May 2021


2015 in #Books: First up, “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography”

Pioneer GirlI read – a lot – but it occurred to me that I have no idea how many books I read in the course of a year. So I’m going to try and keep track of the books that I read in 2015. This omits, intentionally, magazines (The Economist, weekly), Internet stuff (too much to list), and work related reading (I cannot disclose what I read for work).

While I am easily able to talk about the first book I’m reading, I’m equally sure that many books that I read this year will be, to some extent, embarrassing.

C’est la vie.

The first is Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Pamela Smith Hill.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, for those of you unable to place her, is the author of the Little House books, which formed the basis of the “Little House on the Prairie” television series. The TV series is, for me, not of interest – rather my memories center on the books.

One of my clearest childhood memories is reading aloud “Little House in the Big Woods” to my mother – it was something she insisted upon – something to help me practice reading. (Maybe that’s something all parents should make their children do!)

The books made a big impression on me as a child and while growing up, my parents took me to Pepin, Wisconsin – home of Little House in the Big Woods — as well as Walnut Grove, Minnesota, and DeSmet, South Dakota – important locations in the Little House universe.

Last summer, just before the publication of Pioneer Girl was announced, I read Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life – the biography written by the editor of the autobiography.

To be honest, I started the autobiography last year – just before Christmas – and I haven’t finished it, despite the fact that it’s only 370ish pages long. Without a doubt, it is laborious work reading the autobiography – but not in a negative way. The raw text by Laura Ingalls Wilder is simple enough – rather it is the annotations that distract, enrich, and slow the reading process. Roughly speaking, for every page of autobiography, there are 1-2 pages of footnotes.

Pioneer Girl, Page 256.

Pioneer Girl: An Annotated Autobiography. I’m currently on page 256.

It’s been a few years since I’ve read the actual children’s books. Reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s autobiography will probably lead to me re-reading the Little House books in the relative near future.

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