Library Loot

After finishing a book a few days ago I’m now in the mood to borrow more. Here’s what I grabbed today at my terrific small town library. Behold, a little nonfiction, two works of historical fiction and some Scandinavian crime fiction. As you might suspect I’ll be applying all of these towards any number of my beloved reading challenges.  

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading to encourage bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write-up your post, steal the Library Loot icon and link your post using the Mr. Linky on Sharlene’s blog. 

Library Loot: European Reading Edition

Same old story. Out running errands the other day, popped into the library for just only a few minutes and walked out with more books. Even though I’m already up to my eyeballs with library books I couldn’t resist grabbing another small stack. This time I decided to focus on fiction for Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge.  

  • Under Occupation by Alan Furst (France)- I’m a huge fan of Furst’s historical thrillers. So far this one has been great. 
  • Operation Napoleon by Arnaldur Indridason (Iceland) – I suspect this might not be the author’s best effort but I could not resist the story. 
  • The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook (Germany)-  I’ve had pretty good luck with novels set in Germany immediately following World War II. Maybe this one will continue my lucky streak.
  • The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader (United Kingdom)- Another one of those books an anonymous librarian decided to spotlight by standing it up for all to see. Who can resist a novel about a 13th century English anchoress? 

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading to encourage bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write-up your post, steal the Library Loot icon and link your post using the Mr. Linky on Claire’s blog

The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe by Matthew Gabriele and David Perry

Last year in one of my Nonfiction November posts I featured a selection of books about the Middle Ages. One of which was Charles Warren Hollister’s Medieval Europe: A Short History. It’s been a favorite of mine for decades thanks to its straightforward approach and readable style. But my most lasting takeaway from this excellent book is the author’s firm denial a European-wide “Dark Ages” ruled the continent for a thousand years. The reality, Warren Hollister argued is a bit more complex. Over that long length of time some parts of Europe advanced economically and intellectually while others might have stagnated or even regressed. In the decade since I read Medieval Europe the more I’ve read about this period of history the more Warren Hollister’s claim rings true. 

Looking for another decent book on the Middle Ages I recently borrowed a Kindle edition of Matthew Gabriele and David Perry’s late 2021 book The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe. They subscribe to a similar viewpoint. Europe did not spend a thousand years as some benighted peninsula at the extreme end of Eurasia, cut-off economically, culturally and intellectually from the rest of the world. Instead it was a vibrant, dynamic and well-connected continent, enriched mightily by even its most distant neighbors.

Traditionally, many felt the Dark Ages began with the Fall of Rome. As successive waves of barbarian hordes overran the Italian peninsula high culture came to an end. In reality, the Empire’s borders had been growing increasingly porous over the last several hundred years.  Intermarriages involving Roman elites and their foreign counterparts were becoming commonplace. More and more foreign-born soldiers were rising up the ranks of an increasingly polyglot Roman army, with some even becoming generals. And when these invading groups did takeover, they adopted Roman customs and language and quickly converted to Christianity. (Or in the case of the Goths ditched Arianism for the era’s more orthodox Christianity.) Lastly, regardless of who happened to be running the show in Rome the Byzantines still saw themselves as Romans. Carrying on the legacy of Rome they soldiered on until their crushing defeat at the hands of the Turks in the mid 15th century. 

Gabriele and Perry also challenge the notion of Europe’s distinctness vis-à-vis its Islamic neighbors. Both Christianity and Islam, along with Judaism aren’t just monotheistic religions. There are Abrahamic faiths, which comparatively speaking, share more similarities than differences. While Christian armies frequently fought Muslim armies during the Crusades and the Reconquista from time to time they fought as allies, both in the Middle East and Iberia. Intellectually, the writings of Islamic luminaries Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd, (Averroes) together with their Jewish counterpart Maimonides profoundly influenced European thought, especially the theology of Thomas Aquinas. 

After the Mongols’ expansive conquests a well-maintained conduit was established across Eurasia, facilitating the transfer of goods and ideas between Europe and the Far East. Chinese silks flowed west, Catholic missionaries traveled east and a guy named Marco Polo captivated Europe with stories of his travels. 

The Bright Ages, much like the above mentioned Medieval Europe is a straightforward, readable and fresh look at Europe’s Dark Ages which in reality, probably wasn’t all that dark. 

Library Loot

Same old story. Out running errands yesterday, popped into the library for just a few moments and walked out more books. Even though I’m already up to my eyeballs with library books I couldn’t resist grabbing another small stack. Three of these are books I borrowed in the past yet never read. Who knows, maybe this time I finally will.

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading to encourage bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write-up your post, steal the Library Loot icon and link your post using the Mr. Linky on Sharlene’s Blog

Library Loot

Same old story. Out running errands yesterday, dropped by the library to return a book. And walked out the door with four more. Even though I’m already up to my eyeballs with library books I couldn’t resist grabbing more reading material. Will I ever learn? No, of course not. 

