View Full Version : How many books do you read?

03-10-2006, 12:14 PM
This is an offshoot of another thread related to American History and how it is taught in our school system.

School is a great place to get the basics. However, reading books not required by the school is where one gets different interpretations of our history. If one does not read, of course, they will come away with a jaded perspective of our past. I have also found it interesting to read books written by nonAmericans for an even more interesting and different perspective.

So, here is the question. The subject material is really not that relevent.

How many books have you read this week, or this month, or this year?
Do you read one book a week, two, three, or more?
What was the last book you read regarding US History? Have you read Ellis, McCullough, Henry Adams, Smith ( Washington ), or Hendrickson ( Hamilton )

If you have not read any Am. History, what are you reading?

[ 03-10-2006, 12:17 PM: Message edited by: uncas ]

Dolly Varden
03-10-2006, 12:17 PM

i just now am finishing up his "1776". it must take a hell of a lot of work to write something like that. he tells an interesting story as well

03-10-2006, 12:18 PM
Dolly he does write well. And I think Truman ws the best biography of a US president in print. Well, John Adams wasn't bad either.
I have not read 1776 yet. It is on my list. I'm stuck with the Russians at the moment.

[ 03-10-2006, 12:25 PM: Message edited by: uncas ]

03-10-2006, 12:25 PM
I read two or three at a time. How many a month varies a lot.

Right now, I am reading "Herpetology," "Sailing Directions (En Route) - East Coast of South America", and re-reading "Historia de la Arquitectura Occidental."

03-10-2006, 12:27 PM
George. I know nothing about herps. Except for rattlesnakes, which I worked on, and a few species I worked on for DNR. All I have in my herpetology collection are guides.
And, as you, I read three or four books at the same time. I usually have one serious book of a historical nature,(usually dry reading) one "who done it" and a reread of an old classic.

actually, I have one Joe (CSOH) gave to me. Light, humorous, and fun to read. :D

[ 03-10-2006, 12:29 PM: Message edited by: uncas ]

Memphis Mike
03-10-2006, 12:30 PM
"Right now, I am reading "Herpetology,"

George, if you want to learn more about snakes come on to the US and I'll take you to a snake handling church in WV and let you "take up thy serpent."

[ 03-10-2006, 12:31 PM: Message edited by: Memphis Mike ]

Uncle Duke
03-10-2006, 12:30 PM
Like George, I tend to have several going at the same time. (I assume that we are not counting re-reading.)
Just finished Scott Liell's "46 Pages", about Thomas Paine and "Common Sense". Great book, fascinating subject. I'm (very slowly) working through Borges' "Collected Fictions", and ready to start on Eva Brann's "Paradoxes of Education in a Republic" (not excited about that one, but I promised that I'd read it).

Matt J.
03-10-2006, 12:35 PM
multi books here as well...

On Celtic Tides is the only current one, though.

Next is a book about the discovery/development of the compass and the last three of the Hornblower books; I'm still trying to find "Chesapeake Blues" Jamie, and avoided buying a random "Chesapeake ecology" book at B&N.

I've really lost my taste for fiction, but sometimes they are nice for a lazy Sunday.

03-10-2006, 12:37 PM
I have an 18 page pamphlet titled " A Letter From A Minster To A Bishop Of His Dioses which discusses at great length the immorality (etc) of today's youth. Eighteen pages of it! It could have been written in 2006.
On the last page, is the date. Feb 28th, 1691.
A different perspective? Yes!

03-10-2006, 12:38 PM
I'll send it to you.

Keith Wilson
03-10-2006, 12:40 PM
I read too damn many books. Lately:

A bunch of books by Alexander McCall-Smith, the entire No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series (I went through them like potato chips, one a day), plus Portuguese Irregular Verbs and The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs.
The Enlightenment; the Rise of Modern Paganism, by Peter Gay (Sam would love that one! ;) )
Darwin Among the Machines, by Peter Dyson (the Baidarka guy, actually)
River Out of Eden, by Richard Dawkins
Driving Over Lemons; An Optimist in Andalucía, by Chris Stewart
A couple of books on knifemaking and metallurgy

And Duke, have fun with Borges! He’s one of my favorites. I particularly like Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,

03-10-2006, 12:40 PM
I don't know if I should admit this, but the last book on US history that I read was "A Cartoon History of the United States," by Larry Gonick...

