I’ve got a new stack of books just itching to be read over the next year. My new year typically begins sometime in November. October and the beginning of November is where most of my trauma occurred, so when I start to feeling better I like to start fresh and a new reading list is one of the ways I try to do it.
I’m getting this out late, so some of the books on my list I have already read. It is also an ambitious list, so we will see if I can get through them all.
This year, I’ll be reading a combination of print books and audio books. I prefer print books, but I have a selection of audio books I keep in the car because I can no longer listen to music (another story for another time).
I haven’t decided yet whether I will make a review list next Fall about the books I’ve read or each time I finish a book. There is only one fiction book on the list. It’s there for a reason. I just don’t like fiction.
Harry Potter – original British editions
When Paul’s father passed away in January 2022, he came back from England with the entire Harry Potter series. I had told him if I was ever going to read the series, I wanted to read the British versions. I’m finally ready to sit down and get through them. Hopefully, they will be a light alternative to some of the books on my list this year. They were on my list for the last two years. I just never got to them.
Longstreet: The Confederate General Who Defied the South by Elizabeth Varon
I have only recently become aware of General James Longstreet. So, I figured, “let’s learn what he did.” The book was released in November 2023.
Star Wars How Not to Get Eaten by Ewoks and Other Galactic Survival Skills by Christian Blauvelt
A humorous guide on how to survive the Star Wars galaxy’s many dangers.
How Democracies Die and Tyranny of the Minority: Why American Democracy Reached the Breaking Point by Steven Levitsky
You can guess what the two books are about just by the titles. Levitsky has come up several times in conversations in r/history on Reddit, so I figured I’d give them a read.
Reconstruction Updated Edition: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 by Eric Foner
I have read a lot of Foner’s works, including papers he’s written. I’ve also watched him in lengthy interviews. One of the best things I ever did was take his Open Yale Course: The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877. Since then, I’ve been trying to learn more about Reconstruction. For many of us Americans, it is rarely taught and, when it is, it is often whitewashed and inaccurate. So, I decided to start learning.
Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880 by W. E. Burghardt Du Bois
Picking up this book is a result of me wanting to know more about reconstruction. I don’t know why Du Bois’ name is like that on Amazon, but I’m not here to nitpick about it.
What It Means to Be Moral: Why Religion Is Not Necessary for Living an Ethical Life by Phil Zuckerman
Phil Zuckerman argues that morality does not come from God. Rather, it comes from us: our brains, our evolutionary past, our ongoing cultural development, our social experiences, and our ability to reason, reflect, and be sensitive to the suffering of others.
By deconstructing religious arguments for God-based morality and guiding readers through the premises and promises of secular morality, Zuckerman argues that the major challenges facing the world today―from global warming and growing inequality to religious support for unethical political policies to gun violence and terrorism―are best approached from a nonreligious ethical framework. In short, we need to look to our fellow humans and within ourselves for moral progress and ethical action.
How to Flourish: An Ancient Guide to Living Well (Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers) by Aristotle (Author), Susan Sauvé Meyer (Translator)
Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics is one of the greatest guides to human flourishing ever written, but its length and style have left many readers languishing. How to Flourish is a carefully abridged version of the entire work in a highly readable and colloquial new translation by Susan Sauvé Meyer that makes Aristotle’s timeless insights about how to lead a good life more engaging and accessible than ever before.
For Aristotle, flourishing involves becoming a good person through practice, and having a life of the mind. To that end, he draws vivid portraits of virtuous and vicious characters and offers sound practical advice about everything from eating and drinking to managing money, controlling anger, getting along with others, and telling jokes. He also distinguishes different kinds of wisdom that are essential to flourishing and offers an unusual perspective on how to appreciate our place in the universe and our relation to the divine.
Omitting Aristotle’s digressions and repetitions and overly technical passages, How to Flourish provides connecting commentary that allows readers to follow the continuous line of his thought; it also features the original Greek on facing pages. The result is an inviting and lively version of an essential work about how to flourish and lead a good life.
Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution by Cat Bohannon
Sarah Lyall of The New York Times wrote in her review of the book, “A page-turning whistle-stop tour of mammalian development that begins in the Jurassic Era, Eve recasts the traditional story of evolutionary biology by placing women at its center…. The book is engaging, playful, erudite, discursive and rich with detail.” Yeah, you bet I’m going to read it with a review like that.
How To Build A Car by Adrian Newey
Adrian Newey is a Formula One engineer. I would argue he’s the best engineer to have ever set foot in Formula One. From 1992 – present, Newey-designed cars have won 12 World Constructors’ and 13 World Drivers’ championships.
The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn by Nathaniel Philbrick
I read Philbrick’s “Mayflower” many years ago and liked it a lot. His style was easy to read, understandable, and I felt he did a good job with the topic. I am interested in a lot of topics on the Plains Indians and the Indian Wars. I’m looking forward to reading this.
Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel
A couple of months back, I interviewed David LaBounty, a certified master clock maker who lives in Mitchell, Nebraska. He is one of the best in the world at his trade and it was a super cool opportunity to be able to interview a guy so good in his field, who only lives about 15 minutes away from me. We got to talking and I told him I was aware of the book when he asked about it. His enthusiasm was infectious and I went and bought the book. I had a free credit on Amazon and purchased the audio book, but I couldn’t listen to it. I suspect it was more my end than the narrator. The paperback, however, was worth the purchase. The book deserves all the praise it has received over the years.
The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution by Richard Wrangham
As someone who has experienced a lot of violence early in life, these topics are often of interest to me. Wrangham’s book was recommended by a lot of other scholars I respect, so I’m going to see what’s in it.
Black AF History: The Un-Whitewashed Story of America by Michael Harriot
History we aren’t taught. Check. Swearing. Check. I’m going to learn something new. Probably multiple checks.
The Cost of Free Land: Jews, Lakota, and an American Inheritance by Rebecca Clarren
This book has received a lot of good reviews and the topic is something I read a lot about.
For F*ck’s Sake: Why Swearing is Shocking, Rude, and Fun by Rebecca Roache
C’mon, how could I not buy a book like this?
John Jay by Walter Stahr
I learned about him in school. Most people don’t know how prominent he was at the founding of the country. Stahr is one of the best biographers out there and he has got new material to work with, so it will be interesting what new things I will learn.
Becoming Superman: My Journey From Poverty to Hollywood by J. Michael Straczynski
JMS wrote Babylon 5, one of my all-time favorite television series. I don’t know why I haven’t read this before, but when I went to look for the book, I saw there was an introduction by Neil Gaiman as well.
The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin by Gordon S. Wood
This one has been out since 2005. It still intrigued me, so I picked up a copy.
The Not-So-Intelligent Designer by Abby Hafer
I’m not sure I would have purchased the book, solely because I’ve been through this topic many times over the years. However, Hafer was recently on The Thinking Atheist and Seth Andrews, the host, mentioned he did the narration for the book. I’ve been following Seth for a long time, since near the time he started his podcast. I love his narrations, so I grabbed myself a copy. I listened to another book he narrated, “Did the Old Testament Endorse Slavery?” by Joshua Bowen. I have all of Bowen’s books, so hearing Seth narrate it is just a bonus for me. You should listen to that one too.
A Brief History of Timekeeping: The Science of Marking Time, from Stonehenge to Atomic Clocks by Chad Orzel
I grabbed this one because I had a free credit from Audible and it looked interesting.
Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife by Bart D. Ehrman
This book came out in 2021. I’ve read almost all of Ehrman’s books and usually enjoy them. It’s popped up enough times as a recommendation, I figured it’s time to finally read it.
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
This has been recommended to me many times. As someone who has been chronically sleep-deprived their entire life, I like reading these kinds of books. It’s interesting to learn how people slept, sleep, and will sleep.
Pockets – An Intimate History of How We Keep Things Close by Hannah Carlson
Here are some quotes I snagged about the book, which I stumbled upon while looking up something else.
Hannah Carlson, a lecturer in dress history at the Rhode Island School of Design, shows us how we tuck gender politics, security, sexuality, and privilege inside our pockets.
Throughout the medieval era in Europe, the purse was an almost universal dress feature carried by men and women alike. But when tailors stitched the first pockets into men’s trousers 500 years ago, it ignited controversy and introduced a range of social issues that we continue to wrestle with today, from concealed pistols to gender inequality.
How is it that putting your hands in your pocket can be seen as a sign of laziness, arrogance, confidence, or perversion?
Max Verstappen: The Inside Track on a Formula One Star by James Gray
It’s Formula One, so of course I’ll read it or listen to it. I’m not sure how much I’ll learn from it. Having read Unstoppable: The Ultimate Biography of Three-Time F1 World Champion Max Verstappen by Mark Hughes last month and being disappointed, I’m not sure what else there is to learn. If you don’t know anything about Max, Unstoppable is a decent introduction. For me, there was little of substance and nothing new for me.
Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism by Rachel Maddow
I just finished this one and I highly recommend it. Maddow narrates the audio book, which helps to keep my interest, but I think I might want to go back and read the book. This was a fantastic listen. The way my brain works, I think reading it will help me to remember all the nuance and connections.
Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham
I stumbled upon this someone a few months back and left it tucked away on my list of things I’d like to read. The topic means this is going to be a really awesome book or a huge disappointment. I’m hoping for the former. Wrangham is a biological anthropologist. His field of expertise was the weakest part of my anthropology degree.
I want to say “that’s it,” but I also know I’m going to come across something in 2024 I want to read, so I guess that’s it for now.