Wednesday, 24 July 2019


All total in my life, I would estimate that I've picked up 2,200-plus books and read them.  At some point as a kid, I was probably reading one book week.  Split between fiction and non-fiction?  It's probably 10-percent fiction, and the rest of historic value.  Somewhere in the middle might be five or six science fiction pieces (Planet of the Apes for example), a book or two by Stephen King, and maybe twenty-odd books over climate change, science topics, and economics.

I made an attempt to read Mein Kampf by Hitler....failing on the first attempt, and then picking it up around twenty years later.  It's not a book that I'd recommend, but mostly because it's basically a manifesto-type document.

Some recommended reading list?  It's marginally possible because I've touched so many books and I might have a list just based on Steinbeck alone, or just one World War I alone.  But I'll list out ten books that I'd tell folks that it's worth a read:

1.  In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692, Norton.  A fact-filled book which covers the pre-events, the background, the chief characters, and the landscape on the crisis itself.  For those who never understood the midst of an Indian War....for some odd reason, religion got turned upside down, and over the course of a few entire region was 'entertained' by accusations of witchcraft.

At the heart of this matter were a couple of teen girls, with great imagination.  By the end, around fifty-odd folks had confessed to satanic stuff, and nineteen of them hanged.  The authorities?  They eventually reached some level where the excitement just couldn't be pumped up anymore, and the circle of accusations might have been close enough to include some of the authorities themselves.

2.  My Man Jeeves, Wodehouse.  Great fictional piece which came out at the conclusion of WW I.  Great wit, and probably good enough for an entire comedy series today.

3.  True Believer, Hoffer.  First of about ten books by Hoffer, coming out in the mid-1950s, and discusses how large groups of people are herded by propaganda into mass movements.  Hoffer was the last intellectual existing in America who never attended college.

It's a book that you can wrap up over a weekend, and it conveys a great deal of historical examples of how people fall for some fake political business.

4.  Animal Farm, Orwell.  You could probably assign this fictional book to some nine-year-old kids, but they would be asking some serious political questions by the end, and it'd be hard to lay out the reality of this world.  It's another book that you can wrap up in a single weekend.  After you read it, you will never be able to avoid skeptical nature with politics.

5.  The Great Fire of London: 1666, Hanson.  It is a fine history piece which lays out London, and how the fire developed.

6.  The Forgotten Man, Schlaes.  Roughly 500 pages of historical coverage over the end of WW I and the path up to the early 1930s.  For those who felt that high school history never introduced them to the period, or explained the causes for Great Depression.....this book weaves a great story.

7. The Prairie Traveler: A Guidebook for Overland Expeditions, Marcy.  It's a weekend book which lays out the hardships and general practices of a wagon-train.  Written in 1859, and I'd highly recommend it.

8.  Pastures of Heaven, Steinbeck.  A book of fictional pieces (maybe ten stories) and entertaining.  To be honest, there's over a dozen Steinbeck books that I'd recommend.

9. Democracy in America, Tocqueville.  Roughly 400 pages and written after his tour of America in the 1830s.  The big adventure of seeing early America by a French guy, who seemed to be thrilled over each week that passed.

10. The Full Catastrophe: Travels Among the New Greek Ruins (2015), Angelos.  Around eight years ago, Greece kinda collapsed (financially).  This writer went over and did a tour of the explain how you get to this level of screwed-up nature.  It's mostly a book about how people reach a point of distrust for the government and all of it's 'promises'.

The problem with this list, is that I'd probably like to make it around 400 books, and mandate kids between the ages of twelve and eighteen read all of these.