September is the month of #historyread, where there’s hundreds of potential themes to be discussed; from fact and fiction books, representations of history in film and a variety of history plays. This month’s theme also ties in with History Week (5th – 13th September), when the History Council of New South Wales member organisations collaborate to showcase the history of the state.
Every country and community has moments of its history which have been represented in some artistic form. Will you be exploring historical crime fiction with CJ Sansom’s Dominion series or perhaps reading into China Mieville’s science fiction worlds? Or do you prefer your historical fiction with a touch of romance, a 19th century steampunk twist, or an alternate history in a world that took a slightly different path? Though it isn’t an alternate history we can see from Tony Horwitz’ Confederates in the Attic that the American Civil War still has a legacy many people may be unaware of.
There’s also local history to explore; this will be different for everyone, so what’s local for you? Perhaps you’ve experience in genealogy and have an interest in family history, all of which can be done using books tracing your family history. Through the development of photographic techniques in the 19th century and later, moving pictures, we can see what life was like in the past, as well as reading about it.
We’ve got the history of everything from food, art and photography to sport and changes in the weather, through which we can all see a wide range of books and documentaries on these topics. We can go down an even narrower subject route with micro histories such as Simon Garfield’s Mauve.
Language has also changed over time, with new words always being introduced into the English Language including Melvyn Bragg’s The Adventure of English. Languages have travelled across continents over the centuries, sometimes as a result of colonialism, but what was the impact on the Indigenous languages of those continents, and what is the resulting legacy for those languages?
A Little History of the World or Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything should get you started in everything you need to know about the world, or there’s plenty of other ways to explore the history of science and developments in technology and industry.
Who provides us with a history of events though? We need to be mindful of apologist histories defending controversial activities.
Going back even further in time is the study of palaeontology- what child doesn’t love a book on dinosaurs!? Jurassic Park fits into this, and whilst not a true story (!), it brings to life this magnificent creature of history. Kids also love learning through the Horrible Histories book, which can also now be seen represented on our TV screens. Historical fiction is represented in children’s fiction including Michelle Paver’s Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series.
Who can forget books on time travel such as H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, books by Connie Willis, and everyone’s favourite time traveller, Doctor Who. Biographies and memoirs explore the history of individual famous figures, some of which have been brought to life through film such as Nelson Mandela’s The Long Walk to Freedom.
How many books can you name with the word ‘history’ in the title? The Secret History by Donna Tartt is a clear frontrunner, but there must be many more to be discussed.
And who doesn’t love to play at historical re-enactment? Dressing up in costume and recreating famous battles is a long forgotten pastime of many.
While you are reading, playing or watching your #historyread this month, you might like to tweet about it using hashtags #historyread #rwpchat so that other people can have a conversation with you about it. You can add to the discussion on Pinterest too. You might like to post your photographs to Instagram or Flickr and use #historyread #rwpchat so others can share in your reading, watching and playing.
The Twitter discussion takes place on 27 September, starting at 8.00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. 9.00pm New Zealand Time, 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 8am – 10.30am, 2pm – 4pm GMT. Note this is a staggered discussion.