2019-2020 Winter Reading List

2019-2020 Winter Reading List

Ten books queued on my bedside table for winter reading:

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.

What I Stand For is What I Stand On: The Collected Essays of Wendell Berry 1969 – 2017.

The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World by Charles C. Mann.

A Life on the Middle West’s Never-ending Frontier by Willard L. ‘Sandy’ Boyd.

The Mosquito: A Human History of our Deadliest Predator by Timothy C. Winegard.

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond.

Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis by Jared Diamond.

Energy: A Human History by Richard Rhodes.

Presidents of War by Michael Beschloss.

Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974 by Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Selizer.

I will add some fiction, cooking, and gardening books as winter progresses. Feel free to share what you are reading this winter in the comments.

Living in Society

What an Iowa Progressive Reads

Summer Reading
Summer Reading

Most millennials I know don’t subscribe to cable television or read many books. That’s not to say they are uninformed, just that with the explosion of the Internet after the mid-1990s, there is so much to occupy one’s attention and keep current, and not all of it is reading.

That progressives read, and who we read, makes a difference. Here is my list of people to consider. Maybe readers will find something new to add to yours. If I’m missing someone important, please comment below.

Reading local newspapers is a must. I subscribe to the Iowa City Press Citizen (digital version), and the Solon Economist on newsprint. Whatever arguments one may have with the editorial viewpoint of a specific newspaper, understanding what is going on in the community has few better sources. Always of interest are the opinions, obituaries, front page and community calendar sections.

Supplementing local news is a set of RSS feeds (using Feedly) that expands into Iowa. I subscribe to Radio Iowa, John Deeth’s Blog, Art Cullen’s editorials at The Storm Lake Times, Frank D. Myers’ The Lucas Countyan, Mike Owens’s Iowa Policy Project blog, Chris Liebig’s A Blog About School, Cindy Hadish’s Homegrown Iowan, and The Iowa Farm Bureau’s Farm Fresh Blog.

If readers haven’t dozed off, there are some more progressive-sounding things to consider reading.

Des Moines is a cornucopia of political writing. While steering clear of capitol city politics most of the time, it would be a disservice to omit them completely from a progressive reading list.

The Des Moines writer to whom a subscription is essential with reading high on the list is Ed Fallon. Not because we agree with every word that comes out of his mouth, we don’t, but because of the range of his topics. Find him and links to his other publications here.

In the also ran category are the Iowa Daily Democrat, Michael Libbie’s Sunday Morning Coffee (for the gossip), The Iowa Starting Line, and she who must not be named.

There are more in Des Moines, I suppose. John Deeth continues to highly recommend following Craig Robinson’s blog to stay apprised of the competition, but progressive competition is more with Netflix, craft beers, vintage clothing, restaurant food and other distractions from politics, so I take a pass.

Finally, there is Twitter, the source of all things banal and some profound, trending toward the former. Today’s Blog for Iowa faves include:

Locals: @Bmkimz; @suedvorsky1; @LJYanney; @janicero; @JeffRBiggers; @AriBerman; @mistyrebik; @Deborah_Donohoe; @witsenddaily; @johndeeth; @LyndaIowa.

Nationals: @unreasonable; @ThePlumLineGS; @jimcason; @David_Shorr; @DavidCulpDC.

If you want to stay abreast of what POTUS is doing in the real world, @markknoller.

And of course, don’t forget to subscribe, follow or bookmark We’re now on Twitter @blogforiowa and Facebook too,

Home Life

In Between Books

Bag of Used Books
Bag of Used Books

David Rhodes is one of my favorite fiction writers because he writes about my world, literally and figuratively. When he describes Highway 151 near Dubuque in Jewelweed, it resonates because I’ve been there. That kind of literary experience occurred in the three of his five books I’ve read.

It’s hardly a way of making a reading list, but when I seek respite in words, Rhodes is the go-to author. He’s only written five books, so I dole them out slowly, with only two more to go.

Reading any book-length work is a bigger commitment than it was when I vowed to read every book in the Iowa City Public Library. At that time, the library was located in the Carnegie building, and used the Dewey Decimal System. I started with zero and worked my way through a pittance of the collection before abandoning the project. I learned a lot about religion.

Last year I read twelve books and it is not enough. Nonetheless, even if I make it to two dozen books, each one makes a bigger impact. One has to choose carefully and that’s where I am today.

Among the choices are one of a dozen books given to me by friends. I owe it to each of them to read the volume sent, but am stalled.

I recently bought the Robert Gates and Leon Panetta memoirs, but that purchase was more for reference than actual reading. They gather dust and are not even on a shelf yet.

Most likely on my list is 1381: The Year of the Peasants’ Revolt by Juliet Barker. One of our more questionable ancestry links takes my family back to England and this seminal event. As I recall, the rebellion was squashed. If I seek to use the peasants’ revolt as a metaphor, I should know more about it, and reading 1381 is the plan.

Then there is the collection of books about Iowa, books written in Iowa and books written by residents of the area past and present. Too many for this lifetime, but I should begin chipping away at them.

Not sure which book will be next opened, I’ll relish today’s process of selecting one. Let’s hope I choose well.