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Posts Tagged Mary Roach

Books I Done Been Reading

Filed Under: Book Reviews

I’ve been writing a lot about television. You could chalk it up to laziness, or summer, or the fact that I seriously watch way too much television. But it’s time to even things up a little. Here are some bookz I’ve been enjoying in the last few weeks. You should enjoy them too. Unless you prefer TV, in which case someone didn’t get enough Reading Rainbow as a kid.

bookshandmaid-100x100The Handmaid’s Tale I don’t know how I missed this book for so long. All I know about Margaret Atwood, or knew, was my wildly unimpressed response to the first 50 pages of The Blind Assassin. So when I discovered Handmaid’s Tale, by which I mean found it in the backseat of a friend’s car during a nine-hour drive back to the city from Cape Cod, I figured I might as well give her another shot; that shit paid off. Handmaid’s Tale is most often, and most accurately, compared to the George Orwell’s 1984, except with a bit of a feminist twist. In the story, women have been subjugated (vocab word of the day) and serve as either wives, “aunts” (middle-aged teachers and enforcers of the town’s doctrine of female subservience), housekeepers or handmaids (condoned mistresses). Society has been reduced to two goals: eliminate dissent and make babies. The book is told from the perspective of one handmaid, and it’s simultaneously witty, insightful and fucking terrifying. A must-read for fans of hypothetical conspiracy theories that may or may not come true in the next 10 to 15 years.

bookstower-100x100Dark Tower V: The Wolves of Calla Don’t worry, I’m not telling you to go ahead and get started on Stephen King’s infamous seven-book series by jumping in at No. 5. I just don’t feel like backtracking through the 3 million+ pages of this series I’ve already read. Which isn’t to say I’m not enjoying them; the Dark Tower books are, for lack of a better phrase, mad good. Anyone who’s read any King knows his predilection for science fiction meets mysticism meets plain old freaky shit. Add to that a touch of a western, plus a billion nerdy references and an astoundingly developed alternate reality, and you’ve got these books. The only downside? They start off small but gear up (by the fourth installation) to 700-page monstrosities that are unwieldy for subway rides and other long journeys. But Kindle be damned, I will power through.

booksdrinks-100x100I Drink for a Reason I’ve never seen or heard anything from David Cross that I didn’t enjoy, so it stands to reason that I’d like his books as well. Well, book. This is the comedian’s literary debut, something he references multiple times in the series of hilarious two-page essays put together to create something of book length. Topics range from “Ideas for T-shirts to be Sold at Urban Outfitters” (example: Punch Me, I’m Pregnant) to “A Free List of Quirks for Aspiring Independent Filmmakers” and I am apparently on page 200 even though I’m pretty sure I only started this book yesterday.

booksclemency-100x100The Northern Clemency Sometimes, and by sometimes I mean often, I am duped into buying some inordinately long and dense novel because of its a) interesting cover b) heaps of praise or c) metallic-looking sticker suggesting a win or near-win of some fanypants book award. TNC got me on all three. It’s one of those novels that’s kind of about stuff, but not enough stuff to warrant 700 pages (seriously, what’s going on with me and the 700-pagers?) so I’m struggling. TNC followers two families in England who live across the street from each other and have all sorts of mundane tragedy and scandal befall them over multiple decades. You can see how this could become tedious. It is beautifully written, and its high points are page-turners, but I am easily distracted from this novel.  …I’ve been reading it for four months.

booksmars-100x100Packing for Mars Mary Roach is probably the best science writer I’ve ever read. Now, she may also be the only science writer I’ve read, (because owning two unread Bill Bryson books doesn’t count, I don’t think) but the claim is still valid. Her previous three books – about death, ghosts and sex, respectively – are more accessible than Mars, which documents historical and present-day preparations for space travel, but this one is still pretty damn good. Did you know, for instance, that men have been on the moon?! No, seriously, the book is chock full of crazy tidbits on everything from astronauts’ hygiene habits to the respective temperaments of space’s first chimps. Most importantly though, Roach is fucking hilarious, which is something I’d find it difficult to be when suspended in zero gravity near a grad student throwing up their lunch.

And that’s all! So now we’ve sufficiently established that I do more than watch reality television (but not much more) and I can go back to recapping the latest shenanigans on Jersey Shore.


10:22 AM on September 9th, 2010 | 

Posted by kira

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