Recommended Reading – The End of the Anti-Library

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.

16 thoughts on “Recommended Reading – The End of the Anti-Library”

  1. I use the Kindle for fiction. I started a few books, like Ancestral Journeys, on Kindle and then, because of maps, get the hard copy. That is a combination of archeology and genetics on migrations of people in prehistory in Europe.

    I’m now starting Amity Schlaes’ “The Great Society. I read her books on “The Forgotten Man” and “Coolidge.”

    I got hooked on a series of novels by a man named Andrew Wareham, who has an interesting history. He taught economic history in Britain for years and also spent ten years as a policemen in Papua New Guinea. He has novels about the British Navy and the RAF in WWI and WWII. One series of three is about New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago. They are very well researched and have a lot about the early Industrial Revolution in Britain.

    We also listen to audio books driving to California every three months or so to visit kids. Among those we have listened to are Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson. I keep hoping Caro, who is in his 80s, lives long enough to finish volume 5. We have also listened to Lee Smith’s book on the attempted coup, Kim Strassel’s book on “The Resistance,” and George Papadopoulis’ book on his entrapment in the early stages of “Crossfire Hurricane.”

  2. Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare looks interesting. Is there anything about Paddy Fermor’s kidnapping of the German general in Crete? That was a great story.

  3. I read Patrick Fermor’s books a few years ago, very interesting and entertaining.

    The best books I’ve read this year are:

    Non-fiction – Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. My Dad tried to get me to read this 30 years ago and now after reading it I wish I had taken his advice. Ironically, I have recommended it to both of my sons and they both have absolutely NO interest in it. History repeats. This is a really excellent book.

    Fiction – I am a science fiction and fantasy fan so here are a couple of those:

    “Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrell” by Susanna Clarke. It’s very long but what great writing.
    “The King of Elfland’s Daughter” by Lord Dunsany. Great read, seriously beautiful writing.

    I’ve read almost all of Sgt Mom’s books and highly recommend them too. Hopefully, I will be getting her latest for Christmas!

  4. Yeah, my Dad also had a lot of those old self help books. I picked up Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill awhile back, but it is unfortunately currently sitting in my own growing anti-library.

    I suppose Fermor has been out of favor with historians because his brand of knight-errantry is seen as obsolete in this age of systems and technology and colonial grievances. Not that men of his ilk aren’t still around or aren’t still necessary. Just that it’s wished that they weren’t.

  5. It might be interesting to take a look at what’s being deaccessioned by the politically correct librarians, and then asking “Why?”.

    Our era is going to be known in the future as the “Great Endarkening”, and we badly need a modern equivalent to the monastic orders of the late Roman Empire who did their best to preserve what existed. Had it been left up to fate, very little of the Roman literature would even exist, today.

    Someone needs to start work on this, as well as a technology-neutral record system, such that the things that the current lot of ignoramuses are consigning to the pulp mills don’t become lost.

  6. Someone needs to start work on this, as well as a technology-neutral record system, such that the things that the current lot of ignoramuses are consigning to the pulp mills don’t become lost.

    When I was in practice I encouraged all patients to keep their own medical records. When I was an intern in 1967, I had a patient who told me he had had surgery as an infant at Worchester City Hospital in 1932. I called that hospital and found that he had been operated on for biliary atresia, the second successful such operation in history.

    Now hospitals, which are by law required to keep medical records for seven years and to age 18 for minors, are shredding all records in less time. When I was examining recruits to the military, records were almost impossible to get. Ask for and keep your own medical records. I do.

  7. Here is my list for 2019, so far. An * means I finished it. I will likely finish a couple of these and maybe start one or two more before the end of December.

