Home > Books > The Humboldt Herald book club

The Humboldt Herald book club

A discussion started on another thread about the idea of a Humboldt Herald book club.  People are throwing out ideas for titles and authors, and whether the reading list should be strictly local.

Let’s move the discussion here and see if we can figure it out.  Should it be a book per month or is that too much?  Readers would have to have time to get the book and read it. One person suggested a book that is available free on the internet.

Other ideas?

  1. High Finance
    June 11, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Shouldn’t be restricted to local.

    I suggest the first book should be the class textbook from HSU’s Econ 101 class !

  2. tra
    June 11, 2011 at 8:57 am

    We do have some great local authors & books, but limiting it to only local authors would be too restrictive. I suggest alternating between local authors & books one month, and other books the next month.

  3. June 11, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Good idea. Some of us need to “get out more” anyway.

  4. Plain Jane
    June 11, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Which school of economics does it preach, HiFi? I would suggest “The Irony of Democracy,” for you.

  5. Curley
    June 11, 2011 at 9:17 am


  6. Walt
    June 11, 2011 at 9:35 am

    A good starting point might be “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Founding Fathers and the Birth of our Nation” by Ray Raphael. It was used as a text for a class Ray and co-author Marie Raphael taught through OLLI. He’s written others, but this is the easiest. I’m assuming everyone who can has already read “Wicked Bugs.”

  7. Plain Jane
    June 11, 2011 at 9:39 am

    That was a really interesting book, Curley.

    The great thing about a blog book club is people could opt in or out on different books without depriving the discussion of a wide range of views.

  8. empires end
    June 11, 2011 at 9:39 am

    The Long Emergency by Ja,es Kunstler & Reinventing Collapse by Dmitry Orlov.
    Textbooks for the class Reality 101. This as opposed to the infinite growth fairy tales of the neo-liberal school of corporate oligarchy as is currently ruining human society and wrecking the planetary systems that actually rule life on earth.

  9. empires end
    June 11, 2011 at 9:40 am

    That would be James Kunstler

  10. Plain Jane
    June 11, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.”

  11. June 11, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Atlas Shrugged

  12. June 11, 2011 at 10:00 am
  13. Joel Mielke
    June 11, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Fred can’t help it, he’s a fervent believer. He believes in the benevolent, invisible hand of the market, he believes that California is oppressing him, and he believes, somehow, that Ayn Rand was a great writer.

  14. June 11, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Biography, Roy Cohn by
    Nicholas Von Hoffman

    Was Atlas Shrugged a serious entry Fred?

  15. Plain Jane
    June 11, 2011 at 10:07 am

    “Hegemony or Survival,” by Noam Chomsky.
    “Perfectly Legal,” by David Cay Johnston.

  16. Cristina Bauss
    June 11, 2011 at 10:37 am

    “The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism,” by Andrew J. Bacevich.

  17. empires end
    June 11, 2011 at 10:48 am

    okay, what should we all read for the second year of book club?

  18. Mitch
    June 11, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Offhand, if the book is to be political, I think it would be far more interesting to pick a book with which the majority of the Herald readership is likely to disagree. Then, let the readership try to pick out the flaws and explain why the flaws are flaws. Maybe some minds will grow.

    Of course, I don’t mean choose a stupid book. I mean choose a well-respected book with which the readership disagrees. A book that came up during Arcata’s dismissal of corporate fast-food might be a healthy first choice: Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. As I recall, mere mention of the book by well-meaning heretics (not me) brought on fits of hissing. That’s ideal.

    I won’t be holding my breath. Still, it would likely lead to a much more interesting discussion than the festival of knee-jerk agreement and furious bashing’o’the heretics that might otherwise occur.

  19. Mitch
    June 11, 2011 at 10:58 am

    But if my previous suggestion is too far beyond the pale, do I get a second entry? Small is Beautiful, by E. F. Schumacher. Probably the most important book on economics I’ve ever read, and nobody need fear the voicing of heresy.

