On the Pile
Summer Break! That means I get to read . . . a whole bunch of books that
(a) I should have read during the semester because they were assigned for class,
(b) I should have read long before now because I'm apparently the only person who hasn't, and
(c) I should read to prepare for qualifying exams and dissertation prelims.
So what am I reading?
Of course: (d) Fun books that I want to read!
Finished: What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman. This was my end-of-term treat; the carrot to get me through those last few days. I picked it up because it was a mystery set in Baltimore, one of my favorite places. Little did I know that it included a very accurate description of my hometown and a flashback to Austin, TX! I know it's silly to like a book because you can "relate to it," but I get a kick out of recognizing real places in fictional stories. The story itself was very good. I figured out one of mysteries about halfway through, but Lippman included enough twists to keep me interested. And the ending felt mostly natural---not one of those endings where the author realizes that she's written herself into a corner and needs a tidy solution and tacks on a ridiculous and completely unsatisfying reveal that doesn't connect to anything else and just feels rushed---although I do think Lippman tried too hard to have a happy ending. Things were a little too resolved at the end. I can't really explain without giving away the mystery. So read it and write to me so we can talk about it.
Currently Reading: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris. An offbeat mystery novel involving legalized vampires in Louisiana and a mind-reader named Sookie. How have I not read this yet?
The Whole World Over by Julia Glass. I got this as a review book last summer and then didn't have time to review it, so I gave it away to another reviewer, who then never reviewed it. In the meantime, it has gotten lots of great reviews, and I'm still pissed that I gave it away to someone who never reviewed it. So I checked a copy out from the library.
Prisoners of Freedom: Human Rights and the African Poor by Harri Englund. I picked this up for two reasons. One, it's about Malawi. Two, it has an interesting premise---that the international focus on human rights is doing more harm than good.
On the Wish List:
Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook. Okay, so I know in the past that I've been critical of Martha. And I don't take any of it back. But this book looks really, really useful. And I'm at a point in my life where I actually care about keeping a nice home. But I'm really lousy at it. Really, really lousy at it. And like most things, I'm convinced that if I just had the right book, I could learn to be a good housekeeper. Or at least a not-so-lousy one.
Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste, and Style. I doubt that this book contains any great pearls of wisdom that I haven't already gleaned from thirty years of reading women's magazines and watching daytime talkshows. But, c'mom. Tim Gunn! I just know that Tim Gunn can turn me from a frumpy grad student into a stylish modern woman. Oh, Tim.
Plenty by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon. Another fantasy of mine is that I'll wake up one morning and totally love cooking. And have both the time and the money to buy super-fresh, locally grown, organic produce at the farmer's market. And make fabulous meals that taste even better than chocolate cake. In other words, that I'm these people.