Oberon's 2017 Thread - Part Four
This is a continuation of the topic Oberon's 2017 Thread - Part Three.
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Time for a winter thread. Soon enough I will be working on my 2018 thread but there is some catch up that needs to be done for 2017 first.
I am close to hitting the 100 book mark for 2017 and managed to complete all 12 books of the non-fiction challenge. My plan to complete Hamilton will have to carry over into 2018.
Time to start working on my 2017 year in review but I am keeping up my 2016 list until the calendar flips.
My top books for 2017 are (thus far):
1. Jungle of Stone by William Carlsen
2. The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane
3. On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder
4. We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
5. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Other strong contenders are The Lost City of the Monkey God, His Father's Son and Morris's trilogy about Teddy Roosevelt.
2016 Book Year in Review
My "to read" pile grew from 106 to 122. My unbroken streak of increasing the pile continues.
My top books for 2016 were:
1. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
2. A Labyrinth of Kingdoms by Steve Kemper
3. Our Kids by Robert Putnam
4. Red Notice by Bill Browder
5. The Unwinding by George Packer
6. The Marches by Rory Stewart
Books Read in 2017:
1. Baltimore, Volume 7: Empty Graves by Mike Mignola
2. Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling
3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
4. India: A Portrait by Patrick French (audiobook)
5. Lafayette and the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell (audiobook)
6. El Deafo by Cece Bell
7. White Mughals by William Dalrymple
8. Canoeing with the Cree by Eric Sevareid
9. Guerrillas by Brahm Revel
10. The Opium War by Julia Lovell
11. Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris (audiobook)
12. The Edge of the Empire by Bronwen Riley
13. Jack of Fables: The Big Book of War by Bill Willingham
14. Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman
15. Wolverine: Logan by Brian Vaughan
16. The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer (audiobook)
17. Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan (audiobook)
18. Rogue Heroes by Ben Macintyre
19. Night by Elie Wiesel
20. Jungle of Stone by William Carlsen
21. Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson
22. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
23. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (audiobook)
23. The History of the Medieval World by Susan Wise Bauer (audiobook)
24. The Oresteian Trilogy by Aeschylus
25. The Aleppo Codex by Matti Friedman (audiobook)
26. The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury
27. Death and the Maidens by Greg Rucka
28. The Unexpected by Various
29. Toil and Trouble by Scott Mairghread
30. The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson (audiobook)
31. Democracy by Alecos Papadatos
32. The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane (audiobook)
33. The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston
34. Travels with Herodotus by Ryszard Kupuscinski
35. The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner (audiobook)
36. We Stand on Guard by Brian Vaughan
37. The Adventures of Herge by Jose-Louis Bocquet
38. Battle Lines by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm
39. The Shaolin Cowboy by Geof Darrow
40. Abe Sapien: The Secret Fire by Mike Mignola
41. Abe Sapien: The Desolate Shore by Mike Mignola
42. B.P.R.D.: End of Days by Mike Mignola
43. Hellboy and B.P.R.D.: 1953 by Mike Mignola
44. Fairest: In All the Land by Bill Willingham
45. White Man's Game by Stephanie Hanes
46. Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris (audiobook)
47. How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman
48. Macbeth: A Play by William Shakespeare by Gareth Hinds
49. Snake Eyes: Agent of Cobra by Mike Costa
50. Sophocles, The Oedipus Rex Cycle by Sophocles
51. B.P.R.D.: Cometh the Hour by Mike Mignola
52. Waterloo by Bernard Cornwell (audiobook)
53. G.I. Joe: Operation Hiss by Brian Reed
54. The Vision: Little Better Than a Beast by Tom King
55. MWD: Hell is Coming Home by Brian Johnson
56. The Lovecraft Anthology: Volume II by H.P. Lovecraft
57. Abe Sapien: Lost Lives and Other Stories by Mike Mignola
58. Black Panther A Nation Under Our Feet, Book One by Ta-Nehisi Coates
59. Black Panther A Nation Under Our Feet, Book Two by Ta-Nehisi Coates
60. Sir Edward Grey Witchfinder: City of the Dead by Mike Mignola
61. The Third Horseman by William Rosen (audiobook)
62. The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg
