An American Editor

October 7, 2013

On Today’s Bookshelf (XIV)

Filed under: On Today's Bookshelf,To Be Read — Rich Adin @ 4:00 am
Tags: , , ,

I spend my working hours editing books and then spend my pleasure hours reading more books rather than watching TV. I can’t recall the last time I turned on the TV (except to watch a rented video). What follows is a list of some of the books that I am reading (or acquired since the last On Today’s Bookshelf post) either in hardcover or in ebook form:

Nonfiction –

  • Harry Truman and the Struggle for Racial Justice by Robert Shogan
  • A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War by Amanda Foreman
  • The History of the Renaissance World: From the Rediscovery of Aristotle to the Conquest of Constantinople by Susan Wise Bauer (I already own and have read the first 2 volumes in this outstanding history: The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome and The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade, as noted in prior On Today’s Bookshelf posts)
  • The Tribunal: Responses to John Brown and the Harpers Ferry Raid edited by John Stauffer and Zoe Trodd
  • Glorious Misadventures: Nikolai Rezanov and the Dream of a Russian America by Owen Matthews
  • The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2: The Complete and Authoritative Edition by Mark Twain, edited by Harriet Elinor Smith and Benjamin Griffin (I already own and have read volume 1)
  • Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott
  • Iron Curtain by Anne Applebaum
  • Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson
  • Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
  • Stalingrad by Antony Beevor
  • The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership by Yehuda Avner
  • Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell
  • The Last Tsar by Donald Crawford
  • Thomas Becket by John Guy
  • Hiding Edith by Kathy Kacer
  • The Girl Who Loved Camellias: The Life and Legend of Marie Duplessis by Julie Kavanagh
  • A Monarchy Transformed by Mark Kishlansky
  • The Mitford Girls by Mary S. Lovell
  • Shooting Victoria by Paul Thomas Murphy
  • Those Angry Days by Lynne Olson
  • The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter
  • Nixonland by Rick Perlstein
  • The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain by Paul Preston
  • Six Women of Salem by Marilynne Roach
  • The Last Greatest Magician in the World by Jim Steinmeyer
  • Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel by Andrew Graham-Dixon

Fiction –

  • Blood Land by R.S. Guthrie
  • Shadowborn by Moira Katson
  • Ascendancy by Jennifer Vale
  • Witch Wraith by Terry Brooks
  • Two Fronts: The War that Came Early by Harry Turtledove
  • Treecat Wars by David Weber
  • Shadowborn, Shadowforged, & Shadow’s End by Moira Katson (trilogy)
  • The Song of Eloh Saga by Megg Jensen (7 books combined in a single omnibus)
  • The Dream Thief by Shana Abe
  • Something Blue by Emma Jameson
  • Venice by Peter Ackroyd
  • The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin
  • Devil’s Garden by Ace Atkins
  • The Algebraist by Ian Banks
  • Bone Thief by Jefferson Bass
  • The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
  • Bridge of Dreams and Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
  • Killing Rain by Barry Eisler
  • First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
  • American Assassin by Vince Flynn
  • Seventy-Seven Clocks by Christopher Fowler
  • The Apostates Tale by Margaret Frazer
  • Haunted Ground by Erin Hart
  • Chosen, Exalted, Stained, and Stolen by Ella James (4 books)
  • The Iron Legends by Julie Kagawa
  • The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo
  • A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
  • Resurrection Men by Ian Rankin
  • The Chair by James Rubart
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

As you can see, I have no shortage of reading material. As I have noted before, my to-be-read pile keeps growing at a pace faster than I can read books. Perhaps if I ever retire I will have enough reading time to read faster than I acquire.

What is most interesting to me is not how many books I read but how many I start and never finish. Being an editor has its downsides. For example, I get frustrated by books that wander, or where the same character has 14 names (and counting), or the bad editing sticks out like a beacon, or the author has a lot to say but lacks even minimal storytelling techniques. (Note I have not mentioned those books that frustrate because of poor grammar and English, which is a category unto itself.)

The holiday season is soon upon us and I need to begin to put together a wish list of hardcover books I am interested in. Have you given thought to what books you will ask for this holiday season? How is your to-be-read pile growing/declining?


  1. My “to be read” pile is up to an unusual 60+ books because I splurged and used an Amazon credit card credit to order all of the Morland Dynasty books by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles that I didn’t yet have (there are 40, and I only had five!), half-a-dozen Robert Barnards, eight or so Peter Turnbulls, and a couple of non-series Harrod-Eagles books as well. And I had just been to Barnes & Noble, where I got about a dozen other books, including five Phillippa Gregory historical novels and two or three by authors I haven’t read yet. My husband usually gives me cash for Chanukah/Xmas so I can buy books, because he can’t keep up with what I have and whose work I like, but I may not need it this year!

    When I get stuck with something I don’t like after the first few pages or chapters, I skip to the end to see how it resolves and then give it away.


    Comment by Ruth E. Thaler-Carter — October 7, 2013 @ 9:19 am | Reply

  2. I gave up on trying to keep up with my to be read pile some time ago, especially since I’ve got several bookreaders, and ebooks are very easy to store. Besides, I like to reread stuff occasionally (currently rereading Lord of the Rings for the who knows how many times, this time an ebook version). Of course I generally have more than one book in play – I’m also reading an english transation of Xenophon’s Anabasis I got from Proj. Gutenberg, and various short stories in two Randall Garrett collections (ebook only) I got from Amazon. And working my way through the Bible – currently in Ezra which may be in roughly the same time period as the Xenophon, though it’s difficult to tell with all the naming of rulers after previous rulers.

    And yes, if I get bored I stop. Eventually – such things tend just to get swapped out for one of the other books and just never quite swapped in again. Along with single characters with multiple names, multiple characters with similar names are also Annoying. Or repeated descriptions of the same thing (please, one angstfest per subject per character).


    Comment by anansii — October 8, 2013 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

  3. “For example, I get frustrated by books that wander, or where the same character has 14 names (and counting)…”

    Fourteen names? Yikes, I wouldn’t have thought that was even possible.

    My to-read list is like yours and growing by the day. Every time I read a good review I like the sound of or someone recommends a book, I add it to my list. So many books, so little time…


    Comment by Vicki — October 9, 2013 @ 3:41 am | Reply

  4. My lady friend has taught me to sometimes pick out books by their cover color. It opens you to subjects you’d never consider otherwise. So i know more about Yemen (a red cover) than I ever thought about. I also exposed myself to the global economy (Flat Broke in the Global Economy, which was a fascinating read and highly recommended). Terry Pratchett, bless him, entertains me whenever I find a new one. I have the reading taste of a goat: my fixation all began with ads on shredded wheat boxes in the 50s, and hasn’t let up since.


    Comment by rvgolfer — October 10, 2013 @ 10:18 pm | Reply

  5. Thanks for sharing your list. I found a couple of new authors to try.


    Comment by Sandra Williams — October 21, 2013 @ 11:11 pm | Reply

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