An American Editor

December 3, 2014

On Today’s Bookshelf (XIX)

In only a few weeks, it will be gift-giving time again. High on my list of gifts to give and to receive are, of course, books. What I like about books is that they are educational (I always learn something) and long-lasting. When I give a book, I know that for as long as the recipient keeps the book, every time she looks at it, she will think of me.

If you are looking for ideas for books to give, the On Today’s Bookshelf series here at An American Editor can be a place to start. Besides buying books at Barnes & Noble, I also buy a lot of “remainders”, which are new books that are leftovers and overruns the publisher didn’t sell through normal retail channels and are now being sold as remainders, which translates to very steep discounts. My primary source for remainder books is Daedalus Books. The other source for books, particularly older books, are bookstores that sell used books. I generally only buy used books that are graded near fine, fine, or new; occasionally, I will buy one graded very good. As I have mentioned before, when it comes to print books, I only buy hardcovers.

As to what is on my bookshelf — and some gift ideas — here is a list of some of the hardcovers and ebooks that I am reading or acquired and added to my to-be-read pile since the last On Today’s Bookshelf post:

Nonfiction –

  • Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I by Alexander Watson
  • Klansville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan by David Cunningham
  • The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America by Marc Levinson
  • The Paper Trail: an Unexpected History of the World’s Greatest Invention by Alexander Monro
  • The First Modern Jew: Spinoza and the History of an Image by Daniel Schwartz
  • A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza’s Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age by Steven Nadler
  • Churchill’s Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made by Richard Toye
  • Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election that Brought on the Civil War by Douglas R. Egerton
  • Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War by Stephen R. Platt
  • Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962 by Yang Jisheng
  • Isaac’s Army: A Story of Courage and Survival in Nazi-Occupied Poland by Matthew Brzezinski
  • The Wars of Watergate by Stanley Kutler
  • Shelley: The Pursuit by Richard Holmes
  • The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale
  • Russian Roulette by Giles Milton
  • Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower
  • The Kaiser’s Holocaust: Germany’s Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism by David Olusoga and Casper W. Erichsen
  • Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer by Bettina Stangneth
  • Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore
  • The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In by Hugh Kennedy
  • Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron, and Other Tangled Lives by Daisy Hay
  • The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court at Kensington Palace by Lucy Worsley
  • Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II by Kieth Lowe
  • Edith Cavell by Diana Souhami
  • Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson by S.C. Gwynne

Fiction –

  • The Thousand Names and The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler (2 books)
  • Magician, Magician Kings, and The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman (trilogy)
  • Personal by Lee Child
  • The Tyrant’s Law and The Widow’s House by Daniel Abraham (2 books)
  • Bye Bye Baby and Beautiful Death by Fiona McIntosh (2 books)
  • The Necromancer’s Grimoire by Annmarie Banks
  • To Kingdom Come and Some Danger Involved by Will Thomas (2 books)
  • The Path of the Sword by Remi Michaud
  • The Immortal Prince by Jennifer Fallon
  • Eye of the Red Tsar and The Beast in the Red Forest by Sam Eastland (2 books)
  • Traitor by Murray McDonald
  • A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison

Of course, if you are looking for books to give colleagues or would like someone to give you to help you with your freelancing business, you can’t do better than these books, which focus on the business aspects of the freelancing rather than on editorial skills:

Are you planning to ask for or give books this holiday season? If yes, why not share with us what books you are giving or asking for. If no, tell us why not.

Richard Adin, An American Editor



  1. I buy/sell/trade/give books to people in my circle all year long, so at holiday time switch modes. If there’s a particular something I know a friend wants, I always give that; for instance, a lifelong pal who moved to California can’t get her favorite salad dressing out there, but it’s a standard item in our grocery store, so I ship her a case. With some family and friends, we always give calendars to each other, because that combines focus on their particular interest and utility, with the bonus of artwork to be enjoyed for a complete year. Some folks are collectors of whatever, so if possible I pick up a nice specimen to add to their collection. If I do buy books for holiday giving, they are usually coffee table books featuring the subject of their greatest interest or aesthetic appreciation.

    Of course, in the years when one of my own books comes out in print, I give those to everyone with the slightest interest. : )


    Comment by Carolyn — December 3, 2014 @ 7:47 am | Reply

  2. I see you have Jill Lepore’s Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin. Jill did a great deal of research for this book in the Special Collections room of our local library–the Thayer Memorial Library of Lancaster, Mass. She gave an interesting summation of the book a few months ago at a well-attended lecture in the library. Her Aunt Rita worked with me for a few months when I started my editorial business. Jill’s father was a graduate of Clinton High School–my alma mater. I work at this library every Wednesday and Thursday, helping with the PastPerfect summation of over 800 artifacts in the library museum. I helped inventory the collection originally, word processed it, edited and proofread it, and produced the catalog.This catalog serves as the basis for the new PastPerfect edition. Lancaster has an interesting library–a Special Collections room with books dating from the 1500s and a museum dedicated to preserving Civil War memorabilia and multiple artifacts from early centuries up until the present.


    Comment by Cecilia E. Thurlow — December 3, 2014 @ 10:53 am | Reply

    • FWIW, I have Jill Lepore’s latest on my desk for prepress review — The Secret History of Wonder Woman. Ought to be interesting!


      Comment by Carolyn — December 3, 2014 @ 10:59 am | Reply

  3. ‘Scuse me, not prepress. It came out in October.


    Comment by Carolyn — December 3, 2014 @ 11:00 am | Reply

  4. Yes, she’s quite a prolific writer. I’ll watch for your review.


    Comment by Cecilia E. Thurlow — December 3, 2014 @ 1:05 pm | Reply

  5. Such an eclectic and wide range of books. You certainly are well read, Rich.


    Comment by Vicki — December 4, 2014 @ 1:43 am | Reply

  6. […] and ebooks that I am reading or acquired and added to my to-be-read pile since the last On Today’s Bookshelf […]


    Pingback by On Today’s Bookshelf (XX) | An American Editor — February 11, 2015 @ 4:00 am | Reply

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