Geek out: historical books

Me (and my book club) have been on a historical kick lately with our readings, so I thought I’d share them with you:

First, “In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex” by Nathaniel Philbrick. This was a book club selection, and I really liked it. The book covers the history of whaling, primarily in Nantucket, and the real-life story that inspired “Moby Dick.” It was absolutely fascinating to imagine the lifestyle people led (women left alone for years at a time, while their husbands traveled thousands of miles around the world) and the reliance on whale oil that made people take absolutely insane risks. The story reminded me of that show, “I Shouldn’t Be Alive.” It’s brutal, but worth a read.
Next, I grabbed “Salt: A World History” by Mark Kurlansky off my own book shelf. Mike had read it before, and I had always been curious about it. The book goes back thousands of years and traces the history of salt production and trade all over the world. I liked this book, but didn’t love it. Mainly because it read more like a textbook. I found myself trailing off many times. The best parts described innovations that people had made to mine salt, or strange things that happened because of it (like a town that basically sunk because they took out too much salt underneath).
Staying on my history kick, I decided to read “1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus” by Charles Mann, which Mike had also read before. This book just blew my mind. It’s about so much more than just the year 1491. It’s about new findings related to when people came to the Americas thousands of years ago. It’s about how native Americans had much more advanced civilizations than we used to believe. It’s about how way more people were wiped out by disease than we ever realized. And it’s about countering the idea that native Americans lived on the land but didn’t mess with it. They did a lot to change their environment, but when their populations were decimated by disease, that stopped. Therefore what Europeans saw when they came here was much different. Anyway, though a few parts (mostly dealing with battles) bored me, the rest was so intriguing I couldn’t put this book down. Highly recommend!
And finally, book club decided to go historical two times in a row and we chose “The Lost Cit of Z” by David Grann to read. It’s about an explorer named Percy Fawcett, who disappeared in the Amazon in 1925 while looking for a lost city of riches. Apparently people have become obsessed with finding both what happened to him and the city itself, and many have died or been kidnapped in the process. The author goes on this journey himself, and finds some new details, and ultimately the same kind of conclusion that’s written in “1491” (that advanced civilizations could have existed in the Amazon). Sadly, I was so into “1491” I couldn’t quite appreciate this book as much. I would give it somewhere between a six and seven on our scale. Enjoyed, but would recommend this more as a library check out than a buy.

Checking in on the checklist

It’s now less than two months until the wedding, and we’ve accomplished a lot of planning in the last week or so.

Remember the old checklist?

pick out menswear
-make our food decisions
-pick out rings
-order flowers
-write our ceremony and vows
buy plane tickets and make reservations for our honeymoon in Spain
test cake recipes and proportions for the pans we have
-Make the decorations, table numbers, goodie bags, etc.
Send the invitations and collect RSVPs
Find a dog/house sitter
-Make a photo montage

I also got my second rosette pin made, got the cake toppers in the mail, figured out some travel logistics, and Mike assigned some people to bring speakers and run the music.

I had my dress fitting, which was lovely up until the point where they told me that the alterations were going to cost $291. WTF?! I could buy a whole other dress for that. I also have to come in for a second fitting, and then another time after they press it. Which would be a lot better if this place wasn’t a 45-minute drive away.

I’ll be honest – we had a little financial freakout after that and buying the plane tickets to Spain. But we are just trying to take it one step at a time. Many things still can’t be done until about a month before the wedding. And we will get there.