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Topic: 2009 H/f - #10 - Feed Your Brain!

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Subject: 2009 H/f - #10 - Feed Your Brain!
Date Posted: 1/13/2009 8:38 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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10. Feed your brain! Read one non-fiction history book. The topic is up to you!



Last Edited on: 1/13/09 8:49 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/15/2009 9:20 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,415
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Couldn't help myself - I read "The Terrible Hours" by Peter Maas. As tragic as the situation was, this book was also very inspiring. On the eve of WWll, the submarine Squalus sinks off the New England Coast during a practice dive, but within the naval ranks is a real genius. Swede Momsen - who is a real visionary. He has been working on a system to rescue men from just this type of situation. This took place in 1939 and it was fascinating to read what this man accomplished.

Date Posted: 1/15/2009 12:24 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
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Wow, Jeanne - how are you able to get through so many books so quickly!?  I'm still finishing up the last few pages of the Jan BOM and hope to start one of the challenge books this weekend.

Date Posted: 1/15/2009 12:30 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Yeah, Jeanne, your kicking our @$$es!!  LOL!  Good for you!  I haven't even read ONE book from the challenge yet.  Hope to finish up Lilah tonight or tomorrow and read The Kitchen Boy over the weekend.  It's pretty short. 

Date Posted: 1/16/2009 8:41 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,402
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Shelley -  you won't have any problem w/ The Kitchen Boy at all. And, I'm hoping you will enjoy it - it's a very interesting study of the imprisonment of the Tsar's family and a very perilous time in Russian history.

Date Posted: 1/16/2009 11:49 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Kelly - I don't have much planned for the weekend, so hopefully I can get through it. Still need to finish up Lilah, though. Hopefully I can do that tonight.  The last couple of evenings I haven't had much time to read.  Grrr!! 

Date Posted: 1/16/2009 12:50 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,415
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Well folks, I am retired, you know and since I got involved in the HF discussion forums, I'm watching almost NO television (which irks my hubby). Also, I never thought that I was a fast reader, but a friend of mine leant me the book "Against Medical Advice "by James Patterson and Hal Friedman and I couldn't believe that I finished it in 2 1/2 hrs. Now. if I were still working, I couldn't do this.



Last Edited on: 1/16/09 3:41 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/16/2009 10:07 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Jeanne - That's funny!  My DH too is irked that I don't watch TV.  He does read himself, just not as avidly as I do.  Speaking of reading, I'd better get up to bed and finish Lilah so I can start on one of the challenges this weekend.  Pretty soon I'll be into February's BOM book, which isn't anywhere on my list! 

Date Posted: 1/18/2009 10:35 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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I read while my hubby watches TV too, but it doesn't bother him. Well, it doesn't bother him as long as I am willing to put the book aside while he tells me about the commercial he saw. I think I have the only hubby who wants to discuss the commercials instead of the show. He is obsessed with commercials, lol.

Jeanne, I'm jealous because you already have a great start on the challenge and I haven't even started any of my chosen books. Now that the ILL's I requested from the library are starting to pour in, it will be even longer before I can get started on the challenge. Thank goodness I have all year!

I'm so glad that we decided to do separate threads for each of the ten goals because I am really enjoying reading about the books everyone else has chosen for the challenge. There is only one bad part to it - After reading about everyone's books, I keep wanting to change my own list to read what others are reading, lol. Jeanne has me wanting to read "Mistress of the Art of Death, Linda made me eager to start Clavell's "Shogun" series, Kelly's reading made me want to try the other book I have about Pope Joan, and Kat made me want to re-read "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I think I might be a bit too easily influenced, lol.

Date Posted: 1/18/2009 7:20 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,402
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Ahh, Valli ... as you lead, O Gentle Empress, so shall we follow ...

I also find myself intrigued by the books others are reading. How fortunate that we are not *limited* to just our ten books this year!

On another note, I so strongly recommend Mistress of the Art of Death. It is such an intriguing story - and a very unique one - to have a medieval forensic scientist! No typical "Lord-marries-unwilling-maiden-who-eventually-falls-madly-in-love-with-her-strong-handsome-man" kind of tale here! Anyone who is a fan of Henry II's England and a fan of a well-developed, well-written mystery will love this book. And Henry II himeslf makes an appearance at the end of the book that is a true scene stealer!!

 

Date Posted: 1/18/2009 9:33 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2005
Posts: 809
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I LOVED Franklin's Henry II! He appears in the sequel, The Serpent's Tale, as well.

