Monday, December 31, 2018

What have you read lately?

At the LGM blog, Erik Loomis posts titles of 113 books he has read  or consulted in the past year that are relevant to his historical work (American labour history mostly, plus some environmental history). He particularly recommends twenty.
I read these books for my own purposes–to prepare for teaching, to keep up or catch up on the historiography in my fields, occasionally to broaden my horizons. So I do not read every word of these books, nor do I generally read for factual information. I read for preparation for my work, whether my own professional writing, to inform my blog posts, to prepare for new courses, or to think through harder questions. That often means simply being aware of the basic outlines of a book so that I can go into more detail later when I need to write about a given subject. I also included the few books on contemporary politics I read this year, since there’s not much sense separating those out from historical books given my writing. Some of these are new books, most are from the last decade or so, a few are old classics that I had either never read or haven’t read in the last decade.
This seems an admirable year-end practice for any working historian. I'm going to at least consider something similar in the next few days, though there's not much hope of any list of mine matching this one for scope or erudition. For the record I have read or consulted precisely zero of the Loomis titles so far. 
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