Book review: Lessons from Walden: Thoreau and the Crisis of American Democracy

Lessons From Walden

Lessons from Walden:
Thoreau and the Crisis of American Democracy,
by Bob Pepperman Taylor
University of Notre Dame Press
258 pages
Nonfiction / Political literature criticism
American Political Science Association 2020, Section Award for Best Book in American Political Thought

Buy the book on my Bookshop

I read Walden by Henry David Thoreau a few years ago. So when I saw Bob Pepperman Taylor had a book on it, I knew it would be a great way of going deeper into the work and its meaning. Lessons from Walden focuses also on Civil Disobedience. So I read it first to be really ready for this excellent inquiry into Thoreau’s thought. Click to continue reading

Top Ten Books Written Before I Was Born

Top Ten Tuesday:
Top Ten Books Written Before I Was Born

TTT for February 2, 2021


Obviously, this is way too broad, so I’m going to choose these among the books I read in 2020:

Please click on the covers to access my reviews when available

These were published in 1849 and 1908:

  Civil Disobedience Sanshiro

These in 1920, 1926, 1927:

  The Mysterious Affair at Styles    The Big Four

These in 1928 and 1931 (two):

  The Mystery of the Blue Train Monsieur Gallet décédé Le Chien jaune

These in 1932 and 1934:

  Peril at End House  Murder on the Orient Express

Are any of these on your list?
Which one did you prefer?

The Classics Club 2019-2024: 2nd list recap



The Classics Club
September 7, 2019 – September 7, 2024

You read it right: I had five years to read my 2nd list of 50 titles for The Classics Club.
But I actually managed to read/listen to them between September 2019 and November 2020!
See my 2nd list here. As usual, 34 titles were added to my original list!
And my first list here.
Alas, I’m so so far behind as for reviews.

📚 Here is a little recap:

Besides Bible books, the oldest title was published in 1824:
The Masque of the Red Death, by Edgar Allan Poe
And the most recent in 1953:
Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke

📚 Genre:

  • 2 scifi
  • 3 nonfiction
  • 4 fiction
  • 15 Bible
  • 22 mysteries

Both scifi were super disappointing.
In nonfiction, my favorite was

Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes

In  fiction, I so loved

Parnassus on Wheels

In mystery, this one was a big revelation:

The Lodger

I read the first 9 Maigret mysteries by Georges Simenon.
I really liked the ambiance, as explained for instance in this post.

And I’m really thrilled by my current project or listening to all of Hercule Poirot, as the first story with him was published one hundred years ago.
I enjoy this experience as much I enjoyed listening to all of Sherlock Holmes in 2017. I am more and more discovering all the intricacies of the main character.
And Agatha Christie’s plots are so genially put together, with not two alike, even if several are the type of closed room mystery.

So far, I have listened to 8 and read 1, which is actually a play!
Most of these were narrated by the amazing Hugh Fraser. I did watch the BBc series, so it’s really neat to find his voice again. He is so so good at doing all kinds of different characters.
And a couple were with David Suchet, who’s really dedicated all his life to Hercule Poirot.

As I haven’t written any review of these, I’d like to share here something I have discovered, thanks to the audio format. It never struck me when I was reading them (I did read a few Hercule Poirot books in the past).
We all know Hercule is a francophone Belgian, and his English is not perfect.
When you read/hear him, you may notice some awkward phrases and think, well, he’s not a native English speaker and not think more about it.
But there’s actually more to the story. I realized that his mistakes are based on French constructions. The latest most obvious example I encountered is in Lord Edgware Dies. At one point, Hercule tells Captain Hastings, “You mock yourself at me.”
In French, the verb ‘to mock’ is indeed not a transitive verb, but a pronominal verb (se moquer de), so to say: you mock me, we do literally say “you mock yourself at me” (vous vous moquez de moi).
There are many similar examples like this in all the Hercule Poirot stories I have listened to so far, which shows that either Agatha Christie was fluent in French, or she did extensive research to make Hercule very real. Her family spent a year in France, that probably helped, though I don’t know how old she was then. I so need to read her biography!

📚 Format:

  • 18 print
  • 32 audio

📚 Authors:

  • 5 by a Japanese author
  • 6 by an American author
  • 10 by a French author

Club hashtags on Twitter: