Hot, dry summer days, the smell of roasting peanuts, carnival barkers on the midway, Ferris wheels and games…all of these evoke childhood memories of traveling carnivals and circuses for many of us. Three notable books about circuses and oddities are out this summer and are recommended summer nonfiction reads, particularly if you are craving an entertaining true account of what life might have been like if you ever DID run away and join the circus.
Queen of the Air: A True Story of Love and Tragedy at the Circus, by Dean Jensen, traces the story of world-famous trapeze artist Leitzel and her star-crossed love affair with Alfredo Codona of the famous Flying Codona Brothers, chronicling her disadvantaged youth, three marriages, and achievements with the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Topsy: The Startling Story of the Crooked Tailed Elephant, P.T. Barnum and…Thomas Edison, by Michael Daly, describes how P.T. Barnum’s Topsy the elephant was electrocuted in Coney Island with 6600 volts of alternating current as proof that it was much more dangerous than direct current in an ongoing dispute between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse.
A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It Or Not” Ripley, by Neal Thompson, recounts the life of the enigmatic cartoonist-turned-eccentric-millionaire whose wealth and fame were built from his extensive collection of exotic curiosities and offers insight into his final years spent on a private island.
All images and blurbs from EBSCO Novelist