The first Unread shelf assignment for this year was to list all unread titles and move them into one location; the second was to purge The Unwanted. I did the first but a sudden outbreak of tornadoes in my area interrupted my plans for the second. This week’s assignment is to list the ten books we’re most interested/exciting in reading this year, or those that will — once read or otherwise dispatched — mark the year as a successful one.
(1) Merchants and Moneymen: The Commercial Revolution, Joseph and Frances Gies. I love the Gies’ medieval social histories, and I’ve had this book for ten years.
(2) The War of 1812, John K. Mahon. I bought this in 2020 during an obsession with the Creek war, and the overlapping and very-much-related War of 1812; this particular volume is older but was recommended to me as a title that integrates the study of both conflicts. In addition to continuing to fill in a gap in my American history, and informing my future explorations to colonial spots on the Gulf Coast, this is a big ol’ book that contributes significantly to Mount Doom’s sheer height.
(3) Copenhaganize: The Definitive Guide to Global Bicycle Infrastructure, Mikaeel Colville-Andersen. Bikes! Cities! Bikes in cities!
(4) Ida Elizabeth, Sigrid Undset. Undset comes highly recommended to me, and this one is a Classics Club title to boot.
(5) The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are, Robert Wright
(6)The Sun in the Church: Cathedrals as Solar Observatories, J.L. Heilbron. Both of these titles have been ‘potential science reads’ for the last three years. Time to round ’em up and move ’em out.
(7) Roads to Liberty, F. Van Wyck Mason. A collection of 4 novellas set in Revolutionary America. Another girthy title, this one will take priority because it was lent to me by someone who now wants it back. To be fair, I have had it for a year and a half. (Don’t lend me books without a firm timeline…)
(8) The Essential Russell Kirk, Russell Kirk.
(9) Purgatorio, Dante. Trans. Anthony Esolen
(10) Paradiso, Dante. Trans. Anthony Esolen. I’m long overdue to finish reading the Commedia. These double as Classics Club reads.
I see you are following the Unread Shelf Project, too. Good for you. I haven’t looked at your initial post, but I will after I comment. I was just wondering if you have a count of how many unreads. After I purged my most current unreads, I got down to 79. Sadly, I donated many I never read. (But the point was to get rid of those you know you’ll never read. At least, that’s what I think.)
I’ve got a Russell Kirk on my shelf, too. I really do hope to read it someday. And like you, I still need to read Purgatorio and Paradiso.
The total count composing Mount Doom was 86, but I’m sure others will surface from my initial survey. Which Kirk is on your shelf? I’ve read his Conservative Mind, Roots of American Order, and America’s British Tradition.
Roots of the American Order. I bought it a million years ago, but I think it had something to do with economy? What is your opinion of it?
Roots of American Order looks at the America’s cultural underpinnings in Judaism, the Greco-Roman classical tradition, and (if I remember correctly) England. I remember enjoying the book enormously, but it was a college title I had to return and never reviewed it properly. One to re-visit. I was also just starting to discover non-Republican conservatism at the time and was still feeling rather self-conscious about it, being then a progressive in good standing, if increasingly disaffected.
I’ve been ‘planning’ to get back into Philosophy for a while now. My three routes back include Ancient classics, Pop culture Philosophy and Ethics/Morality. I certainly have enough books accumulated during my last course and afterwards to keep me going in all three areas for a while!
Pop culture philosophy would be things like “The Philosophy of Breaking Bad”, “Avatar the Last Airbender and Philosophy”, that sort of thing?
(There’s actually one on Better Call Saul. Definitely interested but will to wait until Mount Doom has been given the ol’ strip-mining downsizing treatment.)
Yes, that’s right. The next one in the pile is ‘Battlestar Galactica & Philosophy’… [grin] Although I think the show was (generally) more political than philosophical at times.
That’s still not a series I’ve gotten to. By the way, did you ever explore any Russian/Soviet science fiction? I don’t know that much would have gotten out from behind the curtain, but it would be interesting to see the extent to which authors supported or subtley critiqued the Soviet experiment.
Ooh … popping in to recommend We (1924) by Yevgeny Zamyatin. More on the dystopian side, but it has a science fiction setting.
Thanks! I remember you covering that one….the ur-technodystopia?
I haven’t read any Soviet SF apart from some Lem (although not ‘Solaris’ which I mean to get around to) years ago. I’ve heard very good things about Arkady and Boris Strugatsky who are apparently very good & wrote SF in the 50’s and 60’s I think. I do have ‘Hard to be a God’ by them but, as always, haven’t read it yet! That might be a good place to start if you want to read SF from a Soviet perspective.
I saw them in an anthology that I looked at! Will definitely keep in mind.