Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This Week at the Library (28 October - 3 November)

This past week has been quiet, as far as books go. I read an older, but never-finished Deep Space Nine relaunch novel (Warpath, David Mack) which was well done but continues in story arcs I don't particularly like. I finally got around to reading Greg Iles' The Devil's Punchbowl, which is more graphic than Iles' usual work but as usual, a riveting thriller. I also read a short collection of tales of early American history, which was enjoyable enough. I also made progress in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and am finding it enjoyable for entirely different reasons this time reading as an adult than I did while reading it in childhood.

Potentials for next week:

  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
  • A History of Britain, Simon Schama
  • The Mother Tongue: English & How it Got That Way, Bill Bryson
  • Heretic, Bernard Cornwell. The story of an archer during the Hundred Years' War with some religious fun thrown in.
  • What Went Wrong? Western Impact and  Middle Eastern Response, Bernard Lewis.  I'm interested in the idea that Islamic fundamentalism is in part stemmed from the same sources that gave birth to populism, labor activism, industrial regulation, and socialism in Europe and the United States. (Regulation and socialism to a much lesser extent in the United States, as voters prefer corporate tyranny to humanistic democracy.)
  • I have a few other books from last week I've not finished,  because they haven't hooked me yet.


Earlier this year I thought it would be interesting to do reading around a specific culture during the week of its national holiday -- reading from its history, its literature, and so on. I had three countries in mind for this: France, England, and Germany. So far it hasn't gone as planned: I couldn't read a lot of French-related stuff around Bastille day because of the size of Citizens, and I forgot Germany entirely. I thought Reunification Day occurred in mid-October, but it doesn't. (The actual date is 3 October.) I could read from German history this week, given that 9 November is somewhat important in German history (Revolution of 1848, formation of Weimar Republic in 1918, fall of the wall in 1989), but the date also stinks of Hitler, given that he used it for his first failed attempt to seize power and also set his SA thugs on Jewish synagogues and stores during the 'Night of Broken Glass'.

Well, to England -- I read a layman's introduction to British history a few years back in which Sean Lang wrote that 5 November is the closest thing England has to a national holiday, it being the anniversary of Guy Fawkes' failed attempt to blow up Parliament and restore the One True Religion. So, this week was to be England's week. I had planned to read more by Alison Weir, some Dickens, and a guide to the world of Shakespeare, but...well, I've got too much to read already!

3 comments:

  1. SC said: Sean Lang wrote that 5 November is the closest thing England has to a national holiday, it being the anniversary of Guy Fawkes' failed attempt to blow up Parliament and restore the One True Religion.

    Well... I wouldn't call it a national 'holiday'... a national *event* maybe..... which we largely celebrate by blowing up and burning down parts of our own country....

    I can recommend 'The Gunpowder Plot' by Antonia Fraser - if you haven't already read it. You'll learn more about the events than you ever thought you'd be interested in [grin]

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  2. In reading about the holiday or event on Wikipedia, I read that some nations have forbidden fireworks and such. Australia has good reasons, I suppose...they seem to have been under a drought for my entire life.

    Thanks for the recommendation; I only had time to go to the public library, which carries nothing on the Gunpowder plot or that period. (Their British history section is somewhat anemic.)

    The Schama book is apparently part of a series; have you heard of it?

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  3. I know of the Schama books - more through the TV series than anything else. I don't have any of them - but I do have his book on the French Revolution.

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