Saturday, January 2, 2016

What I'm Reading

I said I don't make New Year's resolutions, but I do want to keep a  better photo record of What I'm Reading in 2016 than I did in 2015.
When I remember a book, I remember the time I was reading it too, which I like. So--this year, I intend to try harder.
Last year, I photographed books I'd finished reading, so I missed all the many I never finished (as well as half I did).
Also, I felt I should say something insightful about each book, but I'm not going to worry about that, since it stops me from posting anything at all.

Here's what's on my bedside table (with my rat lamp)--three of the books are Christmas presents. 
1. Aunt Sass: Christmas Stories is a collection of 3 stories by P. L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins--from bink. 
The title is a bit of marketing: These are not stories about Christmas--better, they are stories Travers wrote and gave as Xmas presents. 
I like the idea of writing a story as a present... Could I do that?

2. To Sing Along the Way: Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-Territorial Days to the Present
I got interested in poetry about MN after meeting the poet laureate of MN, Joyce Sutphen, who edited this collection.

3. Lingo: Around Europe in Sixty Languages, by Gaston Dorren---from Laura
The original Dutch title is Language Tourism--and it's that kind of fun, lightweight tour. If this is p. 20, this must be Belgium. [This country of 11 million people has 3 official languages and more than 8 minority languages and dialects].
My only complaint so far--the section on Esperanto doesn't mention the one movie with dialogue entirely in the language: 
1966's Incubus, starring William Shatner.

4. Perfectly Miserable, by Sarah Payne Stuart
A memoir of living in Concord, MA, marinated in Walden Pond and Puritanism. 
Amusing, but disappointingly weak, like a cocktail whose ice has melted; but reading it helps me understand an old friend from Plymouth, MA; a class of women I sometimes encounter at the Thrift Store; and even my own Southern Protestant grandmother:
"The New England Matriarch must always be contributing to society.... Within months of their deathbeds, they can be seen standing, staunch or bent, outside their pretty houses at nine a.m., waiting to be picked up by another octogenarian millionaire in an inexpensive car on the way to a prison-outreach meeting."
 5. Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free, by Héctor Tobar
--From my auntie. The title explains it. (Remember, in 2010?) But... "miracle"? I thought it was experts from NASA and the like. I'll have to finish it and see.

6. A Leg to Stand On, by Oliver Sacks (from a Little Free Library box) 
I've barely started this, but recently admired Sack's essay on learning he had terminal liver cancer:
"My Own Life", NYT, Feb. 2015: "Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."
Sacks died at 82 this past August. [NYT obit]

7. I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company--a novel about Lewis and Clark that I started last fall and still read, here and there. I appreciate that Hall gets how different Lewis and Clark were from us moderns. 
Slavery was part of life, for instance, the way deaths from automobile accidents are part of ours. 
[The institutions are not parallel; the acceptance of them as a "necessity", perhaps regrettable, is.  Car crashes killed 33,561 people in 2012, according to the Atlantic article, "American's Top Killing Machine", which also posits that  gun deaths are overtaking those numbers. Will humans one day look back in shock at the barbarity?
We do not all accept guns as a necessity. But cars? "We have to have cars!"]


ArtSparker said...

Love Hector Tobar - "Deep Down Dark" turns out to be not about what you expect. His "Barbarian Nurseries" is wonderful, it is a novel.

Fresca said...

Ah, you encourage me to keep reading it (I've only got a few pages in...).

Zhoen said...

The CDC wants to get it's researchers onto both problems, seen as a public health crisis, figures it would work. Lobbyists are resisting tooth and nail and gun and brakes.

Frex said...

You mean, car and gun death?
That's a great idea, framing them as Public Health issues!
That would remove some of the divisive moralizing. (I try to avoid preaching, myself... though I fail often enough.)