Winter Quarter

A few days late of the equinox but here it is: my winter reading. It’s been a good mix of books, from poetry and philosophy, to true crime and literature, I’ve enjoyed everything, favoring Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous and ranking Laird Hunt’s In the House in the Dark of the Woods down at the bottom. So here’s the list, presented by order read, and let me know what you’ve been reading down in the comments!

Happy writes, happy reads. 


Arendt_Origins_coverHannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism.
Publisher: Harvest Books
Page Count: 527
My Rating: Five Stars

An indispensable book, The Origins of Totalitarianism is arguably Hannah Arendt’s magnum opus. Both a historical account and comprehensive study on the political mass movement of totalitarianism, Arendt’s work is perhaps the most important book of philosophy to come out of the war-ridden twentieth century. From the rise of antisemitism in Central and Western Europe in the 1800s, to the imperialism of the British Empire—maxing out in 1913—and the inevitable evolution into the supranationalistic movements of Nazi Germany and beyond, Hannah Arendt discusses how the transformation of classes into masses, the use of terror and pedantry are the chief forces of the totalitarian mind. Arendt also, in echoing both Eric Hoffer and Erich Fromm, analyses the nature of boredom and loneliness as preconditions for totalitarian uprising, and supplies a deep look into the psychological pathologies of hateful movements. A must read. 


Hunt_darkwoods_coverLaird Hunt’s In the House in the Dark of the Woods
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Page Count: 218
My Rating: Three Stars

Set in colonial America, Laird Hunt’s In the House in the Dark of the Woods is an eerie, disquieting fairy-tale of trauma and tragedy. A journey involving magical creatures and witchy women, Hunt’s story is nebulous and provocative, dealing with questions of freedom and loss, while providing fantastical images. Read my full review here. 


Bluets_cover_NelsonMaggie Nelson’s Bluets 
Publisher: Wave Books
Page Count: 98 
My Rating: Four Stars

A wonderful prose collection, Nelson’s Bluets is an exploratory work on the nature of blue. Traversing philosophical landscapes, probing deep into art, life, and the human experience, Bluets is a lyrical, rolling journey that is sure to please any lover of poetry. With an ease of style and an academic’s bent, Maggie Nelson’s work provides a release of passion into the emotional aspects of color and its blossom in the inner world. 


DevilsKnot_LeverittMara Leveritt’s Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three 
Publisher: Atria Books
Page Count: 419
My Rating: Five Stars

A book that’s been on my to-read list since its inception it seems, Mara Leveritt’s Devil’s Knot was ahead of its time, challenging the modern consensus of the impossibility of false confessions during a period when America’s police and law systems felt impenetrable. Vindicated in 2011 with the release of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, Leveritt’s book is a case study of poor policing and biased judging. Exhaustively researched, and a gem of investigative reporting, Leveritt carves herself a seat in the pantheon of greatest journalistic endeavors ever. An infuriating, but brilliant read, Devil’s Knot is a true crime classic, and highly recommended. 


Fromm_HeartofManErich Fromm’s The Heart of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil
Publisher: Harper & Row
Page Count: 156
My Rating: Four Stars

In some respects a counterpart to Fromm’s The Art of Loving with ties to (in my opinion) his most provocative work, Escape From Freedom, comes Fromm’s The Heart of Man. Part of the existentialist movement of psychoanalysis in the 1960’s, Erich Fromm removes Freudian theories out of the narrow canal of libido and into the open air. Perhaps one of the greatest thinkers in regards to human will and freedom, Fromm once again probes these topics in The Heart of Man, discussing the spectrum of violence, the elements of narcissism, and the overruling impact nurture has upon the human mind. The great challenge of modern humanity, as Fromm sees it, is in becoming fully human. A real hit or miss in some places, this is still another excellent volume by Fromm. 


Vuong_OnEarthOcean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous 
Publisher: Penguin Press
Page Count: 246
My Rating: Five Stars

My favorite read of the reading quarter, Ocean Vuong’s On Earth is full of heartrending verse and sensory prose. Though perhaps not a great novel, if one suspends the criteria of genre, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a stunning letter of hurt and love, brilliantly capturing the chasms of race and class, and inviting deep analysis into the role of masculinity and the overreaching impacts of war and violence. An emotional, cutting read, Vuong’s work is as injurious as it is healing. Read my full review here. 


And that’s the list! Thanks for sticking with me, and everybody stay safe out there. Read books, write words, have music, have love and good food. All the best, and stay wise.        


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