Summer Reading in the 1800s

While not intentional, I found myself reading two books this summer that dealt with life in the 19th century. I do enjoy history and the 1800s has been a favorite time period. However, both of my selections were non-fiction: The Ghost Map: the story of London’s deadliest epidemic – and how it changed the way we think about disease, cities, science, and the modern world and The Bronte’ Sisters: the brief lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne.

The Ghost Map deals with the cholera outbreak in the 1850’s in London and how the source of cholera was discovered by John Snow. Not only do we meet the doctor of John Snow but we see Broad Street in London, we watch the residents gathering at the pump for water, we smell the human excrement being tossed out into the street, and we are saddened by the number of bodies being buried.

The Ghost Map is a book of science but it incorporates so much more. The book was not what I expected and I am still a bit shocked that I finished it  I found myself again and again sharing excerpts with my children. I even overheard my four year old discussing how mommy’s book was about human waste. I think my family and I all have a greater appreciation for clean water and flushing toilets.

There were a few bones to spit out but that is to be expected with books of mainstream science; well, at least for me. A bit of evolutionary talk here and there, huge push for city living and small families….we all have a right to voice our opinion so I just spit out those bones and enjoyed the read.

The Bronte’ Sisters is actually a young adult biography. My intention when picking this up was to pass it along to my daughters who enjoy the writings of the Bronte’ sisters. During a late night nursing session, I grabbed it up and began reading. I found myself intrigued by these three sisters, their family and circumstances. In a time and place that wasn’t a friend to creativity, the Bronte’ Sisters produced novels and poetry that were beautiful and bittersweet. Since reading this I have added a few Bronte selections to my “to read” list.

Another bonus of reading these two selections is that they fit perfectly with the mini-challenge from the The Summer’s Flying By Reading Challenge. The mini-challenge this past week was “Not Your Typical Genre”. A science book and a biography both fell into that category!

There is a new mini-challenge this week: A Reader is Born. Hmmm…I need to find a book with October in the title. I thought of The Hunt for Red October but not sure that is the direction I want to go. Anyone have any suggestions?

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