What I’m Reading

It’s been too long since we’ve talked about books! I’ve been meaning to make a summer reading list, but suddenly the summer is half over and I don’t have a whole lot to show for it.  I’ve been reading in bits and pieces — a minor book funk, if you will — and so have picked up and put down the following:

  1. The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey (I talked about it here, but haven’t actually finished. I will, I will!)
  2. Team of Rivals (someday, DKG! Too ponderous for a summer read)
  3. A Brief History of Love (I’ll circle back soon; it’s lovely, but I wasn’t in the mood)
  4. Eligible (I respect the buzz about this one, but I was feeling impatient and it didn’t grab me right away, so I gave up)

That being said, I have actually finished a few books recently, for better or for worse. Starting with the best:

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Euphoria, by Lily King

Perhaps I’ve never mentioned this, but I adored the anthropology class I took in college. I took it to fulfill a “science with a lab” credit (all hail the liberal arts university), and was so enamored that I seriously considered adding it as a minor. Only the fact that I was already a junior and wanted to graduate in four years kept me from doing so.

Anyway, this is all to say that a novel based on the experiences of anthropologist Margaret Mead is right up my alley. But even if anthropology isn’t among your interests, this book will draw you in with its intelligence, its intensity, its carefully wound tension.

And because I just finished it today and can’t let it go yet, here are some bits I love:

“For so long I’d felt that what I’d been trained to do in academic writing was to press my nose to the ground, and here was Nell Stone with her head raised and swiveling in all directions. It was exhilarating and infuriating.”

“Through the windscreen I had a last look at the sea, which was rumpled and agitated, a thick muscle that would hold on tight to everything it swallowed.”

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Y: The Last Man, Vols. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, José Marzán Jr.

My graphic novel explorations continue with another Brian Vaughan collaboration (he wrote Saga, too). The concept of The Last Man is fairly self-explanatory: every man on Earth suddenly and mysteriously dies, save one. How do the women respond? How does the last man navigate this new world?

It’s a fascinating idea, and one that has the potential to explore contemporary topics of gender and sexuality. Unfortunately, what made this book an ultimate disappointment was the “last man,” aka main character. I found him uninteresting and overindulged (the narrative of a world full of women is being told by a man … uh, why?).  I wanted these books to transcend the man-centric comic book stereotype, but for me, they didn’t.

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The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown

I’ve been meaning to read this for ages, as every other person I guide around the Library seems to mention that part of The Lost Symbol is set there.  Plus, I was on the Da Vinci Code train with the rest of the world when the book first came out; do you remember how thrilling it was?

Alas, reading this book was a torturous combination of hoping it would get better and waiting for it to be over. Although the DC runaround was occasionally fun to read as someone who lives here, the actual premise was built up and built up and then a major letdown. Just go to Symbols R Us next time, Mr. Langdon.

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