I wrote a couple of days ago about what I’ve recently read, and what I’m currently reading in the fiction department. This is the sister to that post: the nonfiction I’ve read recently, and what I’m reading now.
The Dharma of Star Wars
I started reading The Dharma of Star Wars after I read about it on Todd’s blog. It’s a pretty cool book; it explains Buddhism with lots and lots of comparisons to Star Wars. As Todd mentioned, it’s surprising how much Buddhism is instilled in Star Wars. Being a long-time Star Wars fan, it’s been cool reading the book and seeing a lot of the Star Wars stuff in a quite new light. After being into the Buddhism thing for a while now, and particularly after reading a good bit of The Dharma of Star Wars, I’d like to go back and rewatch the Star Wars films. Anyway, I’m not done with the book; I’m probably half-way through it. I’m skimming a lot of it, due to the fact that I’m familiar with the concepts the author is trying to convey.
Viking Age Iceland
A few days ago I got Viking Age Iceland via OhioLINK. While I’m far from being an expert on it, I’m pretty familiar with the rest of the sections of Viking Age history. Their forays into Iceland, however, are mostly wholly new to me. For those not in the know, Iceland was quite a bit different from other Viking territories (and most other medieval territories, for that matter). There weren’t any kings or queens; the whole island of Iceland can be likened to a giant village. There were power players to be sure, but nothing like kings, who’s word was basically law. A snippet from the amazon.com page:
The Icelandic Vikings, according to Byock, professor of Old Norse and Medieval Scandinavian at UCLA, were far more than fur-clad, flea-bitten, mead-swilling raiders, as legend would have them. In this survey of their surprisingly complex society, spanning the three centuries from the island’s settlement to 1260 when the king of Norway took control of it, Byock shows the Icelanders as a strong-willed and legally minded people who managed to carve a living as farmers out of an inhospitable environment while creating a remarkably modern free state governed by powerful laws and notions of honor instead of warlords and kings.
Byock also attempts to mine the Icelandic sagas for information, which a lot of historians avoid, due to the complex problem of interpreting them. All in all, it should be a good read.
Buddhism Plain and Simple
I’ve actually read Buddhism Plain and Simple before, maybe a year and a half or two years ago. It was the first book on Buddhism I ever read, and quite honestly, it had me running in dismay shortly after having finished it. Some of the concepts put forward were just too different from what I was used to (even if I didn’t agree with the concepts I’d been introduced to in the past). Now that I feel a bit more comfortable with Buddhism, I thought I’d give it another go. I like it alright, but I’ve read other books on Buddhism that I like more. When writing about seeing the truth of things, Hagen always italicizes the word seeing. Considering how often he uses the word, this gets a little frustrating.
Beyond the River
I’m reading Beyond the River for a history course I’m taking right now at college. It’m about 130 pages into it so far. It’s following John Rankin’s work, which accompanies the strenghtening of the abolitionist movements in Ohio during the 19th century. Pretty good stuff so far.
What I’ve finished reading lately
Seeing as this post has grown to a rather large size, I’m going to wrap it up, and save the “what I’ve finished reading lately” bit for another post.