Not quite as good as backpacking through Europe

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Not quite as good as backpacking through Europe

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Bearbeitet: Okt. 20, 2010, 5:05pm

but it's a (relatively) close second.

I really like the idea of this challenge, and I wonder how long it will take me to cover every country-- probably forever, but we'll see! I'm going to cheat a bit, and include the books I've already read for the 75 books in 2010 challenge, and try to fill in the rest with both a fiction and nonfiction book. And, since most of the nonfiction I read tends to be about the early modern period, where contemporary political boundaries do not apply, I am just going to slot books in to where they happen to fall on the map today.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 27, 2010, 11:35pm

And, I am going to shamelessly steal RidgewayGirl's list of countries (and means of organizing it).

The Western Isles

Nonfiction: The Jewel House by Deborah Harkness
Victorian Anthropology By George Stocking Jr.
Alchemy Tried in Fire by Newman and Principe
The Place of Enchantment by Alex Owen

Fiction: Middlemarch by George Eliot

Isle of Man
Northern Ireland

Bearbeitet: Okt. 20, 2010, 5:17pm

Western Europe

Nonfiction: Mesmerism and the End of the Enlightenment in France by Robert Darnton

The Netherlands

Okt. 20, 2010, 5:01pm

Scandinavia and the Baltic Nations


Bearbeitet: Dez. 6, 2010, 11:48pm

Central Europe

Nonfiction: Fin-de-Siècle Vienna by Carl Schorske

Czech Republic

Doctor Faustus by Marlowe
Faust by Goethe

The Woman Beneath the Skin by Barbara Duden
How Jews Became Germans by Deborah Hertz
The Business of Alchemy by Pamela Smith
Berlin Electropolis by Andreas Killen
A Science for the Soul by Corinna Treitel
The German Greens, ed. by Margrit Mayer


Bearbeitet: Dez. 6, 2010, 11:48pm

Eastern Europe and Eurasia

Stalinist Science by Nikolai Kremenstov


Bearbeitet: Okt. 22, 2010, 10:06pm

The Mediterranean Countries


Nonfiction: The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine by Shigehisa Kuriyama.

Nonfiction: The Cheese and the Worms by Carlo Ginzburg
Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy by Micheal Baxandall
Cardano's Cosmos by Anthony Grafton

Fiction: The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Nonfiction: Nature, Empire, and Nation: Explorations of the History of Science in the Iberian World by Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra


the Vatican

Okt. 20, 2010, 9:20pm

I like your idea of reading both a fiction and a non-fiction book for each country. I'm settled in for a long time and am really enjoying seeing what everyone is reading for each location. Welcome!

Bearbeitet: Okt. 21, 2010, 3:35am

Welcome here! Looking forward to seeing your selections in the...well, let's be realistic, YEARS to come :)

Oh, and you seem to have forgotten Ukraine and the Vatican!

Okt. 22, 2010, 1:08pm

Oh dear, thanks for pointing that out to me! I wouldn't want to neglect either! Incidentally, do you know of any books on the Ukraine?

Okt. 22, 2010, 10:09pm

>8 RidgewayGirl:: Thanks for the list that I lifted from you. I really like reading fiction, but I read a lot of nonfiction too, mostly since I just started grad school in history, and I read a lot about European history (even if it all seems to fall either in Germany, France, or Italy.....). I'm looking forward to broadening my horizons!

Okt. 24, 2010, 12:57am

>>10 tophats: - Welcome to the Challenge. I happen to have read both a fiction and a nonfiction book for Ukraine (although that wasn't intentional - I'll be lucky just to finish this challenge with just one title for each country).

Hiding in the Spotlight by Greg Dawson. It's about a Ukranian Jew (Dawson's mother) who escapes execution by performing as a professional pianist for the Nazi Officers in Germany. I really liked it, but since a lot of the story took place in Germany, I felt bad about using it as a Ukraine entry for this challenge, so I also read Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov. Quirky, but it was pretty good, too.

Okt. 24, 2010, 7:29pm

There's also Everything is illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, which didn't quite live up to the hype IMO, but was well worth reading. Or Marina Lewycka's books, even though they are mostly set in the UK.

Okt. 27, 2010, 11:29pm

pbadeer, thanks for the suggestions, I'm going to pick up Death and the Penguin the next time I make it over to the library, it sounds incredible. And I might pick up Hiding in the Spotlight as well, thanks for the suggestion!

GingerbreadMan: After I posted my initial remark, I remembered Everything is Illuminated, which is on my this-sounds-good-maybe-I'll-read-it-the-next-time-I-have-some-free-time list. It did have really good hype, and I was looking forward to it being amazing.... :(

Bearbeitet: Okt. 27, 2010, 11:34pm

I've just finished a book that is mostly set in England (Victorian England, to be precise). While I already have quite a list growing for that country (in stark difference to, well, almost every other country on my list), I thought I would add it to the list anyway, and give my very mini synopsis of this non-fiction selection:

The Place of Enchantment by Alex Own is a history of British occultism, which situates fascination with the occult squarely within the myriad of reactionary emotions to modernization in fin-de-siècle Europe, in direct opposition to Max Weber's notion of modernity as a process of disenchantment. The book began a bit on the theoretical side (for my taste, at least), but it did provide a great underpinning for her argument. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Aleister Crowley; I had no idea he was such a.... colorful... character. Another great chapter was her description of how female mediums used their place as conduits of the occult to re-negotiate their status vis-à-vis typical gender expectations of the day (and I believe her first book, The Darkened Room (which I haven't read) deals more explicitly with female occult spiritualism). Overall, this book uses the occult in Victorian England as a lens to look at how notions of modernity took shape.

Okt. 27, 2010, 11:34pm

And, Germany also

A Science for the Soul by Corinna Treitel deals with some of the same issues-- the occult as a key aspect in the story of European modernization, this time, in Wilhelmine Germany. Trietel focuses on how the occult was used in the creation of theosophy, how it was used in the arts, and how it was used in the applied sciences, and the ways in which different groups tried, and ultimately failed, to police occult practices in post-war Germany. She spends the last section of the book talking about the occult, and its place in the Nazi regime, and I felt that this was the weakest part of the book. It's understandable that she included the Nazis in her narrative-- it's impossible discuss the occult in Germany and not explain why some high-level party members were so obsessed by it. However, in doing so, it's as if she moves from about 1910, skips over thirty years of history, as if nothing really important happened, and goes right into her Nazi argument, then ends, making the end of the book a bit disjointed.

Dez. 7, 2010, 12:04am

It's been a bad few months for reading that would map well onto this reading challenge, but I did have two that fit the bill.

The first was The German Greens, edited by Margit Mayer. It's a series of essays about the German Green party, and was unfortunately hands down the most difficult book to slog through that I have read in a long, long time (perhaps even ever). All but one of these essays was actually translated into English from the German, and I think that it might be one of the reasons I found it to be dull. I feel that it might be a bit more salient to someone who follows German politics.

The other book is my first entry for Russia, and it's Stalinist Science by Nikolai Kremenstov. While it does discuss science in the Soviet Union in general, much of the book is taken up in a description of Soviet genetics, as provided by Trofim Lysenko. That episode is a very interesting one in how science is taken up by the state, and how a scientific agenda had to work the system and jump through all of the correct bureaucratic hoops in order to be accepted as party dogma. It was quite an interesting read, both in its description of Lysenko (who is an interesting character in his own right, and his theories are delectably zany) and in its careful consideration of how science functioned under Stalin.