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Posts Tagged ‘doomsday books’

We conducted an informal  poll at my local book club – The Blue Ridge Readers.  We have been reading and discussing books for over ten years now and lately asked the question:

 What is your favorite kind of book?

There were the Historical Novel lovers,

the Romance Seekers (aren’t we all?),

Avid Gourmet Foodies,

the Humorists,

Non-fiction Devotees,

and

Dor the Doomsdayer.

When I somehow stammered out the ugly truth, that I love doomsday books, there was a shocked moment of silence and twitters of nervous laughter in our normally all-accepting, socially correct gathering of serious readers.

And someone finally said, “You are the last person I would think would like that kind of reading.”

“Well, it is my contention,” I replied, “that one should not only enjoy reading, but one should try to acquire wisdom and learn something useful in the process.”  

The above haughty approach is what I meant to say but what I really said was,

“You know, I like survival stories. 

and by way of further explanation,

 “I LOVE reading about the Plague and am now engrossed in The Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks, where a small English village is left nearly empty of people and the roads are overgrowing with grass for lack of use (since everybody dies of course).”

Year of Wonders

This explanation did not help much to explain the pleasures of doomsday reading to my book group.  I went on,

Great Infuenza“I really enjoyed reading The Great Influenza.  Now that’s a winner and it’s all true stuff.”

“And I loved Isaac’s Storm about the devastating 1900 hurricane in Galveston, Texas and the arrogance of man against nature. Did you know that most of Galveston is only ten feet above sea level? “Isaac's Storm

Silence.

But then there was a hint of a giggle from the back and that ended up in all-group laughter.  And they weren’t laughing at me (at least I don’t think so).  They were laughing with me for a preoccupation with surviving encroaching tragedy.

I am also preoccupied with stocking up for a potential pandemic but there was another post about that.  Did you know they have found edible honey in Egyptian tombs?

But, finally to prove my point to my Blue Ridge Reader friends, the last book we discussed at meeting, (which everybody seemed to love)  was The Widow’s War, by Sally Gunning, a novel about a brave woman struggling to keep her home and stay afloat after her husband drowned at sea.  Her “widow’s war” was a fight for her rights to an independent life and to own property in Massachusetts in 1761.

Widow's War

The Widow’s War is a perfect survival story.

The poor widow had to make her own cheese you know.  Could I do that?  I need to find a book on how to make cheese.

And she made her own candles too.  That was fascinating even though she practically burned her house down in the process.

But you get the idea right?

There is something to be said for doomsday reading.

Or are you laughing with me like the rest of my book club?

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