My Christmas ReadingFor me, Christmas morning would be a great disappointment if I did not get a book, hopefully more than one. This year I have gotten three so far, (I have yet to exchange gifts with my son and his family.)I can usually count on my sister for a book, or two. Her present comes in the mail directly from Chapters before Christmas. I have been know to have her present (s) read before Christmas morning. Not so this year as I was spending time at Lynne's home, enjoying each other company and touching base with her family and some of mine. I am just now finding the time to do some extensive reading. The books I have to read look like good and substantial stuff to keep my brain alive and well.
My Christmas selection of books
My sister, Penny, send me "A Fair Country", by John Ralston Saul
and "Salt, A World History",
by Mark Kurlansky
. I was know of the former, having heard the the author interviewed , so I am aware it is putting forth the thesis that Canada is a "metis" society. It is a discussion of the early orgins of the blending of European people and First Nation's people in such a way as to create mythic understanding of the shaping of Canadian value which persist to this day. As I am always interested in Canada and it's similarities and differences culturally with the United States, I look forward to a close reading of this book by one of Canada best know, public philosophers.
The second book, "Salt", I know nothing about. I am aware of the importance of salt through human history and that it has been a form of currency as well as an essential item in human sustainable history. I have also been very interested and read quite a bit about the Tuareg
people of the Sahara , berber pastoralists, who to this day still trade salt by transporting it in camel caravans across that great desert. If you have been following the political struggles in Libya you no doubt recognize the name as a fierce warrior people who live, in part ,in southern Libya.
I am also interested in how salt has been used as a preservative in history, before refrigeration.
I have been wanting to try this method of burying raw meat in salt and later recovering it, washing the salt off and preparing it to eat. Just a few generations back this was a common way of preserving meat over time.
So I am interested in reading the book about the history of Salt and learning more of how it was important in so many ways, politically, economically, nutritionally and culturally.
The book by Niall Ferguson
, the historian, " Civilization, The West and the Rest" will be a intellectual challenge I am sure. This was my Christmas gift from Lynne. Ferguson is a conservative and is supporting Mitt Romney for the Republican Presidential ticket, which I will try to overlook. I am sure what he has to say is much more profound , with a ring of truth, than what politicians say. I previously read his book "The Ascent of Money, The Financial History of the World" and found it interesting and challenging. I expect this book to be an interesting challenge also.
I hope everyone got some stimulating reading for Christmas and is starting off the new year enthralled with an good story, some wonderful poetry, humourous delights or a challenge to your understanding of the world of ideas. I get the next month or two of Winter reading ahead of me, by then it will be my birthday resulting in another book or two.