12ish Days Till Christmas – This Semester in Books

Starting day 10 off with something I haven’t tried before, this post will be a review of the books I’ve been reading throughout the semester. Just a note, most of these are for classes (because let’s be real, I’m a college student and don’t have a lot of time to read for fun) and most of my classes involve some sort of political discussion, hence most of these have something to do with government.

Promised Land, Crusader State by Walter A. McDougall
I’m going to be honest, when I first started this book, it was difficult to grasp and I had no idea why Schmidt was making us read this. It had a lot of detail about events in U.S. history that I didn’t understand and pretty dry writing. But after stepping back and looking at the big picture, this book does an excellent job (I think) of putting the history of the United States and its policies into perspective. There are points throughout where I think McDougall has to stretch his arguments a little too much, or what he’s saying doesn’t really make too much sense in the context of history, but overall, it’s an interesting book about US foreign policy and how it’s changed.

Painting as a Pastime by Winston Churchill
Why did I have to read a 90 page book about Churchill’s painting habits for an intro class? I really couldn’t tell you. But I really enjoyed this book. Churchill is writing this prior to being prime minister, after being fired as the first Lord of the Admiralty after Gallipoli in 1915. He explains in more words than seems necessary that it is essential to rest the parts of your brain being used during work. For Churchill, painting was his method of resting. He discusses the type of people that exist in the working world and characteristics one must possess. In the end, this is a short book and an easy read that gives a different perspective on how we should be living.

It’s Even Worse Than it Looks by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein
This was a book I genuinely thought would be awful to read, but it turned out to be quite the opposite. The authors take an interesting stance on the standstill in Washington. They start their explanation from the beginning of change within the Republican Party. As someone who did not care for politics when I was younger, this book really did an excellent job to explaining where the current problems in Washington stemmed from. I would believe that if you are a Republican, you won’t like what the authors say about your party, but regardless, it was a well written book about current problems we are experiencing in our government.

Winner-Take-All Politics by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson
This next book is one that I thought would be more interesting than it was, but none the less, was still a learning experience. As most people in America are aware of, the income inequality in our country is more severe than many other developed nations. The authors are placing the blame for this inequality on Washington and public policy. Most economists deny the involvement of government in the income inequality. There is emphasis on the lack of a single solution, but rather a number of actions that should be taken together. Overall, it definitely taught me some thing about the economic issues in our country.

A Citizen’s Guide to American Ideology by Morgan Marietta
This was probably my favorite book I read all semester. It laid out the premises for the conservative and liberal ideologies in an extremely clear way. The author discussed the branches of both, their primary goals/concerns, and problems that arise from these. This book really is exactly what it says, a citizen’s guide. It explains conservatism and liberalism in a way that the average person can understand. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is looking for an easy way to understand the differences between liberals and conservatives.

How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky
The final book is a compilation of essays written by a rapper. When I bought this, I didn’t know Watsky was an artist but regardless, his essay writing is excellent. I haven’t finished reading yet but regardless, I wold still recommend it. The essays are written with such truth and honesty. It’s refreshing to experience someone share their life in such a beautiful way. For me, it’s one of those books I just want to keep reading. It’s not a page turner in the way a mystery novel would be, but rather because of the connection you make with the author.

These are the books I’ve read throughout the semester. This was honestly a lot of fun to write and I may do another after winter break. Brendan, I look forward to the books you’ve enjoyed throughout your final semester in school.

~Sarah Ann

My Last Post: 12ish Days Till Christmas – Religion and Atheism

Brendan’s Last Post: 12 Days To Christmas – Losing and Finding Catholicism

All 12ish Days Till Christmas posts

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