Civil War Fangirl

The thoughts of a (slighty eccentric & crazy) Canadian who happens to be obsessed with Abraham Lincoln, General William Tecumseh Sherman & the Civil War

Archive for the tag “books read in 2016”

My Absolute Favourite Book Of 2016 Is…

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…”A Friend Of Mr. Lincoln” by Stephen Harrigan (you can find him on Twitter @stephenharrigan) . I did write about this book in an earlier post, which you can find here. I give a brief synopsis of the book in that post.

As 2016 comes to a close, I can say not only is this my favourite book that I read this year but it has become one of my favourite books ever. The writing is brilliant. The characters, both real (Lincoln and Speed) and fictional (Cage Weatherby, through whom the story is told), are well-developed, and Harrigan weaves a world in which I was pulled right into. The writing is such that the book played out in my head like a movie. I could see Lincoln and his friends playing handball as they discussed poetry. I felt like I was there at the various social events that play out in the novel. I felt the emotions the characters felt – there were moments I laughed, moments I felt frustrated and yes, moments where I was moved to tears. There was characters I absolutely loved and characters I detested but that I still enjoyed having as part of the story. In reading this book, I got absolutely lost in the world that was mid-19th century Springfield, Illinois.

I absolutely loved Mr. Harrigan’s portrayal of Lincoln. He presents such a humanizing portrayal of Lincoln. If you’re like me, you will come away feeling that you’ve come to know him just a little bit better.

The other thing that made me love this book so much is the author’s portrayal of depression – it is raw, it is relatable and it is real. Lincoln is not the only character to suffer from depression – it is quite clear that some of the other characters do too. I remember one scene in particular making me cry because I knew how the character was feeling. The way in which he described how he was feeling was exactly how I feel when I’ve been in my most depressed states.

But the main reason I recommend this book? I absolutely loved Mr. Harrigan’s portrayal of Lincoln. It is a humanizing, at times raw, portrayal of him. I saw Lincoln’s good side but I saw his bad side too. It doesn’t get much more human than that. I came away feeling that, even though this is historical fiction, I somehow have come to know Lincoln better, especially how he was in his younger days. The author gives a voice to Lincoln as well as the other characters that is relatable. It has given me a deeper respect for a man that I have loved and respected nearly all of my life. It is a book that has stayed with me and that I know I will read again. That’s why it is my favourite book of 2016.

I also want to take this time to wish everyone of my readers a very Happy New Year and all the best in 2017! Y’all are awesome and I can’t thank you enough for reading.

Love,

Mary 🙂

Another of my favourite books from 2016 is…

…”Lincoln’s Melancholy” by Joshua Wolf Shenk.

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Y’all, I’ll be honest – I’m going to be lazy with this one and just point you over to here. That is my review I wrote of this book back in March.

But I do have some stuff to add (I’m a chatterbox just like my man Cump was…)

It still remains one of my favourite books about Lincoln. It is one I most certainly will read again. In the months since I’ve read it, I’ve recommended it to numerous people. These are not just people who love Lincoln. In fact, quite a few of them do not know much about him. The reason I recommended it though? Because we were discussing depression and I told them how much this book helped me to understand my own depression. It was the first book that really spoke to me, and as I say in my earlier review, made me feel like “hey, you’re not alone”. I tell them how inspirational the book is and that in knowing that Abraham Lincoln suffered from depression (and at a time when it was not well understood) and he managed to do all the incredible things he did. I think a few of them have ended up reading it.

In reading more about Lincoln since finishing “Lincoln’s Melancholy”, I have come to truly realize how much his depression did challenge him and fuel him as a person. When I read about him, I’m always keeping this in mind and it truly has made me see him in a different light. It’s made reading Donald’s bio of “Lincoln” that much more interesting because I read between the lines, as one would say, and will think “Hmm, that could be why he’s being that way”.

The one thing I see the most as stemming from his depression is his empathy. Lincoln had an incredible amount of empathy and I think this is one of the many things about his personality that made him so ahead of his time. The best example I can think of involves General Sherman (I know. Y’all are so not surprised by that…) and just how empathetic Lincoln was to him when Sherman had his breakdown in 1862. O’Connell states in “Fierce Patriot” (side note: if y’all haven’t read that one, you need to. I read it in 2015 hence why it’s not being mentioned as a fav of mine from 2016), his biography about General Sherman, that:

Lincoln had suffered from deep bouts of depression since early manhood (he called it the “hypo”) and it’s likely he [Lincoln] recognized a similar condition lurking behind Sherman’s excessive pessimism. He also must have known from his own experience that these bleak episodes eventually passed and so remained open to giving his fellow sufferer additional responsibility once he [Sherman] recovered.

He goes on to write that “mental illness of any sort carried a tremendous stigma in nineteenth century America, but not with Lincoln when it came to a general he instinctively liked and believed in”

Of course I have to include a photo of my two favourite men 🙂

I could go on with other examples of Lincoln’s empathy but this is one that always comes to mind. And hey, any chance to mention my two favourite men in a blog post is always awesome. #goals #historycrush #hotties

“Lincoln’s Melancholy” did make me feel like I came to know Lincoln better. It very much is a book worth reading, especially if you love Abraham Lincoln and want to know more about him. Depression was very much a part of who he was just as was his sense of humour and his empathy, both of which, I believe, stem from him having depression. I know for myself, my sense of humour has been a sort of defence mechanism against depression since I was very young.

I’ll wrap up my post there. What are y’all reading right now? Better yet, what was your favourite book of 2016? I’ll be posting tomorrow what my favourite book of 2016 was.

Until that time, have a happy Friday, y’all!!

Much love,

Mary 🙂

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