Things have been rather slow around here, I know. I have been busy with “real world” things at work and at home that have simply distracted my from all things blogging. I have, however, been thinking about what I would like to focus on next year and how that might impact this blog. One of the things I would like to do is focus my non-fiction reading a bit more in order to try and build some insight and knowledge. I tend to just jump all over the place and it can dilute the benefit of reading serious non-fiction. Whether I will or can pull this off, is another matter entirely but that is what New Years resolutions are all about.
As a taste of what is to come in 2007 I thought I would make a note here of some books that I have recently acquired and hope to read and review.
– I am currently (re)reading the Chronicles of Narnia and plan to read the Space Trilogy, and perhaps Til We Have Faces, in preparation for reading The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis by Alan Jacobs.
One early Christmas present I have received is Mark Steyn’s America Alone. Josef Joffe recently had a review in the New York Sun. According to Joffe, Steyn has a sharp wit and talented pen but not necessarily any insightful answers. Nevertheless, he recommends the book as a worthy read:
This book is a relentlessly funny and felicitous polemic, but as in any polemic, its sparkling insights don’t quite add up to a watertight brief. Sentences are honed to the sharpest, wittiest point, but, in the end, they leave you breathless and with a sense of du trop. You begin to scratch your head once your look past the sheer delight of reading . . . His diatribe is a “device,” as the journalist’s lingo has it â€” a call to arms and to conviction. Eventually, appeasement must and will falter. Meanwhile, read this book and savor the fireworks. Grim as it is, it will make you laugh and then force you to think. Pedagogy could not be more pleasurable.
Mr. Joffe is himself and interesting character: publisher-editor of Die Zeit in Hamburg, taught American foreign policy at Stanford this fall, where he is also Abramowitz Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He just published Uberpower: America’s Imperial Temptation. Coincidently, I picked up Uberpower at the library recently and hope to read it soon.
Continuing in the foreign policy theme, I recently picked up The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror by Bernard Lewis. Here is PW:
This lean, muscular volume, an expansion of Lewis’s George Polk Award-winning New Yorker article, sheds much-needed light on the complicated and volatile Middle East. To locate the origins of anti-American sentiment, Islamic scholar Lewis maps the history of Muslim anxiety towards the West from the time of the Crusades through European imperialism, and explains how America’s increased presence in the region since the Cold War has been construed as a renewed cry of imperialism. In Islam, politics and religion are inextricable, and followers possess an acute knowledge of their own history dating back to the Prophet Mohammed, a timeline Lewis revisits. By so doing, the bestselling author of What Went Wrong? is able to cogently investigate key issues, such as why the United States has been dubbed the “Great Satan” and Israel the “Little Satan,” and how Muslim extremism has taken root and succeeded in bastardizing the fundamental Islamic tenets of peace. Lewis also covers the impact of the Iranian Revolution and American foreign policy towards it, Soviet influence in the region and the ramifications of modernization, making this clear, taut and timely primer a must-read for any concerned citizen.
– Besides foreign policy, another area I hope to focus on is conservatism – its history and ideas. To that end I picked up a copy of The Conservative Bookshelf: Essential Works That Impact Today’s Conservative Thinkers by Chilton Williamson. This book’s encyclopedic format makes me think I might read it in spurts rather than all at once but it looks to be an interesting tour of what Williamson, former books editor at National Review, thinks are the critical books in the conservative library.
So there are some books I am hoping to read in the new year. Are there books you are looking forward to reading in the coming year? Any particular focus? Feel free to sound off in the comments (not something that happens a lot around here).