Yea, like I’m Bill Gates, and I am going to put out a summer reading list. Well, not exactly, and as you can imagine – “not exactly” is an understatement (that is, me being like Bill Gates).
I am a great reader though, and I always have at least half a dozen books with bookmarks poking out, and reminding me of where I left off. I used to be better about the finishing part of reading a book, but my age has become my reading enemy. I get tired and fall asleep way too easy now days.
So, what am I reading right now? You may find my reading pile interesting and you may say, “Ugh.” You’ll just have to read on and decide for yourself.
I’ll start with pure entertainment, a Daniel Silva espionage book titled, “The English Girl.” I have probably read at least a dozen of Daniel Silva’s spy books, and they are all good, but I am getting a little bored with Mr. Silva. I thought his first books in the saga of Gabriel Allon, Israeli spy, master assassin, and art restorer were great. Now, the books have become, in my opinion, too formulaic, and I am not as enthused as I once was with this series. If you are inclined, go and read the early books Mr. Silva wrote in this set. They are better stories. Or better yet, stick with John LeCarre. You cannot beat “Smiley’s People” and all of the other LeCarre espionage books.
Next in my reading pile is a book of essays by Noel Perrin titled, “Second Person Rural.” I am finding I enjoy essays more and more in my geriatric age (might have something to do with I can read them in one sitting from beginning to end), and Noel Perrin writes about all things rural in my neck of the woods, Orange County, Vermont. This book is one of a series of essays about part-time farming and rural living in Vermont. The first one is titled naturally, “First Person Rural.” There is also a “Third Person Rural,” and one more after that. Mr. Perrin was a Dartmouth professor, he writes well, and is entertaining. I have read all of his stuff years ago and I am finding my way to revisit these books. It might have something to do with me being some sort of a “…person rural” in heart and mind.
Moving down through my stack, I see where I have a bookmark left in “The Mueller Report.” I will get back to this one, maybe next winter, or someday soon. Someone other than me will write the final chapter on Trump, sooner rather than later I hope. I know enough to understand that impeachment is really a political process, and obstruction of justice is about committing a crime. If these two converge sometime along, there is a war that is yet to be fought. The divisions in our country have become deep and hard. Too many are doing all they can to divide us both politically and culturally. There is nothing encouraging about any of this. I will leave “The Mueller Report” half read for a while longer.
A little deeper in my reading pile is a copy of “American Dialogue: The Founders and Us” by Joseph Ellis. He is a good historian. You may have read an earlier book of his titled, “Founding Brothers.” I am about half way through “American Dialogue.” I picked it up because I am interested in the time when our constitution was being written, argued over, and finding its way into a living document as a grand example of compromise. Just being able to compromise about anything, and in this case, something so close to our core fascinates me. We need some lessons in the art of compromise. Contrary to the opinions of today’s political parties, compromise is not a dirty word, it is essential to the health of a democracy. The notion of “the health of a democracy” is something too many leaders today have totally lost sight of. I curse them every day for this – yes, I do.
Oh boy, now a heavy tome if there every was one, and in many ways. I am coming to a wonderful book (for me, at least) by an economic historian, Adam Tooze. The book I am about half way through is titled, “CRASHED: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World.” Some of you may be familiar with Adam Tooze. He occasionally has opinion pieces about economics in the “New York Times.” I picked this book because I realize I do not understand the economics and financial system as it works today. I am totally baffled how some jerky president can tweet some nonsense and this will impact the stock market in a big way from one day to the next. I always thought investing was a careful and deliberative process – I am far from a believer in this anymore. Too many talking heads seem to be able to influence the markets in a big way from one day to the next just by running their mouths. Can you tell my prejudice here?
Anyway, “CRASHED” by Adam Tooze goes a long way to explaining what happened in the fall of 2008, what led up to this financial meltdown, and what has been happening since – or why has the recovery been so slow, or non-existent for many. This book gets deep into the weeds of economics and finance with a lot of history to give you the backstory and also an understanding of what happened, how it happened, why it happened, and is it going to be fixed. My big take-away from this book so far is that we were so close to falling off a financial cliff in 2008-9, and we did not. We narrowly avoided a complete financial disaster that could have made the “Great Depression” look like a small problem. Most Americans have no idea how close we came to revisiting an economic Stone Age. Many much smarter than I am pulled us though this, the story is fascinating, and yes, it was a bipartisan effort. The effort stalled with the election of 2010 and the loss of Congress to the Republicans. This did not need to be the end of the recovery, but it was due to hyper partisanship – enter Mitch McConnell and some of his jerky buddies in the House Freedom Caucus, aka Tea Party. Well, enough said here.
My last book in my reading pile is one I have read at least once before, a collection of essays by Barbara Kingsolver titled, “Small Wonder.” I like Barbara Kingsolver and have been a fan her writing for some time. I think I need to ditch Daniel Silva and stick with Barbara Kingsolver more and more.
“Small Wonder” is a collection of Ms. Kingsolver’s essays that speak to issues of the environment, peace, and family. It is kind of nice to get back to some writing that makes your heart feel good and this happens with Barbara Kingsolver’s, “Small Wonder.”
I should close with mentioning that I am always game for good short stories, especially American classics. I am reading again an anthology of great American short stories (after all, we perfected this genre). I always like to keep these stories close at hand. They remind me what good writing is all about.
I hope my sharing here is interesting and revealing too. I will revisit my reading stack from time to time and share good reads with you. Take care, good reading.