I usually read nonfiction. Most of my books I download onto a kindle app, or listen via audible. The audiobooks are in the background when I work online, and when driving. Sometimes at bedtime I usually listen 2 or 3 times, since I miss parts when I am doing other tasks.
For some reason I'm starting to read fiction again.
Most recent nonfiction:
Dugard's Into Africa. The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingston. Mid 1800s, exploration of Africa was one of the last frontiers for Europeans. Slavery was depleting the continent, to the East (Arabs) and to the West (Americas). The West was fascinated by stories of Africa, and the source of the Nile was almost a Holy Grail. The explorers were imperfect by modern standards - as are most modern people - but had incredible experiences, dedication, failure, triumph, disease, injury, hardship, degradation, pride, and more. I've previously read other books about the exploitation of Africa - most notably, the enslavement and genocide of millions of people in the Congo (Hochschild's King Leopold's Ghost) - a story that includes Stanley's role in that atrocity. In Into Africa, the tales of adventure and exploration are well told, the psychologies of the main characters are described, and the context is illuminated. Stanley reinvented himself as much as a modern politician, and Livingston was driven by religion, lust, science, and adventure.
Most recent fiction:
I just finished James Lee Burke's "The Tin Roof Blowdown", a story of crime during and following the Katrina disaster in New Orleans. The story was complicated, with multiple bad guy characters and flawed good guys. I like stories about the South, and New Orleans, and enjoyed this one enough that I bought another book in Burke's series.
Currently reading Walter Mosely "Devil in a Blue Dress", another crime story. This time, set in 1940s post war Watts in Los Angeles. To me, this has a noir feel, and I'm enjoying it thoroughly.
I need to be reminded to to use the amazon link, to support Nexus.
Anyone else reading any good books?
k.h., do you use an ereader? I was wondering about whether the option of changing text size is helpful.
I had a Kindle DX, which has text-to-voice for all downloaded books, and used it a fair amount. The synthesized voice is mildly annoying, but I get used to it and it starts to be OK then.
With an ereader I can switch easily between three or four books in two categories: History, Politics & Economics (HP&E); and Everything Else (EE).
In HP&E I'm now switching between:
Susannah Ural's Don't Hurry Me Down to Hades, about the Civil War as told by people who lived it, off the battlefields and on them, and
James Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me, the 2007 edition, not about teachers but about the school histories used to make kids into good soldiers and taxpayers.
In EE I'm switching between:
Venkatash Rao's Be Slightly Evil: A Playbook for Sociopaths, about (in my words, not the author's) the kind of people who are running the government and the economy, and
Darrel Ray's Sex and God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality, which on A/N needs no description. (I had long thought Catholicism was the religion most hostile to sex.)
For fun I read a letter or two at a time from Mark Twain's Letters from the Earth.
It's been decades since I last read a novel.
Tom, I'll add that social history to my list. I prefer knowing about how the people lived, over the politicians, generals, presidents and kings.
Hitler, by Ian Kershaw. A 2 volume work. I just finished vol. 1, 1889-1936, and have started vol. 2. Jesse Owens just won the gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which pissed off the Furher. It's amazing what the leaders of western civilization let him get away with, thinking they could somehow 'handle' him when the time came for that necessity.
Pat, that's deep reading!
It's a precautionary tale, for certain. Not just what the Western leaders allowed, but the German people, whose resentment for their prior losses, persecution complex, and xenophobia, feed into the rise of the Nazis. Our own persecution-complex-ridden reactionaries make me think of that slippery slope. And their "big lie" practices.... I scare myself thinking about it.
It can be scary, looking at the parallels between the Germans of 1993 and the American of 2014. I'll at least give the Germans this. The Versailles Treaty was a complete and total abomination, which unjustly heaped the cause of WW I on Germany, leading to internal strife, short lived internal revolutions, economic collapse, and a 2nd rate standing of what used to be a leading western nation. They desperately turned to a 'savior' who could lead them out their misery, and a for while, he did. Albeit at the expense political freedom, racial and ethnic minorities, anyone not willing to accept the 'party line,' and in the end, even western civilization.
Fear is one hell of a motivator; especially if the one engendering it holds himself/herself out as the remedy for the evil they are scaring people with. And, there's nothing intrinsically different between a scared German and a scared American.
I read his Mein Kampf and knew he was one smart guy. As you said, that treaty did a lot of harm and the German people needed rescue. One writer opined that if he had been assassinated in 1937, many would remember him as one of Germany's greatest leaders.