I just ordered a book from Amazon I think I will use for the "feed your brain" category: Mistress of the Vatican: The True Story of Olimpia Maidalchini: The Secret Female Pope  http://www.amazon.com/Mistress-Vatican-Olimpia-Maidalchini-Secret/dp/0061245550/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1232332009&sr=1-2

Maidalchini apparently was the "power behind the throne" during Innocent X's papacy. I love learning about all these scandalous bits of church history they didn't teach us in Catholic school! ;-)

Date Posted: 1/18/2009 9:48 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,402
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 I love learning about all these scandalous bits of church history they didn't teach us in Catholic school!

Your comment was so interesting to me, Felicia! I was raised Protestant; but my husband was raised Catholic in upstate New York - including attendance at Catholic schools. I recently completed Pope Joan and I asked him if he was taught much of early Catholic church history in school. His response was something to the effect that no, early Catholic history was probably something to be ignored more often than not! :-D

Kelly

Date Posted: 1/23/2009 9:39 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,415
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I haven't been keeping up with this challenge lately, because I have some books on other's WL's (none that you are all looking for - believe me , I checked first), so I'm trying to get some of those read and out. I couldn't believe that I went through my cookbooks the other day and decide to get rid of some. They practically flew off my shelf!

Is anyone in this challenge interested in Ann Cleeves "The Sleeping and the Dead"? I'm reading it now and thought I would mention it here first. PM me if you are. I should be finished with it soon. Thanks, Jeanne



Last Edited on: 1/24/09 7:10 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/25/2009 11:44 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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I just finished my book for this challenge: King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins Who Led the World to War by Catrine Clay.

This book was one of the very first to go on my WL when I joined PBS in 2007, because I spotted it at the bookstore when it was newly released...and I finally got to the top of the list and received it last week! Just goes to show that WL books do eventually pop--you just have to be patient!

The book was worth the wait--it explores the relationships between Britain's George V and Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm, who were first cousins, and Russia's Tsar Nicholas II, whose wife Alix was also a first cousin to George and Wilhelm. George, Wilhelm and Alix were all grandchildren of Queen Victoria.

These three cousins ruled half the world among themselves, and their personal and political relationships led directly to the first World War in 1914. The book delves into the family of Queen Victoria and the marrying and intermarrying among the rest of Europe's royal families, which resulted in various alliances and enmities. At the same time that these rulers are trying to hold onto their thrones, a revolutionary spirit is sweeping through Europe, and Nicholas and Wilhelm both fall before it.

I got a little bogged down trying to keep track of the constantly-revolving advisers and ministers to the rulers, but other than that, the book was excellent. Behind all that might and power, they were just plain people who had to deal with their parents, spouses, and children. The difference is that their family problems became the problems of the world!

 



Last Edited on: 1/25/09 11:44 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/26/2009 1:50 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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I've finished my choice for #10, called The Hairstons, by Henry Weincek.  What an awesome read, especially for a NF title!  It examines one American "family"..the white owners and the black slaves, and their descendants. It recounts the varied stories of the players in this 'family' by using well-written history vignettes to examine how the individuals would have behaved and the situations they would have found themselves in. It is a genealogy, but more; it is history, but more; it is a wonderful story that must parallel the story of so many black and white 'families' of our country....I think it may be a good book to spark the 'healing' process that our country is so desperate for in its racial relations. It does not countenance the current paradigm of race in this country--eg, 'it's discrimination', but looks for the roots and attitudes that underlie differences, and the model of healing in the Hairston 'family' is one our country would do well to emulate.

Date Posted: 1/26/2009 6:48 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,402
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Janelle & Colleen ...

Thank you both so much for such wonderful reviews and summaries of the books you read! They both sound fascinating!!

BTW, Colleen ... I love your current tagline by Cinderella ... Indeed!!!

Kelly

Date Posted: 1/26/2009 8:05 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
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Oh Janelle, that sounds fascinating! Eeeek

Date Posted: 1/26/2009 11:35 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2005
Posts: 809
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LOL! I just put King, Kaiser, Tsar on my wish list!

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 10:21 PM ET
Member Since: 3/6/2006
Posts: 3,070
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I read 1776.  It was a very well written and researched book.  It was also 99% military.  Interesting to a point but I have problems with all the strategy, etc.  Like I said, exceptionally written but if you're looking more for politics it's not in here.

Date Posted: 2/28/2009 12:53 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,402
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I finished my challenge for this category - The Island at the Center of the World, by Russell Shorto. The tagline on the book sums it up better than I could - The epic story of Dutch Manhattan and the forgotten colony that shaped America.

