Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Joy of Reading


Yesterday, on one of the most amazing, auspicious days in American inaugural history, I took a break from the writing and critiquing I should have been doing, and continued to read a new favorite of mine, David McCullough's John Adams. This book is huge and from the bland blue cover looks like it could be one of the driest pieces of history ever put into print. But it's far from being that.

McCullough's Adams is a vibrant, learned man, standing on the precipice of history, wondering in which direction his country will go but willing to make sacrifices to lead it in that direction. Much like the new US President Obama. McCullogh takes you from pre-Revolutionary New England and the tiny town of Braintree, to the gardens of Paris with an expressive style that any historical fiction author would envy. Or at least this one does.

The Founding Fathers of America have always fascinated me; my favorite is Thomas Jefferson, as much for his convictions as the contradictions of his life. But what is so amazing about this nation's first leaders is how well-read they were, Adams especially. He enjoyed the works of the Roman statesman Cicero and loved to read Greek classics in the original. Not to be outdone, his wife Abigail (can't forget the Founding Mothers) often quoted poetry to him in their wonderful exchange of letters, from memory alone. Adams was a prolific writer, whether in his journal, his communications to family and friends, or in his political statements. He draws on principles of law but also relies on a good dose of common sense to make his arguments.

Between various writing commitments, I can easily get bogged down. But it's nice to be reminded of what drew me into writing historical fiction; the joy of reading.

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