Nov - Dec

Leonardo Da Vinci (Walter Isaacson) Arguably the most brilliant mind ever, certainly of the Renaissance, Da Vinci's life was given a fitting bio by Isaacson, who's portrayal of Steve Jobs' life was so well done. So was this one! Highly recommended.

Finished Life (Keith Richards) which lived up to its promise. Recommended for anyone with a rock and roll mindset


Life (Keith Richards) After finishing the Manson book, I started into Keith Richards' (he of the Rolling Stones) autobiography. I'm about half done, lately using breakfast reading time to learn a couple of songs. But this is a fascinating and well-written account of the rock and roller's time on planet earth. Lots of fun and very informative. 


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F#ck (Mark Manson) A bargain shelf book at Barnes and Noble, the "#" in the title is actually an ink splat. Despite this obvious error from the printer, this book made the N.Y. Times Bestseller list! I found it a rather uneven but interesting self-help book. Embrace your struggles. I had a bunch in September, so it helped!

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (Neil DeGrasse Tyson) This just didn't do it for me, perhaps because I wasn't in enough of a hurry. I needed more knowledge going in. Not a waste of time, but not great either.


Al Franken - Giant of the Senate (Al Franken) The Senator from Minnesota has put out a number of books. I didn't like "Why Not Me" about a fictitious run for public office. This one is an excellent autobiography, covering his early years, his Harvard and Saturday Night Live years, but focuses on his run for and subsequent career in the Senate. Lots of humor (well duh!) but great insights on how the Senate really works. No punches pulled, but should be required reading! 

Finished American Nations. He didn't address all I felt he should, but overall a good development of his hypothesis. 

Apr - Jul

Started American Nations (Colin Woodard) The author was a guest on the Daily Show, plugging this book. His premise is that we are 11 distinct cultures because we came from different beginnings. So far (not quite 100 pages in,) this is excellent stuff!

Personality (National Geographic) This isn't a book per se, rather one of the publications National Geographic puts out from time to time. This one supposedly gives an overview of what psychologists know about personality. Recommended by a friend, I found it very weak in just about every way.

Walkaway (Cory Doctorow) By the year 2080, capitalism has gone to absurd lengths and large numbers of people simply walk away from the result. Not as easy as it sounds, as the Zottas (the extremely wealthy) try to crush the rebels. I always liked Cory's works, but he's done better than this one.

J. Edgar Hoover - The Man and the Secrets (Curt Gentry) Now THIS was ONE SCAREY DUDE! Another book over 900 pages, detailed (perhaps in too much detail) how he rose to the power and influence he had. There was little on the sexuality issues, perhaps because they hadn't come out in 1991 when the book cane out. Still, well worth the time! 

They Made a Monkee Out Of Me (Davy Jones) I wanted to read this for some time. One would think that the best selling album of 1967 would have come from the Beatles, the Stones or the Beach Boys. No. it was The Monkees! This is Davy's version of what happened. It didn't get as much into the business aspects as I'd hoped it would, still good insights for a light read.

Susan B. Anthony and the Struggle for Equal Rights. (Christine Ridarsky and Mary M. Huth) Not the biography I was looking for, rather a collection of writings covering as much the women's movement as Anthony herself. It's surprising there was no real bio of her. Still, it does give an overview of her life and how she dealt with the movement.

Feb - Mar

The Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro) I remember seeing the movie, but that was over twenty years ago.   I loved the performances of Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, but remembered the focus differently.  The book is not particularly long (a little over 200 pages), but does an outstanding job of discussing class and its role in world affairs. Thanks Gary and Eva for leaving it at my house!

Built in Detroit (Bob Morris) This was a great story of the early days of the early days of the United Auto Workers. In researching whether I wanted to read it, I realized that I knew the author from high school!  His father was a prominent UAW official, and the book centers on him, but also on other prominent UAW people and how the union evolved.  Fascinating stuff, and I managed to reconnect with Bob in the process.

The Rise and Fall of Senator Joe McCarthy (James C. Giblin) A scary man in a scary time! How did he get into a position to do what he did and what brought him down? This is a good account of populism gone bad.

Finished Let the Trumpet Sound Very good account of the life of MLK.  Great information about a life worth knowing.


Man Without a Face (Markus Wolf) This was a Christmas present.  It's the autobiography of the head of East Germany's International Intelligence organization.  Of course he presents himself in a pretty positive light, but it was very informative about both the techniques used and the politics involved.  Wolf prided himself on his writing skills and it shows. A good read for those of us who lived through the cold war!

Finished Be Happy (Patrick Lindsay) A very light "concept a day" book (one picked at random: "Cherish Your Friends") each with a few sentences and a closing quote. Mildly entertaining.

Started Let the Trumpet Sound (Stephen Oates) A biography of Martin Luther King Jr., this is an in-depth (over 600 pages) undertaking. 

Shin the Scholar - 2017

Last update: January 6, 2018


Note: Unless otherwise indicates, these are DVD sets published by "The Teaching Company" collectively titled "The Great Courses."  They're generally 24 - 36 half-hour lectures by noted university professors. I'd like higher production values, but it's still generally good stuff.

Nov - Dec More of the chemistry was going over my head than was sinking into it so I put it aside after lesson 36. Life. So now I've started one on the history of Spain. So far so good!


Had to leave chemistry for a bit. I'll get back into it soon, maybe tonight! (Maybe not.)


I'm into the chemistry package. Pretty complex. If I can just get the main concepts I'll be doing well.


I've ordered a very ambitious (30 hours!) Chemistry package. I've always thought I missed something not taking it in high school. I'm also waiting for a sale on the recently released history of Spain. 

Finished The Ottoman Empire. Very good information.

Apr - Jul

Started (belatedly) The Ottoman Empire. Fascinating account of how the Ottomans rose to overthrow Byzantium, and dealt with problems to the east (Iran) the north (Russia) and west (England and France) before losing out in the early 1900's. So far, very good.

Feb - Mar

Finished the Economics DVD. Good information, though I had some problems understanding balance of trade, because my brain is too small.  I should go back and re-read the accompanying book.  I probably wont.


Significant progress on the Economics DVD's. It's really pretty good! 36 Half-hour lectures.






Nov - Dec Nothing else. Bye-bye 2017!


Same issue with the article. But I did go through the Nord manual for my keyboard. I'm piecing it together, sorta.


Gee, thanks for the reminder, August!


This update reminds me I haven't yet read the article mentioned last month!

Apr - Jul

Received an astro-physics article from a former colleague who wanted some editing assistance, but she didn't give me enough time. I still want to read it, but haven't had a chance.

Feb - Mar

Nothin' special


Nothin' special.