H is for eigHtH in the alpHabet

Here we are at

Where H is for History.

H is for History, as in non-fiction, not historical fiction. There was a week on historical fiction back in November as you may remember. If you don’t remember, the five links in the previous sentence point you there. Right. History, not the fictional kind. I like to read history. When I was an undergraduate, lo these many years ago, I studied aerospace engineering. As a break from all the physics and calculus I read history. All my elective courses were in history. Sometimes I mixed things up and read about the history of mathematics or science. Twice a year there were book sales at the Graduate Student’s Union in the gym. I primarily bought history books at the sales. I still have some of those books.

I didn’t get hooked on history during my engineering studies. I’ve been hooked on history for as long as I can remember. OK, since grade 2 for sure. How do I know? During the year I was in grade 2, that is when I was 7, I lived with my family in the UK, in Greater London. I remember quite distinctly being upset that my parents went to the British Museum on a week day when I was in school. I also remember being intrigued by all the really old places we visited that all had interesting stories behind them. I think it was the interesting stories that caught my attention at the time. After we came home to Canada, I continued to be interested in old things with stories. And in archeology. Digging old stuff out of the ground was fascinating.

I figured out that history, while an acceptable hobby, was not considered by people I knew to be an acceptable career choice. So I kept reading history as a hobby. Now it is part of what I do for a living as well! How exciting. I write about women who are dead (making them historical figures ;-)) and what those women wrote about the Bible. This is a particular area of the broader burgeoning field of reception history.

What history books do I like? Last year I read Enthusiasm by Ronald A. Knox. I was disappointed. I found Knox a misogynistic and unsympathetic writer. I’d hoped for more in this history of charismatic movements in the church. I also read Tillich’s A History of Christian Thought which was dense, and de Vries Perspectives in the History of Religions, which ended up being more about method. I like reading about historical method, but find it preferable if a method is actually used so that conclusions can be reached. At present I’ve got a book called The Last Divine Office by Geoffrey Moorhouse on deck. It is about the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. I’ve also got Volume 3 of Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples (I’ve finished 1 and 2), and a biography of Catherine de Medici. And a book of essays by Gertrude Himmelfarb. We cannot forget the Himmelfarb.

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Filed under non-fiction, What to Read Next

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