Greetings all, sorry I haven’t been doing much posting of late. The bad news is I’ve been cursed with another bout of writer’s block. The good news is even though I’ve been unable to write I’ve still been reading. Fortunately for me, over the last four months or so I’ve read some great books, several of them so enjoyable they might make my year-end Favorite Nonfiction List.
- The Best American Essays 2016 edited by Jonathan Franzen – One of several collections I read during my essay reading binge. Since I’ve been thinking about cranking out an essay of two of my own, I’ll probably be reading more of these.
- All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid by Matt Bai – Being a man of a certain age, I remember Senator Gary Hart’s run for the presidency and his ultimate fall from grace. Bai, in his 2014 book shows how it all unfolded. Perhaps more importantly, we see how much the world has changed – and hasn’t.
- 1924: The Year That Made Hitler by Peter Ross Range – After spending a year or so on my Overdrive wishlist, I borrowed a Kindle edition in hopes of applying it towards Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge. 1924 greatly exceeded my modest expectations.
- Where the Jews Aren’t: The Sad and Absurd Story of Birobidzhan, Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Region by Masha Gessen – Just like the above mentioned 1924, Where the Jews Aren’t also spent time on my Overdrive wishlist before I got around to reading it. I’ll review this one for my ongoing Soviet Spotlight series.
- The Library Book by Susan Orlean – Whenever a book makes everyone’s best of list I’m always afraid I won’t like it. I’m happy to say this wasn’t the case. By the way, word has it Paramount will be turning The Library Book into a TV series.
- Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization by Lars Brownworth – My soft spot for the Byzantine Empire inspired me to read this one.
- The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss – A long time ago a former co-worker of mine raved about this book. Needing something representing France for the European Reading Challenge I dowloaded a copy via Overdrive. There’s a strong likelihood this one makes my year-end Favorite Nonfiction List.
- A Child of Christian Blood: Murder and Conspiracy in Tsarist Russia: The Beilis Blood Libel by Edmund Levin – Earlier I mentioned my soft spot for Byzantine history. That’s nothing compared to my fondness for books about Jewish history and Eastern Europe. With that in mind how could I resist Levin’s 2014 book?
- New World Coming : The 1920s and the Making of Modern America by Nathan Miller- Even though I live in a rural area, I’m blessed with several local public libraries, each of them surprisingly well stocked with not just recently published materials but also older books. During one weekend library visit I spotted New World Coming and couldn’t resist it.
- The Abyssinian Proof by Jenny White- The sole novel out of this bunch. I found The Abyssinian Proof a huge improvement over her 2006 debut novel The Sultan’s Seal.
- Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance – This one made a number of “best of” lists including one billed as an explanation into why Trump won the presidency. When I spotted three copies of this at my public library I grabbed one without a bit of hesitation.
- Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil by John Berendt – I’m embarrassed to say even though I’ve owned a copy for years I’d never read Berendt’s 1994 best-seller until just recently. I loved it, and I bet it makes my year-end Favorite Nonfiction list.
- The Lost Gutenberg: The Astounding Story of One Book’s Five-Hundred-Year Odyssey by Margaret Leslie Davis – A buddy of mine recommended me this one after he heard it reviewed on NPR. Since I’m a sucker for books about books I couldn’t resist.
- Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in 17th-century Mediterranean by Adrian Tinniswood – I don’t know about you, but when someone mentions pirates I immediately think Caribbean. I had no idea at one time pirates were the scourge of Mediterranean and parts of the North Atlantic.
- The Italians by John Hooper- This one has been on my radar for a couple of years. About a week ago I was in the mood to read something about Italy for the European Reading Challenge so I downloaded a copy off Overdrive. I was not disappointed. Hooper, a British journalist with years of experience living and working in Italy has written a excellent book. It’s a great companion to Tobias Jones’s Dark Heart of Italy.
Typical of me, my reading has been heavy on the nonfiction, with the emphasis on history. Since the European Reading Challenge is my favorite reading challenge, it’s no surprise I read 1924 (Germany), The Abyssinian Proof (Turkey), The Black Count (France), A Child of Christian Blood (Ukraine) and The Italians (Italy). Also typical of me, all these books with the exception of Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil came from the public library, or were borrowed through the library’s Overdrive portal. Speaking of the public library, the books All the Truth Is Out, Lost to the West and New World Coming I’d never heard of until I spotted them on the shelf. Lastly, many if not most of these books were published no recently than a two or three years ago. That means there’ll be no shortage of About Time I Read It posts in the coming weeks, should I find a way to overcome my bad case of writer’s block.