Thursday, January 1, 2015

Christmas Books 2014

For two of the three years since I started this blog, I have made a short post about the books I received as gifts for Christmas. In addition to being fun, it also serves as a teaser for the reviews to be written in the upcoming year.

Here are the past editions:

Here is what I received this year:

1. The Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis

There are three books in this set, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. I read the first two in my teens, but never read the third. Since leaving home, I haven’t had a copy, either, so I didn’t get a chance to revisit them and finish the series. [Update: I have!]
I had really hoped to find hardbacks, but they have been quite hard to find - and outrageously expensive. Recently, however, Scribner re-issued them, so my wife was able to pick up a set for me.
I haven’t decided whether to just read them myself or introduce the older kids to them. Either way, I doubt I will do all three this year, but I intend to start at the beginning so I can tie all of them together. 

2. Complete Poems by W. B. Yeats.

I have a paperback edition of selected poems, but this is a hardcover of the complete poems. It is also the first of fourteen volumes of the complete works of Yeats, published (in a fun coincidence) by Scribners. My wife found this for me (supposedly) used at a library sale. It does not appear to have been opened, let alone read. 

Another used book find by my wife. She knows I go for weird random stuff like this. My favorite fact about Bacon - one I still remember from a book of weird facts I had as a kid - is that he died of pneumonia, contracted during a series of experiments in the preservation of food by freezing.

4. Jacob’s Journey by Herb Neufeld

Some of my ancestors on both sides of the family were Mennonites who left Germany for Russia after being evicted for pacifism. They eventually left Russia in the 1890s for the same reason, and settled in the Great Plains area of the United States. This book, written by a local known to my parents and my wife’s grandparents, wrote the story of his ancestors, who stayed behind in Russia, later fleeing the Communists via China. My mom got this for me, saying it wasn’t great literature, but is a fascinating story. 

5. The Art of War by Sun Tzu (and other classics of Eastern thought)

I’m going to count this as a Christmas present, even though I selected it myself. The lovely Amanda and I got to have an afternoon and evening to ourselves, thanks to my in-laws, and we were left with some time before dinner. We (naturally) ended up at Barnes and Noble, where I find a sweet hardback of this for not too much. We had a gift card left over from somewhere, so I spent it. So, thanks to whoever gave me the card!
The other works in this book are The Tao Te Ching, Confucian Analects, The Great Learning, The Doctrine of the Mean, and The Works of Mencius.

6. The National Geographic Guide to National Parks and Secrets of the National Parks

These were a gift from my in-laws. I won’t be reviewing them per se, but I do intend to start a series of posts on the National Parks. I have paged through them a bit, and there is some useful information - and some great pictures. [Update: I have used these a lot over the last near-decade in planning our trips.]

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