Books by my bedside 2017/05/10

I’ve noticed that I often bring up in conversation one or more of the fascinating books I’ve been reading lately, only to fail utterly at recalling titles or authors’ names. I’ll take this opportunity to at least have a handy reference available for anyone who cares to follow up on something I’ve said.

Just check my blog!

Non-Fiction

Economics, history & politics

Poor economics : a radical rethinking of the way to fight global poverty by Banerjee, Abhijit V.

The white man’s burden : why the West’s efforts to aid the rest have done so much ill and so little good by Easterly, William

Why nations fail : the origins of power, prosperity, and poverty by Acemoglu, Daron

Language

First German Reader for Cooking: bilingual for speakers of English (Graded German Readers) (Volume 9) by Brant, Adelina

Starting out in German by Living Language (audio CD)

Math & technology

Gödel, Escher, Bach : an eternal golden braid by Hofstadter, Douglas R.

Biography & memoir

The Egg & I by MacDonald, Betty

The Prize winner of Defiance, Ohio [sound recording] by Ryan, Terry

Fiction

Apprentice in Death (In Death Series, Book 43) by Robb, J. D.

The Great Passage written by Miura, Shion, translated by Carpenter, Juliet Winters (note: this was a freebie from Amazon for being a Prime member)

Thirteen reasons why by Jay Asher

books - 1Reading Notes:

Eye doctor visit derails the reading process

Today, I had my eyes dilated at the ophthalmologist’s office, meaning I couldn’t read a word for about four hours and that I’m still hiding from the spring sun behind heavy curtains seven hours later. Ugh.

Please forgive me for any typos. My near vision is still blurry. I wasn’t sure that I would have a chance to post today at all.

Fortunately, I had requested an audiobook from the library this week, so I enjoyed the author’s reading of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio while covering my tender eyes on the couch.

Also fortunately, the discomfort I’d been experiencing in my eyes, prompting the visit to the doctor, has been diagnosed as simple dry eyes, and not an inflammatory complication of my autoimmune disease. Now that’s a blessing!

Book vs. video of 13 Reasons Why

I was able to read about a quarter of Thirteen Reasons Why as I waited for my appointment. So far, it strikes me that the video production faithfully captured the tone of the novel. It’s entirely readable, but, at this early stage, I’d say the protagonist (the male, Clay) reads somewhat less compelling than did the actor portraying him.

Rampant racism mars The Egg & I for otherwise appreciative modern reader

As for The Egg & I, I’ve been meaning to read this book for years, and it’s got me completely torn. On the one hand, it is a really marvelous, fun read written by an obviously clever author who was clearly born before her time, suffering as a farm housewife when she was constitutionally better suited for a more intellectually stimulating life. I really feel for her. I enjoyed so much of her witty, sarcastic writing.

But the blatant, roaring racism! Oh my word. I read a lot of old books, and am used to making certain allowances for the different standards of earlier eras, but whole segments of this book were grossly, unapologetically offensive. Most of my grandparents were of the same region during the same era, and never did I see or hear any of them express attitudes like MacDonald’s.

I think that stands out so sharply because, otherwise, I feel like I could be friends with this author. She’s someone I’d like to sit down and chat with over a cup of coffee… but heaven forbid she learn that my grandmother claimed her father was a Blackfoot Indian.*

And would my sloppy home meet her standards, or would I be lumped in with poor, aspirational Mrs. Weatherly and her delusions of grandeur? But, rather than classism, it could be the fact that Mr. Weatherly was a [MacDonald’s words!] “dirty Indian” that really made Mrs. Weatherly so disgusting to the author. After all, MacDonald shows obvious affection for Maw and Paw Kettle, who were at least equally slovenly.

*Grandma’s brother claimed their father was a Turk, so don’t take her word for it. I don’t think anyone in the family has factual information about this particular great-grandfather.

One thought on “Books by my bedside 2017/05/10

  1. Yeah, sometimes an author has really interesting things to say but also exhibits some really unpalatable aspects. A good example for me is Noam Chomsky; very good stuff in philosophy/math of language, but horrible political positions.

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