Monday, December 7, 2009

Nine Book Recomendations From 09

This post is my favorite of the year, probably the longest, and lets be honest probably the least read or commented on. But it's mostly for me. I like to keep track on this blog of what I have read on the sidebar and I do a post at the end of the year recommending good books I've read.

I love to read. I usually read a few Mormon related books I order online, some History, and a lot of nonfiction . This year I read a lot of financial stuff to try to understand what is going on economically. I've grouped the genres of books I've read and put asterisks by the nine books I especially recommend (I put them in red as well).Here we go...


19th Century
*********What Hath God Wrought*********
A wonderful history of America from 1814-1848 that won the Pulitzer a few years back. Conflict in government, the rise of political parties, wars, expansion, slavery, its all there and written in a fascinating way by a talented historian. It's thick and takes a while, but is well worth the effort. The author talks about how canals and telegraphs completely changed peoples way of life in this time period. Utopians and Mormons get a lot of pages in the book.
The Life of Andrew Jackson
A great biography by Remini that he also got a Pulitzer for. Good but only if your really into presidential history. Andrew Jackson is the only president under which their was no government debt (for a year.)

20th Century
This book is a lot of fun. Henry Ford had a Utopian streak in him and decided to set up an ideal community based on his desire for work efficiency and hope to bring civilization to an area in the Amazon. It didn't go so well, but the story is fascinating
The Forgotten Man
A revisionist history of the great depression that tilts right, but not embarrassingly so. I think my favorite thing about this book is finding out who this Eccles guy was whose name is all over everything in Utah, and how his ideas still affect US financial policy.
I'll have to say this was my favorite read of the year. It's super thick but the author is so great. This book is over a thousand pages but doesn't feel like it. I came away with a lot of respect for the President who wasn't appreciated in his own day but is considered by many to be one of the better US Presidents. Truman's simple life and unlikely presidency is worth the time to explore. This author wrote the famous John Adams biography that was so popular a few years back.
*********Eisenhower Soldier and President*********
I had to read about Truman's successor. Ike was a great man in the tradition of George Washington. He led the efforts that saved Western Civilization, and that happened even before he became president. As a president he steered the middle ground between progressive and conservative.
A biography of the great short story writer. Great for a devotee like myself but not as good as could be in showing the general reader how fantastic my favorite author really is.

Contemporary History/Politics
*********How Rome Fell*********
Great book that goes through history, talks about Gibbons work. I loved it after being in Greece and Turkey for a little last year. The author tries not to draw many comparisons to contemporary society and mostly questions those who have. I came away from it so glad I don't live during Roman times.
This is the book by the Nobel tree planting lady. She does great works but is a narcissist and it grated on me so I threw it down before I finished.
*********A Long Time Coming*********
A bunch of reporters from Newsweek recount the presidential election in Narrative form. Fascinating even for a news junkey. Palin, Mccain, Romney, Hillary. That was a heck of a battle. My Mom recommended this to me.
Liberty and Tyranny
A conservative Doctor I worked with dared me to read this and still be a Democrat. Interesting polemics. Liberty and Tyranny is an interesting if inaccurate way to frame American Government.

The idea of libertarian paternalism and how it can be utilized in public policy and finance.
The Ascent of Money
A history of financial expansion and downturns from the Renaissance onward
*********Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk*********
This is a great book that talks about how risk management lead to the modernization of the world and economy as we now know it. A great writer who makes a difficult subject fascinating to the layman.
While America Aged
About how demographics will negatively affect the economy, how social security will run out, and other depressing things.

The Gathering of Zion:The Story of the Mormon Trail
My father-in-law gave me this. The story of the heroic Mormon pioneers as they journeyed to Utah. I especially enjoyed descriptions of being on the trail.
Joseph Smith, Jr.: Reappraisals After Two Centuries
A book of essays on Joseph Smith by academics. A few great articles but most of them seemed like people writing articles to help them get tenure and increase their CV.
On the Road with Joseph Smith
The author of Rough Stone Rolling talks about his Joseph Smith biography.
*********The Cost of Discipleship*********
This is just a classic. The author has a personal story of active faith that leads him to his death in Nazi Germany. In this theological work he preaches against "Cheap Grace," and lauds, active determined Discipleship to Christ and his Gospel. This was a reread but is still vibrant and great.
The Screwtape Letters
Reread this for a family book group. I enjoyed talking to the family about it.

Other Non Fiction:
Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History
The author won a Pulitzer a few decades back writing about a 17 th century midwife. here she writes essays on feminism and also about her famous quote. I have interests in feminist writing and theory so I enjoyed it.
A New Yorker writer who also happens to be a Surgeon on healthcare issues, hospitals, doctors and patients.
A fun quick read that explores nature vs. nurture. Another New Yorker author. Fun to read this with family.
A book by one of the Sound Opinions guys on NPR on the music industry and bands in this past decade. Great chapters on Radiohead and Arcade Fire.

Brave New World
I read this because it was a critique on Fordism and felt like so many people talk about it. I got about halfway through it. The author wrote this before Acid was invented, which could have fooled me.
*********The Lost Symbol*********
Pure bubble gum, formulaic, preachy at the end, but just a fun brainless quick read. If you like his other stuff you'll like this. I wont give away the surprise plot twist at the end, but I loved it and it caught me by surprise.

So you made it through my run down. Now lets hear your comments about what books you recommend that you have read this year.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weekend Trip to Visit The Jones's

Some guys get more handsome with age

My roomie from college and his family have been overseas for the past three years in Japan. We finally got to go up and visit them in DC over the weekend. This weekend coincided with the first big snow so we got to spend a lot of time indoors catching up. It was wonderful to be around Nate's wife, Lindi, and their great kids. Little Ryan played checkers with both of us and beat us both badly. And we were both trying our hardest.

We did get a chance to go out with the kids and play in the snow. Here are a couple videos. We love you guys!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Deck The Halls...

  • Ice on our car windshields this morning
  • December 1st
  • Holiday music playing on Pandora
  • The tree is up and decorated

The Christmas season has officially begun!