Library corner: Did you know?
A lot of readers prefer reading fiction over nonfiction. I used to be one of those people. In the past several years I made a concerted effort to read more nonfiction, and I’m glad I did. It’s amazing what you can learn about obscure parts of history that you’ve taken for granted or never knew about, or a name or event that you never heard before.
As an example, do you know why the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, sends a giant Christmas tree to the city of Boston each year as a thank you? If not, then try reading “The Great Halifax Explosion” by John Bacon.
If you have ever visited Helena, Montana, and have seen the statue at the state Capitol, it’s a statue of Thomas Francis Meagher. He is the subject of “The Immortal Irishman” by Timothy Egan. His story of leaving Ireland in the mid-1800s, being sent to Tasmania as a prisoner, escaping to the U.S., meeting Abraham Lincoln, getting shot twice fighting in the Civil War, and ending up as the first territorial governor of Montana is pretty compelling.
A rather dark and overlooked piece of history is told in “The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn” by Robert Watson. It details the history of the HMS Jersey, which was anchored off of Brooklyn, New York, and served as a prison ship during the American Revolution. It’s estimated that over 11,000 prisoners died on the ship!
If aviation history is something you’re interested in, then you might want to read “Race to Hawaii” by Jason Ryan. It details the race leading up to the first trans-Pacific flight from California to Hawaii. A little spoiler alert, one plane actually had to “sail” into Kauai.
Thomas Edison gets a lot of credit for inventing the lightbulb and being the father of electricity, but he had a lot of competition from Nikola Tesla. The battle between these two is detailed in “The Last Day of Night” by Graham Moore.
If you have ever been to Astoria, Oregon, at the mouth of the Columbia River, you might not know that it is named after John Jacob Astor. Why? You should read “Astoria” by Peter Stark. It details the two expeditions that Mr. Astor funded from 1811-1815. One of them was via Hawaii … find out why.
Lastly, sometimes a fictional story contains a reference that you had no idea about. If you are a fan of Bruce Springsteen and are familiar with his song “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and don’t know who Tom Joad is, then you should read John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.” Tom Joad is an example of the “prodigal son” from the Bible and is the lead character in the book, leading his family from Oklahoma to California during the Dust Bowl era. There are numerous nonfiction and fictional reads that can inform you about many things all around us that we take for granted or just never knew about.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
The Sky-Hi News strives to deliver powerful stories that spark emotion and focus on the place we live.
Over the past year, contributions from readers like you helped to fund some of our most important reporting, including coverage of the East Troublesome Fire.
If you value local journalism, consider making a contribution to our newsroom in support of the work we do.