Start as you mean to go on — 2015 edition

by chuckofish

Over the course of a December birthday and Christmas I have received several wonderful books. And what better way to start the year than with lots of new books to read? First, we have the Danish murder mystery that my youngest son gave me for my birthday.

department qNot your typical dour and depraved Scandinavian thriller, this book was both impossible to put down and pleasantly devoid of graphic violence. That’s not to say that the crime wasn’t unpleasant, but the book struck me as surprisingly PG-13 in a world of increasingly gratuitous NC-17 (if books got ratings that is). AND it’s part of a series, so I can look forward to more of the same.

I also received a couple of wonderful biographies, which I haven’t started reading yet.

shermanI’m really looking forward to this one.  James McPherson, famous Civil War historian, has this to say about it (quoted at Amazon): “To his family and friends he was Cump; to his soldiers he was Uncle Billy; to generations of Southern whites he was the devil incarnate. But to biographer Robert L. O’Connell, William T. Sherman was the quintessential nineteenth-century American: full of energy, constantly on the move, pragmatic, adaptable, determined to overcome all obstacles, a nationalist and patriot who teamed with Grant and Lincoln to win the Civil War and launch America as a world power. This readable biography offers new insights on Sherman as a husband and father as well as a master strategist and leader.” Sherman is a really fascinating character, don’t you think?

Going back a couple thousand years, we have the new biography of another iconic figure, Augustus, Rome’s first Emperor.

augustusI have several more of Goldsworthy’s books, including his biography of Julius Caesar, a history of the Punic Wars, and a book about the Roman army. This author is a favorite of mine; he always takes his subjects on their own merit and puts everything in context. No post-modern, “the past is unrecoverable so we can make it up” history here. What a pleasure.

Another, more specialized Roman history book that I received is a new investigation of how the Romans dealt with military defeat.

clarkThis is actually a really interesting topic that combines military history, memory studies, politics, and culture …and it’s very readable. In any case, it’s good to be reminded that even the Romans suffered defeats from time to time (and during the 2nd Punic War, a lot).

All my reading does not focus on history or mystery, however. I also got (as I had asked) a lovely interior design book by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti, whose blog, “A Bloomsbury Life” I follow.

giramontiAn artist and bibliophile, Borgnes decided to put her love of literature together with her love of beautiful interiors. The result: a book that takes “over 60 classic novels and find[s] modern homes that match the aesthetic described-down to the last chintz flower”(Architectural Digest). Think loads of gorgeous pictures and nice quotes plus some great decorating advice.

As you can see, I have received quite the treasure-trove of reading material. I’ll count myself a super lucky girl when I find the time to read all of this. Despite this wonderful backlog, I’m always looking for recommendations. What are you reading in 2015?