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babble, babble, toil and bubble [Feb. 14th, 2008|06:24 am]
[Current Location |work]

Life continues, lightly seasoned with winter weather. No major changes, as expected.

What I have been doing is reading more than usual, so I'm going to talk about that. Or start there, anyway.

I discovered the central library sometime before the start of the year, as it happens to be the closest branch to my apartment. While there, I checked out a history of Prussia, despite knowing that I would probably be getting several historical tomes for the winter holidays. Still, going away from such an impressive collection seemed foolish.

I didn't read the book much at first, and when I did didn't get very far. The early details, which I thought would be most interesting, had trouble holding me above consciousness, an important characteristic given that most of my reading is done at work.

But after ~100 pages, the book got better and I started to read at much greater rate and with greater intensity. I don't think I'll finish the book, given that it has slowed down again as the subject matter has moved into the 19th century and the amount of material the author is trying to cover has increased exponentially. But finishing doesn't particularily matter to me: I know how the story of Prussia ends, how it got to that ending is the interesting part, as usual with history.

This is, incidentally, probably my first major nonfiction reading since last spring.

The thing that has struck me is how little I actually know about non-Anglo-American history. History is so vast, so detailed, that even someone like myself that has considered themselves rather knowledgable on the subject generally gets overwhelmed when confronted, as in this case, by how much I do not know. In this case, it is specifically Prussia pre-1871, but the work has also hinted at other subject, such as the Holy Roman Empire, that I am still woefully ignorant about, and isn't likely to change in the near future without sidelining texts on other important historical subjects.

I always have more non-fiction than I have read, and I tend to accumulate it at a rate greater than my reading rate. This is why I almost always brush off other people's attempts to recommend books to me, because unless I want to read it enough to seek it out myself it will sit in a pile and gather dust.

It's time to go, so I'll have to leave my thoughts there.

[User Picture]From: lady_fox
2008-02-14 04:04 pm (UTC)
Wild Swans by Jung Chang is a really interesting look at the lives of the author's grandmother, mother and herself in China, if you're interested in more non-Anglo-Saxon historical reading.

I learned a lot from it.
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