Monday, January 5, 2009


I'm trying to be cheerful about winter, I am. I bought myself a pink rose bouquet at Trader Joe's. It was called "Rosy Cheer." Rosy cheer for $3.99--not bad!

One nice thing about winter is that it's a good time to cozy up with a book or three. What are you reading? Would you recommend it? Here's what I'm reading.

Creation by Gore Vidal. Yes, I've been reading it since October. It's long, but it's fantastic. Cyrus Spitama, fictitious Persian ambassador for the great kings Darius and Xerxes, travels the ancient world from Greece to India and China, meeting kings, wise men, and mad men along the way. I have sat in on Ambassador Spitama's audiences with Buddha, Lao Tzu, and Confucius. I suspect that we may yet meet Socrates and Pythagoras. My favorite character, though, has been the mad Duke of Sheh, a Chinese knight who styled himself duke of the fictitious "Sheh," or holy ground. He is known for chasing dragons and calling upon his "cousins," the other dukes, for shelter and meals in the royal style he deserves. Entertainingly weaving so many strands of history and philosophy together, this book is a masterpiece.

Netherland by Joseph O'Neill. listed Netherland as one of the best books of 2008. I've only just begun the novel, but I am charmed by the detail-rich prose. I'll let you read what Slate and Amazon have to say about this book, rather than describing something I have not yet read.

Finally, I'm proofreading a book on oncology nutrition. It's rather a fascinating book. It has changed the way I see food. I now think about anticarcinogenic properties when staring down something edible.

Book waiting in the wings: The Language Instinct (Pinker), Water for Elephants (Gruen).

Books on the to-read-eventually list: American Wife (Sittenfeld), Wesley the Owl (O'Brien), The Race Card: How Bluffing about Bias Makes Race Relations Worse (Thompson Ford), Company of Liars (Maitland).

Confession: I have trouble finishing nonfiction books. I've started far more than I've completed.


Narya said...

I'm rereading Neal Stephenson's "The Diamond Age" and reading Sherri Tepper's "The Margarets." I'm trying to make the latter last longer, because I'm enjoying it so very much. I have a lsit of books I want to get from the library, but haven't gotten around to ordering them yet. (Our Fair City allows you to have books you want sent to any branch--in my case, the branch that's a few blocks from my workplace.)

Bill Stankus said...

Once, I found fiction to be the best... and I still occasionally read novels but now I mostly read nonfiction.

Perhaps when I was younger, certain fictional works were influential but high school and college are long pasted. While I'd love to say I've learned something from fictions, that isn't accurate, mostly they're entertainment.

So, my current habit is to alternate - finish a fiction, pick-up a nonfiction. That's my reading cycle.

I've recently read a number of nonfictions about US presidents - FDR through Ike - and the result is I have a much better understanding of our current political and cultural situation.