Last month was my first month participating in the very fun “Six Degrees Challenge”.
The challenge is hosted monthly by Kate at booksaremyfavouriteandbest.
“On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book.”
“Join in by posting your own six degrees chain on your blog and adding the link in the Linky section (or comments) of each month’s post. If you don’t have a blog, you can share your chain in the comments section. You can also check out links to posts on Twitter using the hashtag #6Degrees.”
This week the starting point is “Rodham: A Novel” by Curtis Sittenfield
So what would have happened had Hillary Rodham not married Bill Clinton? I haven’t read this novel, but the premise is intriguing.
“In the real world, Hillary followed Bill back to Arkansas, and he proposed several times; although she said no more than once, as we all know, she eventually accepted and became Hillary Clinton.
But in Curtis Sittenfeld’s powerfully imagined tour-de-force of fiction, Hillary takes a different road. Feeling doubt about the prospective marriage, she endures their devastating breakup and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail—one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that involves crossing paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the tradeoffs all of us must make in building a life.”
I don’t tend to read books that challenge you to think about “what ifs” of past events. Perhaps this is because when I think about the own “what ifs” of my life, it brings about a lot of regrets.
Anyway, I decided that I would instead connect books written about and by women whom I admire, more specifically women scientists, those who did end up following one of the paths that I could have taken, had I studied biology in university as I originally had intended. I can live vicariously through them.
Here’s my list:
“Jane Goodall: The Woman who Redefined Man” by Dale Peterson
Growing up, there were few people I admired. I wasn’t the typical teen who went gaga over the latest movie stars or rock groups. When I discovered Jane Goodall though, well here was someone I could look up to. She was doing something I had always wanted to do, going to Africa to study wild animals, in her case chimpanzees.
This award winning 685 page (plus back matter) biography is written by longtime Goodall collaborator Peterson, and it took him 10 years to write as he had so much material on the scientist. The comprehensive biography deals with Goodall’s life up until 2004.
“Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey” by Jane Goodall with Phillip Berman
Going from a book written about her to one written by her, this is one of my favourites, as it describes much of her spirituality and also her reasons for hope for the future. It is an older book, and there’s even an addendum written after 9/11. I’d love to see a reprint of what she would add after the pandemic.
“An African Love Story: Love, Life, and Elephants” by Daphne Sheldrick
I continue with an African connection. Conservationist Sheldrick writes about her love for Africa, her love for her husband, and her love for the orphaned elephants that she has raised and reintegrated into the wild.
“The Whale by Moonlight: And Other Adventures Among Bats, Penguins, Crocodilians, and Whales” by Diane Ackerman
Elephants connect to other animals. I started to read this when I was on my last trip overseas, as lacking a good connection to the internet, I could really immerse myself in the book. Naturalist Ackerman is better known for some of her other books (“The Zookeepers Wife”, for example), but it is her nonfiction writing that draws me more. This book is from 1992, but her poetic descriptions of her scientific adventures among these four animals still capture the imagination.
“Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants” by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Now on to someone who champions the wisdom of both animals and plants. This is a book I am currently slowly savouring in bite sized pieces. Wall Kimmerer is an indigenous botanist, and in this book she shares how other living beings—the plants and animals—have much to teach us, although we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices.
“To Speak for the Trees: My Life’s Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest” by Diana Beresford-Kroeger
From one botanist to another. An Irish born and now Canadian botanist and biochemist, Beresford-Kroeger has a unique perspective on trees and forests, as she studied not only the ancient Celtic ways, but also modern scientific ways. I have admired her since I saw the movie “Call of the Forest”, and this book is an autobiography of her life. This is the only book on my list I don’t own—I borrowed it from the library—but I do own some of her other books.
So there’s my journey from “Rodham” to “To Speak for the Trees”. Thanks for joining me. I hope you are able to go to the original blog post and check out some of the other entries.
Shoe’s Sunday Stories
@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler