Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 19- A Book that changed your mind about a particular subject (non-fiction)

I am behind. I admit it. It's hard to type anything when my right thumb, both wrists and both middle fingers complain, loudly. As I said in yesterday's post, it's taking me twice as long to do things because it hurts. Plus, I get frustrated and angry when, what used to come easily, like carrying the laundry basket to the machine, is now painful and has the potential for me to drop the basket because I can't hold it. I feel very, very old, something I am not prepared, emotionally or mentally, to feel at this time of my life. So forgive me if I am not posting the 30-day challenge daily.

Add to this, some topics, I wonder who chose them? Take the 19th, for example. I put my Discworld series back in the basement finding The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic in the process. I looked at all the books on the shelves down there. Nothing said "ME ME! I fit that topic."

Back to the book journal. Again, I paged through the journal, reading every entry, musing over all the non-fiction books I've read. Nothing struck me as a non-fiction book that changed my mind about anything. I think, in this topic, that's the point. It had to change your mind.

I don't know about you but when I select a non-fiction book, I select it for my interests. As an example, I would read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, not to have my faith, meager as it is, challenged and removed (Dawkins is a known atheist.) but because I'm curious about his point of view. I would not expect someone who does not believe in evolution to willingly pick up Dawkins unless they were arming themselves for a debate. Hence, the selection of a non-fiction book is, I think, just like any other book. "This sounds interesting", or "This has a cool cover" or whatever criteria you choose.

So it's been really hard to find something that I've read which fits. As I was putting the Discworld books back, I saw I book I was loaned. The gal who loaned it to me stayed in touch with me for about a year after she loaned me the book. I had finished it by then and wanted to return it but she was moving and then never gave me an address. This book is fiction but it was based on then unproven claims that Thomas Jefferson fathered children with his slave, Sally Hemings.

When the book was published, there were denials from the Jefferson family that this was anything more than a work of fiction. I read this in early 1981. The author writes a lot of historical fiction, although this was her first book, and she cites the work she did on which to base her book. I remember coming away with a "hmmmm" feeling.

It is kind of a romance historical novel. The characters were treated with dignity but you never forget that Sally is a slave, that Jefferson owned slaves, that this was life at that time. At the time I read this, we were re-examining our founding fathers and owning up to the fact that many of them owned slaves. "All men are created equal" did not apply to all men.

The book planted an idea that these 13 signers of the Declaration of Independence were not gods as they can sometimes be portrayed. They were men with human qualities, men who did the best they could and, at other times, were about as enlightened as a tree stump. We've learned so much more in the 20 years since I read this. I don't think that knowledge diminishes, in any way, the great risk those men took. So Thomas Jefferson fathered additional children. He was still a brilliant scholar, leader and humanitarian.

Beverage:  Pepsi


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