When I first read The Boys in the Boat, I decided Daniel James Brown was the best history writer I had ever read. After reading Under a Flaming Sky I haven’t changed my mind. I feel like I know the ordinary/extraordinary people who survived (or not) the Great Hinckley fire of 1894. He puts you right there with them, in their homes, on their streets, on trains that are burning as they flee the fire… Though sometimes I could do without being able to experience every moment of this horrible situation! (That’s why I haven’t read his book based on the diary of a member of the Donner Party–The Indifferent Stars Above–yet. I’m not sure I want to get that close to their experience.)
I had a very interesting young man, Jordan, come into the shop. He said he often picks up books as led (my word) and sees if he likes them. After reading Henry James –whom he had not heard of– for a while, he bought the book. I was impressed! He told me that one of his favorites he found that way was The Decameron. He inspired me to check it out from the library. Now I’m REALLY impressed – it’s 800 pages long!!! Phew! Well, girding my loins to give it a try…
I don’t know that I personally need a scientific study to tell me growing up surrounded by books was good for me. Granted, I may have created most of the benefit for myself, as I always had many multiples of the number of books the rest of my family had. I am also happy (though not surprised based on some of the “less well-educated” but incredibly smart and well-informed people I know) that having books at home offers as much benefit as higher education in some regards.
Check it out at the Smithsonian! https://www.smithsonianmag.com/…/growing-surrounded…/