  20. What Now
    June 11, 2011 at 11:47 am

    “Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom”
    That book has been thorouhly discredited by all but a few who are completely impervious to reason (the Chicago Scool and LAffer adherents.)
    I nominate:
    “Shock Doctrine”
    “The 2 Trillion Dollar Meltdown”
    “Lords of Finance”
    “The People’s History of The Supreme Court”.
    “The American Way of War”
    “Prophets of War”

  21. Not A Native
    June 11, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Along the lines of Mitch’s suggestion, I just saw a book at the Arcata library ‘One-Part Classroom’ by David Horowitz . Lots to refute in that one.

  22. non
    June 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    There is always the local and ever-vocal Chuck Ciancio’s ‘Rest in Peace Rural America’

  23. Lodgepole
    June 11, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    The Kama Sutra.

  24. Anonymous
    June 11, 2011 at 1:43 pm
  25. Brady and Newman
    June 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    “Money is My Friend,” by Rob Arkley.

  26. Anonymous
    June 11, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    lols Atlas Shrugged !!! how about Lies My Teacher Told Me (or the Kama Sutra, would be a break from the usual back and forth)

  27. High Finance
    June 11, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    How about “How to Win Friends & Influence People” for most of you ?

  28. Goldie
    June 11, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    http://www.amazon.com/Small-Beautiful-Economics-People-Mattered/dp/0060916303 ………. Economics as if People Mattered, that would be good. Big is not coming to Humboldt. Big is not inspiring creativity or working to lower cost.

  29. retired guy
    June 11, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    That’s pretty funny HiFi. It’s quite obvious that you certainly haven’t read it, or if you have, it doesn’t work.

  30. Mitch
    June 11, 2011 at 6:26 pm


    Thanks for posting that link. Whether used in a book club or not, I’d urge anyone who hasn’t read it to go buy the book (from Northtown Books, from a local used bookstore, or from Amazon). You won’t be sorry.

    What Now,

    How is a book “discredited?” Has it been revealed as offering facts that are fraudulent?

    Perhaps you mean that you don’t like what has been done by people claiming to follow the argument the book presents. That doesn’t necessarily mean you disagree with the contents of the book, as those Americans bold enough to read Marx might discover. Or perhaps you’ve read the book and found false statements. If you could state what they are, then I could understand why you believe the book is “discredited.”

    Just out of curiosity, have you read The Road to Serfdom, or are you relying on your knowledge that it has been discredited, and is therefore not worth reading?

  31. June 11, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    The Leadership Secrets of Genghis Khan by John Man.(yes, it’s a real book)

  32. Carla Baku
    June 11, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Nonfiction: The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. Fiction: Drop City by TC Boyle.

    Another fiction idea is a brand new novel by a fellow MFA candidate, Goldie Goldbloom: The Paperbark Shoe. Getting excellent reviews.

    Hopefully we don’t have to focus solely on political screed, eh? Life is short.

    And LOL to Fred with Atlas Shrugged. Hilarious, buddy.

  33. tra
    June 11, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Here’s an oldie but a goody:

    “Soil and Civilization” by Edward S. Hyams.

    It was groundbreaking book when it came out in the 50’s, but (sadly) every bit as relevant today as the day it was first published.

    It takes a broad historical view of the way various types of societies and civilizations have conserved and built the health of their topsoils — or, as has usually been the case, degraded and lost their topsoils, leading to the collapse of mighty empires and entire civilizations. (Guess which trajectory we’re on at the moment.)

    The bad news is that at the moment it’s out of print. The good news is that used copies are available from Amazon.com, paperback version for about $5.

  34. Bolithio
    June 11, 2011 at 9:17 pm


    This is a paper that addresses historical land use in the North Fork Eel River and places that in the context of human effects on the environment. For those of you who are interested in history of land use in rural areas should find this interesting.

