New Year’s 2023

Friends,

I hope this post finds you well and ready to take on the start of a new calendar year! At the start of last year, I began with a post about books I’d read and planned to read, emphasizing the aspiration to increase my literacy and reading stamina both for pleasure and in preparation for my PhD program (whenever that may begin). In keeping with that trend, let’s start this year’s first post off with what I ended up reading in 2022.

Like last year’s post, I won’t go into detail on all the books; instead, I’ll address a few of the more notable or impactful titles in my opinion…

First, we have Why? Explaining the Holocaust by Peter Hayes, which I found to be a straightforward and enlightening read for anyone not engaged with Holocaust history and discourse; being someone who is, though, this book — compounded by the other Holocaust-related books in this year’s list, especially Denying the Holocaust by Deborah Lipstadt — further deepened my knowledge and grasp on the subject. If you don’t know much about the Holocaust (especially beyond the basic gist of “the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews”) and would like to better comprehend it, this is the book for you.

Next, the book In Defense of History by Richard J. Evans was something I wish I had read during my undergrad studies, if not my graduate studies. This renowned historian, who wrote the two Third Reich books in this list and also was the expert witness in the Holocaust denial case sparked from Lipstadt’s book mentioned above, did a wonderful job of conveying the historian’s craft while expounding on its evolution and underlying premises that all facilitates how history “works” in the modern era and why studying and understanding historical developments is such a necessary endeavor. Historians (myself included) lament the fact that not everyone can engage with historical study to great degrees; such a reality would theoretically lend better insight into how people understand and perceive the world, its history, and how we as a society came to be the way we are now. This fact emphasizes the need for historians and other scholars in similar fields of study, so that the future is informed by deeper understandings of historical truth and memory rather than ‘fake news’ and misinformation.

Third, we have Atomic Habits by James Clear, which was one of my non-history books this year. Though I listened to this title via Audible, it was still impactful because I wanted to engage with the content in an attempt to improve my life. The author breaks down the psychology and physiology behind how we function as humans, how we think and process, and how we develop habits over time — all with great clarity and purpose. He elaborates on his own experiences and how he shaped his own habits to improve his daily routines and replenish his mental state, and how those same methods can be replicated in the lives of others for their own benefit. There is a website that goes along with the book that houses a myriad of downloadable sheets and resources that you can use for making new, positive habits and breaking old, negative ones; I intend on working through some of these as the New Year gets up and running, with the purpose of improving myself little by little.

Lastly, the book The Strange Death of Europe by Douglas Murray provided some interesting insight on the seemingly unraveling fabric of European culture and society resulting from a number of factors over time and space. While some points in the book may have walked a controversial line, overall it was an informative read on developments relating to the state of Europe in recent years. A good chunk of its content tied directly into aspects of recent history that I taught in my Contemporary Europe college course a year or two ago, so it was nice to build on that knowledge and understanding. It also touched on important historical, diplomatic, and geopolitical questions that plague European politicians, intellectuals, and citizens in general — questions that have been asked more and more as of late and could (and probably will) have dramatic and profound implications for Europe’s future. For anyone interested in European affairs in the present day — which you should be, if you’re interested in our place as a country in the globalized world — then this would be a great book to check out.

Here are the books with links to Amazon for anyone interested in checking them out:

After Nationalism
Alexander the Great
Atomic Habits
Classics – Why It Matters
The Coming of Neo-Feudalism
The Coming of the Third Reich
Denying the Holocaust
Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing
The Guilty
History – Why It Matters
In Defense of History
The Last Jew of Treblinka
Masters of Death (note: I already mentioned reading this book in my Fall 2022 Update post)
The Renaissance in Italy
The Strange Death of Europe
The Third Reich in Power
Why Liberalism Failed
Why? Explaining the Holocaust

Progress on The Ivory Obelisk and Other Projects

I am excited at the developments my WIP has experienced over the past few months. In the Summer 2022 Update post, I revealed the book’s title and blurb, and mentioned my hopes of putting my manuscript through a professional editing process. That has indeed occurred, with some major yet needed and important changes made to the plot, as well as fine tuning dialogue and some other aspects of the story. My editor read through the manuscript and gave me her thoughts and suggestions, we discussed a few things over email, and then we had a phone conversation to dig deeper into my plan to improve the story’s direction. I feel great about putting my manuscript through this process, as it will make it better and hopefully more enjoyable for readers.

That all being said, I’m planning on taking my time over the coming ten months or so to really polish up the manuscript to produce a quality story. Given that I’m not teaching any college courses in the spring or fall of 2023, I can devote that time to writing and revising, which is exciting. I don’t yet have a solid release date, but I feel like I can safely say it’ll be Fall 2023 at the latest. As part of this process, I intend on taking some writing classes (hopefully through MasterClass) that will reinforce the revisions in areas of my story that need work. When the dust settles, hopefully I’ll be a better writer for it.

As for other projects, I would like to revisit my Short Story Collection by adding another volume to it; however, I don’t feel that I currently have any great ideas to expand into properly sized narratives. I do have a few ideas that have either been on my shelf for a while or that I’ve jotted down just recently, but I’d have to sit down and really try to develop them enough to feel comfortable taking the time to write them. Perhaps as the year progresses, something will develop and I’ll have some stories to work with and publish in the near future!

One final thing about my books: I am running Kindle discounts on Books 2-4 of my WWII collection ‘Faces of the War’ between January 1-8, while Book 1 and the two Short Story Collection books are free from January 1-5. You can easily access all titles from my Amazon author page if interested in purchasing.

Family News

Aside from periodic bouts of illness, everyone is doing well. Everett’s kindergarten year has been a whirlwind so far — it’s hard to believe we’re halfway through the year — but he’s loving his classes, the friends he’s made, and the things he gets to do and tell us about. Marin has also enjoyed her preschool/daycare routine, though she isn’t as elaborate or wordy in expressing those feelings; she’ll be in preschool/daycare again next year, but she’ll advance to kindergarten sooner than we know it. And Adler — well, he’s our first climber and is obnoxiously cute while also managing to act lovingly anarchic. He specializes in loud noises (parroting his siblings), getting on top of the couch and kitchen table, and being a little clingy…and we love him for all of it!

Recently, I got to attend a surprise wedding vow renewal for my oldest sister’s and brother-in-law’s 25th anniversary in Kentucky. Originally, we all were invited and had planned to go, but the kids were sick and then Sarah got sick as well, so I went alone to be there for my sister and to celebrate her and her husband. It was nice to see them and their kids, and to be with some of my other family even for just a short while. I’m a firm believer in trying to change up our routines from time to time — even just a quick shake-up here and there — and even more so when it involves being with family.

On the same token, we all missed the Christmas night party at my parent’s house (historically it’s always been there, but this year it was at one of my other sister’s home) because everyone still had a little bit of sickness. We video called them and chatted for a few minutes, and they all sang Happy Birthday to Marin since her big day is December 26th; she really liked that, though she was shy about it. I am so proud of the young girl she’s growing up to be, and for her brothers for loving her so much (even when they can be mean to her at times, as young siblings often tend to be). Hopefully we can all get better soon and can get together in the initial weeks after New Year’s!

That’s about it for right now. I’ll have the next post up sometime April, by which time I should have some more updates on The Ivory Obelisk and maybe a few other things. Until then, I wish you a Happy New Year and ‘good luck’ getting started with any goals you might be setting for yourself or any routines you’re trying to develop.

Take care,

Mike/”Eli”

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