Monday, May 24, 2004

Catching Up on the Reading

I read through a pile of stuff over the weekend, so maybe I'll do a recap of some of the recent books that haven't been mentioned here yet. I'll back up a little bit to start, though.

A People's History of the United States was a pretty major project to get through, but certainly worth it. Its goal is to be biased in the opposite direction from typical history books, focusing on the perspectives of women, blacks, native americans, the poor, and other groups for whom the USA has not always been all that it's cracked up to be.

I read Middlesex so I could be the tie-breaker between Mom and Greg, who hated and loved it, respectively. The verdict: while it didn't sound like the sort of book I would ever read, it turned out to be surprisingly good. It's the story of a hermaphrodite from Detroit, but it encompasses the previous two generations of her/his family, starting the the grandparents immigrating from Greece. The overall family portrait that it creates is fascinating, even aside from the sheer unusualness of reading about a hermaphrodite.

The other day, Biz and I were talking about children's books, so I decided to go read Coraline, by Neil Gaiman. It's a great story, and definitely on the creepy side, so it was a lot of fun to read, in spite of being labeled for kids age 11 and up. I'd love for him to turn it into a novel for adults, but still, part of the appeal of this form is its compactness. Kids' books are generally much more to-the-point: they get you straight to the story, with no extra fluff, which can be a very refreshing change once in a while. It was also fun just to visit that section of the bookstore and see a lot of other books that brought back their own memories.

Miriam recommended Exploring Judaism: A Reconstructionist Approach to me. That was a very interesting introduction that I liked because the Reconstructionist approach to Judaism seems very similar to my approach to religion in general. There is a very strong focus on evolving Judaism to keep pace with the evolution of society, and a lot of flexibility and encouragement for people to relate to the old traditions in ways that are meaningful to them today. A lot of good concepts in there, I think.

My newest audio book is Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster, recommended to me by Eric. This one is going to be intense. Chapter 1 had me breathing fast just sitting in the car listening to it this morning. Wow.

And there's a lot more in my to-read list where those came from.

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