  35. Anonymous
    June 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Heroes in Hell by Janet Morris.

  36. Anonymous
    June 11, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    I’m intrigued by many of the suggestions but must agree with Carla Baku @ 8:18. Life is too short to approach this with a limited mind-set or point of view…include some fiction and not overtly political options. Some of the most provoking books I have read are fiction with more subtle social observations. ,

  37. Walt
    June 12, 2011 at 5:28 am

    Like Orwell, for example? Always worth rereading.

  38. Anonymous
    June 12, 2011 at 7:13 am

    Have a look at “Do Onto Others: Extraordinary Acts of Ordinary People” by local HSU Prof Sam Oliner.

  39. Mo
    June 12, 2011 at 7:22 am

    What about “Night Crossings” by Jon Humboldt Gates (1990)?
    True stories of crossing the bar at the mouth of Humboldt Bay.

  40. Plain Jane
    June 12, 2011 at 7:54 am

    There are some excellent documentaries that are worthy of discussion as well, many of them available on-line at no or minimal charge. One of the most important, IMO, is “Orwell Rolls in His Grave,” which is about broadcast media power (scarily concentrated) which makes it the most powerful “lobby” in the country.

  41. Mitch
    June 12, 2011 at 8:05 am

    After sleeping on this, it does seem as though a local angle to any books you select would be worthwhile.

    A quick google search of “online book club” shows there are many options for people who want to discuss books online. But there are none for people who want to discuss Humboldt-centric books.

    So… local authors (Ray Raphael, Amy Stewart, Samuel Oliner, ???) or a local subject. Both have the benefit, among other things, of offering the theoretical possibility that manure comments might be refuted by someone knowledgeable.

    I still highly recommend Small is Beautiful to anyone who might be interested.

  42. June 12, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Ann Coulter
    “Demonic : How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America ”
    Lets all read this POS so we can glean a small idea of what the Mid-right of the right wing think of us.

    Product Description
    The demon is a mob, and the mob is demonic. The Democratic Party activates mobs, depends on mobs, coddles mobs, publicizes and celebrates mobs—it is the mob. Sweeping in its scope and relentless in its argument, Demonic explains the peculiarities of liberals as standard groupthink behavior. To understand mobs is to understand liberals.

    In her most provocative book to date, Ann Coulter argues that liberals exhibit all the psychological characteristics of a mob, for instance:

    Liberal Groupthink: “The same mob mentality that leads otherwise law-abiding people to hurl rocks at cops also leads otherwise intelligent people to refuse to believe anything they haven’t heard on NPR.”

    Liberal Schemes: “No matter how mad the plan is—Fraternité, the ‘New Soviet Man,’ the Master Race, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, Building a New Society, ObamaCare—a mob will believe it.”

    Liberal Enemies: “Instead of ‘counterrevolutionaries,’ liberals’ opponents are called ‘haters,’ ‘those who seek to divide us,’ ‘tea baggers,’ and ‘right-wing hate groups.’ Meanwhile, conservatives call liberals ‘liberals’—and that makes them testy.”

    Liberal Justice: “In the world of the liberal, as in t
    he world of Robespierre, there are no crimes, only criminals.”

    Liberal Violence: “If Charles Manson’s followers hadn’t killed Roman Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, Clinton would have pardoned him, too, and he’d probably be teaching at Northwestern University.”

    Citing the father of mob psychology, Gustave Le Bon, Coulter catalogs the Left’s mob behaviors: the creation of messiahs, the fear of scientific innovation, the mythmaking, the preference for images over words, the lack of morals, and the casual embrace of contradictory ideas.

    Coulter traces the history of the liberal mob to the French Revolution and Robespierre’s revolutionaries (delineating a clear distinction from America’s founding fathers), who simply proclaimed that they were exercising the “general will” before slaughtering their fellow citizens “for the good of mankind.”

    Similarly, as Coulter demonstrates, liberal mobs, from student radicals to white-trash racists to anti-war and pro-ObamaCare fanatics today, have consistently used violence to implement their idea of the “general will.”

    This is not the American tradition; it is the tradition of Stalin, of Hitler, of the guillotine—and the tradition of the American Left.

