the contextual life

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On the Shelf :: a Reading Roundup

with 3 comments

There’s something very human about making lists. We’re always looking forward; we always have something on our minds. For me, along with all my fellow compulsive readers, it’s books. It takes all my willpower to leave a bookstore without buying something—and every so often I succeed; but it’s not without taking a picture of a cover or making a mental note of one more book I’d like to read. Here are a few that have been on my mind, or on my shelf, for some time now that are at the forefront of my reading list. Feel free to add them to your own.

Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War by Deb Olin Unferth
I’ve seen Deb read twice for her book and both times she was downright funny and adorable. Revolution has gotten an incredible amount of praise in all the right places. Revolution is a memoir of the year Unferth took off to join the revolution in Central America. It was 1987; she was 18 and in love with a George, the philosophy major and reason for her newfound solidarity with the southern hemisphere.

Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays by David Foster Wallace
I still haven’t read DFW and am somewhat ashamed to admit this, although not as ashamed as those who say they loved (loved!) Infinite Jest should feel. I’m convinced those people are either pretentious or lying, or both. Ok, I kid, don’t flame me. But seriously, I still haven’t read him and I feel like I’m missing out on an important piece of the literary universe. Consider the Lobster, I’ve been told, is his best nonfiction work so it seems like a good place to start.

Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
The way I’ve heard this described it sounds like it has some worthwhile philosophical element to it, like Milan Kundera’s works, which I loved in my 20s. It makes sense since it’s a French novel and those people sure do love their philosophy. From what I understand it’s a novel about a cleaning lady who pretends to be ignorant meanwhile she’s a brilliant autodidact. I’ve picked it up off the Europa display about three times now. Next time I just might walk out the door with it—after paying, of course.

Mythologies by Roland Barthes
Speaking of French philosophers. I hear this is Barthes’ most accessible book. Born in 1915, Barthes was part of the Structuralist school founded in France in the 1950s and 60s that believed human culture could be studied through its use of signs. Mythologies, as the title would lead one to believe, is a look at modern (in Barthes’ time) myths.

Embassytown by China Mieville
This guy is huge in my area. China is a British fantasy writer (and a very attractive one at that). Embassytown is his latest and it sounds very scifi, dystopian. Everyone who I respect is raving about him so I think it’s high time I picked him up.

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
With the HBO series going on, this one is on my radar. My friend Stephanie, who’s a big fantasy fan, says that this is trashy genre at its best.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Um, Neil Gaiman. Need I say more?

an essay on China and his work (2009) at TheMillions
a review of Embassytown at TheMillions (staff pick)
a review of Revolution at TheMillions
Deb Olin Unferth on The Bat Segundo Show
Neil Gaiman’s website


Written by Gabrielle

June 3, 2011 at 8:46 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Is GAME OF THRONES the one that re-imagines the Middle Ages? Someone told me about it, and now I think I must read it. 🙂

    Julia Buckley

    June 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    • my coworker told me she was reading it and i was so jealous! it’s sitting on my shelf, waiting.


      June 9, 2011 at 7:24 pm

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