63. Usagi Yojimbo 31: The Hell Screen by Stan Sakai
64. The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen
65. Locke & Key by Joe Hill
66. The Picture Story of the Minnesota Sioux Uprising by Jerry Fearing
67. Locke & Key, Vol. 2 by Joe Hill
68. The Royals, Masters of War by Rob Williams
69. The Sheriff of Babylon, Vol. 1 by Tom King
70. The Sheriff of Babylon, Vol. 2 by Tom King
71. Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book Three by Ta-Nehisi Coates
72. Monstress, Vol. 2 by Marjorie Liu
73. Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger
74. Pacific by Simon Winchester (audiobook)
75. Theatre of the World of the Frances Yates
76. His Father's Son by Tim Brady
77. March, Book 1 by John Lewis
78. March, Book 2 by John Lewis
79. March, Book 3 by John Lewis
80. Economix by Michael Goodwin
81. Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson (audiobook)
82. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (audiobook)
83. Rise of the Black Flame by Mike Mignola
84. Joe Golem and the Rat Catcher by Mike Mignola
85. Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard (audiobook)
86. Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
87. City of Secrets by Stewart O'Nan
88. My Bondage, My Freedom by Frederick Douglass
89. Shinto Shrines by Joseph Cali
90. Atlantic by Simon Winchester (audiobook)
91. Medea by Euripedes
92. We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
93. On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder (audiobook)
94. The Loyal Son by Daniel Epstein
95. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris (audiobook)
96. The Remedy by Thomas Goetz
97. Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms by Gerard Russell (audiobook)
98. The Great Archaeologists by Brian Fagan
99. The Black Earth by Timothy Snyder (audiobook)
100. Hamilton by Ron Chernow
101. Spain: A History by Raymond Carr
The Great Archaeologists by Brian Fagan
A Christmas present from last year, this book consists of short biographical sketches of archaeologists with the primary focus being their contributions to the field of archaeology. One of the things that struck me while reading this book was how recent archaeology is as a discipline.
The book serves as an overview of the major archaeological discoveries in addition to being a biography. The book was nicely illustrated with photos of the archaeologists and some of their finds and dig sites.
As much as I personally enjoyed the book, I am not sure that the general reader would enjoy the book nearly as much.
Reading the book prompted me to go digging in my fossil collection (paleontology and archaeology being somewhat intermingled in this house). Family lore holds that these three fragments were given to my grandfather by one of the Leakey's when he visited Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania (then Tanganyika).
There is no documentation that I am aware of but the dates match for my grandparents being in Tanzania. Plus, all three fragments clearly show some form of identifying marks on each piece as if they came from some form of professional dig. Anyway, interesting if nothing else.
Great topper Erik. And love the walrus.
Definitely a few bullets noted from your reading this year. I have Ta-Nehisisi Coates’s The Beautiful Struggle and We were Eight Years in Power in the pile, I’ve already read Between the World and me, I also have the archaeologists books in my tbr mountain.
Love the Leakey story. How wonderful. Any photos of your grandparents there at the time?
Brr to your topper. I'm just not ready to face the reality of snow in the forecast. Again, Brr.
I think your office art walrus is adorable. Is it carved from Obsidian? Onyx? Marble?
Great reading year! I'm impressed! Family, high level career, it hasn't stopped you from finding the time to read. I hang my head in shame. :0(
Cool and pics.
Happy new one, Erik! I love the dancing walrus - he has a lot of character.
>7 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks Caroline. I am sure there are some photos from Olduvai Gorge - probably with mom. I know she visited the Leakey's with them when they were stationed in Arusha.
>8 Carmenere: Yeah I wasn't very ready for it either Lynda. Monday we had temperatures in the 50's and a stormfront came through bringing freezing rain and then snow. As for the walrus, I think he is soapstone. That is the traditional stone for carving for the Inuit and I believe it can come in black.
>9 FAMeulstee: & >10 katiekrug: Thanks Anita and Katie! I have another figure by the same artist that I will post below.
>11 PaulCranswick:, >12 jnwelch:, >13 drneutron: Thank you gentlemen. Always nice to have you drop by the thread even when I can get so neglectful in showing up on other threads.
