Saturday, July 24, 2010

Reading Update

Book #37 was Malcolm Gladwell's What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures, a book of essays from the New Yorker. Gladwell doesn't accept the conventional wisdom just because others say it's so; he is always looking beneath the surface of things. Do FBI profilers really know what they are talking about? Why do women dye their hair? What really motivates risk-taking entrepreneurs? Why doesn't someone make a better ketchup? What did the dog see? I found this book fascinating reading.

Book #38 was The Lady and the Poet, by Maeve Haran. It's the story of the poet John Donne and his wife Ann. Donne wrote some of the most famous love poetry there is, so I was curious to know about his own romance. The problem with books of this kind is that it's hard to know how much is imagined and how much is accurate, but I was caught up in their story.

Book #39 was a read-aloud to my son, The Pepins and their Problems, by Polly Horvath. The Pepins constantly have problems, mostly caused by their complete cluelessness. The author asks her readers to think of solutions and to send them to her telepathically. My son found this book hilarious and it made for perfect bedtime reading.

Book #40 was Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology, by Eugene Peterson. This was an absolutely wonderful book, so full of quotable passages that my copy is stuffed with little scraps of paper that I tore up to mark my favorite parts. Peterson explores how we find Christ in creation, in history, and in community. It's all about how we live, not some kind of ethereal "spirituality," all about how beloved we are and how we should love each other. Highly recommended.

Book #41 was a very different one, Anderson Cooper's Dispatches from the Edge. A friend bought me this book back in January when she took me to lunch. We had talked about Anderson Cooper's coverage of Haiti, almost none of which I had seen. I had heard a lot about him from my Haiti contacts, who loved that he stayed in Haiti when other reporters left, and that he came back. (Admittedly, some of what I heard was about how good he looked in his black T-shirts.) In this book Cooper explores some of what drives him. He goes back and forth between his childhood, the loss of his dad and brother, his early reporting jobs with Channel One, and his time in Sarajevo, Rwanda, Somalia, Baghdad, Sri Lanka after the tsunami, and most of all, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. "The map of the world constantly changes," he writes, "new fault lines split open, new frontlines appear. I want to hurl myself into the storm."

This list contains an unusual amount of non-fiction for me. I think it's time for a good novel next.

This post is linked to the July 24th Saturday Review of Books.

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