What I Read: December 2016

To help me stay on track in my 2016 goals, I documented the books I read all year. I want to make sure I get out some thoughts close enough to December, so I’m sticking with the three-sentence model I’ve been using the past few months. Here’s what I read at the end of 2016:

Walt Whitman‘s Selections from Leaves of Grass.

I bought this vintage book at a used bookstore awhile ago, for two reasons: I thought the artwork was interesting (¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) and I’d never read any Walt Whitman poetry. I figured that a selections book would contain the best stuff, but these poems did not move me in the slightest. I want to read more poetry, but I’m putting Whitman back on the shelf.

Hunter S. Thompson’s Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga.

This nonfiction book is about Hunter S. Thompson’s wild experience living with and reporting on the Hell’s Angels, a motorcycle group born in California in the 1960s — previously, I only knew about the Hell’s Angels from reading about The Doors. Thompson masterfully weaves the stories of the group into the bigger picture of the counterculture. I enjoyed reading this book, and never got tired of reading it or felt like hurrying to the end.

Carey McWilliams’ California: The Great Exception.  

This book is supposedly one of the books to read about California — it was written around the time of the state’s centennial, and takes a look at the problems that the state faced at the time and how it got there — but I will spare you the time of reading it (it is longwinded and often boring) by just telling you what my main takeaway was. Here it is, and it’s unsurprising: California would not be the way it is today if it hadn’t been for the Gold Rush, and the same social, economic and political problems we face in 2017 were the same we faced in 1850 and 1950. If you’re a fellow California  interested in reading more about the state, stick with Kevin Starr‘s work.

What have you been reading lately? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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