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading to encourage bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write-up your post, steal the Library Loot icon and link your post using the Mr. Linky on Claire’s blog.  

Library Loot

Even though I’m making my way through several books right now I could not resist grabbing another sizable stack of reading material when I stopped by the public library yesterday while running errands. My modest small town library never ceases to surprise me with its impressive array of great books. Never underestimate your local public library! 

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading to encourage bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write-up your post, steal the Library Loot icon and link your post using the Mr. Linky on Claire’s blog.  

Library Loot

With a tall stack of library books by my bed I should be content with what I’ve got and continue reading my way through it. But after returning several books to the library the other day I felt reckless and borrowed more. Will I ever learn? Probably not. 

 

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading to encourage bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write-up your post, steal the Library Loot icon and link your post using the Mr. Linky on Claire’s blog.  

Library Loot

With a tall stack of library books by my bed I should be content with what I’ve got and not borrow more. Therefore, I didn’t get carried away the other day at the public library and only grabbed two. One of them, Imre Kertész’s semi-autobiographical novel Fatelessness I hope to apply to both Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge and Introverted Reader’s Books in Translation Reading Challenge. Interestingly enough, both books are by former residents of Hungary. 

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading to encourage bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write-up your post, steal the Library Loot icon and link your post using the Mr. Linky on Sharlene’s blog.  

Library Loot

Every time I return a big stack of books to the public library I turn right around and grab more. That in fact is exactly what I did the other day. (And if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time I’m sure this isn’t exactly news to you!) In addition to my usual selection of books with an international focus I’ve  included a pair of intriguing memoirs. On top of that, five of the six books featured in this week’s Library Loot are by women authors. I’m hoping to apply three of these books towards Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge and one towards Introverted Reader’s Books in Translation Reading Challenge

  • Bitter Lemons of Cyprus: Life on a Mediterranean Island by Lawrence Durrell – I’ve never read anything about the island of Cyprus. Sounds perfect for the European Reading Challenge.
  • The Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine – Set on the Greek island of Lesbos, Lebanese doctor Mina Simpson is forced to confront a humanitarian crises at the island’s Moria refugee camp. 
  • Courage and Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark by Deborah Hopkinson – Yet another book for the European Reading Challenge. 
  • A Dream Called Home by Reyna Grande – A memoir by a woman who fled Mexico on foot at the tender age of nine years old to search of her family in the United States who later went  to graduate from UC Santa Cruz looked too hard to pass up. 
  • Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood – Just like A Dream Called Home, it was equally hard to pass up Lockwood’s memoir of being raised by a father who was, of all things, a Catholic priest. 
  • This House Is Mine by Dörte Hansen – I have a soft spot for books about refugees who fled East Prussia at the end of World War II. Translated from German, I’ll by applying this one towards the Books in Translation Reading Challenge. 

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading to encourage bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write-up your post, steal the Library Loot icon and link your post using the Mr. Linky on Claire’s blog.  

Library Loot

After returning a big stack of books to the public library the other day I was ready for more. In past Library Loots I’ve tended to feature books by authors from outside the US. I’ve also spotlighted stuff by American authors either about, or set in foreign countries. This week is no exception. Much of Canadian writer Yann Martel’s novel is set in Portugal while Per Petterson’s is set in his native Norway. While James Angelos is an American, The Full Catastrophe chronicles his travels through Greece in the wake of the country’s horrible economic meltdown. Lastly, Bosnian writer Dzevad Karahasan explores the horrors inflected upon his nation’s capital during the horrific Yugoslavian Civil War of the 1990s. I’ll be applying all four of these books towards Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge and the bottom two towards Introverted Reader’s Books in Translation Reading Challenge

  • The Full Catastrophe: Travels Among the New Greek Ruins by James Angelos – The worldwide recession of 2007/2008 hit Greece hard. While many nations were able to bounce back after a few short years Greece suffered catastrophic  damage that lasted a decade
  • The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel – 20 years ago Yann Martel’s Life of Pi rocked my world. If this 2016 offering of his is half as good I’ll be satisfied.
  • I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson – In 1989 as Communism unravels across Central and Eastern European a thirty-something Norwegian factory worker must come to grips with a failed marriage, cancer and the shattered illusions of his long-held communist beliefs.
  • Sarajevo, Exodus of a City by Dzevad Karahasan – I checked this one out last summer only to return in ignored and unread. I’d like to give it another shot. Just like last time I suspect I’ll either love it or hate it. Or both.

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading to encourage bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write-up your post, steal the Library Loot icon and link your post using the Mr. Linky on Sharlene’s blog.