When TLC book tours mentioned that they would be sending Maira Kalman’s And The Pursuit of Happiness, it was a rare case of knowing that I would adore the book. I followed Ms. Kalman’s blog at The New York Times regularly last year and every post of her quirky drawings and text taught me something new about American history and left me with a warm, fuzzy, patriotic love for our sweet, imperfect country.
Those blog columns have become a book, and what a lovely book it is- page by page, flipping through a year of her sketches from historic sites (Jefferson’s home) and less historic ones (the Lincoln Diner). It’s a touching, inspiring coffee table book that you could gladly devour in one sitting and then pick back up just to look at the pictures again.
With the holidays coming up, I know my mother, the U.S. history teacher, would love this book. Though we complained as children, she dragged my sisters and I through museums, through DC and the monuments, and taught us against our wills while she gleamed at any even remotely historical possibility along the way. I thought about giving her my copy, but the thing is, I love it too much. I want to pick it up again and again, when political debates make me question where our country is headed and remember that those debates are part of what makes this country great.
Ms. Kalman has managed, without being overly cutesy, to capture the charm of America in its many faults, and the quirky people who founded this country and formed it along the way. Even I, a hardened snarker from way back, got a little misty over some of the tiny glories she discovers in the everyday. If you or someone you know loves American history, this would make a great gift this holiday season. Only you can’t have mine. I’m keeping it.
If you’re interested in seeing what the other reviewers on the tour had to say, you can find links to all of the reviews here. Thanks as always to TLC for the free review copy.