winding down or summing up?
Monday, December 31, 2007 11:11:02 PM
thoughts on a year's worth of reading...
well, not many thoughts yet -- more of a partial list of the latest titles i've read... i'm still collecting titles from my list and checking accessible format data, but i thought i'd put up the contents of one of the lists of books i've been reading, compiled from what i periodically entered into the "Last Book Read" field of my "About" page.
- The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd [RFBD DT-GR094]
- if Captain Kidd was a pirate, he may have been the most inept (and undoubtedly the unluckiest) pirate to ever ply the seas...
- Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different, by the currently reigning "dean" of american revolutionary studies, Gordon S. Wood...
- [with footnotes, etc.: RFBD DT-HS765]
- [without footnotes, etc.: NLS RC 62558]
- ISBN: 1594200939
- a commercial, unabridged, recording of The Body Artist, by Don Delillo, read by Laurie Anderson, who also provided the incidental music...
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami
The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, The First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805, by Richard Zacks [RFBD DT-HP609]
- Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws' Bloody Reign, by Stephan Talty (unabridged)
- outside of academic works, this history of the establishment of a permanant british presence in the caribbean (the conquest and retention of jamaica being the key to britain's future caribbean prosperity, has perhaps the longest sub-title of any book i've read... i am aware that books have been suffering from "title bloat" for quite some time now -- at least the past 15 years here in the states, but titles today are reaching the point where they will have to be continued on the back cover... ultimately, however, it left me hungry for a copy of Buccaneers of North America, originally published in dutch as De Americaensche Zee-Roovers by alexandre exquemelin, who accompanied morgan on most of his piratical raids, and whom morgan sued for libel after morgan had been knighted by charles II, and appointed lieutenant governor of jamaica... along with Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates and Daniel Defoe's True History of Pyrates, the Buccaneers of North America formed the basis for my mental conception of all things piratical in the western hemisphere...
I Am America (And So Can You!): The Audio Book, by Stephen Colbert (read by SC with guests)
- In the Name of the Father: Washington's Legacy, Slavery, and the Making of a Nation, François Furstenberg RFBD DT-HT474]
- one of the best works of american exegesis which i have read in the past decade, a slyly wry account of how Washington became, through the civic texts of high and low culture, to be revered as the father of his nation (and, later, spiritual father of the Confederacy), and most praised for actions he never took and sentiments he never expressed... a strong candidate for the best work regardless-of-subject-matter-or-style which i've read this year
Demon of the Waters: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Whaleship Globe, by Gregory Gibson.
- Jefferson's Demons: Portrait of a Restless Mind, by Michael Knox Beran
- a poetic portrait of Jefferson, as poet-philosopher;
- The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey, by Candice Millard
Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America, by Eric Jay Dolin (a VERY disappointing read)
- Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in Americ, by Elliot Jaspin
- after the quake, by Haruki Murakami
- six short stories, all of which are either indirectly or tangentally related to the 1995 Kobe earthquake... oh, and a side note: since i tend not to capitalize that which is traditionally capitalized, a product of using a braille keyboard to input grade 2 braille, where capitalization (and especially the "all caps" sign, which wastes 2 cells and 4 unnecessary keystrokes) was quickly discarded and a habit that still helps me type faster than i would otherwise, Jay Rubin, the translator of after the quake noted that murakami had insisted that the title of the work be printed in all lower case...
- The Chronicles of Clovis, by Saki (H.H. Munro) [synthesized speech from plain text]
- i don't know if this actually counts towards my total, as this is one of the works i periodically re-read; it can be enjoyed as a meal, or doled out sparingly, like the last of the hallowe'en candy...
- Ten Days in a Madhouse, by Nellie Bly
- the once scandalous is now ridiculous -- or was it ever thus? a good, quick read, courtesy of the enthusiastic narrator, named Alice
- Charlemagne: From the Hammer to the Cross, by Richard Winston (RFB&D book number: TK0856)
- although merovingian and carolingian history has always exerted a fascination upon me, starting with my first reading of Einhard's Life of Charlamagne (which i would, eventually, while at university read in the original latin Einhardi Vita Karoli Magni), and was also fortunate enough to have had an early pre-teen encounter with The Life of Charlemagne, penned ca. 883/884 for Charles the Fat by the "The Monk of Saint Gall", both of which i found in an ancient hardcover omnibus edition in a pile of discarded books on a pre-teen bicycle ride, and although i later encountered Heinrich Fichtenau's classic (and if you study in the united states, mandatory) Das karolingische Imperium, or The Carolingian Empire (NLS TC0095), also translated as Life in the Age of Charlemagne, but i had never read a general popular biography of Charlamagne, and so i asked a few academics i know who aren't medievalistss, but who do have to teach surveys of "Post-Roman Europe: Decay and Developments" and the like, and was pointed in the direction of what critics still consider the best non-academic biography of Charlamagne in english, Richard Winston's Charlemagne: From the Hammer to the Cross, first published in 1954... it is an admirable read, painting a very nuanced portrait of the man and his age, based as much on archival source material as on secondary material, a rarity in the realm of popular biography (especially that of the decade that followed WWII ...