Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jenny's Book 4: Nature's Metropolis


I ended up reading 13 of the 16 novels in this year's Tournament of Books. I still have Kapitoil and will read it eventually, but right now, I think I need a palate cleanser, and I think some non-fiction will do the trick.

My next book is Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. Since we moved to Chicago, five years ago already, I've been interested in reading books about Chicago. The best one I've read so far, on the advice of my brother, was American Pharaoh. It's a great big biography of the first Mayor Daley, but it's also a history of the city itself during his tenure. I really loved that book. Also, I ended up personally knowing the author when her daughter was my student!

Nature's Metropolis is more about Chicago at its beginnings. The premise of the book (I've read about 25 pages, including the preface up until he started naming all the people that helped him write it) is that the urban landscape of Chicago cannot be separated from the rural areas around it. It was recommended on a blog I read pretty regularly, and the person who recommended it said that it included information about a lot of things you'd think would sound boring, but are actually really fascinating--like how grain elevators worked. Believe it or not, this is what sold me. I've always been interested in how things work, and having random knowledge about grain elevators? Awesome.

I'm also hoping there will be some chapters about the stockyards. The Union Stockyards covered a huge swath of the South Side. There's still a neighborhood called Back of the Yards because it was adjacent to the stockyards. Apparently, they just dumped all the waste from the stockyards right into the river, leading one small part to be called Bloody Creek because of all the industrial waste there. Yuck.

There's a different rhythm to reading non-fiction, it's never quite as fast-paced and page-turning as a good novel, but I like books that force me to read slower. I'll keep you updated on my progress.



  1. Random thoughts:

    1. 13 of 16 books is pretty darned amazing. Go, you!

    2. It's been *5* years since you moved to Chicago?! Holy F. It seems like just yesterday. (Still miss you here, though.)

    3. Looking forward to hearing the review of this book -- the landscape/cityscape of Chicago fascinates me.

    4. Finished Screwtape Letters but I'm not sure yet what to say... I've still got a few days, right?

  2. Kelly,

    Forgot to tell you that Lemon Cake managed to advance through yet another round in the Tournament of Books. What is this world coming to? Only one more week until it's all decided. It can't possibly win it all. Right? Right?


  3. Holy F. REALLY?!

    I just read the review. How is no one addressing the chair?

    Hello??? THE. CHAIR?!

    Seriously. Is no one else bothered by this? It's horseshit. I feel like there's an elephant (or, well... CHAIR) in the room that no one is talking about.