>14 Crazymamie: Thanks Mamie. I have had a think for Inuit art for years and have had my eye out for a dancing walrus. I love the imagery.
Since the walrus is such a hit I thought I would share his partner in the office. This is a dancing musk ox (though to me he looks like he is praying to the heavens). He is by the same artist, Pits Qimirpik. I have a few more traditional Inuit pieces at home that were passed down from my paternal grandmother but they are more static . I like the dancing animal motif much more. Supposedly they are tied to traditional Inuit beliefs about people being reborn as animals after death. However, it is only more modern Inuit carvers who have taken to depicting the dancing arctic animals. Now I just need a polar bear to round out the collection.
Hi Erik! Happy final thread of 2017. Your artwork is stunning. I prefer the walrus a tad over the mush ox, but they are both wonderful. And the fossils are dry cool.
I am currently trying to whittle down my book suggestions for my RL bookclub meeting tomorrow night. I only want to bring 4-5 ideas and I have about 15 I think this group might like. Time to be merciless!!
Enjoy the snow. It is December, after all. : )
Update: Real life plus some minor medical mishaps have set me back on updating the thread. I have had a long running cold (since Thanksgiving) that morphed into a sinus infection. I finally gave up and went in and got antibiotics on Saturday and can report that I am improved but by no means recovered.
To add to the fun, oldest child has been suffering from some ankle problems of late. We took her in to be checked and got a slightly surprising diagnosis. Apparently she was born with an extra bone in her ankle. Apparently somewhere between 5 and 10% of the population has the same thing and it is generally not an issue. However, lots of running and trauma to the area can cause inflammation and pain. As a pretty hard core athlete she has plenty of aggravation to the bone. Long story short, the orthopedic people put her in a boot for a month shutting down both soccer and nordic skiing. Pretty tough to stomach for a girl who largely defines herself as an athlete. We will be watching her indoor soccer team's championship game on Saturday from the bleachers.
We took a family outing to one of the sites owned by the Minnesota Historical Society - the James J. Hill House, a gilded age mansion in St. Paul.
One of the more impressive rooms. It was a private art gallery complete with skylight and pipe organ.
The details on the wood work, the fireplaces, ceilings and stain glass windows were very impressive.
The study adjacent to the library/family room.
So I still haven't gotten around to creating a review of On Tyranny that I am satisfied with but I bought 5 copies last night to distribute to friends.
>26 Caroline_McElwee: Aggh! Book bullets! This is always the time of the year that my plans for lowering the number of unread books in my collection falls apart.
The Black Earth by Timothy Snyder
Not much of a holiday book but excellent anyway. I read this after reading Snyder's On Tyranny. It is a history of the Holocaust. As someone who considers himself well read in the subject of WWII it was a surprising book to me.
Snyder's main point is to make clear that the conception of the Holocaust as an image of an impersonal death machine symbolized by Auschwitz is wrong. He further argues that such a conception dehumanizes and thus shields the perpetrators of the crime giving lie to the defense of "just following orders" and establishing that the claim that the ordinary German knew nothing about the Holocaust is false. Snyder lays out, in meticulous and terrifying detail, the specifics of the Holocaust and makes it abundantly clear that the majority of the Jews murdered were not gassed in death camps. Rather, the overwhelming majority were rounded up and shot at close quarters. A very personal and direct killing. Another significant percentage were killed by exhaust fumes in special trucks retrofitted for the purpose. Further, while the Nazi regime employed specialized killing squads, much of the killing was done by German regular army soldiers and police. (Shockingly, many of the soldiers wrote home to tell their families what they were up to). Others were significantly helped by members of the locals of the invaded nations. Much of the killing in the Baltic republics was carried out by the residents. People knew the Jews as human beings and yet murdered them in very visceral ways.
Snyder further makes the point that the Holocaust was largely possible only in those places where state authority had been destroyed. Surprisingly (at least to me) Jews in Germany and under direct Nazi control were often less likely to be killed than those in Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. In those places (unlike say the Netherlands) the Nazis destroyed the state (as opposed to occupy the state) thereby eliminating the governing structure and abrogating local laws. In those places, Jews became stateless and were virtually wiped out. Places that were occupied but retained local laws and passports had dramatically different outcomes (75% of Dutch Jews survived versus under 5% of Polish Jews).
