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March 29, 2020

Sunday Morning Book Thread 03-29-2020

monticello library 01.jpg
Thomas Jefferson's Library, Charlottesville, VA

Good morning to all you 'rons, 'ettes, lurkers, and lurkettes, wine moms, frat bros, crétins sans pantalon (who are technically breaking the rules), hermits, louts, layabouts, recluses, introverts, and other low-energy morons whose hair is not yet on fire. Welcome once again to the stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread, a weekly compendium of reviews, observations, snark, witty repartee, hilarious bon mots, and a continuing conversation on books, reading, spending way too much money on books, writing books, and publishing books by escaped oafs and oafettes who follow words with their fingers and whose lips move as they read. Unlike other AoSHQ comment threads, the Sunday Morning Book Thread is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Even if it's these pants, which would look fine back in the 70s at Harvey Milk's barbecue/disco party.

Pic Note:

Thomas Jefferson built up his library from scratch more than once. A fire destroyed his first library in 1770, which included all of the books he inherited from his fater, Peter Jefferson. He built it back up again and then when the invading British Army burned the congressional library in 1814, he was able to sell 6500 books to Congress to replace the ones lost in the fire.

But wait, there's more:

Following the 1815 sale of almost all of his library to Congress, Jefferson continued to acquire books. The Retirement Library Catalogue in Jefferson’s hand constitutes his third and final library at Monticello. This 83-page bound manuscript is at the Library of Congress and available online. After Jefferson died in 1826, his library at Monticello was sold at auction by Nathaniel P. Poor in 1829 in Washington, D.C. The printed Poor Catalogue is available here, and is almost identical to the Retirement Library Catalogue. A transcription of the Retirement Library Catalogue was completed by John R. Barden in 1999, and edited by Thomas Baughn. More about the Retirement Library here.

It Pays To Increase Your Word Power®

If you’re EFFASCINABLE, then you’re susceptible to being enchanted or bewitched.

I think "fascinate" "fascinating" and "fascination" may be related words.

I found it used in a 17th-century book entitled (take a deep breath): An explanation of the grand mystery of godliness, or, A true and faithfull representation of the everlasting Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the onely begotten Son of God and sovereign over men and angels.

The word occurs in a paragraph wherein the author (Henry More, 1614-1687) has got a pretty good anti-astrology rant going:

...and lastly, seeing there is that affinity and frequent association of Astrology with Daemonolatry and ancient Pagan Superstition; that person certainly must have a strangely-impure and effascinable passivity of Phancie, that can be bound over to a belief or liking of a Foolery so utterly groundless as Astrology is, and so nearly verging toward the brinks of Apostasie and Impiety.

I think he's saying that belief in something silly like astrology is evidence that that person will be easily sucked into believing things that cross the line from 'silly' over into 'dangerous'.

20200329 book thread 01.jpg
Some of TJ's Books, Monticello

What Would Thomas Jefferson Read?

Those interested in finding out more about TJ's reading should check out Five Books Thomas Jefferson Owned That Every Patriot Should Read:

Today, Jefferson is long dead, and...[t]oday, untold numbers of books are available free online, and many more can be purchased...The paradox is that while we are awash with the sum total of human knowledge readily available at little or no cost, our society is increasingly ignorant.

We must take a page from the lives and practices of many of the Founding Fathers, and return to the wisdom inherent in a broad education. We must once again pick up those books that they read, and then build on that timeless wisdom to further secure the future for the United States. We cannot continue as a nation unless we understand the very ideas that created our nation.

With that in mind, I sat down and studied the lists of books Jefferson is known to have owned, and compiled a list of five that should be of great interest to American patriots and scholars. In some cases, I put the book on my list because I wanted to read it. In other cases, it is because I have read it. In all cases, I will speculate on why Jefferson might have found a particular book to be of value, and how it might benefit you today.

Spoilers: Two of the books mentioned are Locke's Treatises of Government and Plutarch's Lives.

They Don't Publish Books Like This Any More:

20200329 book pic 05.jpg

Fantasy World Map

I thought this was fun:

fantasy world map 01
(click to enlarge)

Not shown:

LaLa Land
Fantasy Island
Cloud 9

...and of course:

Lower Middle Earth (from Bored of the Rings). I couldn't find a decent scan of the BotR map. This is the only one I was able to find, and it's way small.

But, I did discover that this book existed: Fantasy Map Maker Jump Start: 61 Easy Tips for Fantasy World Building with Real Earth Science:

In this concise and practical how-to guide, professional author and creative cartographer, D.N.Frost, explains the myriad ways our planet creates all the environments on Earth, and she delivers those concepts in 61 useful bite-sized tips that help you to:

* Build your fantasy world with a blueprint of how civilizations thrive and the power of geology in your back pocket.
* Make your world make sense. And keep all the features you love.
* Create the coolest world you can dream up. With unique places and cultures that defy logic but still feel real.

