Time for some more short reviews of the books I’ve read so far this year. And, good news! According to Goodreads, I’m back on track – huzzah for cookbooks, am I right? Anyway, on to the books.
Old Man’s War, The Ghost Brigades, and The Last Colony (Old Man’s War Trilogy) by John Scalzi
I’d intended to read the entire trilogy before his new book, The Collapsing Empire, came out, but I did not succeed. However, the series is well written and examines themes of humanity, morality, and potential immortality. The world building is superb and the characters memorable.
Gulf: The Making of an American Sea by Jack E. Davis
I won this book through Goodreads, but it took me longer than I care to admit to actually pick it up and read it. I’m kicking myself for waiting as long as I did. One might expect a history of the Gulf of Mexico to be somewhat dull, dry, and boring. This book is the exact opposite. It is interesting, intriguing, compelling. Divided into several thematic sections, it pulls you in like the tide and refuses to let you go until you’ve worked your way through. A pleasant surprise, indeed.
Scars of Independence by Holger Hoock
I won this book through Goodreads, and if I hadn’t I would have purchased it. I’m an historian by profession, and I’ve seen this work discussed many times on the blogs and sites I follow, each time highly recommended by those whose opinion I respect. In fact, I feel a little bit proud that I was able to read it before many of them.
This book examines the Revolutionary War in America from the British perspective, recounting the tactics and terror inflicted by the Patriots on the Loyalist army and general population. For me, this work helped humanize both sides, as often in the US we are taught that the Patriot forces held both the legal and moral high ground.
I would recommend this book as required reading for APUSH history classes, and plan to assign selections from it in my own history classes this fall.
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
Every spring during the Lenten season I read the Divine Comedy. Dante’s epic work is incomparable; it cannot be described, only experienced. I suggest the Ciardi translation, though I’ve heard wonderful things about the Esolen translation as well.
The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World by Abigail Tucker
I read this book after hearing it recommended on NPR, and it was well worth the wait on the hold list at my local library. The book attempts to explain how cats became domesticated, why we continue to keep them around today, and what exactly it is they do all day (especially when they think no one is watching). It explained so much about Smokey’s habits. Highly recommend to any cat person or animal lover in general.
The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax
I read this book because the title appealed to my technologically apprehensive nature. I’m not a Luddite, but neither do I see technology as humanity’s salvation. I prefer physical books over e-readers, physical magazines over online ones, and nothing can beat the sound of vinyl when it comes to music. Sax attempts to explain why physical things continue to hang on despite “progress” and comes to the conclusion that certain media will endure so long as people care enough about them to invest in them. (Some might call these people hipsters.) Personally, I’d like to thing they endure because they are intrinsically better than any alternatives currently available.
I’m Gluten Furious: A Get Fuzzy Treasury by Darby Conley
A collection of comic strips from one of my favorite cartoonists. I found it funny, but remember that everyone has a different sense of humor.
Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe—and Started the Protestant Reformation by Andrew Pettegree
I read this book in part because it is the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. The work takes a unique look at Luther by examining his impact on printing practices in the early modern era – some of which are still present today. Readable and enjoyable.
The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1) by John Scalzi
Krystal gave me this book for Valentine’s Day, though I didn’t actually get it until late March when it was actually released. It was extra special because I was able to attend a launch tour, where Scalzi introduced the book, talked about writing in general, and gave autographs.
The book is a decent introduction to a world in crisis, but does not come to a satisfying conclusion. This was done on purpose, as it is the first book in a series, but it does make for a rather abrupt ending. It is definitely not a stand-alone work.