I am a hyper-curious person, and curiosity is an important value in my life … as well as an important impact of museums.
Here's a new installment of some of my wide-ranging reads (mostly non-fiction). I hope to hear recommendations from you!
Crap: A History of Cheap Stuff in America, by Wendy Woloson
Look around you. Do you see a lot of crap? (I know I do.) Crap is pervasive in our modern lives. This delightful book explores the history of American crap (from tinkers to the Franklin Mint to Beanie Babies!), its meaning in our lives, the psychological effects of it, and hints at the negative impact its creation and disposal has on the environment. As a lapsed material cultural historian, I delighted in delving into crap, and thinking about the role of crap in my own life.
The Cooking Gene, by Michael Twitty
As a Georgian in Seattle, sometimes I viscerally miss the southern food that I grew up around. I'm also interested in how complicated our past is. While I knew southern food has a complex history, Michael Twitty's book made me think about it more rigorously and exposed far more nuance than I knew. But my biggest takeaway was rethinking genealogy. As a white person, the obsession of other whites about their genealogy often made me uncomfortable, as if it was a way of proving superiority (along with the privilege of being able to do it relatively easily). Twitty points out that for African Americans, it is a reclamation of family and identity. I'll think about genealogy differently, thanks to him.
The Library of Legends, by Janie Chang
At the beginning of WWII, Chinese universities moved inland and carried with them treasures of learning in the form of ancient books and manuscripts. This novel imagines one such journey, as students hand-carry The Library of Legends on their trek inland, facing exhaustion, hunger, and exposure to crippling poverty along the way. As they do so, the immortals across China awaken and have their own exodus. I loved this book for so many reasons, but my mind keeps turning back to the question "when did magic leave this world?" The Library of Legends presents a compelling answer.
Have a suggestion for my reading list? Email it to me at susie (at) wilkeningconsulting (dot) com.
I respectfully acknowledge that I live and work on the lands of the Duwamish people, whose ancestors have lived here for generations. I thank them for their ongoing care of this land, and I endeavor to help museums bring forward a more complete and inclusive history and culture in their work.