Reading Roundup: Marshall Evening Book Club Looks at History
Historical fiction is always a favorite genre for our book club, but we have found that the real stories of our past often make for exciting and thought provoking reading and lively discussions. This is particularly true when we discover books that highlight historical events and people whose impact reverberates to this day. History comes alive and it becomes powerfully relevant.
Vicky reflects on a book club selection that was just such a book. “Who could have guessed that a book about a 15th-century bookworm and his rediscovery of a long-lost Roman philosopher’s work would become a best-seller? The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt is the fascinating story of Poggio Bracciolini’s life and his work in the heady days of the Renaissance. This is a vivid portrayal of the book he found, Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura, which was considered subversive in ancient Rome as well as in the Middle Ages. Lucretius focused on this world and not the next, on the physical world rather than the spiritual; he encouraged curiosity and questioning rather than blind faith and dogma; and he foreshadowed much of the world view now associated with the scientific revolution. Especially poignant for a book club is the fact that this book might very well have been lost forever; thought is evanescent and books are all too easily devoured by time, neglect and even book burnings. So three cheers for librarians and readers alike!”
∼ Vicky, Marshall Evening Book Club
Other titles to discover might include one which takes a revisionist look at a giant in history, a figure who is often misunderstood. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, by Jack Weatherford challenges the popular image of the ruthless, barbarian leader of the Mongol warriors. Evidence is presented that prove Genghis Khan to be a visionary leader whose conquests united a backward Europe with the enlightened cultures of Asia. Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West, by Tom Holland looks at Persia’s attempt to expand its Empire by invading mainland Greece in 480 B.C.E. With the Greeks’ unexpected victory against Xerxes and his Persian forces, the West won its first struggle for independence and survival and from there went on to become the Western world as we have come to know it. Again, another book that looks at the amazing parallels between past worlds and our own, and a fascinating way to consider our history.
The Marshall Evening Book Club meets on the last Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m. We are currently selecting books for our 2016 book list. It promises to be another great year of reading. Come join us!
∼Deborah, Branch Manager, John Marshall branch library