In the Summer Reading Programming we are discussing the difference between legend and history - how during the Dark Ages and early Medieval times when very few people read and books were hard to come by, history was repeated orally from generation to generation and it was much easier to forget real events and people but is, of course, how we've come up with some of our favorite legends, like King Arthur and Robin Hood. In thinking about this topic for the kids, I thought about how wonderful it is that we have such great access to books about real people and events so that we can learn from history and from the lives of others. It also dawned on me that we have quite a few biographies sitting here in the Homer Library and very few of them come across my desk for circulation. Doing a very quick check, just by call number, I discovered that we have 580 biographies in our adult section. This does not include many books that are shelved just as a general non-fiction because it is not a 'true' biography but could easily be considered one.
We also have close to 250 biographies in our Junior section.
We have many different types of biographies. We have the typical school 'book report' biographies on people like George Washington, Harriet Tubman, and JFK. We also have some celebrity biographies on such personalities as Princess Diana, Judy Garland, Lucille Ball, John Lennon, and Woody Allen. We have books that run the spectrum of politics - from funny to quite serious and from the extreme left to the extreme right. We also have the first volume of the long anticipated autobiography of Mark Twain which he asked not be released until 100 years after his death. He must have had a lot (and perhaps not a lot good) to say about his contemporaries.
With biographies there is so much to choose from, the subject matter so varied, that there is sure to be something to interest almost everyone. I am someone who is usually much more interested in legends than history, but find myself fascinated by the biographies of people such as Cleopatra, Ann Boleyn, or Catherine the Great. There is so much adventure, mystery and intrigue in the lives of people like this that their stories are a lot more interesting than a lot of the fiction I read.
So the next time you are looking for a good story, think about looking in the Biography section. You never do know what you might find!