Your New Reading List: Dan Reiter’s Picks

Dan Reiter has authored two groundbreaking works on war with PUP: Democracies at War (with Allan C. Stam) and How Wars End. With detailed analysis of over twenty major conflicts, Dan’s works bring clarity to the infinitely complex subject.  His summer reading choices broaden the scope of war even further, dealing with the day-to-day life of a solider in Vietnam, and the struggles of a country in the aftermath of WWII.

“One of my more enjoyable reads this summer was Matternhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War, by Karl Marlantes. It’s a Vietnam War-era novel, written by a Vietnam veteran. The novel follows one Marine unit through several weeks of combat operations in a mountainous border region. It is one of the few Vietnam War era novels which primarily focuses on relatively conventional combat operations, rather than on things like pacification, counter-guerrilla strategy, and/or relations with South Vietnamese civilians. It is well-written, and filled with lots of gritty description of a soldier’s life that only a combat veteran would know. I also appreciated the depiction of race relations among Marines, which forms an important portion of the plot. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the Vietnam War or in combat fiction. I would say it’s one of the better Vietnam War novels I’ve read, perhaps alongside The 13th Valley by John del Vecchio.”

“I am currently reading Austerity Britain: 1945-1951 by David Kynaston. It is a social and economic history of Britain during the immediate postwar period, describing the everyday life of the British population, as well as relevant domestic policies embraced by the government. The kinds of areas it covers include housing, food rationing, and popular culture phenomena like fashion, sport, and the emergence of television. I am getting a much better sense of how surprisingly difficult day to day life was for the British population during this period, and the lively nature of British government debate about what policies should be embraced to push forward British recovery. There was, for example, a quite open embrace of socialism by a number of politicians. I would recommend it to anyone interested in British history, or to anyone who enjoys getting a very textured feel of what day to day life is like at a particular place in a particular time. Regarding the latter, perhaps the kind of person who relishes the period authenticity of the television show Mad Men would enjoy this book.”

Let us know what you think in the comments, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Your New Reading List: David Ekbladh’s Picks

David Ekbladh (author of The Great American Mission: Modernization and the Construction of an American World Order) shows a keen interest in history, but most of all in understanding the living, breathing people who were a part of it.

David says, “This summer my readings have stayed close to some of my interests but I’ve still had a chance to immerse myself in some lively historical literature.  I recently finished Mark Mazower’s Hitler’s Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe. While a marvel of historical research and synthesis, it is a harrowing view of how ideology shapes policy on the ground.  The litany of terrifying ideas that were actually implemented by the conquerors, particularly in Eastern Europe, provides a stark view on just what was at stake during World War II.

I’m in the middle of C.L.R. James’ lively Beyond a Boundary. More than a beautiful book about cricket, it is an insightful survey into what sports can reveal about interaction and hierarchies within societies as well as a story about how an early passion shaped James’ life.

Finally, I’ve just started Gordon Craig and Felix Gilbert’s classic, The Diplomats, 1919-1939. It is an encompassing volume that sketches the world of formal diplomacy in the interwar period and its eventual collapse into war.  First published in 1953, the book was an attempt at understanding of what was then the recent past.  Broad scope and fluid prose have kept the book in print and made it an influential history of a critical era.”

Let us know what you think in the comments, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

Your New Reading List: Sara Lerner’s Picks

PUP Production Editor Sara Lerner gave us some devilishly fun recommendations. A poignant tale of good vs. evil, a gender-bending murder mystery, or an over-the-top piratical thriller might be the perfect way to spice up the waning summer with a little adventure.

The Master and Margarita
by Mikhail Bulgakov.  Sara says, “The Devil comes to Moscow and chaos ensues…for some.  For others, salvation ensues.  Deeply sardonic (it’s about Russia, after all), full of The Passion as well as passions, it also abounds with strange sweetness and a zest for living.  I reread this every few years; it moves me every time.”

