December 28, 2007


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"Unto my Books—so good to turn—
Far ends of tired Days..."-- Emily Dickinson

One way of wrapping up the year is to look back on the year's reading. Here are some of El Cabrero's greatest hits of 2007 (meaning books read but probably not written then).

CLASSICS. I was in a Greco-Roman mood this year and spent an inordinate amount of reading time plowing through quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore. For reasons that now escape me, I revisited Herodotus' Histories and Thucydides' Peloponnesian War, some of Plutarch's Greek and Roman Lives, the Oresteia of Aeschylus,and topped it off with Suetonius' Twelve Caesars. I wanted to write here about Suetonius, but the sexual habits of the Caesars seemed a bit out there for a family blog.

POETRY didn't get as much attention as I would have liked, but I did give Billy Collins' Nine Horses and Sailing Alone Around the Room a go.

FICTION. For some reason, I thought I might be a better person if I went back to Brothers Karamazov, but that didn't seem to happen as far as I can tell. A Separate Peace was good. I know most people read that one in jr. high or high school, but I didn't get the memo. Cooper's Last of the Mohicans was kind of fun. And to clear the palate, I gave Kenzaburo Oe's Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness a go (thanks SS and sorry it took me 9 years to finally read it). This was about my fourth time through Heart of Darkness, but I think I finally got it.

PHILOSOPHY. What can I say? It was a Nietzsche year (but then aren't they all?). I hit Beyond Good and Evil and The Genealogy of Morals. This year I had to finally go out and get my own copy of Birth of Tragedy. The Wagner parts are kind of loopy but I like the talk about Apollo and Dionysus and art redeeming life and making it bearable. El Cabrero leans to the Apollonian in most things except liquid refreshments.

RELIGION. Anne Lamott's Grace Eventually was a hoot. I'm afraid I can't say the same about Karl Barth's Credo. Elaine Pagels' and Karen L. King's Reading Judas was an interesting take on a recently discovered apocryphal gospel.

BIOGRAPHY. Craig Nelson's Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations was one of this year's best. Antony Everitt's Augustus wasn't bad either. Another good one was Walter Isaacson's Einstein, although I zoned out on the physics parts.

About 10 of the above were in audio. If you have any favorites, I'm all ears.

ASSASSINATION. Here's NY Times coverage.

WAR. Don't blame our genes.

PROSPERITY "THEOLOGY" of the give-us-lots-of-money-and-God-will-make-you-rich variety is coming under greater scrutiny.

RETIREMENT WOES. Retirement security--or the lack thereof--is a huge and growing issue. Here are some possible solutions from the Economic Policy Institute.



Buzzardbilly said...

Isaacson's "Einstein" was a good read, but I still prefer Hoffman's "Einstein: Creator and Rebel"

LOL at every year being a Nietzsche year.

El Cabrero said...

I snagged Isaacson's because it was recorded. That way I could chase the Nietzschean Uber-goats and "read" at the same time.