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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death

The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death by Jill Lepore stuck out to me in the reviews that came out several weeks ago and I picked it up during Hurricane Sandy.

What is the history of life and death? It's much simpler, and far more complex, than you could imagine. It involves children's sections in libraries, the right to die (and the right to life), breastfeeding, Stuart Little, cryogenics, and everything in between. In this wildly intriguing look at life and death, Lepore explores what makes those two things what they are.

This book was so much more than I thought it would be. To be honest, I was expecting a dry, didactic treatise on life and death but I got a literary whoopin'. This is not at all what this book was. Lepore is a catchy writer who explored this in depth with a detailed eye.

The flow of Lepore's book began with birth and ended with death but explored ideals and beliefs related with these overarching ideas. What do we as humans, not just Americans, believe about the right to life? What is the history of breastfeeding? I have to say, I loved to chapter on E.B. White and the rejection of Stuart Little as the lovely piece of literature it is by the very librarian who encouraged White to write for children. This was in line with the history of children's sections of libraries--I had no idea that before this convention children were expected to stay away from libraries and, by extension, books. Also, Life the board game may not be what you think it is.

Really, this was just such a fascinating read that I can't tell you in more plain words to pick up this book for yourself. It was a jolly read and my mouth dropped a few times with the amount of information provided that I had no clue ever existed. Seriously.

Worth your time.

Get your copy. Kindle version on the left, hard copy on the right.

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