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January 3, 2018 · 6:12 pm

2017 In Review: My Favorite Nonfiction

Last week I announced my favorite fiction from 2017 and now it’s time to do the same with my favorite nonfiction works of the year. Of course, it doesn’t matter when these books were published. All that matters is I enjoyed the heck out of them.

  1. The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End by Robert Gerwarth
  2. SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard
  3. Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan
  4. The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan by Gregory Feifer
  5. The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark
  6. The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature by Adam Kirsch
  7. Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers
  8. Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O’Neil
  9. October: The Story of the Russian Revolution by China Miéville
  10. Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century by Tony Judt
  11. The Book Thieves: The Nazi Looting of Europe’s Libraries and the Race to Return a Literary Inheritance by Anders Rydell
  12. Stolen Words: The Nazi Plunder of Jewish Books by Mark Glickman

Considering my reading tastes, perhaps none of us should be surprised 10 out of 12 these books deal with history. Interestingly, four out of those 10 books are about World War One and/or its aftermath. Declaring an overall winner was not easy. In keeping with my World War One focus, I’ll bestow Margaret MacMillan’s Paris 1919 as my favorite nonfiction book of the year.



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2017 In Review: My Favorite Fiction

As the year known as 2017 finally draws to a close, it’s time for me to look back and announce to the world my favorite books of the year. Just like last year, I’ll start by talking about the outstanding fiction from 2017. Later, I’ll follow it up with another post dedicated to my favorite nonfiction books. Of course, this year just like in previous ones, it doesn’t matter when the books were published. All that matters is they’re excellent.

As for declaring an overall winner, it wasn’t easy since all 12 books are fantastic. In the end, it was tough call to make but I awarded it to The Paying Guests. As high as my expectations were for this book, I was not disappointed.

And a diverse collection of novels indeed. Set in faraway locations like Libya, Croatia and Morocco the armchair traveler in me was duly satisfied. So also was my inner historian, with one novel set in turn of the 20th century New York City, one in Stalinist Russia and another in 1920s London. Lastly, several of the below-mentioned books were first time novels. Kudos to their respective authors for a job well done!

  1. The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
  2. The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida
  3. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
  4. In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar
  5. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
  6. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
  7. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
  8. Conclave by Robert Harris
  9. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
  10. The Yid by Paul Goldberg
  11. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
  12. Girl at War by Sara Nović


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Five Bookish Links

I haven’t done a Five Bookish Links post in a month. While I sit here digesting my Thanksgiving leftovers I think it’s time to post a new one.

  1. If you’re like me, you’re curious when it comes to the reading preferences of great authors. If that’s the case, check out this posting on Brian Pickings “The Greatest Books of All Time, As Voted by 125 Famous Authors.”
  2. Speaking of famous authors, according to the Guardian it looks like the personal library Richard Adams, the author Watership Down is up for sale.
  3. Meanwhile, Elon Musk claims he was “raised by books” and credits his success to these eight books.
  4. Personally, I think the concept of “leaderless revolution” is bunk but Carne Ross’ book recommendations on leaderless revolution intrigues me.
  5. Lastly, how can anyone resist an article entitled ‘Ten Books that Changed the World?”

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November 22, 2017 · 2:29 pm

Thanksgiving Readathon 2017

At first I wasn’t going to take part in the inaugural Thanksgiving Readathon but the more I thought I about it, the more I realized I needed to participate. And for several reasons. One, its co-hosts Ottavia from Novels and Nonfiction and Jackie B. from Death by Tsundoku are simply adorable and if my taking part in the Readathon promotes their blogs in any way I’m all for it. Two, by doing the Readathon perhaps I can expose my blog to a new reader or two. Three, just like Nonfiction November this is great opportunity for me to discover new book blogs. Four, if I publicly commit to reading a few selected books who knows, maybe I’ll make some significant reading progress.

Currently, it feels like there’s a mountain of books I want to finish before the end of the year. Making this worse is my nasty little habit of adding additional books to this tower, either from the pubic library or my personal collection. I’m also going to be distracted over the long holiday weekend. Not only will I be partaking in my family’s annual Thanksgiving Feast of Epic Proportions but I’ll also be enjoying a busy social calendar consisting of an evening of post-Thanksgiving adult beverages with wonderful friends, more adult beverages with friends at a local English-style pub and college football on Saturday hopefully watching my alma mater’s beat-down of our in-state rival.

Below are the six books I’ll be reading for the Readathon. Trust me, if I’m able to achieve any reading progress, let alone finish one or two of these books considering my many distractions it’ll be a major miracle. Wish me luck! I’ll need it.

The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End by Robert Gerwarth – To feed my addiction to 20th century history.

Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers by Simon Winchester – I love Simon Winchester. This one has been on my list to read for at least a year.

In Europe’s Shadow: Two Cold Wars and a Thirty-Year Journey Through Romania and Beyond by Robert D. Kaplan – Kaplan’s 2010 book Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power is huge favorite of mine, easily making my year-end Best Nonfiction List in 2011. This one is for Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge.

Age of Anger: A History of the Present by Pankaj Mishra – In order to explain today’s religious-based violence and far-right extremism Mishra looks to the past, specifically the 19th century for answers.

Fatelessness by Imre Kertesz – One of two novels on this list. Another one for the European Reading Challenge.

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova – The other novel on my list. This one is also for the European Reading Challenge.


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November 15, 2017 · 8:05 pm