Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What Are You Reading?

It's happened again. I have no book. I go to the bookstore and nothing jumps off the shelf and comes home with me. So, I need help.

Books I've read recently (almost always at the behest of others -HOW do you people keep up with this stuff???) and enjoyed include:
  • The Inner Quarters: Marriage and the Lives of Chinese Women in the Sung Dynasty by Patricia Ebrey. It sounds more erudite than it was; it wasn't a dry read at all.
  • The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd -definitely worth a read
  • A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman by Joan Anderson. Her husband goes away on sabbatical for a year and she can't/won't go with him. Sound familiar?
  • The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier- It's part thriller and part testament to the importance of memory. It's really good, if by that we mean that you keep thinking about it long after you've put it down.

So, what ideas do you have for me? I'm a desperate woman. Has anyone read Jimmy Carter's new book, Our Endangered Values? Check out this list for a wildly ethnocentric life-time reading plan. I'm afraid that, having been to one of those Great Books (must be capitalized and said in sonorous tones) colleges, this will not serve as an emergency reading plan. I'm only missing two or three books, and I know -I mean I really KNOW- that I can't make it through Pilgrim's Progress. It can't be done.


Rhea said...

Here are a few ideas (I tend to read more nonfiction than fiction): "Halfway Heaven": by Melanie Thernstrom. A spectacular, superbly written account of a crime. Beautifully written and reported story (I know, 'cause I was there) about the Harvard murder/suicide between roommates.
"Friday Night Lights": a reporter spent a year in a Texas football town to document the lives of these high-school athletic stars. For some of them, everything is downhill after high school. The movie was awful; the book is great.
"The Poet and the Murderer." The true story of a man who forges an Emily Dickinson poem and almost gets away with it. He also forges many other documents. The book goes into what it takes to be a great forger, the Mormon church, the world of rare books and documents and lots of other related stuff. Very well done.
"Red-Tails in Love." A fabulous book about bird watchers in and around Central Park, N.Y.C. A "small" book that has a lot of heart.
Also, "Fast Food Nation," "Nickel and Dimed," "Confederates in the Attic."
FICTION: "The Magician's Assistant" by Ann Patchett. Wonderful, perfectly written, engaging, rather unusual story.

Micki said...

I can't possibly top Rhea's reading suggestions. After perusing her blog for the past few weeks, my already too long list of books I wanna read is reaching "longer than my lifetime" point.

There is more than one book/author on the Fadiman, Lifetime Reading Plan that I just can't do. I have really, really tried to read Homer. Can't be done, unless I'm suffering from insomnia and need a cure. I can read Proust, but in very small snippets. Proust's prose may be lovely, but I have to admit that it BORES me.

Andrea Rusin said...

Thanks for the suggestions!

Michael said...

Having just finished it on vacation, I can heartily recommend Armstrong and Moulitsas' Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics. Furthermore, the local Borders had it in stock the last time I was there.

If you can get hold of a copy, I'd also recommend Heide Fehrenbach's Race After Hitler (Princeton, 2005), which looks at the politics surrounding black occupation children in postwar Germany.

I have, but have not yet started, John Allen's book on Opus Dei. I have heard several recommendations for President Carter's book, but also not one I've had a chance to read. I've also heard very good things for Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century. Given that it was Phillips who, 40 years ago, wrote The Emerging Republican Majority, it's apparently quite a startling critique of everything the party he helped build into a behemoth has done in the last few years.