Prior to that, it was some poorly-connected narrative by Victor Davis Hansen, trying to prove that the United States military rules the world because of its commonality with the Athenian military of 480 BC. In between, he argues that the Roman loss at Cannae actually reinforces his thesis, and that the Franks at Tours were really citizen soldiers, while their Arab opponents were disorganized hordes of barbarians.

Gonick was funnier.

Bruce Hooke
03-10-2006, 12:41 PM
Let's see...in the last month or two here are some of the books I am in the process of reading or have read:

Greenland Expedition: Where Ice Is Born by Lonnie Dupre

The Greenland Mummies by Jens Peder Hart Hansen

This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland by Gretel Ehrlich

To the Arctic: An Introduction to the Far Northern World by Steven B. Young

Greenland Journal by Rockwell Kent

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp

Taking the Leap: Building a Career As a Visual Artist by Cay Lang

In terms of American history, it has been a little longer since I have done much reading in that area. I am especially interested in the history of the early settlement through the industrial revolution in New England. So, some of my relatively recent reading in this area has been:

Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England by William Cronon

Reflections in Bullough's Pond: Economy and Ecosystem in New England by Diana Muir

The Coming of Industrial Order: Town and Factory Life in Rural Massachusetts, 1810-1860 by Jonathan Prude

I am not so interested in war histories or in biographies so I have not read so much in those areas...

03-10-2006, 12:46 PM
A diverse list and a very diverse crowd here on the forum.
I think what I was trying to write, and obviously not well, we read books in school. We are given one perspective because of the way the history program is designed. Questioning what we learn only comes from reading books on the same subject outside of the classroom environment.
No one, I hope believes that Washington could not tell a lie, cut down a cherry tree and threw a guinea across the Patomac River.
The only way to get a true sense of history is through reading books. Not by listening to the fables taught in the classroom.
This is, or was I thought, the connection to the other thread.

03-10-2006, 12:47 PM
Originally posted by Matt J.:
Next is a book about the discovery/development of the compass ...If it is one by a Turkish author, Amir something-or-other, you better watch out. SamF will not approve... ;)

03-10-2006, 12:48 PM
Originally posted by Keith Wilson:
Portuguese Irregular Verbs :eek:

Those become easier to understand after a couple of caipirinhas...

03-10-2006, 12:49 PM
I did not intend to make this a thread centered on who has read the most. "I'm better than you" attitidue. I was attempting to show that what we read often is the opposite of what we learn in school especially with history and that what we read effects what we think of historical figures, events, and what is really the history of a country.

[ 03-10-2006, 12:51 PM: Message edited by: uncas ]

Alan D. Hyde
03-10-2006, 01:08 PM
Best recent historical work that I have read---

Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer.

His Albion's Seed and Paul Revere's Ride are both classics.

James M. McPherson has written nothing that isn't well done.

I've read 1776, and it was good, although among McCullogh's writing, I liked his John Adams better.


[ 03-10-2006, 01:08 PM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

Keith Wilson
03-10-2006, 01:12 PM
Despite what one might think, Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alxander McCall-Smith has nothing at all to do with Portuguese irregular verbs. :D :D :D

This book chronicles the activities of Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, professor of philology and author of Portuguese Irregular Verbs, a scholarly tome of 1200 pages, only 200 copies of which have been sold and even fewer of which (if any) have been read. Von Igelfeld's dentist uses her copy as the perfect step stool for reaching patients.

[ 03-10-2006, 01:13 PM: Message edited by: Keith Wilson ]

Dolly Varden
03-10-2006, 01:17 PM
Originally posted by uncas:
I did not intend to make this a thread centered on who has read the most. "I'm better than you" attitidue.i was just getting ready to tell how im 30% of the way through the library of congress :(

03-10-2006, 01:25 PM
All of the Robert Caro books on LBJ. Lord, spare him till he finishes.
Bernard Fall on the French in Viet Nam. The general who lost at Dien Bien Phu traced his martial heritage to the Crusades.(Hell In A Very Small Place).
All Barbara Tuchman.
currently, Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of rivals on Lincoln and his cabinet. Abe was I think a candidate for greatest american.

