Tuesday, December 3, 2013

2013 Reading, Books 103-108

I spent much of November in something of a reading drought, but managed to break it over Thanksgiving week. We visited my in-laws in Tulsa, so I had the whole week off work with two long flights on either end--perfect reading time!

103) Women in English Society 1500-1800, Mary Prior (ed.).

My next randomly chosen research selection, this one had less to do with the world I write about than I expected because it would've been bettered titled Women in English Society 1500-1700. Only one of the chapters had much to say about the 18th century. (My books are set in the opening decades of the 19th century, but the Regency has more in common with the Georgian 18th century than the Victorian heart of the 19th.) That said, it was informative and interesting in a dry, academic sort of way. I was particularly intrigued by the chapter on Tudor bishops' wives, because I so take for granted the respected role of a Protestant pastor's wife that I'd never properly considered how unprecedented and even scandalous married clergy would've seemed to the people of England just after the break with Rome.

104) The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, by Tom Reiss.

The fascinating biography of Thomas-Alexandre Dumas (father of the famous author), son of a French marquis and a Haitian slave, brought to France as a teenager by his father a few years prior to the French Revolution. He enlisted in the cavalry as a common soldier, but after the Revolution he rose to the rank of General D'Armee. Toussaint Louverture held the same rank, but the next black officer to hold an equivalent rank in a western army? Colin Powell.

He died relatively young, in 1806. Still, I'm surprised that with my years of reading about his era I'd never heard of him before. Partly that's because my focus is more on later parts of the Napoleonic Wars, but I've read about the invasion of Egypt and the Italian campaigns he was involved in without encountering him, either. Turns out Dumas, who held strong republican beliefs, didn't like Napoleon, who returned the contempt with interest...and when it was in Napoleon's interest to curry favor with slaveholders and reinstate racist laws, there wasn't a place for a commander like Alex Dumas. Hence his small place in the history books...

105) 250 Things You Should Know About Writing, by Chuck Wendig.

I enjoy Wendig's blog and Twitter commentary on writing and writers, and this short book was a good set of quick reminders about various aspects of the fiction-writing process. I expect to refer to the character and plotting sections in the future.

106) Eat, Play, Lust, by Tawna Fenske.

Another very short read (do you sense a theme here?), a fun quick romance where a yoga instructor heroine with food issues begins a promising relationship with a chef who helps her enjoy the pleasures of food along with other pleasures of the flesh.

107) This Wicked Gift, by Courtney Milan.

For my last read in my romance TBR challenge for 2013--theme, holiday reads--I read Courtney Milan's first published work. More detailed post to come later in the month.

108) Game Change, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.

Gossipy account of the 2008 election. In political terms that now feels like ancient history, but reading it brought back some of the intensity of living through it. Confirmed and intensified my already emphatic opinion that the Democrats dodged a major bullet by not nominating John Edwards. And I like Hillary and am ready to support her if she runs in 2016, but she'd sure better pick a better team to run her campaign.

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