I enjoyed reading this book very much! One of my dad's ancestors was a Dutch immigrant who arrived in New Amsterdam in 1642, so it had a particular appeal to me; however, anyone with a broad interest in America's development as a country, or a more specific interest in New York or New York City would enjoy this. One of the most fascinating things is that the research and translations from the time when Manhattan was part of "New Netherland" are still going on to this day. In fact, one letter written by Peter Stuyvesant has been translated, but as of this book's copyright, had not yet been published. 

The book is easy to read and comes complete with exhaustive notes, bibliography and an index (in fact, the book itself is only 325 pages; but with the supporting material, we get up to 384 pages). The book is written in a nice, conversational style and there are interesting anecdotes (that I insisted on reading aloud to my husband!) ... Just as one example, the reason coleslaw is coleslaw and not shredded cabbage salad is because the Dutch word for same is koolsla.

My only "wish fors" was for a chronological reference of important events and I wish there had been more maps. There are a few, but not the number or level of detail I would like to have had. Fortunately, there is always the internet ...



Last Edited on: 2/28/09 3:58 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 3/25/2009 1:42 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 849
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I read The Sisters Who Would be Queen by Leanda de Lisle about the Grey sisteres (mostly Jane and Katherine).  Very interesting and easy to read, especially how the author dispels some of the historical, popular perceptions of Jane as the "victim".  I bought mine from the UK - it will be released in the US in October.

Date Posted: 4/21/2009 9:03 AM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
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I read Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling by Ross King for this category.  I really enjoyed it, and found it so easy to read for a Non-Fiction book!  I wanted to understand more about the Sistine Chapel before my trip to Italy next month, and this book really has me excited to see it now.  It follows Michelangelo's journey throughout the 4+ years that he painted the chapel of the Vatican, along with Pope Julius' story and the conflicts that Rome undergoes. 

The novel walks through in a timeline the creation of each of the main sections of the chapel, and it's amazing to see how Michelangelo's art changes as he learns and grows, and as the Julius' conflicts impact him.  This was the first fresco that Michelangelo had ever been commissioned to paint; previously he had focused on engraving (he had just completed David).  Initially, Julius had hired him to build his tomb out of marble, and then changed his mind and forced him to do the Sistine Chapel, which he was not at all interested in doing.  He never got over his disappointment and anger at Julius for this, even though the Sistine Chapel ended up being what he was best known for.  It was also interesting to read about the competiveness between the artists of that time, especially Michelangelo, Leondardo da Vinci, and Raphael.

The center section of the book has great pictures and outlines that I found myself referring back to as Ross King discusses the creation of each section of the Sistine Chapel.  If you're at all interested in art or this time period (or plan to visit the Sistine Chapel), I'd definitely recommend this book.

Date Posted: 4/21/2009 1:07 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
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I'm so glad this got bumped up. I read A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by David Fromkin for this challenge. It was good, but not a quick read as there are a lot of people to keep track of. It really brings to light how meddling Western Europe and the US was in the entire situation, bangs head.

Date Posted: 4/21/2009 4:04 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,402
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Michelle - What a GREAT and TEMPTING review you wrote! Acckkk ... is there a never an end to the great books out there that are worth reading?!?

Mimi - I wish you could package your new knowledge & give it to me in pill form! I am very  interested in this subject matter and know just enough to get myself in trouble in a political conversation, but am reluctant to give up the time to do any in-depth study of it.

I think this non-fiction challenge has been one of the most interesting of all the challenges. We need to remember to include this category in next year's challenge, don't you think? I'm ashamed to admit that I read very little non-fiction - but it is easy to see what great books I've been missing. And, thus, I've come full circle - is there never an end to the great books ....

Kelly

 

Date Posted: 5/30/2009 5:25 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,402
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I just finished Four Queens, the Provencal Sisters Who Ruled Europe, by Nancy Goldstone.  It is an interesting history of Marguerite who married Louis IX of France; Eleanor who was Henry III's Queen in England; Sanchia married to Richard (Henry III's younger brother) who eventually claimed the throne of Germany, or the Holy Roman Empire; and Beatrice who married Charles of Anjou, younger brother to Louis IX who later became King of Sicily.  These sisters were neither royal, nor rich, and yet their marriages and their influence played a large role in the history of 13th century Europe - a time of Crusades, civil war in England, and general unrest throughout all of Europe except France.  Even though this is non-fiction, it was very readable, very informative, with slightly different slants than some of the historical fiction written about the same period.  Includes some maps, an index, and a very interesting interview with the author.  An enjoyable reading experience.  4.5/5

And......this concludes the Reading Challenge for me.  It's been fun and I'm glad I participated.  Thanks to Valli for initiating it.

Linda

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