- A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
- Colonization: Down to Earth, Harry Turtledove
- Armageddon in Retrospect, Kurt Vonnegut
- Almost Everyone’s Guide to Science, Joshua Gribbin
- Women in the Middle Ages, Frances and Joseph Gies
Following this I read Almost Everyone’s Guide to Science, a science book that provides the reader with a basic understanding of everything from atoms to evolution to the universe. The author begins with the atom and then moves up — atoms to the molecules of life, the Sun to the solar system, the solar system to the universe — and ties chapters neatly together at the end with a brief summary that doubles as a lead-in to the next chapter. I think the book is well-done.
Lastly, I read Women in the Middle Ages by Frances and Joseph Gies. The book is typical of the Gies in that it is a short, well-written historical narrative that quotes generous from primary sources and employs medieval art to illustrate its points. The book is divided into background chapters — which examine women in the context of feudalism and theology — and case-study chapters that focus on individual women to show what life was like for other women in their position. The case-study women range from working-class to nuns to noblewomen. I think Women in the Middle Ages may be one of the Gies‘ better works.
Pick of the Week: A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
Quotation of the Week: “Reading and writing are in themselves subversive acts. What they subvert is the notion that things have to be the way they are, that you are alone, that no one has ever felt the way you have. What occurs to people when they read Kurt is that things are much more up for grabs than they thought they were. The world is a slightly difference place just because they read a damn book. Imagine that.” – Mark Vonnegut, Armageddon in Retrospect
- The Knight in History, Frances and Joseph Gies
- The Russian Revolution, Richard Pipes
- Why People Believe Weird Things, Michael Shermer