Sunday, May 17, 2009

What's on Your Reading List?

While we wait for everyone to get their books, I thought it might be interesting to see what everyone has stacked up on their side tables or desks.



Right now my biggest "to-be-read" is a book on Jefferson (sorry Chartres) that Bisbanes highly recommended during the cspan tour of his library: Road to Monticello, about Jefferson's intellectual development and the books he read. I also have The Last Indian War by Elliott West about the Nez Perce waiting, highly recommended by Bo -- or at least referenced by Bo, which I take as a recommendation.

I'm sure I have some fiction around here somewhere, too, but I don't see any other than The March, which I think I'll try this week.

36 comments:

  1. Not reading anything that intersects Am. hist. at the moment, but do occasionally enjoy delving into cultural history, esp. art movements in the US. Will probably read TC Boyle's book on FL Wright, The Women. Greetings Melbans and ex-NYTers!

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  2. The only book on my to-be-read table, other than the ones I've already mentioned, that intersects with the American Civil War is Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!

    Other books I'm planning to read over the summer include The Years by Virginia Woolf, Love and Death in a Hot Country by Shiva Naipaul (V.S.'s younger brother), and Dave Eggers' You Shall Know Our Velocity.

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  3. Nice to see you, Barton. Didn't know Boyle had written on FLW and his women. Lots of interesting stories there. Read quite a bit on his numerous relationships, the most interesting being his last one with the Russian beauty, Olgavana.

    Loved Absalom, Absalom! Rick. One of my favorite books and fits nicely with The Sound and The Fury. Maybe we could do something with Faulkner in time. I've long been interested in Cleanth Brooks' William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Country,

    http://www.amazon.com/William-Faulkner-Yoknapatawpha-Cleanth-Brooks/dp/0807116017/ref=pd_sim_b_4

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  4. Barton, you found us! Fabulous.

    I think Bo is a big TC Boyle fan. I loved his book about the writers colony -- it's something like East meets West or something like that. From there I tried a couple others but they didn't work as well for me.

    Gintaras, I might be willing to try Faulkner at some point, but only with this group. I had a very hard time with him when I tried to read him in college, and would probably need help and incentive to keep after it.

    Rick, I read some Virginia Woolf for the first time last summer. Enjoyed it.

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  5. Every time I start to type in AMerican.... to get here, the browser automatically wants to take me to AMazon.com Shopping Cart. Not a good sign but probably a prescient one.

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  6. My most recent read of Absalom, Absalom! was about two years ago at the NYTimes. Pugetopolis rode his inane homosexual hobbyhorse all over the discussion and I dropped out before we got very far.

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  7. I just finished THE FIRST TYCOON: Cornelius Vanderbilt and started the Lincoln book, but got interrupted by a new book on St. Paul: THE FIRST PAUL--which is short and pretty good so far. It's a small book (8x6) with only 240 pages.

    On my stack is EIFFEL's Tower by Jill Jones, who also wrote EMPIRES OF LIGHT and CONQUERING GOTHAM--both really good books.

    AMERICAN MANHOOD by E Anthony Rotundo at the suggestion of Avrds

    In addition I just bought 1789 by David Andres and THE PAINTER's CHAIR: GEORGE WASHINGTON AND THE MAKING OF AMERICAN ART by Hugh Howard' Lastly, another Civil war book--but this one is back to contending the War was caused by Economic factors: CLASH OF EXTREMES: THE ECONOMIC ORIGINS OF THE CIVIL WAR by Marc Egnal (God!!! the theory never dies--but I'll open my mind and see what flows in)

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  8. I haven't read Faulkner since College. I really should give him another try.

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  9. Robert, it's so great to have you here. Powell's, the Strand, and the banks that back my credit cards are happy to see you here, too.

    The George Washington book sounds interesting. You'll have to report back.

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  10. Another obscure book of fiction that stands waiting in the wings ... Starting out in the Evening by Brian Morton.

    Strether recommended the movie, and the storyline sounded interesting. I've only just opened it, but it reminds me a bit of The Archivist, which I loved (and Brian the archivist also liked as I recall).

    Another book I've been meaning to get to which also came highly recommended by one of my bookish friends is Birds without Wings. I never finished his Corelli's Mandolin, but I'm going to give this one a chance at some point.

