First of all, Happy 2017 to you, our dear readers! Regina and I hope you’ll continue to read along as we squee over 200-year-old fashions, tell weird history stories, talk about our books, and generally have fun.
And speaking of reading along...believe it or not (yeah, I’m kinda struggling with believing it myself) the fact that it’s 2017 means we’ll have been writing NineteenTeen posts for ten years come September. I expect we’ll be posting our one thousandth post some time toward the end of the year, which is kind of mind-boggling...but you know, we wouldn’t do this if we didn’t want to. We hope you’re still enjoying reading as much as we enjoy posting.
Since this is a New Year’s celebration post, there are a couple of things I wanted to do...and one of them is to talk about the books we especially loved over the last twelve months. Are there any books with a historical slant, fiction or non-fiction, that you especially enjoyed last year?
My candidate for Most Awesome Historical Book That I Read in 2016 is this one:
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua is...well, I suppose that it gets categorized as a graphic novel, but it’s so, so much more than that. According to the introduction, Ms. Padua started it as a bit of a lark, but things soon got out of hand (oh, I so know that feeling...) It’s the imagined adventures of two real people, Victorian inventor Charles Babbage and amateur mathematician and celebrity offspring Ada, Countess of Lovelace (the celebrity part being that she was Lord Byron’s daughter.) The historical part is that Babbage designed what was more or less a steam-powered calculating machine (two of them, actually)...and his friend Lovelace, writing a commentary on the designs, more or less posited what would become today’s field of computer science. In real life, Babbage’s engines were never built and Lovelace died tragically young of cancer...but in Padua’s “pocket universe” they’ve teamed up to use the engines to “to build runaway economic models, battle the scourge of spelling errors, explore the wilder realms of mathematics, and, of course, fight crime—for the sake of both London and science.”
There’s so much to love here—the illustrations are glorious and historically correct (omg, the clothes are right, and so is the Duke of Wellington’s nose!) The story-telling is witty and erudite but never stuffy (I totally want this illustration of Isambard Kingdom Brunel on a t-shirt for my engineer husband and son), but it’s also real and human—Lovelace and Babbage aren’t cardboard figures, but brilliant and funny and in many ways, tragic. If you have the least interest in technological history or science fiction or the Victorian era or or or...read this book!
And in the “Other Things that Require Celebration” department, may I present this: a new cover for By Jove, being re-released next month from Book View Café. Gotta say, I'm in love with it. Look for more news about By Jove in February.
Now, dear readers, what's your news? Please tell us about your favorite 2016 book, or what you're bookishly looking forward to
this year...and keep reading!
(Fireworks image courtesy of noppasinw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)