Reading History of the Hidden Corners

It’s that time of year for the deluge of “best” book lists.

Image result for piles of booksLitHub photo (2015)

Many of these lists separate fiction and nonfiction. (In a few weeks I’ll be posting my own fiction favorites here.), however, compiles a list of history books! This year it includes a few of the “big men” biographies (Richard Nixon, Ulysses S. Grant, Muhammad Ali) that remain so popular with many readers. But is also includes several that illuminate hidden corners of history.

Marjorie Spruill’s Divided We Stand is about the 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston that provoked a counter-conference organized by Phyllis Schlafly. Anyone interested in women’s rights issues should read this book.

Preview thumbnail for 'Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women's Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics

In The Jersey Brothers, Sally Mott Freeman delves into her own family history to tell the story of the Pacific theater in World War II. While there are lots of books about World War II, I think the Pacific is still a neglected area.

Preview thumbnail for 'The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family's Quest to Bring Him Home

And of course, Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann’s gripping tale of the murder of Osage Indians in the 1920s is on many “best” lists, and deservedly so.

Preview thumbnail for 'Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

If you’ve missed these 2017 books, take some time over the holidays to get caught up on your reading. (Hint: put them on your holiday gift wish list and/or buy them as gifts for the favorite people in your life.)



How to Find Good Books

Much of my life is focused on reading and writing. I’m always reading two or three books at a time, usually one that I’m reviewing and a couple others for leisure. Then there are the ones I read for my own research and for preparing lectures. Books, books, books.

... embroidery Cute book shelf ...(Painting by Jorge Cruz)

How can you find books that you might like? One way is to look on one of the big book websites like Amazon. If you plug in a title or a subject, Amazon will make recommendations.

You can ask a librarian. Some of them, like Becky Spratford, are specially training to give readers advice.

You can read book industry publications. Publishers Weekly includes a Books of the Week feature that highlights a variety of genres.

You can follow editors, publishers, and writers at online places like Facebook and Twitter. There you can specifically tailor your followings to your reading interests. For those of you who like to read about early American history, for instance, there is a gold mine of reading suggestions in The Junto’s version of March Madness.

So fill your bookshelves. There’s lots to choose from.


My First Bookstore Event

It’s happening on Thursday, at 7:00 p.m. on June 16 at


This wonderful Madison bookstore was one of many independents that showcased my book during the winter after it had been chosen as a January Midwest Connections Pick by the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association.

Angels Madison

I hope you can come out and listen to journalist Doug Moe interview me about the book, and take part in the conversation.


Looking for a Good Book Recommendation? Ask a Librarian.

Librarians are wonderful. They do so much more than check out your books, remind you about late fines, and tell you where the large print books are shelved.

They know books. Give them a subject, they will recommend a title. Tell them the last good book you read, and they will suggest something similar. If it’s your turn to host your book club, they will give you ideas on which books make for great discussions.

So I was pleased to be contacted by librarian and leisure reading expert Becky Spratford. She thinks my new book will interest a lot of readers and she wanted to known more about how I came to write Angels. Becky invited me to submit a piece for her blog, which I was happy to do . I hope you enjoy some background on Angels and consider reading the book yourself or with your book group.

Read different history.