After too many distractions and not enough time spent reading, I've just finished the final book in Robertson Davies' Deptford Trilogy, World Of Wonders. Although the second and third books in the trilogy occasionally felt like essays on Jungian psychology and performance theory shoe-horned into novel form, the subject was so compelling that I didn't mind. I found these books extremely engaging, and I loved Davies' writing. I'll definitely read more from him.
Next up is something by Pierre Berton. You know I love history, and I've gone on several historical odysseys in my reading: Ireland, 19th Century New York City, the civil rights movement. The first two, especially, became somewhat of a reading obsession, to the point where I can't read another book about either for a long time. (Since someone will ask, no, I am not of Irish descent. I just have a thing for Ireland.)
Now I want to learn about Canadian history, and from what I know of Pierre Berton, he's the obvious choice to take me there. Plus, I saw all his books in these beautiful editions in Chapters. It made me want to own them all! And once books are on my bookshelf, they must be read. (Now you've learned my other material weakness, besides Home Outfitters and Linen 'N Things.)
The slightly obsessive-compulsive inside me wants to start with the two 1812 books and work my way through in chronological order. The teacher and literary-enabler inside me says, pick a topic that most interests you, start there and read in any order you please. And the insane compulsive inside me berates, What about your already-full reading list? Those books aren't on it! (I know she's insane; I just nod and smile.)
Sitting on my shelf right now is The Last Spike, one of two books Berton wrote about the building of the trans-Canadian railroad. (The other is The National Dream.) The second half of the 19th Century is "my" era, dating back to my university years. More recently, the World War I era has begun to rival that. But in any case, The Golden Spike seems like a good place to start. Unless I succumb to mild OCD and begin with 1812.
Whenever I read a lot of nonfiction, I always read novels in between, for a change of pace, and to give my brain a rest. The next novel I want to read is Philip Roth's The Plot Against America, which imagines Charles Lindbergh defeating FDR in the 1940 presidential election.