▪ We got our first significant snowfall of the winter in Ann Arbor last Sunday—just over 11 inches—and it has snowed a little bit more nearly every day since. In the Mid-Atlantic, of course, a snow accumulation in double digits would bring cities to a standstill; here, though, nobody seems at all fazed. I was dreading last Monday morning’s commute, but wound up getting to work in nearly record time, as the Washtenaw County Road Commission had aggressively started plowing and salting the streets of Ann Arbor as soon as the first flake made landfall. I have an appointment to get my new snow tires mounted tomorrow, and after those are on I’ll really feel prepared for the winter ahead.
▪ I don’t feel at all prepared, though, for Christmas, which is A WEEK FROM TODAY OMG. I began the month with grand plans to decorate my house from top to bottom, go to the light display at the Detroit Zoo and the Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village, see the free holiday movies at the Michigan Theater, and generally be 100% on top of my Christmas game this year. But, you know … life. So I’ve pared my list down to a few must-haves: tree (assembled and decorated last Sunday), cards (purchased; will write out tomorrow night), cookies (one batch of Italian anise cookies on this afternoon’s agenda), and music (Frank Sinatra and Mario Lanza are in steady rotation in my house). And if I start preparing on December 26, maybe I’ll be more on top of Christmas 2017.
▪ This is the first year I’ve had a full-sized Christmas tree of my own, which meant I was finally able to hang all of the ornaments I’ve been collecting since high school. I did a little Instagram series of my favorites last week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I also wrote a short essay about collecting ornaments, which will be published at The Billfold sometime in the next few days.
▪ Since it’s December, ‘tis the season for end-of-year lists, including this doozy of a “best history books in 2016” list from History Today, which was then re-published at Time. There are 11 books on the list (one person picked two). All 11 of them are about European history (History Today is a British publication, so this is not super-surprising). Eight of them were written by men; of the remaining three, two were written by the same woman. Every single author is white (I Google Imaged them all to be sure).
This is the best of my discipline? Not the field I work in, and not most others, either. I have not read a huge number of history books this year, but I’ve bought plenty of them, and a quick scan of my to-be-read shelf shows a nearly equal split between white and non-white authors, and a definite weight toward female scholars over male. Yet for readers of Time who happened upon this list, the message is that the best historical scholarship of this year was produced by white men writing about Europe.
I’d love to come up with a more diverse (in every sense) list in response; what are your picks? I’ll start with The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright, by Ann Little, who I thought did an incredible job of piecing together small bits of archival evidence to tell an interesting story in a compelling and accessible manner.
▪ After months of waiting on the library hold list, my Born to Run ship finally came in this week. I have the book until January 9, so I’m saving it for vacation reading.