Friday, January 21, 2011

Reading Diaries

In my attempts to ever broaden my horizons I’ve taken to reading a different genre of writing, namely diaries and journals. I’m talking about published diaries of course, not what your sibling keeps under their bed at night. I admit that I had low expectations at first, but have since been pleasantly surprised.

I just read Mary Chesnut’s diary written during the American Civil War. It reads like a novel and is both a historical treasure as well as a great work of art. Her insights into day-to-day life as well as the sweeping events around her make for a truly great story.

It’s given me a new respect for people who write diaries, and also given me a new way to think about them. Not merely a laundry list of daily activities, they provide a time-capsule of sorts into an individual’s life at a set period in time. So, to all you diarists and journal-keepers out there, who knows, you might just be creating something for the ages.