For as long as I can remember I have had a pretty decently sized anti-library. Probably not as massive as some who read here, but still enough to be a pain in the butt when moving. I decided a year or two ago not to buy any books until I read what I had. This worked in principle, however relatives piled on with gifts of books, so I had to issue an edict that they please not buy me any more books as well.
When I finish reading books (yes, real books, the kindle and other electronic formats don’t work well with me) I send them to Carl for his perusal and subsequent disposal in one way or another into the Portland, Oregon ecosystem. He returns the favor, so we are carbon neutral, at least in that aspect.
I have two left to read, and my anti-library will be no more. I plan on reading those on an upcoming beach vacation. They are:
Stephan Zweig – Beware of Pity – the only novel he wrote, and I am looking forward to is as I don’t read a lot of fiction.
The Wars of the Roosevelts – The Ruthless Rise of America’s Greatest Political Family – this was a gift as it isn’t my typical wheelhouse for history, but I should learn some interesting stuff.
Here is what I read this year, with a short description of each:
The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan – A very interesting book about the history of the Great Lakes and how man made changes affected them, and how they are being affected today by other events.
Marching Along – An autobiography of John Philip Sousa – This book gets a bit repetitive, but still neat to read about how bands toured in an era long past. Also, Sousa’s childhood is worth reading about.
The Widow Cliquot by Tilar Mazzeo – a short book describing how the widow Cliquot ended up dominating the new market for champagne around the time of its origins. The production and shipping methods of that era are very interesting. I got this book as a freebie when I went to a champagne tasting at a local restaurant.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson – this book is a staple in airports around the world and proved to be very popular – I thought it was good, but not great. The principle of the thing is worth the time if you can get this one used.
The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America by Matt Kracht – When I moved to a more agrarian community 8 years ago I decided to start cultivating a good bird eco-system around my property and have been fascinated by the different species that I have seen. Anyone who has bought a “bird book” will laugh a LOT when they read this book, as I did. It is sort of a dig on those bird books and the birding community as a whole. It’s good to be able to laugh at yourself on occasion, and that I definitely did.
Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare by Giles Milton – An excellent book about the guerrilla tactics used by the Allies in WW2. Some famous missions are featured such as the one on Norsk Hydro, but many, many others are also explained. Milton also takes an in depth look at the training involved, weapons developed, and doesn’t mince words with the tactics. This book isn’t for those who can’t stand a little blood and guts. I found the section on the Grecian guerrillas the most fascinating and plan on trying to find more on that topic in the future.
Scalia Speaks – a collection of speeches by Justice Antonin Scalia – This is exactly what the title says, a collection of speeches by Scalia. Always humorous and fascinating. I miss that guy.
Behind Enemy Lines – The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany by Marthe Cohn – It is simply amazing what so many people did with so many risks in WW2. The Germans were at the point of banning things like typewriters from people, but Ms. Cohn and her cohort forged papers, and were able to report simple things like troop movements, division numbers and things like that to the Allies. It all helped and is an amazing tale of courage.
The Algebra of Happiness by Scott Galloway – Galloway has enjoyed some recent popularity in social media (whatever that is) from his great call on the implosion of WeWork, among other things. This short book is a look at life, and some things that will happen to you that you won’t like, some things that will happen to you that you will like, and some things you can avoid to increase your level of happiness. An excellent stocking stuffer.
The Batter’s Box – A Novel of Baseball, War and Love by Andy Kutler – One of my employees went to high school with the author of this book and brought me a copy from a signing party. It is an excellent novel about a professional baseball player who goes off to war in WW2, and sees a lot of terrible things. There is also a romance cooked into the broth. The level of research taken for the WW2 parts and professional baseball from the 40s is fabulous.
Caribbean by James Michener – when on a trip to Hawaii a few years ago I noticed a person reading Hawaii by Michener. I decided to get a copy of that when I returned and it was excellent, and Caribbean is also fantastic. I had never really read Michener before this but now I plan on reading much more of his stuff in the future. Meticulously researched historical novels with great plot lines.
Killing the SS by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard – A great book about the end of WW2 and the hunt for the SS criminals who were fleeing. There is more detailed information about the kidnapping of Adolf Eichmann, probably one of the most fascinating historical events to me, ever. An easy read, well written, and informative.
Roman Warfare by Adrian Goldsworthy – I think this might have been a college textbook I kept. Glad I finally read it (or re-read it) as there is a ton of information about the Roman Wars, battles and how they did their craft.
The Escape Artists by Neal Bascomb – This book is about breaking out of WW1 prison camps. The British prisoners would dig a little bit every day, and finally the day would come to break out. Then, they had to figure out what do to after that. Many got re-captured, but they kept trying to get out as they thought that this was their duty. It’s sort of guerrilla warfare come to a prison camp. Fascinating read and super interesting to learn how contraband was smuggled into the camps for the men. A compass was worth infinite money in this environment.
Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier – I went “dark” as far as social media goes after reading this and I am glad I did. The book is written by someone who is in the industry and it is insane to see what these companies do with your information, and how you are being manipulated by their software. There is a bit of political tin foil hattery in the book, but if you can ignore that, I recommend anyone who has a social media presence to read this (and delete all of your social media accounts). But enough lecturing.