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Today’s theme is a school freebie, so I’m going to talk about something that doesn’t usually fit into the speculative fiction I blog about here.
As per Wikipedia, microhistory “is the intensive historical investigation of a well defined smaller unit of research (most often a single event, the community of a village, a family or a person).”
I enjoy learning about history in general, but microhistory is by far my favorite way to explore the past.
You can learn so much about all of our ancestors by exploring how they handled incurable diseases, dealt with racism, treated orphans, decided what to eat, and so much more.
All of these books are excellent, by the way!
If you have any suggestions of similar reads or enjoyed the ones I’m about to share, I’d love to hear about it. If you’re not a fan of history, tell me what subjects you did like in school.
Let’s geek out together.
1. The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic—and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson
2. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
3. Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
4. The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore
5. Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World by Dan Koeppel
6. Children’s Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain’s Young by Peter Higginbotham
7. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
8. The Many Deaths of Tom Thomson: Separating Fact from Fiction by Gregory Klages
9. Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England by Judith Flanders
10. And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts
11. The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe V. Wade by Ann Fessler
80 Responses to Top Ten Tuesday: Microhistory Books Worth Reading
What a fascinating rang of topics youve read Lynda. The one called Salt reminded me of something I read many years ago called Seeds of Change about fu e plants that changed the world
Thank you! Seeds of Change sounds good.
I struggle a lot with reading non-fiction but that never stops me from adding more NF titles to my list. I already had a few of these on my TBR wishlist but I’ve added so many more to it now—these books sound fantastic and I’m glad to hear that they were all great reads! Great list for this week’s topic, Lydia 🙂
Thank you, Dini! Happy reading!
So many of these do sound fascinating! Hidden Figures is one I definitely hope to read some day.
Thank you. Hidden Figures was great.
Huh, I might want to read Banana, since my dad and I love bananas! XD
Heh, happy reading!
I read and was fascinated by Henrietta Lacks.
As a film buff, Glenn Frankel’s books exploring the history and context of some of my favorite movies have been great — especially the ones on High Noon and The Searchers.
Thank you. I’m looking them up now!
You have such a depth of topics here! A whole book about bananas! Nice topic today, very interesting books on your list too.
Thank you very much!
Radium Girls is SO good. I was captivated by Moore’s writing, too. Henrietta Lacks is also amazing. Really great freebie choice this week.
My TTT School Freebie
Thank you kindly! 🙂
My older girl had to read the first two on your list in college. Not sure if it was general required reading or if it had anything to do with her nursing major. But, I hope to read them both myself soon.
Here is our Top Ten Tuesday. Thank you!
Oh, that’s so cool! They were both wonderful reads. I hope you like them whenever you may read them.
I bet that banana one would be very interesting. I watched a show that was all about how the banana trade has changed banana consumption and the world a year or so ago.
Yes, it sure was. Bananas have a more complicated history than you may think, but maybe that documentary you watched covered some of it. 🙂
Lots of fascinating books. I’m going to post on this.
That’s great. I look forward to reading your post.
Neat topic! I have only read Hidden Figures from this list, though a couple of the others are on my TBR as well. I guess the closest similar book I can come up with is A Short History of the World According to Sheep by Sally Coulthard, which I enjoyed listening to.
My TTT: https://bookwyrmknits.com/2022/08/30/top-ten-tuesday-school-freebie/
Thank you. I actually listened to an audiobook of A Short History of Sheep last winter. It was so good.
Thanks for the recommendation, though.
Henrietta Lacks, Hidden Figures, The Band Played On: I loved all of these. Your discussion of the significance of microhistory struck a chord in me because one of the areas I’m interested in is how such small stories represent a significant part of social and cultural history and identity. They’re significant emphases in my discussions of Life Stories in Literature.
That’s so cool. I’ll have to check that series out. Is it on your blog, I assume?
And, yes, small stories like those are such an important part of social and cultural history and identity for sure.
I wasn’t that keen on history back in school, but many of these books sound fascinating. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has been on my radar for a while and you’ve also made me curious about Banana (how did bananas change the world??)
That’s awesome. I hope you like both of those books. I’d better not answer that question to avoid spoilers, though. 🙂
I didn’t realize there was a name for the type of non-fiction I most enjoy reading, so thank you for that! I see some familiar books here (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was the one that popped into my head when I was reading your description and And the Band Played On kept me up well past my bedtime when I read it while traveling years ago). I know I’ve read a lot, but the ones that come to mind are Bonk by Mary Roach; The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson; and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. But I have so many on my TBR that I haven’t gotten to yet! EXCELLENT idea for this prompt!
Thank you for the reading suggestions. I haven’t read any of them yet, but they sure sound good.
