Tag: History

The Best and Worst of 2022

Dear readers and friends, it’s been ages. What can I say? Work, obligation, and plain old fatigue. I’ve read a lot, but haven’t felt inspired to write about any of it. I haven’t read much romance, though a recent read, Mimi Matthews’s “A Holiday By Gaslight,” by no means stellar, but comforting in that finely-written-lovely-protags-way Matthews has, will see me mix romance into the reading pool again. I’m glad: I’ve missed its hope in life and love.

I read mediocre books, great books, and forgettable books: it’s been a good reading year, not a terribly good blogging one. I’ve read fiction and non-fiction, in English and French, novels, histories, and memoirs. You won’t see a best rom of the year because I needed a break from the genre, but hope to offer some romance reviews in 2023. Here are some of the books you might want, with holiday reading time hopefully at a maximum, to try. If you follow me on Goodreads (my sole SM indulgence these days, with the rom-fun Twitter days ne’er to return) some might sound familiar. (more…)

Reading David Graeber and David Wengrow’s THE DAWN OF EVERYTHING: A NEW HISTORY OF HUMANITY

The_Dawn_Of_EverythingI was immersed in Graeber and Wengrow’s brick of a book for the final week of my Christmas holiday. With a province once again locked down and curfewed and a low-grade pandemic-engendered melancholy, it nevertheless buoyed my spirits. Dawn of Everything is optimistic, ambitious, and convincing. It’s written with a populist bent I found headily accessible and likeable. I liked that the authors weren’t shy, or coy about their political leanings: left-wing, anarchist, and equal parts communal and humanist. (And I liked that they started out by pointing critiques at Steven Pinker and Yuval Harari; though I have respect for the latter, I have eye-rolling contempt for the former. If Pinker is quixotically positive about what he doesn’t recognize as our present predicaments, then Harari is beautifully, more temperamentally-in-tune-with-yours-truly pessimistic.) The “Davids”, as I’ve heard them called on various podcasts, are here to answer the question “why we’re stuck?” with the answer, “we’re not,” maybe qualified to “we don’t have to be,” and, though it takes them 700 pages to say so, the ride is fun, which doesn’t make it any less serious or scholarly.   (more…)

REVIEW: Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 LESSONS FOR THE 21st CENTURY

21_Lessons_for_the_21st_CenturyIt has been a long while since I’ve written about my reading. “The world is too much with us,” us poor working folks, or as Harari says in his latest, everyone is too busy to look around and analyze how our world is shifting, changing, transforming, and dangerously so. Hence, why Harari sees his role, the historian’s role, as one providing clarity. Reading 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, certainly “clarifies” what ills beset our world. Moreover, his book is fearless, brilliant, and terrifying.

“All is vanity, saith the preacher” … Harari takes our Western “vanities”, our most closely-held ideals, as illusions, as the fictions of childish adults, and bashes our shibboleths to smithereens. It is a powerful, relentless argument that strips away at every illusion of Western cultural, political, religious, and economic bulwarks. Not that the East escapes: he has less to say about it, but what he does say, stays pretty much in the same vein. No one is exempt and no one escapes from Harari’s frightening intellect. In the end, not even Harari himself. (more…)