Sunday, July 7, 2013

This week at the library: Independence Day, simple living, cities, and the digestive tract

Last week's titles: 
American Creation, Joseph Ellis | Gulp, Mary Roach |  Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry |  His Excellency, Joseph Ellis | Edens Lost and Found, various authors

Dear readers:

This past week I finished up my Independence Day tribute with a biography of no less than George Washington. His Excellency by Joseph Ellis was a fitting capstone to the series this year, as it would be in any year. I had planned on reading a primary document of the American Revolution, like Tom Paine's Common Sense.  Since my revolutionary readings in the last couple of years  have favored the conservatives and nationalists, I think next year I might try a biography of romantic, idealistic, avowedly anti-federalist Thomas Jefferson.

A few days ago I read through Simplicity: Essays, a collection of essays on minimalism. Divided into three parts, the essays invite readers to consider their relationship with their things, create a meaningful life,  practice habits that make themselves happier and better, and offer advice on getting friends and family to realize, no, you're not crazy because you're getting rid of all your stuff. It fits comfortably within the realm of self-help, with less philosophy than I'd hoped. The authors write a great deal about themselves, mentioning with frequency how they left their high-powered six-figure jobs behind to focus on helping other people, and how much happier they were without all the baggage.  I purchased it as a $1 e-book, but it has a 'real' counterpart. I don't think I'm giving the book its fair due because it was so similar to Disrupting the Rabblement in terms of its advice, and I was looking for something more in the neighborhood of The Plain Reader, that invites us to think about a wide variety of areas of our lives that could do with grooming. The authors here only looked at owning things and mental habits.

I recently finished the gargantuan task of bringing my Shelfari and GoodReads accounts completely up to date: not only is most every book found here to be listed there, but they're complete with reviews and labels.  There were some books that didn't get full reviews here, so I didn't  crosspost them.  That work done,  my intention is to keep those far more current than they usually are. In the process of adding labels to some two thousand books, I created a few  there that I think would serve the blog here nicely as well: "praxis" and "direct action" among them.

This next week:
- Star Trek Cold Equations, book 2: Silent Weapons Another Cold War in Space political-action thriller, this picks up from The Persistence of Memory which I read  a few months back but (embarrassingly) forgot to review. I seriously didn't realize that until last week when I combed every post in the last year looking for any mention of the book. Oops. Turns out there's a half-finished review in my drafts folder..
-  Someone has suggested I read a novel called The Apothecary, by Maile Meloy.
- I also have Getting There, the story of the rivalry between roads and rail in the 21st century. Go trains!
-   Seeing as Bastille Day is a week away, I should read something French. Alas, the interlibrary loan request I put out hasn't come in yet, so I may not get to read French Kids Eat Everything until after the 14th.  I'm sure my library has something appropriately French in the meantime.

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