Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My Books That Went on Our Vacation

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One Down, 13 to Go

Just finished a novel that my sister Deb recommended, which was good, but reminiscent of another author, which my other sister Kathy had recommended several years ago. The novel I just finished, by Adam Mansbach, was called, *The End of the Jews*. It reminded me of Jonathan Lethem's *The Fortress of Solitude,* but I enjoyed Lethem's book more. Why? I guess because his character, more believably, was interested in the music that played on KISS-FM and WBLS than Mansbach's loved hip-hop, and the graffiti discussions in Lethem's were more compelling, and because I sympathized more with his main character than Mansbach's.

I brought 13 other books with me on vacation, not including two for school, featuring:

  • Temple Grandin's *Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior* - Interested in understanding our cats better
  • Rutu Modan's *exit wounds* - I like graphic novels and this one's set in Israel, where I've lived, and where I have lots of family
  • David Wroblewski's *The Story of Edgar Sawtelle* - This one was recommended by Pat, who hasn't yet read it, but who read about it; it has a thinking dog in it and I'm charmed so far; I read part of it already
  • Stone's, Patton's and Heen's *Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most* - This seems like essential reading; I read part of it already
  • Laraine Herring's *Lost Fathers: How Women Can Heal from Adolescent Father Loss* - This is to help me with my ever-lasting grief over losing my father at 17; I read part of it already
  • Clive James' *Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts* - My mother recommended it; I read part of it already
  • Ben Shahn's *The Shape of Content* - I liked the title and I love the artist; I read part of it already
  • Louise Rosenblatt's *Literature as Exploration* - Saw it at the Teachers College bookstore and liked the title; read part of it already
  • Palloff's & Pratt's *Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace* - thought it would be a good companion for the other two textbooks I need to read this semester for my Instructional Design and Educational Technology course
  • Scott Page's *The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies* - I'm not sure where I read about this, but the title appealed to me, as I feel we ought to value people *because* of their differences, not "...regardless of them," which is the language that has been used by U.S. equal employment opportunity policies; I read part of it already
  • Christian Bauman's *In Hoboken* - my friend Linda's good friends with the author and recommended it; I read part of it already
  • Jack Mitchell's *Hug Your People* - I like to buy my clothes at Richards, which is one of the stores owned by Jack Mitchell, and I liked his first book immensely; I read part of this new one already
  • Robert Henri's *The Art Spirit* - If I remember correctly, I saw this in the Museum of Modern Art store and loved the title and first several paragraphs because it urged me to be myself, and bought it accordingly; I read part of it already

A guy, staying at the same B&B as us walked by our table here, by the pool, and asked, smiling, "Are you planning to read all of those today?"

For me, I'm just happy to have them with me. It has been so long, it seems, since I've read purely for pleasure, like since India...even though I hope that's not true, it might be. Well, I try to read "New Yorker" short stories pre-bed, and bits of the books I said I'd already read part of above, but it's refreshing to have uninterrupted time to read a book all the way through.

If I'm lucky, I'll get through Modan's graphic novel and maybe one other of the books before vacation's done, and I'll be grateful for that.

In pausing to read for pleasure, I've heard about two, new books coming out soon, and can't wait: a novel by Alice Dark and a new book by Alison Bechdel, who wrote one of my favorite books ever, *Fun Home*.

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