Thus Was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Caudwell.  Sara says, “A clever and beautiful but utterly hapless English lawyer on an Italian tour gets blamed for the murder of another English tourist, in Venice.  This is just juicy, delectable fun.  Written in first-person in a high and hilarious tone, you don’t even know the gender of the narrator…not that it’s important.  The mystery itself is good, the writing style is delightful, and it also goes some way in subtly rocking the gender boat.”

The Pyrates by George MacDonald Fraser. Sara says, “It’s like Pirates of the Caribbean, but a novel (and about 20 years before the films!).  An all-too-perfect hero, an all-too-winning anti-hero, femme-fatales to suit every taste, pirates of every description, and despicable villains tangle (and tango) in an anachronistic yet fact-rich and thoroughly-researched Restoration romp on the high seas.  I go wobbly at the knees just thinking about how much FUN this is!”

Leave your own adventurous book suggestions in the comments, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Your New Reading List: Carlos Eire’s Picks

Having delved deeply into the mind(and soul)-boggling concept of eternity in his richly researched A Very Brief History of Eternity, it comes as no surprise that Carlos Eire’s summer reading choices include engrossing works that stretch the boundaries of the human spirit and imagination.

The Confessions by Saint Augustine — Carlos says,  “Much more than the quintessential autobiography and a blueprint for writing about consciousness, this 5th-century masterpiece lays bare the deepest longings of every human heart, and brings us face to face with the deepest existential questions. If I were exiled or marooned on an island with only one book to read, this would be the one I would like to have with me. Though it chronicles the spiritual evolution of one mere human being, it is a truly universal, inexhaustible book.”

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez — Carlos says, “The Bible of magic realism, this novel transports all readers beyond the limits of their own imagination while also exposing them to the nearly hallucinatory, yet lucid mindset of Latin America. A feast for mind and soul, this book deserves to be enshrined alongside the first novel ever written, the quintessentially Hispanic classic, Don Quixote.”

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler — Carlos says, “Hard-boiled prose that comes damn close to poetry. Plots with more twists than a hangman’s noose, and every bit as tight. Metaphors as stunning as a curvy blonde, and as perfect as a dress one size too small stretched across her behind. Characters as shady as the bottom drawers in a pawnshop desk. Sun-drenched Los Angeles in crisp black-and-white. A hero tougher and nobler than any medieval knight — and infinitely funnier — Chandler’s Philip Marlowe searches for truth in paradise lost, sticking to a code of honor that even a Trappist monk would find hard to observe. This novel was my introduction to Chandler. Ten pages into it, I vowed to read everything ever written by him, and did so with passion. My writing and my life are all the better for it.”

Is there a book that transports you to another world, or perhaps just deep within yourself? Leave a comment, or let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

Your New Reading List: Jessica Pellien’s Picks

PUP Assistant Publicity Director Jess Pellien has a few ideas if you want to add something fun, quirky, or delectably entertaining to your summer reading list.

Jess says, “After spending 40+ hours a week publicizing nonfiction books, it will come as (no) surprise that I love reading lighter fare in my spare time. I am also highly susceptible to recommendations and will read (or at least give a serious attempt to read) any book I am given.”

“I am a huge fan of the Chet and Bernie mysteries by Spencer Quinn. These light, quirky mysteries, told from the perspective of good dog, Chet, are quick and easy beach reads. They will appeal to any dog or mystery lover. I suggest readers bone for the release of the third installment, To Fetch a Thief, this September by reading Dog On It and Thereby Hangs a Tail over the summer.”

“In a post-Harry Potter era, we know that young adult literature isn’t just for young adults anymore. If you are wondering what to read next, try The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. Gifted with City of Bones and City of Ashes for Christmas last year, I have recently read the third in the series – City of Glass. In this series, we are introduced to the world of Shadowhunters – a group of fallen angels who police the world against Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and demons. Some of the book meanders along traditional pathways and I’d welcome a writer who doesn’t draw on that staple of vampire lore–“glamour”.  But, overall, I found myself immersed in an innovative and unique alternate universe which is exactly what this type of book should do.”