[ 03-10-2006, 01:25 PM: Message edited by: troutman ]

N. Scheuer
03-10-2006, 01:26 PM
Barack Obama's Autobiography was the most recent I've read.

The Devil In The White City (Chicago World's Fair) will be my next.

I enjoy History, especially Military History. In ROTC I aced all of the tests, as I'd already read it all for recreation.

Reading about the wars of the World has also given me an excellent sense of Geography, as has extensive reading of people like the Hiscocks cruising under sail.

Moby Nick

Matt J.
03-10-2006, 01:28 PM
George., that's the one. I bought it with "The Measure of All Things" (about the botched job of determining the meter)... a couple years ago now...

Bruce Hooke
03-10-2006, 01:41 PM

I think it should maybe be noted the high school history classes do not need to be taught from just one perspective nor as simply a list of names, dates and anecdotes. In one of my high school history classes we had to write a paper on the Pullman Strike in Chicago based on various writings from the time rather than on later summaries and histories. This lesson stuck with me because it felt like real history, not like someone else's distillation of history to fit into a high school history text book.

I'll grant you that history probably is not taught this way to most high school students, but that is not because it can't be.

03-10-2006, 01:45 PM
I am the last to disagree.
There is one major hangup which has raised its head over the past 10 yrs. TESTING and methods used to teach a class; any class in order to pass the test.
I sense that you are over 40, as I am. We missed the massive amount of testing that now is required. I would be very surprised whether, in today's schools, writing a history paper is asked for, expected, and received by the teachers.

I give up. I was attempting to say that school is not an education in itself, it is a means to an education. Reading books is an education. What we learn in the classroom is minor to what we can learn outside of it.

[ 03-10-2006, 02:06 PM: Message edited by: uncas ]

George Roberts
03-10-2006, 02:09 PM
I gave up reading books many years ago.

Technical books take too much effort to make sure that the symbolic math is all done correctly. It is easier to write for my self.

History books. Well, I am laughing to much. Written history always is found out to be fiction.

Bruce Hooke
03-10-2006, 02:09 PM

I would not disagree with anything you just said, EXCEPT for my age! I will not pass the 40 mark until next Wednesday! :D

Even when I was in high school I expect that most schools were not giving the sort of assignment I was getting. Even leaving the whole testing issue aside (and it is a big issue IMOOP), assigning papers is not just a lot of work for the students, it is also a lot of work for the teachers because they have to read and grade all the papers, so it is not as viable if every teacher has a huge number of students to deal with.

I think your underlying point is good as well -- that school is really only a start, and that to really get a handle on something like American (not to mention world) history you have to keep learning about it throughout your life. History may be "worse" than some other subjects on this count because life experience is probably especially helpful when it comes to understanding history.

03-10-2006, 02:10 PM
Bruce...damn, you are younger than I thought. ;)
Oh yes, of course, happy birthday!!!!

[ 03-10-2006, 02:11 PM: Message edited by: uncas ]

Bruce Hooke
03-10-2006, 02:10 PM
:D ;)

[ 03-10-2006, 02:11 PM: Message edited by: Bruce Hooke ]

03-10-2006, 05:45 PM
The amount of reading I do has diminished quite a bit in recent years, currently Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything and a light weight pulp by Jeremy Clarkson the car fellow.
In many ways time spent online is reading albeit less formal in structure.

[ 03-10-2006, 05:45 PM: Message edited by: Stiletto ]

Paul Pless
03-10-2006, 05:54 PM
I read quite a bit.

Usually two newspapers a day.

U.S. News and World Report weekly.

Road and Track, Woodenboat, Scientific American, The Economist, Classicboat, and a few others monthly.

I have at least 5000 books that I have read in my library at home. I usually keep one classic literature novel and one other book going at any one time. Last week I finished Guns Germs and Steel, as well as, For Whom The Bell Tolls. I'm looking for good biographies of Teddy Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson right now.

I also voraciously read cruising accounts, such as Bernard Moitessier's books.

I hardly ever read the best seller's list. for pure pleasure I delve into Sci-Fi. (which reminds me...)

