I am a hyper-curious person, and curiosity is an important value in my life … as well as an important impact of museums.
But curiosity isn't limited to museums, and can be hard to sustain through adulthood. By sharing some of my curious paths through reading, I'm hoping to reinforce how important wide-ranging curiosity is to our practice and spark new conversations that may seem unrelated to museums, but deeply matter to how we do our work. After all, as museums we cover a variety of topics. Our curiosity should also be as omnivorous!
To that end, here's a new installment of some of my wide-ranging reads (mostly non-fiction). I hope to hear recommendations from you!
Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home, by Nora Krug
What does it mean to German home and family if you don't know what your grandparents did or thought during World War II? Nora Krug grapples with these questions, trying to piece together those lost years, lost because German families rarely spoke about their own actions during that war. What has been the legacy of silence, not knowing? What happens if the pieces start to come together, but cannot be entirely put together? I found this book heartbreaking and wonderful, thoughtful and devastating. And I couldn't help but think of our own family legacies in America, and what my own family may or may not have done throughout the past, especially when it comes to slavery, race, and the privileged legacy I have received as a middle-class white child. Recommended by Linda Norris and Laura Roberts, and I emphatically agree. This is a must-read.
The Poet's Dog, by Patricia MacLachlan
The fact that this is a book for elementary-age readers should not detract you for it. It is absolutely lovely, and I relished reading it to my two young children. It begins with a dog rescuing two children in a snowstorm, and taking them home to his cabin for the duration. While snowbound, the children learn the dog's story of life with his person, a poet. But the poet is conspicuously absent from the cabin … and, well, you have to read it to find out. Keep tissues handy.
The Inner Life of Animals: Surprising Observations of a Hidden World, by Peter Wohlleben
I've always had a bit of an intellectual crush on John Muir. Peter Wohlleben may be his 21st-century successor. This small volume explores the inner emotions of animals in playful yet serious ways (as Muir often did), having me consider the goat, the deer, and even the weevil in new, yet more empathetic ways. Yes, weevils. (Note: Wohlleben also wrote the popular The Hidden Life of Trees, which I also enjoyed … but the translation is smoother in Animals, making it a more pleasurable read.)
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.