“And, I know everyone says this, but vampires are really hot. If you haven’t read the Sookie Stackhouse books yet, what are you waiting for? That said, I think the book series has started to get dangerously close to jumping the shark, so start at the beginning. The first few books were amazingly good fun and if you are a fan of the HBO television series (“True Blood”), you will find it fun to compare and contrast the books with the show. They are different enough that you can almost enjoy them as separate, but related entities.”

Each series named above is on-going with new releases out soon, so now’s the time to pick one up! Is there a fun read you want to recommend? Leave us a comment, or let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

Your New Reading List: Eric Posner’s Picks

Eric A. Posner (Climate Change Justice) offers three succinct but compelling suggestions. Anyone interested in history, current events, or just learning something new should check out his list:

Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947 by Christopher M. Clark provides a lucid history of that country, and is unusually well written.”

Conspirata: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Robert Harris details the life of Cicero through the eyes of Tiro, his slave (and confidant, according to Harris). Eric calls it “a trashy but painless way to learn about Roman constitutional law.” Sounds fun!

Eric describes Slapped by the Invisible Hand: The Panic of 2007 by Gary B. Gorton as “one of the most illuminating of the many books on the financial crisis.”

Leave a comment on Eric’s picks, or let us know what you’re reading on Facebook or Twitter.

Got a ton of old books lying around? Here’s what to do with them.

Home and product design website Design*Sponge ran a post yesterday featuring homemade furniture with a small quirk—it’s made of books!

The article features a pair of end tables (pictured above) and a coffee table, but I’m thinking this idea could go even further. Book couches! Book dining sets! How about a bookshelf made of books?

I love the look of these tables, but I can’t help feeling sad for the books involved. Selecting the right ones must be a complicated process.

Should it be books you never want to read again? Or should you pick book titles that will impress your friends? (“Why yes, that armoire is composed entirely of different versions of James Joyce’s Ulysses. How kind of you to notice!”) The books featured in these photos appear to be dated and of the sort that the artist didn’t necessarily intend to read, if that old-looking cookbook on top is any indication.

Are these creations a bibliophile’s dream, or should these books be rescued and given to more appreciative readers? What books would you use in your furniture? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Click here to see the original post on Design*

Your New Reading List: Amy Hungerford’s Picks

Amy Hungerford (Postmodern Belief: American Literature and Religion since 1960) recommends beautiful prose perfect for those dreamy summer days, whether you’re enjoying a day out in Mother Nature’s glory, or would prefer to curl up on the couch with the AC running and pretend you are.

1. Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov

Amy says, “These essays tell of Nabokov’s enchanted childhood and his family’s heartbreaking flight from Russia when he was in his teens. The chapter on his passion for butterfly hunting at their country chateau will inspire summer dreaming, even if it doesn’t send you out with net and pins.”

2. “Nature” and “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Amy says, “I can’t help wanting to read gorgeous, intelligent prose about the outdoors in the summer. Because Emerson was a genius at stringing lustrous aphorisms into an essay, you can read this even in little bits, on the beach, and immediately quote impressively to attractive persons on nearby blankets.”

3. The Known World by Edward P. Jones

Amy says, “Still my favorite historical novel, about a black slave-owner in antebellum Virginia. No one is writing like Jones today though the genre of the historical novel is as popular as ever. Summer is the perfect time to plunge into an epic story like this one and enjoy its myriad characters and endlessly budding narrative style–like a great spreading tree, with small stories growing like leaves from every one of the main branches of the story.”

Considering that just reading her descriptions makes me want to go outside and sit under a tree, I’d say that Amy’s picks really capture the summer season—from its excitement to its beauty and calm.

Is there a book you think is perfect for summer? Let us know in the comments, or by Facebook or Twitter!