What I’ve been reading

Boy, been a while since I’ve posted one of these. Let’s see if I can still remember all of this!

Audiobooks:

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Rex, and Colonel Roosevelt, by Edmund Morris.  Nice big three volume bio of Teddy Roosevelt.  Superbly well-written and researched, and TR was a fascinating character, larger than life in every possible way.  Strongly recommended in any format.

Bossypants by Tina Fey.  I listened to this one on a trip to the beach and back with Julie and Diana.  We all enjoyed it greatly.  Funny and forthright, with the added benefit that Fey went to UVA, so we were well able to picture the stories that took place in the college chapter.

On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers.  The latest “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie was loosely based on this, but don’t hold that against this lovely book.  A fun pirate yarn, complete with derring do, voodoo, and Blackbeard too.  The movie has almost nothing to do with the book except for the presence of Blackbeard and the Fountain of Youth.  (The book is MUCH better than the movie.)

And e-books:

The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes.  A history of the scientists of the late 18th and early 19th century England, focusing on Joseph Banks (naturalist), William Herschel and his fascinating sister Caroline (astronomers – Caroline was the first woman in England to be paid as a scientist), and Humphrey Davies (chemist).  The book also spends a lot of time discussing how the works of these folk influenced the romantic poets such as Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats.  Extremely interesting stuff, and the tales of, for example, how Europeans reacted the first time they ever saw surfing (which happened when one of Cook’s expeditions, with Banks as naturalist, stayed in Tahiti) was marvelous.  What do you mean, they’re walking on the waves?  Just for the fun of it?  How odd!  A little more focus on the poets than I would have liked, but that’s not my thing, so your mileage may vary.  One odd thing that the book brought to mind: astronomers like Herschel (discoverer of Uranus, the first planet discovered with a telescope) had adopted an old-universe model of the stars well before Darwin was born.  So why is Darwin the fall-guy for Biblical fundamentalists?

1635: the Eastern Front, 1636: the Saxon Uprising, by Eric Flint.  These are the next two books in a series that started with 1632, in which a town in West Virginia, by various means, has found itself transported into the middle of the Thirty Years War.  I’ve greatly enjoyed the series, and especially enjoyed these two volumes.  (I haven’t much liked some of the peripheral books in the series, and would recommend avoiding any of the series books that list Virginia DeMarce as an author.)  I particularly liked a twist at the end of 1635, one that plays out in 1636.  (Though I thought it wasn’t carried through as well as might be hoped in 1636 – all details left out to avoid spoilers.)  Certainly nothing serious, but nice, fast reads.  (I read 1635 on the plane ride to Bangalore.  It made for a terrific read for a loooong flight.)

The Eichmann Trial by Deborah Lipstadt.  A book about the capture and trial of Adolph Eichmann, and its aftermath and the way in which it affected what we think of the Holocaust.  A nice read.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I’m fairly certain that I read this way back in high school, but Julie wanted to read it so we decided to read it in parallel to discuss.  Fun stuff, classic gothic romance, though I’ve got to say, I don’t much care for the men in Jane’s life!

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