On and off my bookshelf

I have to update those reading lists on the side. In the past few weeks, I've finished five books, three of which I read so quickly that they never made it onto the list of books currently being read at all. I started these between December and a few days ago, so don't go thinking that I read the entirety of each of these books in the past few weeks.
  • Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return to His Jewish Family, by Stephen J. Dubner
    I enjoyed this. It was a little bit slow going at first, but once I got into it, it was a quick read. I remember that when I read Herman Wouk's This is My God as a teenager, it reminded me why I like being Jewish so much. Turbulent Souls had a similar effect. I've also long had a soft spot in my heart for autobiographies and other stories that people choose to tell about their lives. When they are good story-tellers, I find it fascinating. Stephen Dubner is a good story-teller. (I went through a phase when I was 7-12 or so where I mostly read autobiographies and biographies. I went through the whole stack of kids' biographes at the library1 and then moved on to Candice Bergen's autobiography and Katharine Hepburn's autobiography. That's how I originally got into her movies.)
  • Freakanomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
    You probably know all about this book already. Once I got into it (recurring pattern here?), I read a chapter every night until it was done. Then I read through the appendices. It was fun. If you liked this, you'd probably also enjoy their blog. I find that it's volume is too high for me to keep up with, so I usually don't read it at all, but if I had unlimited time, I'd read it!
  • The Glass Lake, by Maeve Binchy
    This is the kind of fiction that I really love reading. Some people might find that surprising (since I use big words and don't own a television? I dunno). I used to even read proper romance novels, but they lost their, um, novelty after awhile and got boring and repetitive. I think of trade paperback fiction like they're my soap operas or something. I get really into these sorts of books very quickly and rip right through them, reading at least 100 pages at a sitting. This one was 750 pages and I started it at 6 pm one Friday night and finished it by 8 pm the next evening. Ah, Shabbos! I used to do this all the time when I was a kid and decided I no longer liked shul--read straight through Shabbat. Now I'm mostly more responsible and community-oriented, so I do things like make meals, go to meals, go to shul, etc. Once in awhile, though, when I'm exhausted, this is a delicious luxury. Yum. Read, eat, read, sleep, read, eat, sleep, read...
  • The Pilot's Wife, by Anita Shreve
    I picked this up on the "hefker table" in my building's lobby. People leave books that they no longer want, and that's my main source for junky fiction. (I usually put the books back after I'm done reading them, since I am unlikely to reread these kinds of books.) This wasn't a trade paperback, so maybe it can be considered less junky than The Glass Lake, but it also wasn't high fiction or, well, hard on the brain. It was okay and fine entertainment, but I didn't enjoy it as much as The Glass Lake.
The other books that are on my "currently reading" list (see right sidebar) will probably be there for awhile, as I work through them slowly or not at all. Like the vegetable book. It really was interesting for the first few pages, but I think it might be more happily used as a reference or cook book. And both books on women and Judaism. There's only so much of those books that I can take at a time.

Next up? Maybe The Bastard on the Couch: 27 Men Try Really Hard to Explain Their Feelings About Love, Loss, Fatherhood, and Freedom, edited by Daniel Jones. Lest you find that title offensive (and you may be right to find it so), there is also a book called The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage, edited by Cathi Hanauer, who also wrote the foreword to The Bastard on the Couch. I think they were published as a pair. (Update: Bitch in the House was compiled by Cathi Hanauer first, and Bastard on the Couch was put together by her husband.) I'm less interested in Bitch, though, since I already know what women think. Or at least what one woman thinks. Also, I'm sort of tired of reading about motherhood in the media. What about fatherhood?

1. I think they were something like these, but not this exact series. I remember reading about George Washington Carver and Betsy Ross, and they aren't included in this particular series. Oh, and I think Abraham Lincoln, too. My mother once told me that I didn't learn anything in school in 2nd grade, but it was okay because I read a ton of books that year. I'm sure some large percentage of the random stuff that I know today, I learned from reading those easy reader biographies in second grade and from watching 3-2-1 Contact.


alg's mother said...

One thought: You might have a touch of spring fever. I always have more nervous energy this time of year, which is why it's a good time for "spring cleaning."

As for connecting with your knight in shining armor, I think YOU have to find him, maybe with the help of a professional matchmaker, as well as friends and relatives. I really believe that everyone has a match out there--The trick is to find him/her!

Irina Tsukerman said...

Funny, I just saw two of the exact same books recommended on a different blog!

ALG said...


Thanks for your comment! Which two books?

Irina Tsukerman said...

Freaconomics, and the one about the Catholic returning to Judaism.

Nem said...

I have read these two:

Freakanomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant, by Dan Savage

And second the reccomendations. They are both easy reading and thought provoking.

liz said...

Hi A,

If you liked the Catholic book, you would probably very much like Lovesong, by Julius Lester. You may have already read it. It's about an African American minister's son from the deep south who returns to Judaism/converts.

ALG said...

Hi Liz,

Yes, I read Lovesong and loved it. I think I read it in high school, although maybe it was college. Let me know if you think of any other books I might enjoy! (Although the list on the right sidebar is growing much faster than I can whittle it down, given the amount of time I have for reading.)