Now for something that has little to do with history but more with one or perhaps the key aspect of a historical study: reading. Besides my college books and obligatory books for certain courses, I have always loved reading and have read many a novel or fiction book. After browsing through WordPress I came across this blogpost from Closed the Cover where Ashley writes about a book called My Ideal Bookshelf where the author asked the following question: If you had to fill a small bookshelf with books that represent you, which books would you choose? I kept thinking about it and decided that, like Ashley, I wanted to answer the question as well, so here we go!
The first book will be The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West 1500-1800 by Geoffrey Parker. This was an obligatory book for my Eighty Years’ War course but when I started reading it I found it well written and an interesting book. It describes what effect guns had on war and the way Europe conducted its wars.
Also Moonstone, Woman in White and Armadale written by Wilkie Collins will be featured on the shelf. Collins was one of the first detective novelists and he writes in a very intriguing fashion. In all the aforementioned books he tells the story in hindsight through the eyes of the people who played a role in the story and were present when the events happened. The thing I like most about this style of writing is that when he switches from character and therefor narrator, his complete style changes: so when a drawing master describes certain events it is done with a great amount of attention for details, atmosphere and scenery. But when a butler becomes the narrator the style changes into a documenting fashion and only the facts and the butlers own opinions are stated.
Nederlanders van het eerste uur: het ontstaan van het moderne Nederland 1780-1830 by H.M. Beliën, D. van der Horst & G.J. van Setten (eds) would be there as well because it is a entertaining book with short biographies about men and women who in their own way shaped The Netherlands. Not only the prominent figures such as Schimmelpenninck, King Willem I and Van Hogendorp are featured but also people who contributed in a more modest but not less important way, such as Keet Mossel, Elie Luzac and Etta Lubina Palm.
President van Nederland: Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck 1761-1825 by Edwina Hagen is quite a new book since it was published last september. Hagen paints a picture of Schimmelpenninck and his wife working as a team, implying that Schimmelpenninck was not on his own during his brief time of being a Grand Pensionary. She explains that his private and political life can not be seen separate because the political culture of that time did not see that as two different things: this ensures that Catharina Schimmelpenninck is prominently present. Hagen also tries to explain the actions of Catharina and view her in a more positive light than most historians have done.
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder is a book that I started reading five years ago and finished this year. It took me a long time, not because it is hard to read, on the contrary it is easily put away. I think that last remark is the reason why it took me five years, you can stop and pick it up where you left it without needing to concentrate on the story too much in order to get back in it. The only hard part is that Gaarder writes a story featuring all the great philosophers and their theories but in that story there is another story out of which Sophie and her philosophy teacher escape. All in all it is a great reference book for readers who want to update their knowledge on western philosophy.
These are the books that I would put on my ideal bookshelf, of course I could think of many more books, the Sharp series by Bernard Cornwall for example which consists of thirty titles, but than it would become a bookcase rather than a shelf.
– What would be on you ideal bookshelf?