Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Summer reading III

Last post in this series, I promise.

Ok, so on rereading last night's post, perhaps it sounds a bit shrill ... and Anjelika's comment about students being unwilling to share is well taken (thanks), but I was hoping to put them at their ease. If nothing else, we can all certainly get into a brief discussion of what everyone thought of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (I'm going to go out on a limb an assume that out of a class of 50, some people might have read that one ... and Harry fans tend to be voluble).

Also, if at the hint of a question from the prof every students buries their face in their notes to avoid talking, that's something I've had to deal with a few hundred times in the past. Alas.

Except for the aforementioned MIT guys. Just try shutting them up. Seriously. Have you read their blogs? Imagine them in class. ;-)

(I just realized, that's the first emoticon I've used in this blog -- how amazingly inappropriate in an entry essentially on literacy).

As for my summer reading, here's the lot:

Karen Armstrong, The History of God (in process)
John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany (in process)
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (oh my GOD)
Pierre Berton, Vimy
H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds
H.G. Wells, The Time Machine
Gwynne Dyer, Future Tense: The Coming World Order
Gwynne Dyer, Ignorant Armies: Sliding into War in Iraq
Karen Armstrong, The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism (required reading -- seriously)
James Connor, Kepler's Witch
Wayne Johnston, The Navigator of New York

There's more, but I'm not going to list all the stuff I read for the children's lit course I taught this summer (though Run Spot Run was a page turner -- where is he running to? a comment on the existential malaise of consumer society, I thought; running to stand still, as it were; very Beckett), or what I've read for my upcoming courses. Of all the above, I have to say that The Battle for God was the one I would say, if you're going to read anything on this list, read it. It provides an extraordinary and often terrifying insight into the growing influence of fundamentalists around the world, charts their history, and demonstrates -- this is what got me -- that more than anything else, they're a product of modernity.

Keep the lists coming -- I'm enjoying them.

In other news, my office is taking shape! I got my bookcases finally dragged in (literally: I may well be persona non grata with the custodial staff for scratching up part of the hallway floor), and today my desk chair arrived -- so I could at last dispose of the orange 70s-era chair I'd been using till today. And as promised, office pics -- still a little institutional, bit a lot more me.


CB said...

Hey Lockett,

Nice office. It even looks like the books are real, not just painted on plywood.

As for summer reading (ignoring thesis stuff, which is hard to do) there’s been just a few:

Dostoyevesky’s _Notes from the Underground_ and parts of _Karamazov_ (I’m on the instalment plan and will be done the latter in 2024)

A memoir by Manuel Alvarez on the Spanish Civil War that my great aunt insisted I read (it's entitled _The Tall Soldier_).

Laura has me reading Jan Potocki’s _The Manuscript Found in Saragossa_.

And finally--and the main reason I wanted you write--is that I’ve finally started that imposing looking bio of Lenin by Robert Service--the one, as you’ve noted, that really sticks out on the bookshelf. In fact, half the motivation for reading it is that people always see it and ask if I’ve read it...the other half reason (can motives be halved?) is, of course, to learn what precisely to avoid doing in my own bid for total revolution.

Chris in NF said...

hey bunny -- no, they really are just actually painted on plywood. It's just that my art skills are now, in fact, mad.

I always wondered about that Lenin book. It was one of Clarence's fave perches when he visited, no?

Femme d'ailleurs said...

I think Harry Potter should be OK for most students. There will be those who will find it not appropriate for them, but that would happen with just about anything.

Myself, I wouldn't be able to talk about the 6th book of HP, because it hasn't come out in French yet ;)
Yea, I read translations.

Good luck anyway and thanks for quoting me :)


ps. Yes, you should definitely use more emoticons ;)

queen B said...

I have not read one Harry Potter book. Ever. Is that bad?

In fact, I was at a bookstore that was open at midnight for HP's release (a friend was buying a copy), and they were only selling Harry Potter. The bookseller wouldn't let me buy anything else. What's up with that?

As for summer reading, I think I've done well this year. Here's a partial list:

A biography of Elizabeth I - David Starkey
Front Row (biography of Anna Wintour) - Jerry Oppenheimer
Jurassic Park & The Lost World - Michael Crichton
The Last Tycoon - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Birds of America -Lorrie Moore
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
What We all Long For - Dionne Brand
a bunch of Miss Manners ettiquette books - Judith Martin
What Fresh Hell Is This? (biography of Dorothy Parker) - Marion Meade
Happiness - Will Ferguson
A collection of criticism, essays and reviews by Martin Amis
A Second Chrestomathy - H.L. Mencken
Caravane (en fran├žais) - Elise Turcotte
Vaudeville! - Gaetan Soucy
Party Monster - James St. James
Another Bullshit Night in Suck City - Nick Flynn
The Devil Wears Prada - Lauren Weisberger
Clubland - Frank Owen

issues of Vanity Fair, InStyle, JANE, and the New York Times magazine. Oh, and manuscripts from the slush pile (all pretty bad).

Chris in NF said...

Ah B, you put us all to shame. Especially considering that after a day of ploughing through crappy manuscripts you'd still have the desire to read in the evening ...

Justin Power said...

Hey Chris,

Silent Warrior the Third here. I’ve waited to comment on your blog until I had something worthwhile to add, and I figure that this is as good a place as any to throw my hat into the ring.

I'm glad to read that you're settling in well enough, and I'm more than a little jealous that you can trek over to Ches' on a whim. Being stuck at home, sans job or money, has left me ample time to read. Thus far, I’ve managed to get through these texts this summer:

JK Rowling - Half Blood Prince
Christopher Dewdney - Acquainted With the Night
Chuck Palahniuk - Haunted
Wil Wheaton - Just A Geek
Mary Roach - Stiff
Orson Scott Card - Shadow of the Giant
Gwynne Dyer – War, New Ed.
Carl Honore - In Praise of Slow
Jon Stewart - Naked Pictures of Famous People
Lewis Black - Nothing's Sacred
Constance Hays - The Real Thing
Chris Van Allsburg - The Mysteries of Harris Burdick
William Irwin - Seinfeld and Philosophy
Chris Turner - Planet Simpson
Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child - Dance of Death
Mark Kingwell - Catch and Release

Much like Eano, I grabbed Amis’ Money after you recommended it, but was far too busy with course materials to enjoy it. I finally got around to starting it about twenty minutes ago, and I’ve already encountered the word “respectabilizes,” which can only be a good sign.

And this is what remains on my list as the season winds down:

Glenn Yeffeth - Finding Serenity
Steven Johnson - Everything Bad Is Good For You
Stephen Greenblatt - Will in the World
Tim O'Brien - Going After Cacciato
Susanna Clarke - Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
Hannah Holmes - Backyard Safari

I’ll have to add the Karen Armstrong to the list as well, it sounds promising.

And many thanks for the favourable mention in your ode to MIT, it was certainly an honour to be listed amongst my esteemed classmates.

All my best,

Chris in NF said...

ah, J.Po .. so good to hear from you. I just wanted to say that I am seriously impressed that you have a Stephen Greenblatt book on that list.

and tell me how you like Money in the end ... it really is vintage Amis.