Book Corner 2020.9

Vacation means books.  (And being at home means books too, but vacation means backlogs of book reviews.)

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If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home By Now by Christopher Ingraham

Ingraham manages to write “how we traded the DC suburbs for a remote county in Minnesota” without a) making me hate him or any member of his family, b) talking down to, or dismissively around, any Minnesotan, or c) treating it all like some kind of miracle. That’s an achievement!

I’ll recap the plot here, because it is such a great story: Ingraham crunches data and writes gee-whiz pieces for WaPo. He finds some data about the most pleasant counties to live in across the US, in terms of geographic features, weather, and things like that. Since every county in the country is ranked, not only are some places best, but some are inevitably the “worst” places to live – where were those places? Well, bottom of the list turned out to be Red Lake County, Minnesota. After Ingraham points this out in his article, he gets some hate mail – Minnesota style, which means understated and not very vitriolic – and invitations to come out and see their “ugly” county for himself. Which he does. And he likes it.

And he moves there!

Very interesting to me on a personal level is that Ingraham contrasts Red Lake County not just with the Baltimore/DC area, but with other places he and his wife have lived as well – including my county in Vermont. And Vermont doesn’t come off very well. Vermonters aren’t as welcoming as the Minnesotans; the Ingrahams made some friends, but never felt part of a community like they do in Red Lake County. I believe it. We’re pretty standoffish round these parts.

“If there is one thing – one sole, solitary piece of information – that I can convey to you about rural America it’s this: rural America is not a nation apart. The people here are just as complex and fallible as people anywhere else. They consume the same media, cheer for the same sports teams, fight over the same political issues, and have the same dreams for their kids.” I like that. ( )

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