Fat Books & Thin Women

30 Day Book Meme, Day 6
August 6, 2011, 1:29 pm
Filed under: 30 Day Book Meme | Tags: , , , , ,

A book that makes you sad:

This one is easier! I want to be an ass and say Twilight – if there’s a book worth getting worked up and teary over it’s this one, with Bella trailing her abusive, glittery vampire all over until she wins out and her vampire fetus eats its way out of her belly. But don’t you all already know that the very idea of Twilight makes me sad? (And that I haven’t read the whole series?)

So today, I’ll move away from my pattern of writing about young adult books, from fiction entirely. The saddest book I’ve read in recent memory is Timothy Egan’s The Worst Hard Time, a history of the Dust Bowl. Egan’s history focuses on an environmental change that tends not to get much attention in comparison to the period of the Great Depression, which intersected with and worsened the effects of the Dust Bowl. “The Dust Bowl” is probably a familiar term to anyone who’s grown up with stories of the Depression, but it isn’t something we learn much about; the Dust Bowl is treated as one of many minor stories of the Depression, not as a phenomenon that would prove to have effects as lasting as those of the Depression.

What is so heartbreaking about Egan’s book isn’t the story of the Dust Bowl and those who chose to stay on their land and attempt to farm it through the worst years of the Depression. (Worth remembering is that Steinbeck’s classic, The Grapes of Wrath, is about a family that left their home in the region. Though we often think of the novel and the Dust Bowl together, they are different stories.) It’s the story of what came before storms began to lift sheets of dirt from the ground, making the land all but unfarmable and leading to a host of medical ailments for those who remained on the land. The dust storms that came to and destroyed much of the region and those living in it were more the product of men than of nature, the result of years of farming land that wasn’t meant to be farmed, with environmentally unsound practices. Dust Bowl farmers, urged on by government programs, took a grassland perfectly suited for buffalo and attempted to turn it to farmland. In doing so they destroyed the root system that was keeping the rich soil in place.

Egan doesn’t strain to make connections with contemporary environmental issues, but it’s hard not to connect the Dust Bowl to other environmental issues, and to the persistent human desire to “better” the environment. What Egan shows, often painfully, is that it is often difficult to predict the impact human development will have on land, and that what appear to the average eye to be minor or positive changes may be the very things to crush an ecosystem. It’s a chilling story, one needs to be read, and one that – judging by high school history classes – we’ve largely forgotten.

30 Day Book Meme:
Day 01 – The best book you read last year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than three times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy
Day 06 – A book that makes you sad
Day 07 – Most underrated book
Day 08 – Most overrated book
Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favorite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favorite male character
Day 16 – Favorite female character
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 – Favorite romance book
Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood
Day 22 – Favorite book you own
Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t
Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read
Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most
Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 – Favorite title
Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 – Your favorite book of all time

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Thanks God, there is someone out there who sees Twilight with the same critical eye I do! Seriously, if that is the love story teenage girls want to have, I can easily understand today’s levels of domestic violence. I think it’s sad and worth analyzing in a feminist/academic way so we can spread the idea.

Plus, relating it to Wuthering Heights is an insult.

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