    As the heirs of the French Revolution, Democrats have a history that consists of pandering to mobs, time and again, while Republicans, heirs to the American Revolution, have regularly stood for peaceable order.

    Hoping to muddy this horrifying truth, liberals slanderously accuse conservatives of their own crimes—assassination plots, conspiracy theorizing, political violence, embrace of the Ku Klux Klan. Coulter shows that the truth is the opposite: Political violence—mob violence—is always a Democratic affair.

    Surveying two centuries of mob movements, Coulter demonstrates that the mob is always destructive. And yet, she argues, beginning with the civil rights movement in the sixties, Americans have lost their natural, inherited aversion to mobs. Indeed, most Americans have no idea what they are even dealing with.

    Only by recognizing the mobs and their demonic nature can America begin to defend itself.

  43. June 12, 2011 at 8:20 am

    That’s two votes for Night Crossings by Jon Humboldt Gates. I think it’s a good first choice. It’s short, local and readily available.

  44. June 12, 2011 at 8:21 am

    I love iBooks. I have no idea how I ever got along with out an iPhone.
    Big thanks to my friend Mike for the gift.


  45. Plain Jane
    June 12, 2011 at 8:48 am

    I passed my copy of “Night Crossings” on years ago so will have to buy a new copy to re-read, but it’s a good read and most people will recognize the events and / or people he writes about. I can’t hear the words “sneaker waves” without recalling that particular story.

  46. Cristina Bauss
    June 12, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Um, Mark? You’re driving me to a Sunday-morning stiff drink. LOVE when Coulter writes, “Meanwhile, conservatives call liberals ‘liberals’ – and that makes them testy.” Yeah, they call them “liberals” when they’re not calling them “traitors,” as Coulter herself has done repeatedly.

    But don’t get me started on that crazy @%&*#.

    On another note: H, why does my Firefox crash whenever I click on the link for this thread? Strange. Very strange indeed.

  47. Plain Jane
    June 12, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Amy Stewart’s “Wicked Bugs,” would be a good book to do soon. I’ve started it and enjoying it immensely.

  48. June 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    There are probably more copies of Wicked Bugs easily obtainable locally right now but I think Night Crossings is a better choice for the first book since it focuses on something so uniquely local: the entrance to Humboldt Bay.

  49. tra
    June 12, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    I read Night Crossings about 5 years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it would be a fine choice as the first book to discuss.

  50. Anonymous
    June 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I’ve also been want to read the Sam Oliner book. Maybe keep it in mind for down the road.

  51. June 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    I’m down with Night Crossing. That said,

    One Humboldt book is in a class by itself, except that it isn’t strictly about Humboldt. “Vineland” by Thomas Pynchon is set in the Humboldt/Mendo border reaches in 1984, as the reaction against freedom hounds politicos and hippies, who defend themselves with easy virtue, paranoia, and reality. It’s the only book I know that conveys the sloppy spiritual core of rebels against the world, while the world wins and the rebels never die, right here where we’re famous for it–before we were famous yet. And it’s *funny!*

    Also, plugs for two other Ray Raphael books, “Two Peoples, One Place” his 19th century Humboldt history written with Freeman House, and his spectacular SoHum “Everyday History of Somewhere,” which put Ray and us on the literary map in the 1970s. Freeman’s fine “Totem Salmon” history of hands-on river restoration in the Mattole is another instant classic of ten years ago, both still easily available.

    And no self-respecting bloglist would exclude “Genocide and Vendetta,” a history of the Indian and range wars waged around us, with imagination-expanding explanations of the scale of criminality that made Americans great. We’d have to work out an informal way to reproduce it, but it’s doable, available in libraries, and first-rate history.

