The past week has been a very busy week. Clients have inundated me with new work that needs to be done on a short schedule, and thus at a higher-than-normal pay rate. More importantly, I have been forced to do something I loathe doing — I’ve had to turn away a fair number of projects.
I thought with the close of the week such “troubles” would end, but that was/is not to be. Two clients have informed me that I should plan on next year being a repeat of this year. Of course, there are no guarantees, but based on their prognosticating efforts, next year will be very busy again for me. (I had to prepare my financial reports for my accountant for the third quarter tax filings and I was pleased to note that business was up a little more than 50% over last year.)
Finally, the weekend came and I thought I could devote some time to preparing an essay for An American Editor. Alas, when I opened my e-mail Saturday morning, I had a request to submit a bid for editing work. The problem was/is that this work would be year-long and would range in size from 20,000 to 200,000 manuscript pages. Accompanying the request to bid were several lengthy documents that detailed the editing requirements. Combine the need to prepare the bids with my desire to enjoy my weekend, and I decided it was time for another On Today’s Bookshelf article.
These are easy substitutes for me because books are added to the list as I acquire them; I do not need to sit with a blank canvas. There will be at least one more On Today’s Bookshelf before the holidays, in case you are looking for ideas of books to buy as gifts — whether for yourself or someone else.
Here are some of the books that I have acquired and added to my to-be-read pile since the last On Today’s Bookshelf post, either in hardcover or in ebook form:
- The Pope’s Daughter by Caroline Murphy
- Empires of the Sea by Roger Crowley
- “Non-Germans” under the Third Reich: The Nazi Judicial and Administrative System in Germany and Occupied Eastern Europe, with Special Regard to Occupied Poland, 1939-1945 by Diemut Majer
- The Marcel Network: How One French Couple Saved 527 Children from the Holocaust by Fred Coleman
- Believe and Destroy: Intellectuals in the SS War Machine by Christian Ingrao
- The Dreyfus Affair: The Scandal That Tore France in Two by Piers Paul Read
- The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind — and Changed the History of Free Speech in America by Thomas Healy
- Desperate Sons: Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, John Hancock, and the Secret Bands of Radicals Who Led the Colonies to War by Les Standiford
- Why We Fight: Congress and the Politics of World War II by Nancy Beck Young
- A Secession Crisis Enigma by Daniel W. Crofts
- The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America’s Most Progressive Era by Douglas R. Egerton
- A Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert, and the Death That Changed the British Monarchy by Helen Rappaport
- The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg by Helen Rappaport
- Daily Life During the French Revolution by James M. Anderson
- The Psychology of Lust Murder: Paraphilia, Sexual Killing, and Serial Homicide by Catherine Purcell and Bruce A. Arrigo
- The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, the Model, and the Murder that Shook the Nation by Harold Schechter
- The Secret Wife of Louis XIV: Françoise D’Aubigné, Madame de Maintenon by Veronica Buckley
- Intelligence in War: The Value–and Limitations–of What the Military Can Learn about the Enemy by John Keegan
- The First World War by John Keegan
- Divine Fury: A History of Genius by Darrin M. McMahon
- Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman by Robert L. O’Connell
- Sun Tzu at Gettysburg: Ancient Military Wisdom in the Modern World by Bevin Alexander
- The Grand Chorus of Complaint: Authors and the Business Ethics of American Publishing by Michael J. Everton
- Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835 by Jefferson Morley
- Hitler’s Spy Chief: The Wilhelm Canaris Betrayal: The Intelligence Campaign Against Adolf Hitler by Richard Bassett
- End Game by John Gilstrap
- Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder
- Soldier of God by David Hagberg
- Kingmaker’s Sword by Ann Marston
- American Coven by Amy Cross
- The Veiled Assassin by Q.V. Hunter
- Soul of Fire by Caris McRae
- Close Call: A Liz Carlyle Novel by Stella Rimington
- Property by Valerie Martin
- Bye Bye Baby by Fiona McIntosh
- Beautiful Death by Fiona McIntosh
- My Real Children by Jo Walton
- Edge of Eternity: Book Three of The Century Trilogy by Ken Follett
- A Stranger in the Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher
As usual, most of my acquisitions are nonfiction. What I find is that much of fiction is the same. I do not mean the presentation or the delivery, but the general pattern: boy meets girl (or girl meets boy), love ensues, they live happily ever after (replace this pattern with another appropriate pattern such as scientist stumbles on plot, tells authorities who ignore scientist’s warnings, scientist decides to save world, scientist turns out to be the new James Bond and saves world). Same theme, different characters, but essentially the same storyline. I do not mean to imply that I do not enjoy well-written fiction, because I do. This is just an explanation of why my primary interest runs to nonfiction.
Nonfiction tends to have greater diversity. There is so much of the world, of nature, of science, of history, of language, of philosophy, of many things that I have yet to discover that nonfiction can provide me with both knowledge and entertainment and keep my interest.
I suppose if I had to say what makes nonfiction books unique as a form of entertainment, it is that it always has surprises, it is not formulaic, and it is not predictable except in the sense that we already know the broad outlines (e.g., the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires ceased to exist or that the Great Depression was the bane of the 1930s).
I hope you find that On Today’s Bookshelf essays stimulate your reading interests. Please add your contributions to books by naming books you think colleagues would be interested in reading.
Richard Adin, An American Editor