Those who've followed this blog for a few months know that I broke a leg around the end of January and have since been recuperating. I'm driving again, but getting off crutches must await regaining flexibility in the ankle of the injured leg. Rehab is under way - all too slowly.
I didn't realize how much time was being occupied by outdoor recreation and hobbies, and other activities requiring mobility, until I suddenly had it all back on my hands. That's resulted in more blogging activity here, but I've also devoted a lot of it to catching up on the reading queue, expanding into some topics that I might not otherwise have tackled, and beginning a few projects that are on the personal 'bucket list'. For your possible amusement, my 'vacation' reading list so far:
Rereading the entirety of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga. In the hospital, while more or less under the influence of a Dilaudid drip. Somehow this was perfectly compatible with the adventures of Miles.
Reread all 20 volumes of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels, one after another. Could be the Vicodin helped keep me on track through the entire sea-borne adventure and comedy of manners. Sailing, sailing. When I graduated to plain old Tylenols, I took on some new material.
Walter Russell Mead, "God and Gold". How the maritime economies of the Netherlands, Britain and the United States came to global power. Not as good as his "Special Providence", but superior to Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel" which at times treats the outcome as just a big accident. Yes, I believe in American exceptionalism.
Neil Shubin, "Your Inner Fish". Human evolution and developmental biology, though the lenses of paleontology and modern genomics. Good sauce for evolution deniers. Found via Clive Thompson and Ole Eichhorn.
Roger Kimball and Hilton Kramer, eds., "Counterpoints". Essays from the New Criterion magazine. I had bought this largely for the political and foreign affairs related essays. I had already read through them and put the book on the back burner before the fatal day. The remaining 'free bonus' cultural pieces turned out to be a welcome and stimulating goulash of things I might never have otherwise noticed.
Patrick Leigh Fermor, "A Time of Gifts" and "Between the Woods and the Water". The travels of a young Briton in 1930s Europe from Holland to Rumania, just as the Nazis were coming to power. Written many years after the fact, and well salted with cultural details. A fortuitous train wreck of travel writing and history. This pick was due to one of the "Counterpoints" essays.
Jonah Goldberg, "Liberal Fascism". While Goldberg spends too much time apologizing for his analysis, and goes off on some tangents sparked by his conservative cultural views, this is a useful antidote to the highly selective memory of the Left. In an odd sort of synchronicity, I was reading this book in parallel with Fermor, and reached Goldberg's reference to Fermor's visit with a young German Communist who had just converted to Nazism, while I was only pages away from that scene in "Time of Gifts".
Michael Yon, "Moment of Truth in Iraq. In the autographed edition. As those who follow his blog know, Yon is a war reporter who doesn't hunker down in the Green Zone compiling reports from stringers of unknown loyalties. He's been out on the lines, in the sh**, and has the combat photographs to prove it. This is based on the experiences reported on the blog, but isn't just a compilation. He's added some details that were likely too sensitive at the time, but also rewritten to provide lessons learned and a narrative backbone. Yon is brutally critical of what he sees as bungled efforts in the invasion and aftermath, and thereby gains credibility for his current assessment. There's a good review (not my own) here.
Still in progress, I have:
Rereading all of Shakespeare, for the first time in at least thirty years. I'm through most of the Historicals and have started nibbling at the Comedies.
A volume of European history from 1648 to 1815, back story for O'Brian and also Fermor's travels in the former Habsburg Empire.
A recent personal finance book, along with rereading some I've used in the past, as a review on my own planning.
Got any suggestions? Put them in the comments, which I've opened up for once.