Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Wish-List: The Kindness of Strangers

The Kindness of Strangers: The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the RenaissanceI was looking something up when I ran across a description of The Kindness of Strangers: The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance. (Long title!)

From Amazon's product description: "In The Kindness of Strangers, John Boswell argues persuasively that child abandonment was a common and morally acceptable practice from antiquity until the Renaissance. Using a wide variety of sources, including drama and mythological-literary texts as well as demographics, Boswell examines the evidence that parents of all classes gave up unwanted children, "exposing" them in public places, donating them to the church, or delivering them in later centuries to foundling hospitals. The Kindness of Strangers presents a startling history of the abandoned child that helps to illustrate the changing meaning of family."

Isn't that fascinating? I really want to read this. It's a little outside my current book budget, though, so I'll have to hope my library has a copy. Or maybe I can get it through interlibrary loan (that might be my best shot, actually, given that my local library system is somewhat ... unimpressive.)

Another book I'm interested in, but don't need any money to get (yay!), is Breakthrough!: How the 10 Greatest Discoveries in Medicine Saved Millions and Changed Our View of the World by Jon Queijo. (Another long title!) Barnes & Noble is giving the ebook away as part of their Free Fridays NOOK promotion. You can find other free titles at their Unbound: The NOOK Blog every Friday. (If you're interested, make sure you don't procrastinate - the free books are only free for a short time.)

My parents had several books like this when I was in high school. I was riveted, and for a while couldn't get enough of reading about medical history. I toyed with the idea of becoming a microbiologist and took every biology class my high school would let me into (they didn't offer very many, unfortunately.)

It's because of that experience that I try to make sure I have plenty of interesting non-fiction on my shelves as well as the fiction that I love so much. I don't know what my kids might decide to page through and I want there to be books that stimulate their interests and imaginations in several different directions. Maybe I'll get lucky and one of them will become a Nobel Prize winner someday. I can imagine the speech: "I owe it all to my mother!

('Scuse me - I have to go laugh at myself now.)

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