What have you been reading?

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Necrozius

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I'm tapping into my ancestral roots (Denmark and Sweden).

The Poetic Edda, translated and edited by Jackson Crawford.

The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes: Crawford, Jackson: 9781624663567: Books - Amazon.ca

Fascinating and surprising so far. I watch Crawford's channel in parrallel with my readings, to add further context and reflection on the passages.

Next up is a translation of Beowulf (recommended by Crawford). The translator is Dick Ringler (the child in me always chuckles when I see that name). Again a translation in common, non-pretentious English for people like me who aren't scholars.

Beowulf: A New Translation for Oral Delivery: Ringler, Dick: 9780872208933: Books - Amazon.ca
 

under_score

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I'm tapping into my ancestral roots (Denmark and Sweden).

The Poetic Edda, translated and edited by Jackson Crawford.

The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes: Crawford, Jackson: 9781624663567: Books - Amazon.ca

Fascinating and surprising so far. I watch Crawford's channel in parrallel with my readings, to add further context and reflection on the passages.
I've been going through the Poetic Edda the past year as well. It's been a great reading, and Crawford's channel is always insightful.
If you want further analysis, the Northern Myths Podcast goes line by line through it (as well as other material).
 

Séadna

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Read Toby Wilkinson's "The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt".

His information on the rise of Egypt from prehistoric times until the foundation of the state under the first pharaoh Narmer is probably the most readable summary to be found. This is then followed by very good quick explanations of the major social and national themes of the Old, Middle and New kingdoms. Most books about Ancient Egypt cover the main points he mentions in these sections on the three kingdoms, there's nothing shocking or new. Most to the book's credit is the coverage of the Intermediate periods, which are often full of wild speculation in other books.

In general he's pretty good at spotting when competing theories aren't worth discussing when they don't affect the overall narrative. For example there are volumes upon volumes dealing with different theories about exactly how the state was first formed, what Narmer himself and his father and grandfather did, to what extent they conquered versus gained economic power etc. He passes over this to give the main thrust of events which everybody agrees on.

There are only two bad points, but they're quite bad.

Throughout the book he never stops talking about how oppressive the pharaohs were and linking them to 20th century fascist dictators and so on. It's not that this is incorrect, a guy who builds a statue of himself symbolically crushing peasants and gives himself the personal name "he with the divine body of gold" is probably fairly autocratic. It's just he keeps going on and on about it and acts like he's the only person to spot it since every other Egyptologist is too emotionally invested.

Second his treatment of the religion is too cursory. Now he does spend a significant bit of the book on the cult of Osiris and a little bit on the Sun cult. However the Egyptians were really a deeply religious people with a state faith that informed every national and private act, considered their gods as the true gods, etc. Even to other societies in the Ancient world they were known to be very pious. It's quite hard to understand and philosophically abstract*, but it's of more importance to "getting" them than any other single aspect of their society.

So it's a bit of a mixed bag, but I'd say worth a read overall.

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*I would say exceeding Catholic Christology in complexity for anybody who knows that.
 
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BedrockBrendan

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Just read the book The Howling. A big fan of the movies, and the novel is a pretty quick read. Quite different form the film, yet oddly very similar. The story is a lot simpler in the book, and the whole serial killer subplot isn't present (something similar kind of happens at the start of the book, but that is meant as the thing that catapults the story and establishes an important theme). Very effective use of putting the character in a remote location without a convenient telephone and not having the protagonist know how to drive. That made it more frightening.
 

BedrockBrendan

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As someone who doesn’t know how to drive you now have me interested in tracking down a copy.

The reason it works here is the story really plays up the feeling of isolation the character has. Basically she and her husband move to a remote town in California in the woods. He drives, she doesn't. And their house doesn't have a phone (so they have to walk to the one local shop to use the phone there when they want to make a call). So she can't just hop in the car and drive away to safety, and she can't easily pick up the phone to have someone else drive her to safety. Obviously she can still attempt to drive, as you don't need a license or experience with it to make the attempt: but that adds its own sense of tension and danger because the controls are so unfamiliar to her.
 
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