A friend of mine called me on the phone a few minutes ago asking if he could pick up some books at the library for me, and I politely told him that I was planning on going to the library and picking up some books there this week. Nonetheless, as reading books is something that is very important to me, and the subject of much of my thinking and expression, I figured it might be worthwhile, in advance of what are sure to be several book review on this site, to examine some of the books I have on my list of books on hold at my local public library and why I am reading them.
Please Understand Me and Please Understand Me II, by David Keirsey
I am fond of personality theory (I happen to be an ENTJ myself), and given my family’s recent expression of the same interest I have long had, I thought it worthwhile to pick up a couple of short and foundational books on the subject that were easily accessible so that I could review them and share them with my folks. After all, there is nothing like sharing a good book with someone else interested in the same subject. It’s sharing a bit of yourself, after all. I’m not sure if I will blog on these books of my family’s interest in personality, but I’m thinking about it.
Somalia: The Missed Opportunities, by Mohamed Sahnoun and The Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, and Djibouti, by Harold and Geraldine Woods
I am looking, of course, to continue my reading and gathering theoretical and historical data on the geopolitical region of the Horn of Africa, and on its cultural history. I would love to find some analysis on Somaliland and the history of its fractious union with Italian Somaliland, though I’m not sure these books will provide the sort of cultural information I am looking for. At least they will provide a bit more context and perspective on the issues of that region, to help my research. I am fairly certain that a review on each of these books will follow shortly after I finish them, so that I may share what insights I gain from each books with the rest of the readers of the blog. I would particularly appreciate hearing comments from people who are in the Horn of Africa and can respond with first-hand knowledge to supplement what I read.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning French, by Gail Stein, The Everything Italian Book: Speak, Write, and Understand Basic Italian In No Time, by Ronald Glenn Wrigley, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning Italian, by Gabrielle Ann Euvino
One of the more neglected aspects of research and graduate school, for the population at large, is the ability to understand primary documents written in other languages. Despite the fact that Somaliland is the successor state to British Somaliland and therefore documents on its precise colonial experience are (mercifully) in English, French Somaliland (now Djibouiti) and Italian Somaliland (now Somalia) are also necessary aspects of some of the cross-cultural research I wish to take. To read the primary source documentation it will be necessary for me to learn how to read sufficiently will in French and Italian, so I wish to do what I can to bolster that. Hence the books on language. Wish me luck! I plan on writing a very lengthy series of blog entries on the aspect of language on research besides specific reviews on the three books listed here.
Lincoln At Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President, by Harold Holzer, and The Real Lincoln: A New Look At Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and An Unnecessary War, by Thomas DiLorenzo
I have already read the first book, and it is an excellent work on a speech I greatly appreciate. However, in looking around I realized I had read it without reviewing it, and I wish to re-read it both to review it properly as well as examine an aspect of Abraham Lincoln’s life that is often ignored–the importance of ensuring his speeches were properly transcribed by friendly news editors. As far as the second book goes, I have long argued with people who made arguments that came from that work, and I have received formal requests to review and refute the work, so I have added it to my booklist so that I may at least understand the partial and biased nature of those who would argue from it to support the neo-Confederate Cause. One must know one’s enemies, after all.
The Mental Floss History of the United States: The (Almost) Complete and (Entirely) Entertaining Story of America, by Eric Sass with Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur and The Bible and the Ancient Near East: Essays in Honor of William Foxwell Albright
These last two books on my reading list are there because of my own personal historical interests. I have read the Mental Floss History of the World, and despite its inaccurate and biased historical account, it was entertaining. I expect both will be true of this volume. Like the DiLorenzo book, it will provide something to refute as far as what is falsely and commonly believed by casual readers of history. The second volume is one that I look forward to reading because of my own respect for the conservative scholarship and archeological excellence of William F. Albright who, despite sharing my last name, is not a close relative as far as I know. Nonetheless, when you share an unusual name and a strong interest in Ancient Near East History, one ought to enjoy some essays in his honor. A couple of book reviews will follow from this reading, if nothing else.