Within FANTASY MAP MAKER JUMP START, you’ll learn why the Earth formed as it did, how to mirror that realism in your invented world, how to adapt your fantasy cultures to their unique environment, and how to break all the rules for the most epic fantasy setting your stories have ever seen.

Only $4.99 on Kindle

(h/t Albert Pupo for the fantasy map)

20200329 book pic 04.jpg

Moron Recommendations

Did you know that in 1953, newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II commanded that all children born in Britain that year were to be given a copy of the King James bible in celebration of her coronation?

I didn't, either, but you can learn about this and other surprising facts about the KJV in In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture, by Alister McGrath, recommended by a lurking moron:

This fascinating history of a literary and religious masterpiece explores the forces that obstructed and ultimately led to the decision to create an authorized translation, the method of translation and printing, and the central role the King James version of the Bible played in the development of modern English

You'll also learn about the Great She Bible and the Vinegar Bible.

Because KJV + Shakespeare = English.


And speaking of current events, here is one that might be of interest, and by "of interest", I mean "disturbing and maybe even depressing". It's called China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America's Dependence on China for Medicine

Millions of Americans are taking prescription drugs made in China and don't know it--and pharmaceutical companies are not eager to tell them. This is a disturbing, well-researched wake-up call for improving the current system of drug supply and manufacturing. Several decades ago, penicillin, vitamin C, and many other prescription and over-the-counter products were manufactured in the United States. But with the rise of globalization, antibiotics, antidepressants, birth control pills, blood pressure medicines, cancer drugs, among many others are made in China and sold in the United States. China's biggest impact on the US drug supply is making essential ingredients for thousands of medicines found in American homes and used in hospital intensive care units and operating rooms.

It is a bit disturbing to be so dependent on a country whose government hates us.

The author, Rosemary Gibson, has written a number of other books about healthcare in America, including Wall of Silence: The Untold Story of the Medical Mistakes That Kill and Injure Millions of Americans and The Treatment Trap: How the Overuse of Medical Care Is Wrecking Your Health and What You Can Do to Prevent It.


40 I continued my China reading jag.
I finished China: A History, by John Keay. It covers the entirety of Chinese history, and is quite readable and entertaining. Recommended.

I'm now reading Mao: The Unknown Story, by Jung Chang. It is also quite readable. I'm only 100 pages in, and Mao is weaseling his way into positions of power in the CCP. The real takeaway is what a total toolbag the man was. Lazy, duplicitous, entitled, a shameless lickspittle to those who could help him, and an absolute sadist, he was the whole package. He may be the only man in history to make Stalin look good by comparison.

Posted by: pep at March 22, 2020 09:20 AM (T6t7i)

There's a whole lotta history in John Keay's China: A History:

Taking into account the country's unrivaled, voluminous tradition of history writing, John Keay has composed a vital and illuminating overview of the nation's complex and vivid past. Keay's authoritative history examines 5,000 years in China, from the time of the Three Dynasties through Chairman Mao and the current economic transformation of the country. Crisp, judicious, and engaging, China is the classic single-volume history for anyone seeking to understand the present and future of this immensely powerful nation.

And if Jung Chang's Mao: The Unknown Story is not the definitive biography of Mao ZeDong, it darn well should be. A man possessed by Satan himself. And it's disturbing to read the Amazon customer reviews that actually defend this monster.


Who Dis:

who dis 20200329
(click to enlarge)

Last week's 'who dis' was British actress Jennifer Jones.

National Emergency Library

A lurking moron sent me a link to this:

To address our unprecedented global and immediate need for access to reading and research materials, as of today, March 24, 2020, the Internet Archive will suspend waitlists for the 1.4 million (and growing) books in our lending library by creating a National Emergency Library to serve the nation’s displaced learners. This suspension will run through June 30, 2020, or the end of the US national emergency, whichever is later.

During the waitlist suspension, users will be able to borrow books from the National Emergency Library without joining a waitlist, ensuring that students will have access to assigned readings and library materials that the Internet Archive has digitized for the remainder of the US academic calendar, and that people who cannot physically access their local libraries because of closure or self-quarantine can continue to read and thrive during this time of crisis, keeping themselves and others safe.

This library brings together all the books from Phillips Academy Andover and Marygrove College, and much of Trent University’s collections, along with over a million other books donated from other libraries to readers worldwide that are locked out of their libraries.