Ian McColgin
03-10-2006, 06:12 PM
I read about five books per week, usually two or three novels and then balance between various cultural, historical, scientific or whatever.

I usually avoid current political memoirs-rants-polemics.

03-10-2006, 07:10 PM
Paul, I think Edmund Morris wrote a few books on TR awhile back. I remember reading the first one The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt or something along those lines. I think it was an enjoyable read....

[ 03-10-2006, 07:12 PM: Message edited by: Ethan ]

03-10-2006, 08:05 PM
about one every two or three weeks

Hal Forsen
03-10-2006, 08:07 PM
Still working on McCullough's John Adams bio and also reading Bret Harte's Tales of The West and Shark Mutiny by Patrick Robinson, a novel that has the PRC teaming up with Iran to mine the straits of Hormuz....
I read history, military and historical novels, bios, sci fi and how to/technical stuff and I always have at least a couple books going at once.....
I subscribe to WB,MAIB,Sportfishing and Pacific Fisherman and recently decided to not renew a long running sub. to National Fisherman.


03-10-2006, 10:02 PM
William Baker's Sloops and Shallops.

Victor Chinnery's Oak Furniture, the British Tradition

(.)Use and Restoration of Traditional Hand Tools.

03-12-2006, 02:59 AM
I read in bursts....sometimes a lot, then not much for months .It really depends on how much energy is left over after work :(

Current reading....
The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers /Paul Kennedy
The Ocean Sailing Yacht/Donald Street
True History of the Kelly Gang/Peter Carey...well actually it's beside my chair ,its going to have to wait a week or so.

and I just finished a great bit of SF...The Mote in Gods's Eye /Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle...very good smile.gif

03-12-2006, 08:14 AM
I don't read. I get my information from Watching Fox news, and listening to talk radio. If it isn't on one of those information sources, it's not important, or it's liberal lies.

03-12-2006, 08:20 AM
If I am watching the news, I surf them all. If I hit them right, I get the same story with different spins.It's like have Rush and Carvell on the same channel. Actually not a bad idea, I wouldn't have to surf as much.

03-12-2006, 08:29 AM
ever since the Kosovo war I've been reading a lot of world poltics, my retention is pretty bad but it gives me a guilty pleasure to recognize the writer of a news article in the op/eds is someone I've read before.

03-12-2006, 08:53 AM
Originally posted by Mrleft8:
I don't read. I get my information from Watching Fox news, and listening to talk radio. If it isn't on one of those information sources, it's not important, or it's liberal lies.OOOH, I wanna vote for you! :eek:

oops, sorry, been done.

03-12-2006, 09:02 AM
Jamie, I agree with your premise. You won't get much of an education in school but if you are lucky you will learn how to learn. I am currently working my way through "The Discoverers" by Daniel J. Boorstin.
I encounter people that have college degrees but almost no knowledge, no books in their homes, no technical or scientific periodicals, no classical music and they can't discuss the simplest chemical or physical concepts.
If we read between the lines of the questions posted on the forums, it becomes clear that the poster doesn't know enough to define his problem.

03-12-2006, 09:05 AM
You got the essence of my question.
I too have met college grads who forgot, somewhere a long the line, that an education doesn't and shouldn't stop once he has a college degree in hand.

03-12-2006, 04:04 PM
dunno read much fiction...leaving that fer the mooovies..
recently transferred about 3500 pounds of books to some other folks, everything from art/history/firearms and boats/boatbuilding in general...currently rereading (after about 40 years) Land of the spotted eagle, by chief Luther Standing Bear...

03-12-2006, 06:25 PM
In this same thread, How many of you read aloud to another person?
My father always read to his kids when they were young, I always have read to my kids and Grand kids and I often read aloud to Nancy while she is working.
I admit that Nancy reads far more than I but mostly novels and I tend more to non-fiction.

03-13-2006, 03:50 PM
Talk about feeling inadequacy. I have been reading steadly lately, finish one book pick up another. Use to read two or three at any one time. Reading mosthly fiction and the like.
My wife is in the MFA program at Fresno State for creative non-fiction and the class she is in now has her reading a book a week. When I finish my current, I'll pick up one of hers. She was telling me about the autobiography of Ben Franklin, I think that will be the one I go for.