Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This Week at the Library (29 December)

Aside from the books I've already done full comments on, I also finished The Great American Wolf and The Golden Door.  My observations about them were shortish, so I decided to include them here instead of making seperate, strangely short posts.  The Great American Wolf by Bruce Hampton was placed in my library's Science and Nature section, though it's really more a history of human interaction with wolves in North America. I had no idea wolves were viewed in such a negative light: I've always been fond of them, seeing the grey wolf in particular as intelligent, sociable, and beautiful.  Though native Americans regarded the wolf as a magnificent creatures, Europeans have apparantly shared a long hostility toward them and the colonists who settled in North American acted on it. They regarded the wolves as pests and purposely sought to drive them to extinction -- though this changed in the 20th century, as conservationists and environmentalists pushed to save them.

I also read Isaac Asimov's The Golden Door, a history of the United States from Reconstruction following the Civil War through to the conclusion of the Great War. This period of history happens to be one of my favorites, and Asimov titled his book by drawing from Emma Lazarus' "The New Colossus", engraved upon the Statue of Liberty in New York which welcomed so many immigrants.

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

I rather like the poem.  Asimov's history is breezily readable, suitable for younger readers as well as older ones who want an introduction to the period, a refresher, or some mild entertainment: I picked up some trivia while reading it. Asimov's istypically fair and more idealistic than cynical.

Next week's potentials:

  • Seize the Fire, Michael A. Martin. I actually read this yesterday, but I meant for it to be "this" week's Trek reading. Because my library visit and TWATL post have occcured on Wednesday for so long, I tend to think of it as starting a new 'week'. 
  • Over the Hills: A Midlife Escape Across America by Bicycle, David Lamb.  This is the third or fourth book I've read this year in which someone decided to journey across the continent, but the idea of throwing oneself into nature, of seeing where the road goes and having an adventure along the way, appeals to me.
  • In a Sunburned Country,  in which Bill Bryson explores Australia.
  • The Evolution of God, by Robert Wright -- because God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World and Why Their Differences Matter was checked out. 
  • The Burning Land, Bernard Cornwell. The most recent book in the Saxon Chronicles series, which means next week I'll have no Uhtred to enjoy. Whatever will I do?
  • I also have a book on the weather, because on Christmas morning while watching the rain fall I realized that though I understand the water cycle, I have no idea what high- and low-pressure systems mean and why they bring the kind of weather they do. 

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