I haven’t read too much fiction of late. I ploughed through 1984 and Brave New World again as well as 400 pages of War and Peace while at Oxford but then got caught up in the second-hand book shops which fortunately plagued the city. I get suckered in every time. And I started to pick up history books, particularly from eras I haven’t read too much of. In England, we are all taught the Norman Invasion of 1966, Henry VIII, the English Civil War and the subsequent Commonwealth under Cromwell, the Industrial Revolution and finally the two great wars of the last century.
So I set out to learn more, rounded myself as full of the meals served in Harry Potter’s dining room I partook in every day. The history books available for about £2 were from the series produced in previous decades that are now no doubt uneconomical. So I read Europe in Crisis 1598-1648 involving King Gustavus of Sweden laying waste to Germany and Poland, the Spanish armies in Belgium and the Netherlands and the endless battles of the Holy Empire which ruled huge swaths of Europe for 5 centuries. Who knew this? 🙂
I also bought a book on 18th century England, an area seemingly bypassed by my history teachers. And considering it involved the loss of the US colonies that seems rather petty. Since I have been teaching at Oxford, so my stack next to my bed right now includes Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King, history books concerning the 17th and 18th centuries, anthropological books, a 1960s psychology book on persuasion, Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen, narratives on violence, stories of elephants and the psychology of exclusion.
Its late. I need to get some sleep so I turn to War and Peace. Night!