads, Words for Worms, Unruly Reader|
Y’all also made my TBR grow to massive proportions. (Not sure how I feel about that…)*
We got to tramp around the miles of McCormick Place together & talk books & give each other reading suggestions & laugh a lot.
And then they wrote amazing wrap-up posts like this (Katie, we’re looking at you!) and this (Julie: so doggone organized, it’s freaking me out!) and this (Marisa, who fully captured the joy of the shared BEA experience).
OK, so this is just Part 1 of “why BEA was so doggone amazing.” Stay tuned for more.
*just kidding — I’m all about the mammoth TBR
I’ll peruse it while belting down some super-charged black coffee.
Then it got even more intense: a display of previous nonfiction bestsellers, oodles of shelf talkers in the fiction area, a display of their top 35 favorites of 2015 (each book with a shelf talker), and scattered shelf talkers throughout every area of the store.
And we lingered a really long time.