Feng, Li. Early China: A Social and Cultural History This is a general overview drawing from Chinese and Western scholarship. It focuses on the Bronze Age cultures through the end of the Han (220 AD or so). It is filling in some gaps, and kicking off ideas I need to finish the Work In Progress.
Marx, Karl The Portable Karl Marx Because I need to review some of his ideas, but I am not in the mood (and don’t have the dedicated quiet time and space) to read through The German Ideology and Theses on Feuerbach and Kapital in German. Reading Marx reminds me 1) how much background in German philosophy you need to follow many of his ideas and 2) why he’s almost as impenetrable as Hegel. You’d think the writer of some of the worst books (in terms of effects on humanity) in recent history would have been a little clearer, but that’s a feature, not a bug, according to his later followers.
Shendge, Malati J. The Civilized Demons: The Harappans in the RigVeda The book is rather odd. The author considers the Rig Veda to be a mythologization of historical accounts of the invasion of the Indus watershed by the Indo-Aryans, and looks at how the archaeological and linguistic and textual evidence conflict and coincide. The book went very slowly at first, and you have to be either 1) really interested in the topic, or 2) really familiar with the material either archaeological or the Vedas, or 3) determined to plow through, because she knows her stuff and is not afraid to heap reference onto dig report onto quotation. I’m not entirely certain if I’m convinced, but she sparked a new fantasy novel, so I’m going to read through to the end.
Isaacson, Walter Leonardo Da Vinci. Great book! My parents gave me this for Christmas, and I’m slowly working my way through it, in part slowly to savor the writing and illustrations, in part slowly because it is a fat book and I can’t read it around Athena T. Cat once she claims my lap in the evenings. Highly, highly recommend for anyone interested in the artist, in his world, and in how his works are analyzed.
Dollinger, Philippe. Die Hanse This is an updated and lightly revised edition of the book about the Hanseatic League. It is in German, and I am reading it to refresh that part of my mind for the sequel to Of Merchant and Magic. I need to know more about the kontors and how they functioned, plus more economic hard data than my other references have.
Also in German I’m reading a guide to the medieval imperial cities of Eastern Germany (yes, the book is pre 1990) such as Goslar, Magdeburg, Quedlinburg, and others. And a tourist guide to Quedlinburg, in case the former Stazi* lady is still the guide in the church. No, I am not kidding. She was memorable in all the wrong ways, and DadRed kept trying to angle around to see if she had knife blades under the toes of her boots.**
For those keeping score, yes, I finally finished Peter Wilson’s Heart of Europe about the Holy Roman Empire. There is so much in that book to consider and chew on… It and Judson’s volume on the later Habsburg Empire, like Andrew Wheatcroft’s look at the Habsburg – Ottoman wars, have changed how I teach that area.
There are a few other things I’m nibbling on, but these are the main ones, plus some work-related reading. Over the Christmas Break I read both of Vox Day’s SJW books. I disagree with some of his ideas, but the first book in particular was useful to get the exact chronology of some of the recent cultural tempests hammered out (like GamerGate). The minutes of the Supreme Dark Lord’s meeting with his henchmen is hysterically funny, especially since I’ve met some of the individuals involved. (“John, I just want the revised manuscript.” “Oh, sorry, sir. Here it is.”)
*WordPress, Stazi is not a misspelling of SETI.
**Watch From Russia With Love. My hand to Bog, that was the tour guide’s twin sister.