Beamer's Book List

Regular reader and commenter Beamer (a Washingtonian) says this about his reading habits:

In April 2006, I purposed to try to read at least one book a month. This year I have not been so sucessful because a couple of the books I chose are quite long, but if you don't mind, I'd like to share the list of books I've read over the last two years and solicit others' opinions on them, if any.

I also try to read a Shakespeare over Christmas holiday (my company closes its doors between Christmas and New Year's Day). Last year I did not read a Shakespeare, but this year I'm reading Henry IV.
Here's a list of Beamer's list of books for the last few years. NB: Titles in bold are highly recommended. Those with asterisks are titles he found particularly worth the time spent reading.

*Gilead – Marilynne Robinson
Housekeeping – Marilynne Robinson
*Life and Fate – Vasily Grossman
*Stalingrad – Anthony Beevor
The Killer Angels – Michael Shaara
*With the Old Breed – Eugene Sledge
*The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor – Flannery O’Connor
All for the Union – Elisha Hunt Rhodes
A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army, 1941-1945 – Anthony Beevor and Luba Vinogradova

*Angle of Repose – Wallace Stegner
Crossing to Safety – Wallace Stegner
*Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer – James L. Swanson
Christ and the Media – Malcolm Muggeridge
Farewell to Eden – Duwayne R. Anderson
*The Icon and the Axe: An Interpretative History of Russian Culture – James H. Billington
The Road to Wigan Pier – George Orwell
*The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky
Well you can tell a lot about a person by what he reads. As I did the links for these books I got a quick look at some of them. Our friend Beamer certainly likes books by Pulitzer Prize Winners, and also books about the Soviet Union's experience of World War 2.

I did read the Brothers Karamazov while at University when I did a unit on Russian Literature. I found it an interesting unit, especially when one of my lecturers was Dianne Yerbury, the Vice-Chancellor of Macquarie University at the time who was an expert on Dostoevsky. Personally I found Karamazov very difficult to read and much preferred the other book I studied, Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol.

Another unit I studied at Macquarie University was Modern Russian History, taught by historian David Christian, so I am certainly cognizant with much of the time period that Beamer has been reading about. His book, Imperial and Soviet Russia, is a very interesting read.

On an aside, my interest in US history and politics stems from my time at university studying US History under John Koenig. He gave me a good mark for an essay I wrote entitled "Why did James Earl Carter fail to win a second term as president of the United States?"

From this list of books I can work out that Beamer and I have some very similar interests in terms of historical study. I'm not quite so enamoured with Shakespeare, but, as an INTJ, I guess I need to revert to being INTP once in a while to stay sane. Given that I have a BA in English Literature I really should get back to reading books again...


Ron said...

Ah BL has a good selection of reads.
Likes war too or probably rather finding out WHY and HOW etc.

When I joined the RAF in 50s as a good son I spent 7/6d on a Xmas Gift for Mum the combined works of Will Shakespeare - still have it. Henry IV is enormous. I have a BBC video somehwere. Strange was olny discussing this week with a songbird (sings Brunnhilde) friend who said IV when she meant Henry V the Larry Olivier movie.

Big joke in "1066 and all that" was the schoolboy list of the Kings. Henry IV part followed by Henry IV part 2. Lucky USA had Bill between the two George Bush or will be lucky to have the George between the Clintons.

BL read and memorise some sonnets
"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day......."

Just finished a very funny book - well I gather any if by PJ O'Rourke
I'll review on my blog soon

BLBeamer said...

Ron, I don't like war (does anyone like war??) but I do like trying to understand the human experience, of which war is a large part, unfortunately.

Ah yes, PJ is hilarious. I heard PJ speak at a local college about 10 years ago. He's just as funny in person as in print. His Q&A session after his talk was worth the price of admission.

By the way, the one unlinked book Farewell to Eden was written by a fellow with whom I attended high school. It tells the story of his personal journey from Mormonism to scientism and atheism (Duwayne would not characterize it quite that way). Duwayne and I disagree on nearly everything regarding religion, but he's a nice guy and I wanted to support the old school. It can be found here.

BLBeamer said...

One more thing: I'm looking to build my list of 2008 reads. Any Australian authors whose work anyone can recommend? It is a defect in my education I know of none.

I already have January and February lined up.

January: The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
February: The Natural - Bernard Malamud

Ron said...

The Natural - I could not even understand Robert Redford's film - the mystical approach to Baseball with its impossible rules - I do have Bob Newhart LP with Doubleday phoning in and trying to explain - 3 in and you're out etc. Ken Burns film on the sport was wonderful.

The Kite Runner sounds more traumatic than watching CNN.

of Australian writers

the legend is Patrick White Neil could tell you more - being English I just did not pick up on Patrick for some reason

My favourite is Thomas Keneally who wrote Schindler's Ark/List and hence Spielberg movie. Although it was Tom's other books that I liked

The big best seller nowadays is Bryce Courtenay born a Bok. Christine will read him but checks the book first for bad language.

Then the big literary media persona is Clive James although he lives in London. I had a great lunch at one of our harbour cafes and there was Clive with TV folk.

But at this time of my life I am not much in Novels.

BLBeamer said...

The Natural film was not faithful to the book, I'm told. I will find out myself soon. I hope not, because I thought the movie was somewhat unsatisfying despite the score from one of my favorite composers. No one unfamiliar with baseball would be any smarter on that subject after watching it, however.

However, put yourself in my place with zero knowledge of cricket and try to learn about cricket by reading a newspaper account of a match (or whatever they call a cricket contest). Honestly, it looks like the results out of a random word generator. In baseball, the batter is an offensive player and the pitcher is defensive. It's my understanding that is the opposite of cricket?

I've seen some Clive James features on television. Very droll.