20200329 book thread 03.jpg

Books By Morons

We have some quarantine price reductions from a couple three moron authors:

A lurking moron who goes by the nic 'Long-time Commenter, First-time Reader' e-mailed me with this offer:

I wanted to tell you about a project I've started in this time of quarantine. For as long as I can keep it up, I'll be giving away a brand-new short story every other day to the folks on my mailing list. A few of these are already written, but most of them I'm writing as I go, and none of them have ever been published before. I released the first one today.

What kind of stories will he be writing? He didn't say, but perhaps we can get some idea from the novel that he wrote, Fate's Balance:

The citizens of Skyrah enjoy a unique gift: the ability to exert influence over the essence of existence, redirecting the flows of nature as they live their lives in service to the tenets of Justice and Mercy. Yet despite this gift, Skyrah's promises have failed to materialize for many of its people:

A prideful thief, desperate to escape the city.

An optimistic novice, innocently colliding with reality.

An aging guard, grappling with shame and regret.

An old woman, whose mysterious blind eyes somehow see the darkness at the heart of Skyrah... a growing doom that threatens to consume them all.

Fate's Balance is available for 3.99 on Kindle. Also available in paperback.

To join LtCFtR's mailing list, you can sign up at this link: https://mailchi.mp/a94bf3e5e2ff/willneely.


'Ette author Libby Malin has a pretty drastic price reduction on one of her novels:

My romantic-comedy FIRE ME! will be free for five days in the Kindle store starting Monday, March 30 through Friday, April 3, 2020.

I've been offering some freebies to fight blahs during our isolation. FIRE ME! tells the story of Anne Wyatt, who goes into work one day prepared to resign, but changes course and tries to get laid off instead when she finds out her boss is about to let someone go -- she wants the severance package. The action takes place in one day, and this book was bought for film by Fox Studios and Ben Stiller's Red Hour Production company (alas, no movie yet!). It was originally published by a traditional publisher, but rights reverted to me a few years ago, and I updated and self-published it.

Here's what Publishers Weekly says of the book: "...an amusing tale of a woman who finds herself and love while trying to get fired...Malin populates the novel with a number of entertaining characters, such as poor unlucky Lenny and Anne’s termination competition, Sheila. Many will empathize with Anne as she struggles to figure out just what she wants to do in life. Readers...will enjoy Anne’s antics and daydream of making their own splendid exits from hellish jobs."

Here's a link to FIRE ME! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07C54NC9V.


'Ette author Celia Hayes is putting her three biggest books (lengthwise!) on sale for half price in the Kindle version, hoping to provide escape and diversion during the Kung Flu lockdown.

The Luna City Compendium #1
The Luna City Compendium #2

She says

I can't help thinking that Luna City is a nice place to escape into...I'm having fun escaping into writing the next installment in the series...

Ms. Hayes has also reduced the price on her Adelsverein Trilogy, which is the historical series set in the Hill Country of Texas - all about how so many Germans settled there, starting in the 1840s.


Speaking of immigrants, I just started the first installment in Swedist writer Vilhelm Moberg's Emigrant series, The Emigrants:

Considered one of Sweden's greatest 20th-century writers, Vilhelm Moberg created Karl Oskar and Kristina Nilsson to portray the joys and tragedies of daily life for early Swedish pioneers in America. His consistently faithful depiction of these humble people's lives is a major strength of the Emigrant novels.

Moberg's extensive research in the papers of Swedish emigrants in archival collections, including the Minnesota Historical Society, enabled him to incorporate many details of pioneer life. First published between 1949 and 1959 in Swedish, these four books were considered a single work by Moberg, who intended that they be read as documentary novels...

Book 1 introduces Karl Oskar and Kristina Nilsson, their three young children, and eleven others who make up a resolute party of Swedes fleeing the poverty, religious persecution, and social oppression of Småland in 1850.

Just like a bunch of German families came to America and found their way to Texas, a bunch of Swedish families came to America and found their way to the upper Midwest, notably Minnesota. In fact, the novel's intro says that one-quarter of Sweden's population fled that country during the 1850s. Living conditions there must've been really bad to produce that immense a migration.

The novels in Moberg's quartet are The Emigrants, Unto A Good Land, The Settlers, and The Last Letter Home. In the early 70s, they were adapted for film in two 3+ hour movies, The Emigrants and The New Land. Mrs. Muse and I just finished watching them, which is how I found out about the books.


So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, insults, threats, ugly pants pics and moron library submissions may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as you all know, life is too short to be reading lousy books.

Checklist For Morons:

20200329 book thread 02.jpg

digg this
posted by OregonMuse at 09:00 AM

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