Roughing It by Mark Twain

Our family took a quick two-day trip to Western New York this week. We have extended family near Buffalo and stayed overnight with them so we could spend the day at the Strong Museum of Play on Thursday. I’ll have a review of the museum as soon as I can get the pictures off the camera and be home for a day – no promises as to how long that will take! Anyways, on to the promised book review:

roughing itPublished: 1872

Genre: nonfiction, travel

Length: 607 pages

Setting: heading West, 1861-1867

Interest: None of my requested library books had come in, so I was searching my Kindle for something other than science fiction or fantasy to read. I remembered how much I had enjoyed listening to Huckleberry Finn, so Roughing It stood out as something different that should be good.

I had originally put the book on my Kindle after reading a Simple Dollar post on 28 Great Books You Can Read for Free (I picked up a couple other classics from that list as well). You can find it at Amazon or the Gutenberg Project. I read the Kindle version from Amazon, and the only disappointment was the lack of images.

Summary: The book is Mark Twain’s remembrance of his seven-year trip out West. His brother had been appointed secretary of the Nevada Territory, so Mark Twain follows along for the adventure. He recounts his experiences along the way riding in a stage-coach and stopping briefly in Salt Lake City to see the Mormons. Once in Nevada, Twain succumbs to silver fever and tries his hand at mining, although he isn’t a big fan of doing any actual work. When all aspects of silver mining had been tried and discarded, Twain heads to California to try a little gold mining. Finally, he heads off to the Sandwich Islands (otherwise known as Hawaii) for a little sightseeing.

Final thoughts: This book was surprisingly engrossing. I had just planned to read until one of my library books came in, but I couldn’t convince myself to stop and read something else. I found his accounts of the people and places he experienced utterly fascinating. He drew me right into the culture of the time, which wasn’t your typical pioneering family or cowboy. Even when he was just talking about how the mining was done, I just wanted to learn more. There were even a couple of spots I laughed out loud at and had to read to whoever was nearby. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

Title comes from: Twain was out in rough frontier or mining country during the time he wrote about.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 20/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge, and 5/14 in the Nerdy Nonfiction Challenge for travel (fourth category).


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