Fall 2022 Behind the Scenes Reading

We’re back to our normal sections of “In Progress” and “Finished,” though I’m still making a few tweaks to post structure. I think I’m going to include an ongoing “Partial” section going forward, for books that don’t necessarily get read cover to cover, such as D&D books or when you revisit a single chapter/essay/story in a book you’ve already read. That seems like a better way to handle books that I read portions of, but then effectively stop reading.


Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter – This book is half “the making of ‘Hamilton,’” and half score annotated by LMM. I had the opportunity to see the current touring production of “Hamilton” in September and afterward I decided it was the ideal time to pull this tome off my shelf to read it. It’s a really fascinating look at the show behind the scenes and if you’re really into “Hamilton” I would very much recommend it.

Jews in Old China: Studies by Chinese Scholars translated, edited and compiled by Sidney Shapiro – This a really fantastic book for anyone looking for an introductory text about the history of Judaism in China, particularly because it encompasses such a large scope of historians and scholars, each with their own theories. Between textual references to other historians and a bibliography of both Chinese and Western scholars, this book makes an excellent jumping off point for further research while also being an incredibly rich resource itself. While it was originally published in the 1980s, because of the historical nature of the research, it still holds up quite well. It is improved further by an expanded edition from 2000, which is the edition I would recommend getting if you can. 

Dracula by Bram Stoker – So… I fell of the “daily” part of Dracula Daily pretty significantly in October. In my defense, the longer entries are much harder to read in fits and starts during the day when I’m at work. It made for a fantastic binge over Halloween weekend, however, since October was The Hunt™ kicking into highest gear. I always forget how the ending really goes, because it’s never how it’s done in film adaptations. 

Madhouse at the End of the Earth by Julian Sancton (audio book) – This is the story of the Belgian Antarctic Expedition, largely considered to be the expedition that kicked off the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. They were the first to overwinter in the Antarctic pack and they went a bit insane about it (see title). We also meet my main man, Roald Amundsen, right at the beginning of his prolific career, and Frederick Cook, the expedition doctor and only American on the expedition. Roald “sleeps with the windows open during winter in Norway” Amundsen and Fred “It’s not lying, it’s the time honored American tradition of exaggeration” Cook are also insane in ways unrelated to the Antarctic winter. 

In Progress:

The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard & the Diary of Robert Falcon Scott – We wrapped up the first few chapters of “Worst Journey” and in October I watched “The Last Place on Earth” and also listened to the “Worst Journey” BBC audio drama (highly recommend, especially if you want to hear grown men weeping.) This all in preparation for starting the real time release of Scott’s diary, which began on November 25th, making now a great time to jump on.

Moby Dick; Or, The Whale by Herman Melville – Whale Weekly has begun! Join me in a weekly reading of Moby Dick a la Dracula Daily. Tragically, this book has proven nigh impossible for me to parse on a screen. Thankfully, I not only own a hard copy and can follow along, but the emails provide you with alternatives and helpful supplements, including links to a chapter summary, annotations, and an audio book version. The links are right at the top of the email and make this one of the most accessible classic novel substacks I’ve seen so far.  

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – I’m listing this as in progress even though it won’t start properly until January, because prior to the novel starting we are being given helpful reading guides about character names, family histories, historical context, etc. in order to help readers get through what is widely considered to be a notoriously difficult novel. It’s also going to come out daily, which is going to be a tall order for me to keep up with alongside “Moby Dick.”   

Sealed with Honey by the Magpie Artists’ Ensemble – I can’t believe I almost forgot to include this, because, while letters have slowed down in their frequency, things have gotten INTENSE. A letter that Gabriel entrusted to a friend did not get mailed leading to some fraught misunderstandings! I yelled. No one is happy right now and we are all waiting on pins and needles for the resolution.

Different Loving edited by Gloria and William Brame – I’m another chapter down in this book. This time focusing on power and power exchange and what draws people to dominant or submissive roles during sex and debunking common myths. Contained the line “William Reich was right,” which sent me for a loop, because I only knew Mr. Reich from his orgone energy sex box. Some of his earlier work, however—before he entered his cosmic sex energy phase—was actually quite forward thinking about sex and contraception.

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