November 16th, 2007

Reading List 2007 (6/248)

This week’s reading:

Dying to Live, Kim Paffenroth
Taming Your Gremlin, Richard Carson
The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie
Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class, Ross Douthat
Lady Knight, L J Baker
A is for Alibi, Sue Grafton

A so-so week this week: nothing mind-blowing, but lots of solid fun.

Dying to Live, for example? Not bad, not great, but definitely sated my “must read more zombie novels” jones. It’s no World War Z or even Monster Island, but nonetheless it’s a good solid fun read.

The Grafton and Christie probably don’t need much explanation. I enjoy mysteries, and although the two were in very different genres (private eye and English country house) they were both well-crafted. I liked them enough that I’m probably going to read the rest of the Grafton series over the next couple of months, and I’ll be re-reading all my Agatha Christies as I unpack them.

Did I mention I’m still unpacking books? And it turned out to be a good thing, because the best book I read this week was a total surprise. While unpacking, I came across Taming Your Gremlin. Now, I’ve got a very low tolerance for self-help books, but since my friend Crys gave it to me (and I promptly packed it to move!!), I felt I should give it a try. And I’m really glad I did! His metaphor of the gremlin is a powerful tool for self-awareness, and for differentiating between the realities of one’s experience in the world and one’s perception of those realities. It was oddly Zen, actually. Also, I totally want to figure out why my gremlin looks like. So thanks, Crys! You hit this one out of the park.

There was another surprise this week, too - Lady Knight. It’s a lesbian romantic heroic fantasy, or something like that; I don’t read much fantasy any more and I generally have a zero tolerance for romance, so I didn’t expect to like it. But actually, it was well-written and well-plotted, and I really felt for the trials and tribulations of the three main characters. I think my favorite thing about the book was that Baker focuses on politics, domesticity, magic and intrigue. Most of the big battles happen off-screen, with only their consequences (very well!) explored. It’s a smart choice, given what she’s good at writing, and it gives us the chance to establish intimate emotional relationships with the characters rather than sit back and watch as they Defeat All Their Enemies Like You Do In Fantasy Novels.

Finally - and this one probably deserves its own review - the Douthat book. This book left me rather boggled and kind of angry. My summary of the book is, “Ross Douthat gets angry because he can’t get into the upper-crusty WASP social circles at Harvard, and therefore decides that a) those social circles are the center of Harvard, and b) they’re a canker that eats to the heart of the university.” To which my response is, “What the fuck? Did we actually go to the same school?”

If you want more details on anything I read, by the way, all you have to do is ask. I do more extensive reviews of anything I’ve read by request, but without a request I probably won’t get around to it (even if I say I will!).

Have a good weekend! Me, I’ll be doing some reading!