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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday

For a long time, many in the running blogging community have been doing "What I Ate Wednesday"; well, you don't wanna know what I'm eating.  It's not inspiring; it's rarely healthy; it mostly resembles a 16 year old boy's diet. 

Instead, I figure I might begin featuring a semi-regular series of what I feed my mind, which is far more enriching than what I feed my body.  Mostly it's the kind of stuff you might expect an English professor to read, but occasionally, I like my "brain candy" too, and I indulge in those pleasurable, mindless reads.

For the past few months, I've been mired in George R.R. Martin's popular "Game of Thrones," but after the 3rd novel in that series, I needed a break.  One can only read so much of "winter."

So, I'm basically reading 3 things simultaneously.  I actually often read in this erratic way because some nights I want to read one thing, and another evening, I want to read something else.

First up: Goodwin's Lincoln biography "Team of Rivals." 

I enjoy history, and briefly thought in college about majoring in it, but then I thought, "Nah, what would I do with a history degree?  I'll major in a far more useful discipline: English!"  So, I like to indulge both my historical and political interests on occasion.  This book is fabulous for such indulgences, but does get weighed down in the minutia of good history -- meaning that the author's research and scholarly expertise are impressive, but at times, boring.  I'm a couple hundred pages in and Lincoln JUST got elected.  So, needless to say, my progress through this one is, at times, tedious.  However, I am marveling at what the title says: Lincoln was a genius.

My other reading may not appear lighter to some, but to me, it's pure enjoyment: Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

I'm teaching an Intro to Shakespeare course this term, and it's fun to re-familiarize myself with some works that I haven't read in awhile.  Like I said, for some readers, the thought of reading verse is enough to push a them to hard drug use, but I enjoy the lyricism.  (Oh yeah, that's also why I majored in English!  I remember now!)  This is a great play -- the basis for all romantic comedies stem from this play -- and I enjoy the story, but mostly, as I read this, I enjoy the language and the poetry: "O what fools these mortals be!"

Lastly, the most entertaining read on my plate is Cheryl Strayed's "Wild."

I had been reading reviews on this since last year and was eager to read it, and it turns out, it holds up to the hype.  I judge all memoirs against what I consider the gold standard -- Mary Karr's "The Liar's Club" -- and what I think a really good memoir should do: marry poetic sensibility with engrossing conflict.  This memoir is about as close to Karr as I think any memoirist can get and not actually be Karr.

Strayed's journey -- both physical and internal -- is riveting, and her prose is probably some of the best writing I've read in awhile. 

So, what are YOU reading?


Erin said...

You just reminded me why I didn't major in History or English. Just pass me the easy and fun reads please.

At the moment, no book. I am catching up on some magazines before I delve back into my stack.

B. Kramer said...

Like you, I read a bunch of books at once. I'm still on my Civil War kick, reading "Baseball in Blue in Gray," a slim history of the sport's rise popularity during the 1800s.

I'm looking for "break" book though. Too much historical stuff. I need something stupid. Cheers!

MCM Mama said...

All I'm reading these days is mental candy. Seriously. Easy novels I can knock out in a few hours.

My brain is too full with everything else I have going on LOL.

ajh said...

Love this idea! I am reading the brain candy you mention - a mystery by Ridley Pearson.

Lee said...

Wild is on my "to read" list. I just finished "We Need to Talk About Kevin." It was okay. I didn't really like the writing style at times. It was like the author got too verbose and it took away from the storyline, I thought.

Agate Lake Girl said...

Since we just talked about what I'm reading, I'll skip that part. Interestingly enough, I have two friends who are going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (like the girl in "Wild") next year. They've blocked off six months to do it. They made me watch all these documentaries on it last summer. Crazy!