a steady diet of books & music…

Like my music playlists, my reading selection tends to be a bit random, or maybe that just means that I like variety. Some people would find it odd that I can go from Christian fiction to fantasy or young adult fiction, while reading about conservative politics, at the same time. As soon as that lineup is finished, I could start a biography or a more politically incorrect history, and splice that up with a romance and some sci-fi.

Just like listening to Gordon MacRae, followed by Pitbull and Adele, and then back to Wicked, this keeps life interesting. I get stuck in a rut, quite easily, in other areas, but reading and music has to keep shaking things up. So, just for your edification, my most recent music mix includes One Direction, Carrie Underwood, Brandi Carlile, The Civil Wars, Muse, Skillet, and Linkin Park (when I’m not listening to Gordon MacRae, or any musical that takes my fancy).

But as I review my book list, it makes sense that I’ve suddenly gone into more of a binge on history and politics, and it isn’t just because we have an election coming up. For some reason, my fictional reads have way outnumbered my non-fiction reads. That seems unusual to me, but maybe it’s because I was trying to get in my 10 books a month, in order to keep up with my Goodreads.com Reading Challenge. If I got caught up in too much history, I’d get behind on my reading for the year, right? Well, since I’ve now read 81 books this year, I only have to read five per month, to make my goal of 100. Which means, I’m going to go well over 100 books, because who ever heard of reading only five books in a month? Ok, maybe you have, but that’s just not my style.

And so, when my random mixture starts weighing too much on one side of the scale (last two months, 22 fiction, 3 non-fiction), my brain rebels. I start reading a book like Timothy Zahn’s Choices of One (Zahn’s the best of the Star Wars book writers), and just can’t seem to get into it. I catch up on reading The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica, and though I’m dying for the next book to come out, I still have two weeks to wait. I read halfway through Bodie & Brock Thoene’s A.D. Chronicles, and though it’s Christian historical fiction, set during the time of Christ, I’m ready for some real history or politics to balance this all out.

Before those, I was re-reading Twilight (yes, I like the Twilight books, and maybe someday, I’ll write up why I think the haters are off-base and taking things way too seriously), revolted by the novelization of Snow White and the Huntsman (see my diatribe on the subject), and reveling in the delights which are the writings of L.M. Montgomery. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ve heard it all before. But re-reading my way through The Story Girl and its sequel, The Golden Road, is truly one of the joys of life.

I just finished re-reading Ann Coulter’s Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right, and knowing that I have a copy of her book Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism on my Kindle, is something to look forward to. I’ve read it before, and really enjoy the dose of Cold War history and discussion about the McCarthy years, among other subjects. Since I was born in ’80, I wasn’t aware of what was happening during the Reagan years, so it took me a long time to understand what the Cold War actually was. Thanks to Ann Coulter, I finally got it figured out.

Of course, Slander discusses subjects that the media, especially, likes to repeat things until people actually believe them. The mainstream media denies that they’re biased, and accuses the GOP of always being on the brink of turning into terrorists. If they insist, often enough, that “Swift Boating” is a bad thing, then people will eventually believe it, because it SOUNDS like an insult. And then there’s the constant talk of threats from the “religious right”, which if you think about it, doesn’t really exist. Think about those terms, without any overlying bad connotations, and see if you know anyone that actually belongs to such an “organization”.

Meanwhile, since I have to wait until November for Brion McClanahan’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to Real American Heroes, I picked up a copy of his Forgotten Conservatives in American History. If you haven’t figured this out by now, I love history. Yes, politics interests me, but I love to have a good grounding in history, no matter what a book is about. So, the author is offering to introduce me to some historical characters that I’ve never heard of, OR that have only been mentioned briefly, back when I was in high school? Think of all the Founding Fathers that never get mentioned (except in a list), or lesser known generals during the Civil War. What were they like, and why did they play a part in the conflicts of their century?

While I’ve only gotten to the first chapter, I’ve never heard of James Jackson, who could be considered either a Founding Father, or part of the brotherhood, though he didn’t sign the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. I think he got shipwrecked, and missed the appointment for one of them. But what I’ve read thus far suggests that he was aware of what Alexander Hamilton and his cohorts were trying to do with the National Bank (and other subjects), before even Thomas Jefferson realized it. Jefferson even wrote that Jackson and he thought along the same lines on just about everything, so why have we never heard of this statesman from Georgia?

On another side note, McClanahan also wrote The P.I.G. to the Founding Fathers, which covers another bunch of statesmen, some we know well and some that we don’t. Those people who don’t find history interesting, I will never understand them.

Getting off track, again…

My current book (ok, the main one) is Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, by Jonah Goldberg. This book and I have a strange and wonderful relationship, because I bought a copy of it, several years ago. Then, my brother borrowed, and lost it. Move forward a few years, and I buy and read Goldberg’s latest book, so that reminds me… where is the first one? For some reason, if it’s a book or a CD, and the cover is bright red, those are the only books or CDs (The Beatles, “1”) that I have ever lost. I asked my brother about the CD, and found out that he had picked it up by accident. It looks like a red bulls-eye with a big yellow one in the middle. So, I took a chance, yesterday, and asked him if he knew where the book was (bright red cover, with a yellow smiley face on it). He says he found it, at some point. But he doesn’t know where it is, at the moment.

Ah, well. Luckily, I borrowed it from the library, and its 400 pages will keep me occupied for a while. Remember, from previous posts, how I like to have my terms defined? Well, Goldberg suggests that the definition for “fascism” is a hazy one, with most people not really understanding what it means. In our times, conservatives get called fascist if we do anything the media doesn’t like. But unlike the term “Nazi”, which we find synonymous with evil, is this accurate or not? What is the difference between communism, socialism, Marxism, and fascism? And can it ever happen here in the U.S.?

Most of us would say that a dictatorship could never happen in the U.S. But one author, in the past, has suggested that the kind that would succeed here would be the “smiley” kind. The kind that directs you “for your own good”, like a parent who knows better than the child.

And so, my book has started off by giving a thorough background history on Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, and now, Woodrow Wilson. I’ve read about how Mussolini developed and named “fascism”, and some of the differences and similarities between Italy during WWII and Germany. Where does Woodrow Wilson come into it? Well, that would be telling.

But there you have it, what I’ve been reading lately, and what’s keeping me occupied until The Dragons of Winter is published (nine days from now). That will only be a blip on the radar, though, because I’ll read it in a day, and go back to delving into history. Fascinating, all of it. Oh, and if you’re wondering why I’m being so lazy and not doing anything, my new job starts tomorrow. But I always find time to read, whether I’m working full-time or not.

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