    Books Read 2019

    Ian Fleming, Thunderball *

    Geoffrey Bocca, The Secret Army *

    Ian Fleming, Diamonds Are Forever *

    Fulton J. Sheen, The World’s First Joy

    John J. Mearsheimer, The Great Delusion *

    Ian Fleming, Moonraker *

    Ian Fleming, Live and Let Die *

    Edward Frederick Knight, Where Three Empires Meet *

    A. Wess Mitchell, The Grand Strategy of the Habsburg Empire *

    W. Stanley Moss, Ill Met By Moonlight *

    Edward Rice, Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton *

    Steen Eiler Rasmussen, London: The Unique City *

    Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (Abridged)

    Ian Fleming, From Russia With Love *

    Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa *

    Rachel Fulton Brown, Mary and the Art of Prayer

    Ian Fleming, Doctor No *

    Eric Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front *

    A.G. Sertillanges, OP, The Intellectual Life, It’s Spirit, Conditions, and Methods

    Charles R. Morris, The Dawn of Innovation, The First American Industrial Revolution *

    Griel Marcus, The History of Rock’N’Roll in Ten Songs *

    Eugene Rogan, The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East *

    Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist *

    Peter Thiel, Zero to One *

    Raghu Karnad, Farthest Field *

    Col. Joseph H. Alexander, Utmost Savagery, The Three Days of Tarawa *

    Kori Schake, Safe Passage: The Transition from British to American Hegemony *

    Jeffrey Hart, When the Going was Good: American Life in the Fifties *

    James Lucas, Alpine Elite: German Mountain Troops in World War II *

    Sidney Rittenberg, The Man Who Stayed Behind

    Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem *

    Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her? *

    Anthony Trollope, Phineas Finn *

    Anthony Trollope, The Eustace Diamonds *

    Anthony Trollope, Phineas Redux *

    William Rosen, The Most Powerful Idea in the World, A Story of Steam, Industry and Invention

    Anthony Trollope, The Prime Minister *

    Anthony Trollope, The Duke’s Children *

    Shirley Robin Letwin, The Gentleman in Trollope, Individuality and Moral Conduct *

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders *

    Peter J. Hugill, has Transition in Power: Technological “Warfare” and the Shift from British to American Hegemony since 1919 *

    Theodore Roosevelt, An Autobiography *

    Pieter M. Judson, The Habsburg Empire, A New History

    Eric M. Jackson, The PayPal Wars*

    Phillips Payson O’Brien, The Second Most Powerful Man in the World: The Life of Admiral William D. Leahy, Roosevelt’s Chief of Staff*

    Carlton J.H. Hayes, A Generation of Materialism, 1871-1900 *

    Carlton J.H. Hayes, Wartime Mission in Spain *

    Henry Wickham Steed, The Habsburg Empire (1913)*

    Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel

    Robert Ferguson, The Short Sharp Life of T. E. Hulme (2002)*

    Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm (1948)

    E.M.W. Tillyard, The Elizabethan World Picture (1942) percent

    Robert Cardinal Sarah, The Day is Now Far Spent

  8. LG,
    Among millions, I have also enjoyed Fleming’s tales- too bad the movies were such butchery.
    You seem to have an interest in Africa, years ago I went through a spell of reading on pre colonial Africa- The story of Sir Samuel Baker and his wife Florence (rescued from an ottoman slave auction) are of great interest. Another worthwhile read is the biography of Henry Stanley, IIRC, he was an orphan, a ships boy, a soldier in both the confederate and Union armies, a newspaper man and explorer and observer of the Triple Alliance War. His African adventures only a small part of his life.

  9. I thought I was the only one, that read the secret army, I think it was probably our loss that degaulle won, in terms of the nato alliance and Israel,

    I think Daniel craig captured a bit of the ethos of the bond books at the beginning, fleming borrowing much more from perry Oppenheim, than the cold war scenarios, I’ve read from Phineas to the prime minister, and back to Barchester heights, In the Trollope oevre,

  10. Raven, I found the James Bond novels to be inconsistent. I may read the rest of them at some point. Thanks for the tips about exploration in Africa. I read two biographies of Richard Frances Burton, over the years, which have good descriptions of his African adventures, which nearly got him killed.

    Miguel Cervantes, Secret War is very good, especially since Bocca knew the protagonists. Tough to say on De Gaulle, but generally I’m a Francophile and sympathetic to him. NATO and Israel did fine. Trollope is grea. Read The Duke’s Children if you have not done so yet. I may read the six Barsetshire novels in 2020. The reference to “perry Oppenheim” looks garbled, I find nothing on a Google search. Please clarify, if you have a moment.

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