Thursday, August 26, 2010

What I've Been Reading

This has been a tricky summer, with a lot of fun stuff and a lot of not fun stuff, but in the midst of it all, I've been reading.

Generally, I do read in the summer, because reading is a good thing to do while baseball is on. I'm at the point in my life where I take my glasses off when I read, but I can't see what's on TV without my glasses, but with my giant new TV set, I can figure out what's happening. Since I tend to read with the TV on, but the sound off (I frequently keep the sound off the TV, even if I'm not reading), it helps if I can kind of make out shapes.

Now that I think about it, I exercise a lot when I'm reading and watching TV. All that pushing the glasses on and off my nose probably burns off 100 calories per page and/or inning.

Anyway, Monday the US Open will begin, and whether I have the sound on or not, I'll be reading less because tennis is the kind of sport you actually have to pay attention to (so is figure skating, but that won't start for a while). So I figured I should let you know all the high class things I've read this summer before the summer ends and I stop reading.

Be prepared to be impressed. After a spring of reading suspense novels, I've moved back to non-fiction.

Teresa Of Avila (Cathleen Medwick)- Teresa Of Avila (who I've always affectionately called Big St. Teresa) turned out to be a lot cuter than I'd expected. She had a real problem with levitating. There was a lovely scene where a nun happened to notice her and St. John Of The Cross having a late night chat while both of them were floating towards the ceiling.

The Great Warming (Brian Fagan)- Who knew things warmed up on earth between 800-1300? Well, maybe you did, but I didn't, and I also didn't know when the Little Ice Age happened (right afterwards, since you asked). If I'd ever had any illusions that I wanted to be a subsistence farmer in medieval times, this book convinced me otherwise. Actually, I never had those illusions, since I've always known life is better with indoor plumbing.

Doomed Queens (Kris Waldherr)- I have my doubts about the historical accuracy of some of the queens, but this book was great fun. Maybe not so much fun for the queens themselves, but definitely fun for the readers.

Madame de Pompadour (Evelyne Lever)- I never got around to reading the biography of Louis XIV's second wife, so I figured I'd read about Louis XV's official mistress instead. She wasn't doomed, but alas, she wasn't all that interesting either.

Stonewall Jackson (John Bowers)- I've had this book on my shelves for a long time and I finally got around to reading it, and I'm very glad I did. Extremely entertaining, although as someone who always roots for the North in the Civil War, it was kind of worrisome to read about Stonewall Jackson's great successes. Good thing I knew how things turned out in the end.

What I am currently reading: Born To Be Hurt (Sam Staggs). This is (or so the book jacket says) The Untold Story Of Imitation Of Life. I'm not a big fan of Imitation Of Life, which I think I've only seen once and that was many decades ago, but any book that talks about Lana Turner and Sandra Dee is all right by me. And I should be able to finish it by Monday.

Hmm... Now that I think about it, Lana Turner starred in Madame X, and she stonewalled during that nasty murder business, which could have doomed a lesser movie queen, and while she wasn't exactly a saint, she certainly warmed things when she wore her sweater.

Suddenly, my entire summer makes sense!


Jack said...

Interesting, I try to make an attempt at reading books in the summer. Especially this summer, moving up to college meant I had a 10-week summer break. The problem is though, I find it really hard trying to get into fiction fantasy novels (which I have an entire shelf of) and usually end up giving up after a few pages. The rest of my bookshelf is made up of non-fiction; mainly reference books on mathematics and physics and the occasional history book. I get bored of reading these too, and instead decide to leave my learning for school and summer breaks for relaxation.

Lisa-Marie Jordan said...

That was awesome on so many levels! I'm always curious to find out what people are reading. I haven't been reading much non-fiction lately (mostly YA and MG; for research as well as pleasure!), but I have several books on Shakespeare and the Globe Theater to read whenever the non-fiction mood strikes!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Good morning to Jack and to Lisa-Marie Jordan-

Both of you read much classier things than I do, but I've been enjoying this non-fiction jag. I retain nothing of what I read, so within a few months, everything will be very jangled in my mind, but in the interim, I can delude myself into thinking I'm gaining some knowledge.

Enjoy college, Jack!

Friendly Neighbourhood Bookseller said...

Madame du Pompador snogged the Doctor. How much more interesting could she be?

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello to my Friendly Neighbourhood Bookseller (who is nowhere near my neighborhood, which is self evident because I spell neighborhood differently)-

You'd have thought Madade de P would have been interesting. And she probably was to those who knew her. But mostly, in this biography, she put on plays and urged Louis XV to stay autocratic.

A little more sex and a lot less politics and it would have been much more entertaining!

Friendly Neighbourhood Bookseller said...

I have faith that some time you'll come to our fair shores for a visit. And then it will be your neighbourhood. Sort of.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Sounds good to me, Friendly Neighbourhood Bookseller!