The ultimate takeaway, that is very relevant for today, is that the Holocaust was a product of people and can not be simply blamed on a system. The Holocaust can not be viewed as an aberration because it could happen again and it will require public and private vigilance to ensure that humanity never retreads this path.
Definitely "not much of a holiday book" but sounds fascinating and very important.
>28 Oberon: this is at the top of the tbr Mountain Erik, for early next year, I looked at it this morning in fact, and acquired it after reading On Tyranny.
So far the best books I’ve read on the Holocaust are those by Primo Levy, Eli Wiesel’s ‘Night’, Gita Sereney’s Into the Darkness and Martin Gilbert’s memoir of taking a group of Students across Europe to find what was left (if anything) of all the Jewish communities, Holocaust Journey. I’ve yet to read his history of the Holocaust.
Erik--Hope you are feeling better soon and that the foot respite helps your daughter recover.
Awesome review of a very interesting book on the Halocaust. Not a book I want to read during the holidays, but maybe later...
MERRY CHRISTMAS and may 2018 be a good vintage for you and the family, Erik.
It is that time of year again, between Solstice and Christmas, just after Hanukkah, when our thoughts turn to wishing each other well in whatever language or image is meaningful to the recipient. So, whether I wish you Happy Solstice or Merry Christmas, know that what I really wish you, and for you, is this:
Hi Erik, stopping by to wish you and your loved ones peace, joy and happiness this holiday season and for 2018!
Happy holidays! I am thankful this holiday season for all the good friends I have made in this group. You are all so supportive. I don't know what I'd do without you!
Merry Christmas to you and your family, Erik! I hope that we can meet at an Atlanta United vs Minnesota United match in either of our respective cities this coming season.
Thank you for all of the Christmas wishes! As hoped, a decent chunk of my Christmas presents were books so I will be updating that. Plus, I got Amazon money to spend which means at least one further book. Plus a friend gifted me to David Mitchell books so the TBR stack is growing. Three family Christmas celebrations in the last 24 hours has made work seem like a respite. The only negative is that Minnesota has dropped into a deep freeze with our high temperatures at about zero. Very, very cold out there.
Final note - I am into the epilogue on Hamilton which means that I might actually complete both Hamilton and War and Peace in the same year.
>42 Oberon: I look forward to seeing your book haul, Erik. I'm also interested in your thoughts about Hamilton, which is high on my wish list (although I forgot to post it in my actual Amazon wish list).
It's not as cold here in Philadelphia, but later this afternoon it will drop below freezing, and not rise above 32 F until sometime next week. Fortunately there isn't much snow in the forecast...yet.
>28 Oberon: Erik, I read Black Earth last year, I think, and my reaction was exactly the same as yours - despite everything out there about WWII, it was a surprising read because of all the new information in it. The media and writers tend to focus on the concentration camps as representing the worst of it, but there was so much equally awful stuff happening elsewhere that it was staggering to read. I agree that it's very important book.
Sorry to hear that your office has become a place of respite - I'm going in tomorrow but as I'm officially on holiday I might make it a short day with lunch out in the middle of it.
>43 kidzdoc: We should get snow on Thursday. Can't say I am looking forward to that. I am still up for an Atlanta United/Loons game. Must say, I am admiring your offseason with envy. Loons seem to be doing a lot of nothing.
>44 susanj67: I actually don't mind the office today. The schedule is light, only a few things that should get done and I can indulge in LT and my art collection. Spending time with the kids is great but they are not thoroughly overloaded with presents. My conception of a relaxing holiday doing a puzzle by the fire just isn't realistic right now.
>45 Berly: Thanks Kim!
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
I set out to read Alexander Hamilton prior to seeing the musical in Chicago in May. I failed miserably at the goal but I did finish the book in 2017 and it counts as my 100th book! In full disclosure, I read/listened to the book in sections. I listened to a lot of the middle section of the book during our long road trip to Yellowstone this summer and finished the final quarter over the last few weeks when it became available again as an audiobook. I will say that it was far more digestible as an audiobook than in standard form.