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  11. I'm finishing up Children of Grace about the Nez Perce war that Diane sent me.I have the Comanche Empire lying here and tonight I ordered The French and Indian War by Walter Boreman from HBC.I read the review in the NYTimes of the Bio Robert just finished and it looks interesting as does the Red Orchestra in last months HBC flier.In fiction I'm just about done with my reread of every Fitzgerald.I plan on picking from a group next of The Fish can Sing by Halldor Laxness .Daniel Deronda by Eliot,The Shadow Country and the Turkish novel Snow.I still keep meaning to read The Octopus by Frank Norris which has been on the shelf a good three years.Oh and a friend just sent me a copy of George MacDonald Fraser's The Reavers a rip roaring yarn about 17th century Scotland.Fraser who passed away last year is the author of the twelve Flashman novels which I think are great.Flashman is a scoundrel a Cad and worse who always comes out smelling like Roses.Set in the Victorian era but in real historical context they are quite a different way to learn about history.Pretty much wherever the British Empire was Flashman is in these novels.Two even take place in the states including my favorite Flashman and the Indians.We had at least a 5.0 earlier tonight and it buckled a bookcase in the dining room.That bookcase though held mostly cookbooks and cooking mags so the weight of the mags was a pain to pull out.I'll see if it's repairable in the morning.

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  12. Thats Walter Borneman for the French and Indian War.

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  13. Well the correct title for the Flashman is Flashman and the Redskins.The quake has me a little shook up.

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  14. Avrds I recall seeing the Cover of Starting Out in the Evening when it first came out and I was really drawn in by the cover.I have bought books before just because the cover art was so cool.Then I saw a review of it in I think the NYTimes that was very good but I never did buy it.Now several years later it surfaces again.

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  15. Bo, I think the Octopus is one of the great American novels. I really like Norris.

    Re Starting Over, its cover is sort of retro looking -- enough so that I actually opened the book to look at the copyright date. It's 1998 -- I would have guessed more like 68 or 78 maybe by its look.

    I picked up a copy of one of Laxness' books -- it's around here somewhere -- per your recommendation. It just hasn't risen to the surface yet.

    You'll have to let me know how you like the Nez Perce book. At some point I'll get around to that one, too.

    Hope your bookcase survived and you're not too shook up!

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  16. And Bo, picked up a copy of heinrich's Summer World. Now I can read the two -- winter and summer -- back to back.

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  17. I forgot about Summer World coming out.I'll have to get a copy.We had another 4.1 Quake this afternoon but I was outside on the patio planting a 135.00 of plants and dirt and didn't feel it at all.Last night I found"The Discovery of France" under my bedside table and since I pull the covers off hardcover books while I read them thought it was another book all these months(maybe a year).Much to my surprise I still had a 100 pages left in it and read about 50 of those last night.I don't know how I forgot about this book while reading it because I really like it.

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  18. My copy of Team of Rivals got returned to sender in a mangled box. The bookstore will be sending another copy priority mail, so will see when it arrives. Nixonland arrived though.

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  19. I have the Discovery of France, too, John. It got rave reviews. Didn't Chartres also read that one?

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  20. Gintaras, sorry to hear your book hasn't made it yet. This is the problem with trying to get (American) books at a distance. Must be like living in Montana.

    My guess is we can read along as we discuss it. That's my plan, in any event, since I'm taking my time with it. Fascinating book, though. Really helping me put Lincoln into the perspective of his times.

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  21. I've had great luck over the years. But, unfortunately a book goes AWOL once in awhile.

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  22. Diane,yes Mary read Discovery of France and our friend George Parsons also read and liked it.

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  23. [A random aside]

    John, one of the more interesting assignments I had as part of the doctoral process was putting together a cohesive list of books in British/European history that also expanded my knowledge in the history of science and exploration and that would prepare me for an exam written by someone who is interested in the history of oceanic discovery.

    I initially thought of putting that book on my list, but didn't. If there's a trick to this -- and of course they don't tell you this -- it is to build a cohesive body of work that can be drawn on to argue content and theory (in my case an interest in class). So I stuck with lots of Cannadine and Hobsbawm and then sort of built out from there. Even got our old NYT conversation on Said into the mix, which is a great complement to Cannadine's _Ornamentalism_ (or really, vice versa).

