What Are You Looking Forward to Reading, Martha A. Sandweiss?

by David Haglund | Aug-04-2010

This summer, we’re asking past winners of and finalists for NBCC awards what books they’re excited to read. Below, Martha A. Sandweiss, a recent NBCC finalist in biography, weighs in.  Click here for the rest of the series.

Writing history can be a solitary venture. On top of all that time spent alone in front of computers, there are the countless hours spent alone in archives and libraries and rooms of creaky microfilm readers. But historians build communities of colleagues, too, and we feed off one another’s ideas and insights just as other writers do. Who besides another historian could understand the thrill of uncovering a new bit of evidence or making a new connection between two disparate events?

This summer I am looking forward to reading the bound galleys of two books forthcoming in fall 2010. For years, I have heard these authors talk about their struggles with the evidence, and now I get to see what they’ve done with it. Virginia Scharff’s The Women Jefferson Loved takes a fresh look at the facts hidden in plain sight to reimagine the Founding Father as a man caught up by the demands of love and the pull of family tragedy. Ann Fabian’s The Skull Collectors: Race, Science and America’s Unburied Dead unravels the improbable story of how and why American scientists collected human heads for the nation’s museums. But even as I read new history, I am reading other sorts of nonfiction and novels at breakneck summer speed, trying to get the sounds of other sorts of storytelling in my head. Tracy Kidder’s Strength in What Remains and Joan Didion’s Where I Was From top my to-read nonfiction list and Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn are next up for fiction.

 

Martha A. Sandweiss was a finalist for the 2009 NBCC Award for Biography for Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line. Her other books include Print the Legend: Photography and the American West and Laura Gilpin: An Enduring Grace, winner of the George Wittenborn Award for outstanding art book of 1987. She co-edited The Oxford History of the American West. Sandweiss is professor of history at Princeton University. (Photo: Sage Sohier)




About the Critical Mass Blog

Commentary on literary criticism, publishing, writing, and all things NBCC related. It's written by independent members of the NBCC Board of Directors (see list of bloggers below).

Subscribe

SIGN UP FOR CRITICAL NOTES





Categories & Archives

Become a Friend of the NBCC

Upcoming Events

NBCC at AWP18: March 09th, 2018

NBCC Finalists’ Reading: March 14th, 2018

NBCC Awards Ceremony and Reception: March 15th, 2018


NBCC Awards

Award Winners for 2016

See all award winners

Find out how to submit

Read how we select

Frequently Asked Questions


Videos and Podcasts

NBCC 2016 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2015 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2015 Finalists Reading

NBCC 2014 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2013 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2013 Finalists Reading

Video: New Literary Journals

Video: The VIDA Count and Gender Bias in Book Reviewing

Podcast: What Is Criticism? NBCC Winners and Finalists at AWP

All videos and podcasts.