Winter 2018

Stuff I’m watching and reading, because I know you all want to know.


Winter Olympics: Because I like to watch people doing stuff in snow. Rooting for the Nigerian bobsled team, the Mongolians, and whoever wins one of those Iron Person extravaganzas.

Victoria: Because I’m a sucker for fictional British history and because it stars a Dr. Who Companion.

The Alienist: Because I read the book a long time ago, because my son comes over to watch it with me, and because I can’t quite get enough of late 19th Century culture and science. Did you know you can get rid of corpse gas by sticking tubes into the belly and lighting them up? Kinda resembles a field of natural gas pipes.

The X-Files: Mulder and Scully, back again, complete with MOTW and incomprehensible story arc. I love every minute. Did I tell you I have the X-Files theme as my ring tone?

The Magicians: Because it’s more than just another of the Further Adventures of the Pretty People. It’s fun and smart and witty and more than a little magical.

American Experience: Because it’s full of fun facts and old-timey newsreels and small explosions of insight as to why we are where we are now. Because, like Frodo and Sam in the Emyn Muil, we’ve been here before.

Travellers (streaming on Netflix): Because time travel. Because relatable characters. Because reasonably good writing. Because I like it.


Fiction on Kindle:

Paradise, by Toni Morrison. Because I want to read all of Morrison. Because it’s about an all black town in Oklahoma. Because it’s about all of us.

Non-fiction, Dead Tree Books:

A Study of History, Abridged, Arnold J. Toynbee. Because I’ve had it for years and years and never finished. Because in spite of being written before WWII, it still offers insights of one kind or another.

When once the waters met, it was impossible that they would not mingle.

Written of ancient Greece, but applicable to globalization today.

Post War, A History of Europe Since 1945, by Tony Judt: Because I read an article talking about Judt and how dedicated a researcher and writer he was, working up until his death from ALS. Because I think Chris Hayes (or maybe Fareed Zakaria) recommended the book. Because I have avoided a lot of 20th century history, and it’s giving me insight about a lot of current developments. My favorite footnote so far:

The Bulgarians had actually oscillated quite markedly over the years from enthusiastic pro-Germanism to ultra-Slavophilism. Neither served them well. As a local commentator remarked at the time, Bulgaria always chooses the wrong card … and slams it on the table!

Schubert’s Winter Journey, by Ian Bostridge: Because it unpacks a song cycle written by Schubert for a poem written by Wilhelm Müller, Winterreise (Winter Journey). Which I love because I came across a recording of it by Jonas Kaufmann, a copy of which I eventually sent to an ex-boyfriend of mine who loved it. Because he then sent me this book, which I love because it unpacks references to tropes of the early 18th Century.

With a heart filled with endless love for those who scorned me, I … wandered far away. For many and many a year I sang songs. Whenever I tried to sing of love, it turned to pain. And again, when I tried to sing of pain, it turned to love.

Schubert, 1822

Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist, by Niall Ferguson: Because in my set, the very name Kissinger inspires hisses and boos, and it has made me curious about who he is, was, and started out to be. One interesting quote:

It took some of the best elements in Germany six years after Hitler came to power to realize that a criminal was running their country which they had been so proud of considering a moral state, so much that they were unable to comprehend what had in fact happened …

1954, Kissinger letter to Arthur Schlesinger on the subject of McCarthyism.

What Happened, by Hillary Rodham Clinton: Because the only time I deserted Hillary was for Barack Obama, and that was only because I thought he’d have a better chance of governing. Ha! Neither one of them had a chance, once the Republicans took over. I’ve just begun reading it, but already it’s like sitting down for a conversation over a cup of tea with an intelligent, kind and funny woman. The best kind there is.