Guess what. I am a Thomas Jefferson fanatic. Do you think it’s a coincidence that I go to business school at his alma mater? I think not. I actually love US presidents in general. I know a lot of useless trivia about them, but TJ is my favorite by far.
Last year I had the pleasure of visiting his house, Monticello, outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. I was in Charlottesville by myself for a completely different reason, but you better believe I booked a tour at Monticello before I left. I’ve done a lot of mansion tours in my day: up in Newport, RI, The Biltmore in NC, Versailles in Paris, the Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT, and several chateaus in the Loire Valley just to name a few. This tour was different because I knew TJ was there. I loved learning about all of the choices he made in the design, and about his daily habits in the house. I highly recommend it if you’re in the area!
But I digress, this post is actually about a new book about TJ that I recently bought on tape (well CD actually). I bought the audio version of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, because I’m doing a lot of long drives this month, so I thought it would be good for that. I haven’t even finished the book yet, but I’ve decided to give it a good review. Often times, these types of books are rather dry, and difficult to get through at times. I find this one continually interesting. I am filled with little tidbits about TJ and his family that I never knew before and I’m only up to 1784. Here are a few I’ve learned so far:
- Martha Jefferson (TJ’s wife) actually went by Patty
- Patty made TJ swear on her death bed that he would never re-marry and he abided by her request
- TJ’s relationship with his mother is largely unknown because all of their correspondence was destroyed when her house burnt down, there is question as to how well they actually got along
- Sally Hemmings (TJ’s slave and mistress) was actually his wife’s half sister because her father was Patty’s father (the Hemmings served Patty’s family until Patty’s father died)
- Though TJ held numerous leadership roles, perhaps his most disappointing was his stint as governor of Virginia, to his embarrassment, his tenure was largely criticized in an official capacity by the Virginia House of Burgesses
The fact that I live in Virginia is an added bonus as I listen to this book. I am constantly hearing the names of streets and schools in the area, and now I can identify the significance of their namesake. Who knew there were so many important Virginians!
Have you read or listened to any good books lately?
I mentioned when I posted about the books I read this summer that I would hopefully read one more before summer was over. Well I did, and I’m so glad because it was the best book I read all summer.I was browsing in a BN store in search of a new book, and this one caught my eye. It was in the food writing/cookbook section which I enjoy, but it’s a love story. It seemed like the perfect option. It’s by a celebrity blogger/chef who’s been working her way up to a spot on the Food Network. But the great part is that it’s about her love life.
Prior to reading this book I did not know that much about the Pioneer Woman, but now I’m a complete fan. I am so jealous of her fabulous love story with her husband who she refers to as the Marlboro Man. Plus I love that it’s a true story, it makes it that much better.
This book is about 300 pages and I read it in less than three days. That might be a normal speed for other people, but for me it’s warp speed. I just couldn’t put it down!
One of my proudest accomplishments this summer is the fact that I read four books (and counting…). This is actually a big step for me because I rarely read for pleasure. I mean, why read when you can watch TV (kidding, sort of). Since I did not have a TV in my summer apartment, I went old school and actually found some good books.
When I do read for pleasure I actually tend to stick to a lot of memoirs and biographies. For whatever reason, I find solace in knowing that the stories being told are true. This summer I read three non-fiction books, and I strayed for the last selection and read a novel.
First up was Bossypants by Tina Fey which was pretty funny. It’s about her life growing up and the trials and tribulations of an aspiring comedy writer. While it was really funny, I was slightly put off by the overwhelmingly self-deprecating tone. I was looking to this book for a little girl power inspiration and I just wanted to yell at her: “You’re a super successful woman, get some confidence!”
Next up was a recommendation from my mother: Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl who is a famous food writer/reviewer/chef type person. This was pretty good, and I enjoyed reading about her crazy life and career path, but there was a little bit of a disconnect for me. While I connected to her interest in food, she grew up in the seventies which made for a much looser atmosphere. She tells stories about traveling abroad on whim and living with her husband in a house in California with five other people who come and go as they please. These are situations that would either not fly today, or I’m too Type A and they freak me out. I get the nostalgia aspect, but I can’t really relate to that time period.I picked up Jeneration X in Target one night, sort of out of desperation for a new book. I was pleasantly surprised with this one. I’m unfamiliar with the author Jen Lancaster, but apparently she has written several books. This book is a collection of short vignettes about her life, and little funny lessons she has learned as she is becoming an adult. I could definitely relate to a lot of the stories, because I’m experiencing many similar lessons myself. I think as an adult you have various experiences where you have to make real personal decisions and it’s great to find the confidence to make the right decision for yourself, regardless of the trends. It’s nice and light hearted, I’m thinking about tracking down some of her other books.
Girls in Trucks is the wild card because it’s fiction! I really stumbled upon this one by chance. I was looking at Miss Bibliophile‘s weekly Friday post with a bunch of fun links. She had a link to a website that recommended this book. I promptly ordered it from BN and picked it up at the store. I thought is was pretty good. I liked it because it was similar to a memoir even though the point of view changes a few times. It’s basically about a Southern girl growing up, moving to NYC, and deciding both consciously and unconsciously what Southern traditions to honor or ignore.
Hopefully I’ll get in one more book before it’s back the B-school literature…
What good books have you read this summer?