Cooney's The Lost Songs was published earlier this month by Delacorte Books for Young Readers.
Earlier this month I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
Making Haste From Babylon by Nick Bunker is a fascinating examination of the English world from which the Pilgrims sprang. Don’t be put off by the title. This is a vivid and rich account, covering the geography, economics, politics and of course theology that led a tiny group of ardent Christians to make the terrifying decision to cross the sea in a splinter of a ship and create a New World.Visit Caroline B. Cooney's website.
Making Haste from Babylon set me on an expedition to learn more. That often happens with nonfiction, when I am so intrigued I need another layer.
I then read Mourt’s Relation, first published in 1622, and Good News From New England, 1624. They are short narratives, a little difficult because of antique phrasing, but riveting. They focus on the adventures of men exploring the Plymouth area and their first encounters with the Indians and tell almost nothing of what the women and children were doing. I am always interested in the domestic life so I kept searching.
A Little Commonwealth, by John Demos, is a series of essays, rather formal, establishing that we just don’t know much about the Pilgrims’ daily lives – such as how a dozen people actually lived together year round in one small room! This would not be a book to read first; turn to it only when you’re captivated by Making Haste or by Nathaniel Philbrick’s wonderful Mayflower. Mayflower has a more traditional format than the Bunker book and is an easier read. The two books are so different it hardly feels like the same topic. The Philbrick book is very American and Bunker’s is very British.
Next on my list are The Times of their Lives: Life, Love and Death in Plymouth Colony by James Deetz and another original source by William Bradford.
In fiction, I read almost exclusively suspense or mystery – I like stuff happening in every paragraph - but in nonfiction, I love history and I don’t mind if it’s slow and detailed and full of excursions. I usually have several books going, which seems unfair, somehow. You should give your full attention to the book. I tend to give my full attention to the topic. I would love book suggestions from other readers interested in the Pilgrims.
Writers Read: Caroline B. Cooney (January 2010).