Non-fiction reading for August 2010
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I am currently reading Men of Salt: Crossing the Sahara on the Caravan of White Gold by Michael Benanav.
Michael is an American who joins a caravan headed to the salt mines of Taoudenni in Mali. It is fascinating book full of insights into the hard life of the desert people. There are many amusing moments including one in which Michael tries to explain who Superman is.
I've started The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin - not as dry as I'd feared once Toobin began profiling the Justices, in order of arrival on the court, along with the major cases.
At Home: A History of Private Life by Bill Bryson. I'm a little short on time and the book is due back in 10 days so I hope to track it down on audio later...
I'm reading Cosmos by Carl Sagan. It's pretty old, and that's never good in science, but Sagan was a wonderful writer, and space is cool, and the pictures are gorgeous.
Fly fishing the 41st by James Prosek. I love his art and his subject matter, but he doesn't communicate his stated passion for fly fishing very well. I'm finding his writing style a little flat.
I read Prosek's book as travel lit, and enjoyed it, esp the idea of his having to speak Spanish with his Austrian friends as he doesn't speak German, and their English is worse than their Spanish.
I loved Family Britain, too. I can't wait till the next one in the series. Hurry up, Kynaston!
I've finally finished Patience and Fortitude, one that a read a few pages at a time for months in between other books. So well and exhaustively researched.
I'm gettting stuck into Farthest North- nearly finished and it is very exciting despite the constant references to longitude latitude and temperature! And have started Smile or Die aka Bright-Sided. I am a functional pessimist (love that phrase) so this book appealed to me- it is actually a good-ish quick read.
I am about half way through with Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern and I am also reading Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? by Michael Shermer. Very interesting read.
I finished U.S. Presidents Factbook by Elizabeth Jewell, a very nice resource featuring short biographies of each president through George W. Bush, and Voices of the Valley, Volume IV, the fourth of the 5-part series of oral histories done as a school project by junior high school students in Anderson Valley, a relatively remote rural area in Mendocino County, California, where my wife and I have lived for almost 2 years.
Last night I started Diz: The Story of Dizzy Dean and Baseball During the Great Depression by Robert Gregory. The first two chapters are very promising.
I'm still listening to The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin on audio, but have started Polite Lies by Kyoko Mori, essays by subject on her experiences both as a Japanese and an American (she left Japan at age 20).
About a 100 pages into The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature. Ridley is an exceptional science writer. I also really enjoyed his book Genome.
Yeah, I just read Genome last month, it was so great, ten years since publication and I was just wishing for an update the whole time though. I'll have to look into The Red Queen.
Reading Caesar Life of a Colossus myself right now. Very good, Goldsworthy keeps your respect by consistantly explaining the historiagraphy as he moves along, both where he consents and differs from the main.
I am currently reading The Sisters Who Would Be Queen:Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey; A Tudor Tragedy by Leanda De Lisle. I am reading it because though I knew a little about Lady Jane Grey I knew next to nothing about her sisters.
- Camping and Tramping with Roosevelt by John Burroughs
- The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley
- The Highway War: A Marine Company Commander in Iraq by Maj. Seth WB Folsom USMC
- City of Dust: Illness, Arrogance, and 9/11 by Anthony DePalma
- What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe
I have just started reading The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris
This is the best thread in which to goose-up the old TBR pile!
I am definitely going to be on the lookout for At Home, among several others mentioned here.
I recently finished The Hidden Forest, and outstanding layman's primer on many ecological topics: timber economics, the Spotted Owl and Salmon political controversies, nitrogen fixation, academia, forest fragmentation, et multi al. Highly recommended.
I'm currently reading Crazy Busy which is a pop psychology/business book. It's not the greatest NF I've read, but I think I will finish it.
I'm currently reading The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home by George Howe Colt, Anne Fadiman's husband.
Delving into Alex Beam's fascinating history of McLean Psychiatric Hospital in Massachusetts (founded in 1811) in Gracefully Insane: Life And Death Inside America's Premier Mental Hospital.