    In the end, I had to discuss the relationship between British imperialism and science, including a historiographical overview, and how science and imperialism interacted throughout the nineteenth century.

    After stumbling through that question, in my orals I got the one questions that really stumped me .... the "third revolution" that made the other two possible (and it was not science, I was told). It's food storage. Who knew?

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  24. I'm reading H.W. Brands' bio of FDR, "Traitor to His Class." Excellent book that is different enough from Jean Edward Smith's bio that I read in December.

    I'm a bit sidetracked these days and have a few lighter books going at the same time on kindle (the Brands is a hardcover I received for Christmas and I'm not carrying it around), including "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" (Annie Barrows) that is wonderful, Getting a Grip" by Monica Seles and the second "Psychokitty" book by Max Thompson (K.A. Thompson's cat) that keeps me laughing out loud. I read "Resilience" by Elizabeth Edwards over Mother's Day weekend.

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  25. I have many, many unread books on my shelf, including "The Road to Monticello...", Kevin J. Hayes.

    http://www.amazon.com/Road-Monticello-Life-Thomas-Jefferson/dp/0195307585/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243062226&sr=8-7

    I read "The Hemingses of Monticello" by Annette Gordon-Reed a few months ago. It's the best book I've read about Virginia plantation culture in Jefferson's time.

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  26. Link doesn't work here. I also don't know how to post pictures of book covers on this website.

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  27. Marti, I hope we can get to an FDR reading at some point. I have Brands' biography and several other related books stacking up waiting to be read. I'm sure there will be several interesting parallels to discuss that directly related to current affairs.

    That said, I'm continually struck by the parallels with Lincoln and Obama which Goodwin wouldn't have deliberately placed in the book, given that she wouldn't have known the outcome of the election at the time she was writing.

    Re links and illustrations: You can post illustrations and photos if you want to initiate a conversation (use the "new post" link at the top right and then the "add image" link on the posting page). But I think you can only comment in text once you are in the comment section.

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  28. "The Discovery of France" was fabulous. But did nothing, nothing, nothing, to cure me of my obsession with France.

    I can only assume that my emotional fixation on France has much to do with the childhood years I spent there.

    That and the fact that I don't consider America worth a plugged nickel anymore. Americans don't know how to live and I don't know if they'll ever learn.

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  29. Robert, did you see there's also a new George Washington bio out by Ferling? It sounds like he sees Washington more like I do -- Now that the group has reconvened, I'm tempted.....

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  30. I thought it was very interesting in that Ferling already wrote a biography of Washington, but when I looked at it, this one is about his rise to power...I will certaintly buy it as I buy everything by Ferling--but, alas and alak, there's that list--you know...the list...the never ending list. I need at least $1,000--but then again, it'll only lead to another llist

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  31. I know the feeling.... But I think this one might be worth a look before I cancel my credit card which enables me to buy these books online.

    (I'm one of the good customers they talk about I guess. They are raising my rates to 17% next month unless I choose to cancel the card. I'm canceling and sticking with my cash card which will definitely trim my book sails. )

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  32. Well, I did it, I bought the Frederickson book and started it. "Lincolned out" as I may be I started it and...what's worse...I found the two volume Burlingame tomes in the library---they weigh at least ten pounds and gave me a back ache carrying them home...all 1600 pages of them. So now I'm sitting here with the very weighty and very large 10x7x5(high)10 pound Burligame and the very tiny 7x4 x a quarter inch high 3 ounce 126 page Frederickson wondering whether I've lost my mind.

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  33. Cool! I'm very curious about the Burlingame, but think your reading of the Fredrickson will be very interesting given the upcoming discussion. I have it handy since he covers so much historiographical ground. Can hardly wait.

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  34. Just started Burlingame and I agree. he gets "right to it'. I have the OZ book to finish, but that won't take long...

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  35. Robert: You've probably read most of those books he discusses which I'm sure makes it even more fascinating. I've only read a couple.

    I love historiography because it puts all those different responses to a subject like Lincoln into some sort of context. Found the discussion of the black power response particularly fascinating: We can't keep looking for a white man to liberate us, we have to do that for ourselves.

    I'll pull out my book and maybe we can talk about the history of the history of Lincoln to set the stage for our discussion.

    Gintaras, did you ever get a book?

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