Welcome to the next update in my Around the World in 80 Books challenge! My goal is to read 80 books from 80 different countries/cultures in whatever dang time frame I please, all while spending under $20. If you want to check out the first post, including a review of my read from England, you can do so here.
This time around I have two to review. First up is:
I’ve been doing a ton of genealogy lately for the husband’s side. And way back, he’s related to these McIlvaine’s of Delaware. Donald is a descendant, too, and he’s compiled this book. It includes a family history written by a family member long since deceased and a bunch of land records about some of the descendants up until a certain point.
This book is Game of Thrones meets Genesis. If you’re not related to any Scotch Irish, you’re probably not interested. (And if you’re not related to this branch of the McIlvaines, you’re definitely not interested in the latter part of the book. It’s a begat b along with some boring documents that were all too captivating to me as someone trying to piece together my children’s ancestry.) But if you are Scotch Irish, or at all interested in learning about a people, the first half is absolutely fascinating.
Andrew McIlvaine, the long since deceased family member, starts with what might as well be the beginning of time for the Scottish people. And then jumps to how they literally built a wall between the North and England to keep the British out. How they knew the harsh lands well enough to evade the British when they tried to get it. How his family used to live in castles and fight with neighbors and cousins over lordships back through a millennium, sometimes to the death.
And then it got even more interesting. This family wasn’t about to give up their religion just because England was finally succeeding in tearing down Scotland’s independence during the Reformation. They would have religious meetings in fields so they could defend against soldiers who would come to attack them as they worshipped. They eventually left Scotland in the late 1600s rather than bend a knee and give up the way they revered God. They went to Ireland, where they were given the worst land possible to farm. But they were used to some pretty harsh land; they were from Scotland. So they thrived. And the Irish hated them for it. My husband’s family wasn’t even there long enough to have babies before they went to the new world, that would eventually fight for and win independence from Great Britain.
But then they did have babies. And those babies had babies and babies and babies until my husband was born.
I don’t dislike England. I think it’s a pretty cool country. But as an American, I found this branch of his family’s story incredible. I learned the the Scotch-Irish weren’t really Irish at all, and that a lot of them immigrated here and then later fought against the British power on a different continent. This is painting far too large a brushstroke, but in a way the American revolution was an extension of the fight for Scotland’s independence, which had been going on for a very, very long time.
In the early 1900s, Dr. Kunos transcribed these folk tales into the written word from the oral tradition. It may have been the first time it was done as far as I know. On one hand, they display what life was like in the Ottoman Empire, which finally collapsed in the midst of WWI, becoming the country we know today as Turkey. There’s talk of Padishahs and Allah and what we would call genies. It’s flavored with the East. But true to Turkish form, the stories are also inundated with Western influence. The structure of the stories themselves very much follow the hero format, rescuing the damsel in distress, and occasionally mirroring stories I grew up hearing.
The stories were mostly great, and totally worth the read. But this was transcribed in the early 1900s; it’s also got some really awful racism in it. If you can handle that as a part of a book that was being written down from the oral tradition 100 years ago, then it’s worth the read. But if it makes you too angry (which I couldn’t really blame you if it did,) you may want to stay away. I hate to recommend staying away as I think a major thing that helps us learn to be better humans in the future is looking at our past mistakes, but I know it would be a major turn off to many people. My jaw hit the floor so many times; it got so, so inappropriate and offensive at points.
I’m currently reading this book from Sierra Leon. Well, about Sierra Leon. From someone who lived it. I’m limiting my reviews until I finish the books, though.
So far I’ve spent $0. Scotland and England were free downloads, Turkey was a gift, and Sierra Leon I located at the library.
My other books in queue are:
Sweden: Roseanna by Maj Sjowall indirectly recommended by Northern Lights Reading Project
Norway: Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder recommended by Poor Student
Israel: Hope Street, Jerusalem by Iris Makler
Canada: The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat recommeded by Messy Money
Afghanistan: The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg recommended by Savvy Working Gal
Nigeria: I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani recommended by Guiltless Reader
Philippines: May Day Eve and Other Stories by Nick Joaquin recommended by Guiltless Reader
Mexico: The Five Levels of Attachment: Toltec Wisdom for the Modern World by Don Miguel Ruiz, Jr.
So that’s 12/80 selected! Do you have any recommendations for me? Leave them in the comments!