What I’ve been reading

1. Dervla Murphy, Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle.  She covered 3000 miles in the 1960s, and as she notes in the introduction: “Epictetus put it in a nutshell when he said, “For it is not death or hardship that is a fearful thing, but the fear of death and hardship.”  Self-recommending.  But don’t be fooled by the title — hardly any of the narrative takes place in India.

2. David E. Bernstein, Classified: The Untold Story of Racial Classification in America .  A scathing and unfortunately spot-on indictment of America’s schemes of racial classification.  So often those schemes turn out to be racist themselves.  The Hmong cannot count as an “underrepresented group” because they are Asian!?  Come on, people.  There is no good way to do this work, and I am pleased to see David pointing this out so effectively.

3. Nelly Sachs, Flight and Metamorphosis, Poems.  A lovely bilingual edition, covering her less-known post-Holocaust poetry.  The quality is still very high and the page display is excellent.

Serhi Plokhy, Atoms and Ashes: A Global History of Nuclear Disasters is exactly what the subtitle promises.

Fernanda Melchor, Paradais is a new Mexican novel that has received a lot of attention.  I thought English was “not good enough for it,” though the slang and format would challenge my Spanish.  If you can read this properly in Spanish, I suspect it is excellent.

Daisy Hay, Dinner with Joseph Johnson is a good book about the Enlightenment publisher who interacted with Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Benjamin Franklin, Priestly, Fuseli, and Mary Wollstonecraft, among others.

Halik Kochanski, Resistance: The Underground War Against Hitler, 1939-1945.  So far I have had time only to browse it, but it appears to be both excellent and definitive.


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