I finished Diz: The Story of Dizzy Dean and Baseball During the Great Depression last night. It is a good but not great baseball biography.
Just The Translator:A Tribesman's Memory of Darfur by Daoud Hari. Very good book. What book is next I haven't figured out.
Though I've never read Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorocycle Maintenance", I'm enjoying its recent "sequel" by Mark Richardson: "Zen And Now: On The Trail Of Robert Pirsig And Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance".
20 Aug: Finished it last night - highly recommended!
Just starting American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America by Chris Hedges and The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails by John Loftus.
I finished Mood Matters.The book presents a series of observations correlating social mood, optimism or pessimism about the future, with fads, politics, and world events. It's major thesis is that these moods originate in group psychology, the interactions of people, and not in response events. The mood implies a likelihood for particular events. The author admits clearly that this is science in its early stages of development and does not suggest that even an underlying theory is yet evident. I think the author presents enough evidence of the correlation to warrant further research. Since most indicators of present mood are negative on both a short and long term scale, the book is rather depressing.
Finished Volume 1 of Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I will be reading the other volumes, but with a break between them.
Also finished Mansions of Philosophy by Will Durant (touchstone not working correctly). I absolutely loved that book!
Just started The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams, was recommended by Durant at the end of his book.
I read Furtherest North, and found it a wonderful read. Arctic and Antarctic exploration are a passion of mine. I would to love to talk more about those subjects if your interested.
I just finished Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years It was very objective history and well written.
#37 - I'm just one chapter into MacCulloch's Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, and while he describes himself as "a candid friend of Christianity," I agree that he maintains his objectivity, while infusing humour and authority into the narrative. In fact, I just picked up the 6-part TV documentary series, A History of Christianity, presented by MacCulloch, which was released in November 2009 following the publication of the book, and released to DVD in February, 2010. According to an interview with MacCulloch, "it took 18 months to write the book and the last six months of that were while we were on location" filming the series.
I'm starting a new and fascinating book called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
I have started reading The Strange Case of Hellish Nell: The Story of Helen Duncan and the Witch Trial of World War II by Nina Shandler.
It has been interesting so far.
Okay, okay ... based upon the discussion here, I sprung for an Audible credit and have begun listening to Christianity: the first three thousand years. Not bad, although the narrator speaks a bit fast.
Just finished Eaarth by Bill McKibben. Just started The Alchemy of Air by Thomas Hager. The former is a short recap of where we are in regards to global warming; the latter is a fascinating history of the Haber-Bosch process, or how we pull nitrogen from the atmosphere for making fertilizer and gunpowder.
I have read "Zen" and I loved it, but it needs re-reading. I'm going to check out "Zen and Now".
I've had to temporarily put aside To Tell the Truth Freely at about the half way point. While the story is very interesting, the writing is dry.
Currently reading and enjoying The Honeycomb. The author takes for granted some knowledge of the reader, which, unfortunately for me, isn't always there. Perhaps if I had read the book in '67 I would be more clear on some of the situations she mentions but doesn't explain. Of course, I was only 5 then, so maybe not. On the other hand, her writing is very lively and the story is certainly compelling.
I finished The Bad Beekeepers Club which was amusing and taught me a lot about the hobby one of my best friends has taken up.
Reading Greene On Capri: A Memoir by Shirley Hazzard in which the author reminisces about her friendship with Graham Greene during the years when they both maintained vacation homes on Capri.
Ireadthereforeiam, I can recommend rereading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and it might be good to read Zen and Now first. On your rereading, although the book is very much about the characters involved, you might also take Pirsig at his word, namely that the book is about 'quality.' I have more respect and less oh-wow-the-colors for the book now that I've done those things.
I have just started reading Tell Them We Are Going Home by John H Monnett. It is about the 1500 mile journey the Northern Cheyenne made to try and reach their homelands In Montana after escaping from Darlington Agency (Oklahoma) . I read a couple of books about the Southern Cheyenne last year.
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