For the book, it is as thorough a review of the extraordinary life and career of Alexander Hamilton. Born illegitimate on the island of Nevis, he was identified as a talented student and was sent to New York for his education. The Revolutionary War propelled Hamilton to greatness as he landed a position on George Washington's staff. Hamilton succeeded as Washington's aide-de-camp and personally led troops in battle at the Battle of Yorktown.
Following the war, Hamilton attended the Constitutional Convention. Hamilton played a major role in the debate over ratification of the Constitution as he organized and wrote most of The Federalist Papers that remain some of the best writings about the Constitution.
When Washington became the first President, he asked Hamilton to serve as the first Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton laid the ground work for much of the early republic while acting as Treasury Secretary. He succeeded in stabilizing the bankrupt country's finances, created a national bank and largely established the major American financial institutions among a number of other accomplishments.
Following Washington's retirement, Hamilton remained involved in politics but at a distance. He served as head of the Federalist party following the Adams administration but as a party, the Federalists were in an irreversible decline as a major party. Hamilton was killed in a dual by Aaron Burr in 1804.
There is obviously a great deal more detail available in Alexander Hamilton and it is well worth the read. It is, however, comprehensive and I suspect there are many who will have picked up the book because of the musical and will never finish the book.
A couple thoughts on the musical vis-à-vis the book: Lin Manual-Miranda took some liberties with the actual history. That said, Miranda's version made the right sort of edits. Hamilton's career following the end of Washington's administration was simply not as compelling as the earlier parts of his story and his death at the hands of Burr makes for a dramatic/tragic end to the story. Second, reading the book has only reaffirmed my belief that Miranda is a singular genius. The idea of adapting any story of the Revolutionary War to a musical seems far fetched but this book especially so. Simply winnowing down Hamilton's life and accomplishments to an understandable narrative would be hard enough - converting it to music is astonishing.
Nice review of Alexander Hamilton, Erik, and congratulations on reading 100 books this year. I hope to rejoin the Century Club in 2018 after falling short the past two years.
Congratulations on reaching the 100 Erik. I suspect I’ll be a few short this year, but there is still 3 and a bit days to go, and several books with bookmarks half through.
>48 Berly: Thanks Kim. I would be a bit more proud of the accomplishment if I hadn't binged so heavily on graphic novels over the summer. Padded my stats a bit.
>49 Ameise1: Thank you Barbara but as I noted above it is a bit misleading.
>50 kidzdoc: Thanks Darryl. I did so a bit accidentally this year but I was pleased none the less.
>51 Caroline_McElwee: There is still time Caroline! I am hoping to add at least one more to the completed pile before the year runs out. I, like you, have several with bookmarks that could be brought across the finish line with a bit of attention.
>47 Oberon: Wow! Milestone achieved on more than one level. Congratulations, Erik.
Cheers on reaching 100 this year. I've made it only once; be a half-dozen books shy this year.
Cheers too on topping Mount Hamilton. I found that a difficult trek/slog when I read it several years ago, and I was supremely happy to have completed it.
Thanks for the good report on Black Earth, Erik. I am now interested in two Snyder books. Interesting that Snyder's exposure of the cruelty of ordinary folks in Nazi Germany should be a surprise. History is rife with seemingly benign people doing extraordinarily bestial things. I want to read all about it.
>53 richardderus: Thank you Richard.
>54 weird_O: Hi Bill. I definitely would commend Snyder's work to everyone. On Tyranny is brilliant. I have heard good things about Bloodlands and will likely read that in the new year.
>55 jnwelch: Thank you Joe. Best wishes to you and your family in the new year.
Horrendously cold here. I have started thinking about my 2018 thread and will try to do some construction on it tonight.
Happy New Year, Erik.
I'll being trying anew in 2018. Reading, of course, and endeavoring to be little more social.
>57 Oberon: A good friend of mine recently took a position at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. He is from New Orleans and today on Facebook he posted the temperature at MSP when he left town this morning (-14 F) and at MSY when he arrived home this afternoon (61 F).
I finished Spain: A History by Raymond Carr. We have New Years plans with neighbors in a few hours so that probably is my last book for the year and my total reaches 101.
I am putting the link to my 2018 thread at the bottom for anyone who missed me there. Thanks to all my visitors!
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