These books all sound interesting. I don’t really read a lot of nonfiction but my husband has always been interested in books like Inside the Victorian Home, and we have both read books about servant life in Victorian times and into the early 1900s.
TracyK at Bitter Tea and Mystery
I love the direction you took this week’s post. It’s so unique and interesting. I would love to read so many of these.
Thanks for sharing and for visiting my blog today.
You’re welcome. Thank you for your kind words.
I’ve not read any of these, but both The Radium Girls book and the one about Henrietta Lacks are ones I want to read. I also really enjoy microhistory (though embarrassingly as a history grad, I didn’t realise that learning about a specific person’s life or a single historical event had a name), my favourite parts of history is learning about people who did incredible things!
They were both so good!
It’s cool that you have a history degree. There are so many people who accomplished incredible things in the past.
I’ve been wanting to read more history books. A couple of these are on my TBR.
Enjoy! And good for you.
The Radium Girls looks fascinating.
It was so good.
Love your list of microhistory reads! Would Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 and Laskin’s The Children’s Blizzard qualify as a microhistory? I really enjoyed reading both of those books. And I have Salt on my TBR list. 😀
Yes, I totally think they would! Good answers.
I hope you like Salt.
Great topic! I’ve enjoyed several of these.
What a fascinating list! I’ve read Radium Girls and really enjoyed it. I could do with some more microhistory in my rotation. And being as how I am one of those babies given up before Roe v. Wade, and my birth mother is one of the girls who went away, I need to read that book. Thank you for sharing.
You’re welcome. Happy reading!
I didn’t know it had a name, but turns out I also love microhistory. And I really enjoyed your take on this week’s School freebie prompt! So many great books I want to read. Here is my spin on this week’s TTT: https://herseriallife.com/top-10-books-set-in-college-academia/
Have a great week 🙂
That’s so cool! If you find new microhistory books, do share.
Lydia – you always come up with the most interesting twists on topics! I’ve never heard of microhistory before, but these sound like really interesting books, and I’ve added a couple to my TBR.
Aww, thank you so much!
Such an interesting list. I wouldn’t usually go for this type of book but they all sound interesting.
Have a great week!
Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog
Thank you. I appreciate that.
I’m not typically one for non-fiction, so I’m always super glad to hear when other people have such long lists they’ve enjoyed! I’m glad you liked these.
Thank you. 🙂
Great topic! I have had Hidden Figures on my TBR for so so long because I loved the movie. I don’t typically read a lot of non-fiction but there’s a couple on here that I’ve had on my TBR for years!
Thank you. I hope you like Hidden Figures!
This is such an interesting list!!
I enjoy reading nonfiction that focuses on a small part of history.
Yay! I’m glad to hear it.
Very interesting list. I haven’t read any of these. I do enjoy history. However, when I read about it, I like to read historical fiction. It then gets me interested in that time period and I do a lot of Googling while I read my book. 😀 Thanks for stopping by my TTT!
Thank you. Yeah, reading historical fiction is great, too!
These are some highly interesting books, Lydia. Some of them have been on my wishlist for a while, I really need to go and get them. Well done.
Thanks for visiting my TTT this week.
You’re welcome. I hope you like them when you read them!
What a great list! I’ve been wanting to read Ghost Map and Radium Girls for ages, but I rarely make time to read non-fiction. Must fix that!
Thank you. They were both awesome. May you enjoy them.
Salt and Henrietta Lacks are on my TBR already, and Ghost Map sounds amazing!
That’s great! Happy reading.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a fascinating read. Love your topic this week!
Thank you. have you seen the film version of her life? It was also interesting.
Such an interesting list!
Thanks for visiting my blog earlier.
You’re welcome. thanks for stopping by!
I didn’t realize these books had a term .. and on the other hand, I realized that I love microhistory (seems like I actually tend to read a lot of it too!) I loved Radium Girls and Hidden Figures.. Salt and Henrietta Lacks have been on my TBR.. and the rest are getting added to it now..
My TTT is here
Oh, that’s so cool. I’m glad you like them and that you know the term for them now.
That’s a very different and interesting take on the topic, Lydia. The Tom Thomson book interests me immensely as does the one on Bananas.
Thank you. I hope you like them!
Hi there Lydia!
I love microhistory and all the books you’ve listed today are appealing to me.
I hope you had a great weekend and will have a wonderful week ahead.
That’s awesome, Mareli. Happy weekend to you as well.
Glad you enjoyed all of these! Apart from Hidden Figures, I don’t think I’ve heard of any on your list. Thanks so much for visiting Finding Wonderland on this week. Apologies it took me so long to visit here.
Thank you. And no worries.
Deep dives into one topic can be so fascinating! I really liked Stuff Matters which explores the science and history behind some common materials like glass, chocolate, concrete, etc. It’s great!
That sounds amazing!