  52. migrant
    June 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Mark, I feel the need to straighten you out on “teabaggers”. This is not a liberal invention, it’s what they themselves coined as their name. Be advised that Ann Coulter has never shown any reluctance to fabricate for controversy’s sake.
    I’m a liberal and have never been offended by being called one.
    Another for “Night Crossings”

  53. The Big Picture
    June 12, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I was hoping for something more pertinent to the controversies that repeatedly grace this blog, that draw so many hits, and that would further arm us for the arguments we always seem to win on Heraldo, (followed by the sweet anticipation of Hi-Fi’s loser-whine of satire, ridicule, then silence), but, despite their compelling relevance, never gain traction in local media or politics.

    “Superbia”: 31 ways to create sustainable neighborhoods by Chiras and Wann.

    “Short Circuit”: Strengthening Local Economies for Security in an Unstable World, by Douthwaite.

    But, for entertaining, memorable reading that’s impossible to put down, local author Derek Jensen’s masterpiece, “The Culture of Make Believe” is a narrative of his interviews with historians, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, and numerous quotes by historic figures, on humanity’s continuing struggle with slavery; the benefactors, victims, and self-censorship, with 700 pages of gripping examples.

    A legacy uninterrupted since the times of Pharaohs….imperialist economies that continue the timeless struggle of transferring public wealth to the wealthy, in effect, the source of most wars and the violent mobs Ann Coulter despises, (although, we never read that she’s willing to give up her weekend that American’s died fighting for).

    Prejudice, bigotry, racism, hatred, and all the rest, are merely the salves created after-the-fact to justify the conditions of the exploited.

    Open any mainstream newspaper, magazine, or watch any popular movie, or listen to government, business and academic leadership…all confirm that we live in a world of plenty for the deserving.

    No wonder they’re paid the big bucks.

  54. Cristina Bauss
    June 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Longwind, you mentioned two of my partner’s favorite books, “Vineland” and “Genocide and Vendetta.” He’s a huge Pynchon fan, so he’s read most of his books, and he’s been telling me to read “Vineland” for years.” As for “Genocide and Vendetta,” is it really available in libraries? The last time he tried to get a hold of a copy, he could only find it online, and for some insane price like $600. Something to do with a libel lawsuit that resulted in all known copies of the book being pulled from public circulation. Do you by any chance know anything about that?

  55. June 12, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    I do, Cristina. It was a plagiarism charge against authors Lynwood Carranco and Estle Beard by a research assistant whose thesis drew from memoirs of Frank Asbill of Round Valley, which also figured in their research. The suit forced its publisher, the University of Oklahoma Press, to pull the book. It’s still in libraries, I think I got mine from Eureka’s. The case was more than 20 years ago but the book seems unlikely to get back in print. That said, you’ll find extensive on-line excerpts by googling it, and it’s in many libraries. Last I looked it’s going for more than $1000 on EBay. It’s a good book.

    But “Vineland” is everywhere, no more excuses!

  56. longwind
    June 12, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    ps, I want to see if I can earn a generic avatar:

  57. longwind
    June 12, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Nuts, at least my name changed color.

  58. June 12, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    The avatar is based on how you fill out the email field.

  59. Cristina Bauss
    June 12, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Thanks for the info, Longwind. And you’re right about “no more excuses”…. he actually HAS “Vineland”! But I think I want to read “Midnight’s Children” and “The Last Temptation of Christ” first. They’ve been on my summer reading list since, oh, 1982 or so.

  60. June 12, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    That was the come one to BUY the book… that’s how they advertize that piece of crap…

  61. Plain Jane
    June 12, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    There are 2 copies of Genocide and Vendetta at Amazon, one for about $350 (good condition) and the other $800 (like new).

  62. Cristina Bauss
    June 12, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Thanks for the info, PJ. So, when I have a few hundred quid available, should I buy “Genocide and Vendetta,” or see if the antiquarian bookstore in Old Town still has that complete 20-volume OED for $600?

    (But seriously… if I had the money, rare books are probably what I WOULD splurge on.)

  63. Plain Jane
    June 12, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    I get that, Cristina. Although I’m not a collector (of anything) books are a luxury I skimp elsewhere to afford, both in money and time.

  64. migrant
    June 12, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Heh,yeah, now I get it. Had I looked at your page I’d have known better.

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