I read a lot of books. I was thinking about how I choose the books that I read, out of the dozens of interesting sounding books, most of which I will never get around to reading.
I belong to two books clubs, though I have only attended one meeting of one of them due to my complicated evening schedule. But I do try to read the books that each of the clubs chooses. Because of my book clubs I have read a bunch of books that I hated -- really, really hated! But also quite a few books that I not only found that I liked, but that have stuck with me. These are books that I would not have read otherwise, but I'm so glad that I did. One example of one of these is The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore. This is sort of a dual memoir of two Black men with the same name, one who is now a successful, inspirational author and entrepreneur, and the other who is in prison for murder. It was fascinating to see how their similar childhoods had crucial differences that created such different futures for them.
Left to my own devices, I choose books that I already know I will most likely enjoy. I love mysteries and have several series I follow, including the Maisie Dobbs books. I have favorite authors: Neil Gaiman, Alexander Smith McCall, Jane Austen, and Josephine Tey, for example. I read reviews sometimes, and find interesting books that way.
I also try to read a book related to early American history every year. I teach American history from Jamestown to the end of the Revolutionary War in social studies. When I began teaching this, I only knew the basics, so I started with biographies. I loved both John Adams by David McCullough and Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (the musical was based on this biography).
This year for my history read I picked I am Murdered by Bruce Chadwick. This is a fascinating book that tells the true story of how George Wythe, one of the lesser known founders, was murdered by his great-nephew. It is an edge-of-your-seat mystery, though not who-done-it. The reader knows from the start that the no-good nephew did it. But the investigation and trial are riveting. Chadwick gives a huge amount of background information on topics related to the story. Wythe is a very interesting person who was instrumental in the founding of the United States. He signed the Declaration of Independence and was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. He taught law to many young men including Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall. But, we also learn a great deal about arsenic, medicine at the time, and what the Richmond, Virginia culture and community was like. Who knew that George Washington loved to gamble!! The book may be difficult to find, but I recommend it! I bought it secondhand, online, through alibris.com.
Since finishing biting my nails over I am Murdered, I need to finish All the Light We Cannot See before my book club next week!