What I Happen to Be Reading At the Moment

"A thirteen-year-old is a kaleidoscope of different personalities, if not in most ways a mere figment of her own imagination. At that age, what and who you are depends largely on what book you happen to be reading at the moment.”

 

While not 13 anymore, the desire to read almost anything and everything in order to read for fun and for experience is still around. I'm currently working on my PhD in a physical science, but I love to read and books are one of my non-science hobbies.

When The World Spoke French (New York Review Books Classics) - Marc Fumaroli About three quarters from the end of this history book I realized "the world" in the title really referred to Europe, and a little of North America. While the author made some comments about French influence reaching into Asia (or anywhere outside of Europe, Russia, and North America), the bulk of this history is about Europe and the influence of French Enlightenment figures. Then I read the in publication data, and it turns out that the original title was Quand l'Europe parlait française. So chalk that up to the dangers of translation. Semantics of the title aside, When the World Spoke French focuses on different historical figures associated with the 18th century French Enlightenment school of thought. Each chapter focuses on a person or connected group of people who influenced the course of European history during this period, and of course are connected through their use of the French language. It was an interesting way to set up a history book, though at times Fumaroli became too involved in commenting on the personal lives of the historical figures and not necessarily their historical significance. Pros: passages from primary documents translated from the French at the ends of many chapters, and heavy reliance on first person accounts of events described. Cons: Probably not for a reader (like me) who wanted a general overview of 18th century European history. At times the details were too specific about particular individuals (I had to look up why William Beckford hanging around William Courtenay warranted an "of course" from the author) and at others (like the chapter about Benjamin Franklin) didn't seem well researched enough. A warning to readers as well: Fumaroli assumes that the reader has a knowledge of classical Greek and Roman figures since he frequently uses those as comparisons to his subjects.

Currently reading

Native Son
Richard Wright
The Great Glass Sea
Josh Weil
The Elder Edda
Anonymous, Andrew Orchard