Rubicon (and Sharks)
The day before Thanksgiving I finished "Rubicon" by Tom Holland. It's a very interesting and surprisingly funny historical summary of the fall of the Roman Republic. The most satisfying aspect of this book for me, however, was finally understanding who all the key players are in this crucial time in Western history: Julius Caesar, Mark Anthony, Pompey, Cato, Cicero, Cleopatra and Octavion/Augustus. I also feel like my understanding of the world and its history is dramatically different--and better--than when I graduated from college back in 1995. I suppose that's a personal victory of sorts for "continuing education."
I also think that the opportunities that Ivy and I have seized for travel have made books like this much more interesting. Having visited Rome last May for Ivy's birthday and seeing the key sites helped me visualize the Forum, Palatine Hill, etc as they were described in the book. (For example, Cicero had a villa up on the Palatine Hill). Also, when Caesar was having an affair with Cleopatra and took a river cruise down the Nile with her, it was awesome to be able to visualize this somewhat because Ivy and I did the same thing in early 2005 (not the affairs but the Nile river cruise together...)
I'm also ready to see some good movies on the Romans now (e.g. Brando as Caesar--should be interesting) and I want to read more and find out how the entire Roman Empire gets wiped out.
The next book I've had lined up is about the huge great white sharks near San Francisco's Farallon Islands. Ivy finished this about a month ago and I'm already loving hearing about these 20-foot behemoths that eat up elephant seals with just a couple monster bites.