Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Election Special: Political (and Non-Political) Reading Recs from Jon and Keith Meacham

| 16 Comments

unnamed-5

Presidential historian Jon Meacham and his wife Keith have been paying close attention to the election. Like the rest of us! (Unless you’ve had to avert your eyes at this point.) Keith answers a few questions for Bacon today, and you’ll find their latest recommendations following the brief Q and A.

51resm9ohml
Hi, Keith!  Thanks for stopping in at Bacon today!  What’s up?

Jon is traveling all over the place this fall with the publication of the paperback of Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush. I’ve ramped up my work with Homer, the 13882698_1348341718527377_4306290985295711012_nliteracy app I helped create five years ago, and with three kids in three schools we’re busy and happy.

 

I would think in your house you might have to be obsessed with the election.  Yes?  

Jon has to be a little obsessed with the election since he weighs in on the candidates pretty regularly. The rest of us have been watching the whole thing as you might slow down for a train wreck. It has been great to watch our children engage in conversation about the process and the people and to watch the debates together. I’m very excited that my two daughters might come of age in a country with a female president.

What’s the latest on the professional/volunteer front for both of you?

I’ve recently joined the board of Horizons National, a nonprofit that supports more than 50 summer programs for low income kids to prevent summer learning loss, build literacy and spark creativity. It has been wonderful work, dovetails perfectly with my literacy work at Homer, and is particularly great because Nashville has its very own Horizons program at University School of Nashville led by the amazing Sam Jackson and his team. Jon is busy researching James & Dolley Madison, his next biographical subjects. We recently took our son to visit the Madisons’ very beautiful home in Montpelier, Virginia. Worth a visit now that they’ve restored it to its original period condition after renovating, among other things, the DuPont’s Art Deco interior.

Will you be involved with the Library Gala (supporting the Nashville Public Library Foundation)?

Absolutely. Congressman John Lewis is an American hero whom we are lucky to call a friend. We’ll be at the patrons party and the Gala and Jon will have the privilege of leading the discussion with the Congressman at Margaret Ann Robinson’s gracious party.

Do you love thinking about the busy holiday calendar ahead or does it drive you to drink?

I love every holiday. I think Jon would prefer heading to the islands. We compromise by holing up in Sewanee in front of a fire for the whole Christmas holiday.

 *     *     *

Jon Meacham’s Recommendations:

Robert Penn Warren – All the King’s Men
Perhaps the greatest American political novel, this story of a ferocious and flawed populist speaks powerfully to our own time.

51ouxlxawnl

Anthony Trollope – The Way We Live Now
A masterpiece of Victorian England, this novel is at once delightful and resonant – and is a good way to begin Trollope, who left us more than 40 other wonderful works.

51ddo4gyz6l

Evan Thomas – Being Nixon: A Man Divided
A fascinating new look at one of our most enigmatic presidents, by one of our finest biographers.

41woi1e9tl

John Lewis – Walking with the Wind
The evocative and indispensable memoir of the movement by one of its most important – and courageous – figures.

51duck7q7ql

Louisa Thomas – Louisa
A groundbreaking account of the life of Louisa Catherine Adams, wife of John Quincy.

41si9pirqkl

 

*     *     *

Keith Meacham’s Recommendations:

Andrea Wulf – The Founding Gardeners
A fascinating book that looks at the roots of America and the work of the Founding Fathers from the perspective of their lives as gardeners and farmers. Equally interesting for the history fanatic and the master gardener.
51vpu5448l
Elizabeth Strout – I Am Lucy Barton
A quiet, understated story of a mother and daughter and the unspoken pain and love that have shaped their unremarkable lives.
41xya-fsqql
Maryanne Wolf – Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain
Who knew that our brains were never hardwired to read? That reading is actually the most unnatural thing a child will learn to do? Wolf’s book makes a highly scientific subject accessible and fascinating.
41hk-p9kgrl-_sx343_bo1204203200_
Elena Ferrante – My Brilliant Friend (and the 3 Neopolitan Novels that follow)
I spent the entire month of February last year canceling appointments and forgetting to eat because I couldn’t pull myself away from these big, rollicking stories of the intense friendship between two girls who become women over decades in Naples from the 50s through the 70s. Better than binge watching Narcos.
51putd03r7l
Richard Cohen – She Made Me Laugh: My Friend Nora Ephron
A book by a good friend about a woman everyone loved.
51axlzevujl *     *     *
Bonus Bacon:  Check this out!
Decision 2016: A Look at America’s Future
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Reception – 5:30-6:30 p.m. – Langford Auditorium Lobby
Lecture – 6:30-7:30 p.m. – Langford Auditorium
cls_decision_2016_henderson_03
Nia Malika Henderson, CNN Senior Political Reporter
Charles Krauthammer, Pulitzer Prize-winning Syndicated Columnist and Commentator
Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning Presidential historian
Nicholas S. Zeppos, Vanderbilt Chancellor

CNN’s Nia Malika Henderson and Pulitzer-Prize winners Charles Krauthammer and Jon Meacham join Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos for a reflection on the Presidential election and a forward look at what’s next for our country. Together, they’ll discuss the implications of this historic election and share their predictions of what we might expect from the 45th President of the United States of America.

Free and open to the public. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-seated basis.
Tickets and reservations are not issued for this event.
Parking is available in the 25th Avenue Garage, located near the intersection of 25th and Highland Avenues. Please use the Highland Avenue entrance.

16 Comments

  1. To paraphrase David Rees, everyone should read All the King’s Men all the time.

  2. I agree! All the King’s Men was required reading at St. Andrew’s school – which I attended along with Keith years ago. It was, and still is, a personal favorite. Even better that RPW was a Vanderbilt grad! Great post – thanks, Jennifer!

  3. All the King’s Men also wins my vote for greatest American political novel! I still have my dog-eared copy from high school that’s been read about five times.

  4. I too am an All The Kings Men fan but am thrilled with some of these suggestions that I have not read. Thanks Jennifer!!

  5. Have just put a hold, through NPL’s Overdrive, on both the book and the audio file of The Founding Gardeners!! So excited to hear about a book that addresses American history and gardening. Great post, Jennifer.

  6. A great post! Aren’t we lucky these two landed in little ole Nashville? I am enticed by My Brilliant Friend – better than Narcos? Wow!

  7. Trust the Meacham’s when it comes to anything about books. You can count on it being interesting, provocative and actually readable.

  8. Great post! Agree with everyone that Nashville is beyond lucky to have the Meachams here! Just read My Brilliant Friend and My Name is Lucy Barton. Loved both. Looking forward to reading Keith and Jon’s other recommendations.

Leave a Reply