Saturday, December 29, 2007

What I'm Reading: Nightstand Report

Over the past month, with work and the holidays, I've been a very slow reader. My nightstand pile is growing, rather than shrinking, though not for any lack of interest in the books on my part. Since it might take nearly forever to report on the books after I've actually read them, I'll at least mention them now. I've been trying to alternate fiction and non-fiction, but you'll see that my pile is heavily weighted with non-fiction act the moment.

The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell. I've been promising my wife, Tracy, that I'd read this for quite a while. She was so impressed by it that she bought copies for everyone in our family. I've already started it and it's already very compelling. At its heart are the results of dietary study that shows that despite positive mythology that began with scientists in the 19th century and was actively promoted by the meat industry, eating protein from animals is not good for your health, and actually can promote cancer. A diet rich in vegetables and whole grains is apparently the way to go.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. Just got this one for Christmas. I've wanted to read something by Krakauer for a while, so here's my chance.

The Bubble of American Supremacy and The Age of Fallibility both by George Soros. These are there purely out of curiosity. Tracy's an academic librarian and received this because apparently Mr. Soros is rich enough to send out thousands of copies of his book to librarians across the country. I'm interested to learn why this guy feels strongly enough about his thoughts to write a book (or pay someone to write a book), rather than buy a broadcast network or newspaper and trick people about it (a la Rupert Murdoch).

Spelling Love with an X by Clare Dunsford. This book is by one of the writers in my fiction writer's group--I've read pretty good chunks of it, and it's great. I've been waiting for an open slot of time and concentration, because I want to really take it all in. The subtitle--A mother, A Son and the Gene that Binds them gives you a sense of what it's about. She's a terrific writer and handles the subject of parenthood and fragile x syndrome with poetry and wisdom.

Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan. Here's the one novel in the pile (and it's a short one). I heard Stewart give a reading of it at Brookline Booksmith a month or so ago. I was totally blown away by O'Nan's book, A Prayer for the Dying, and I can't wait for this new one, though it's going to be totally different.

A Cabinetmaker's Notebook by James Krenov. I'm reading this as some research for my new novel, but I'm sort of taking a break from that project at the moment, so I'm not sure when I'll get to this book, though it looks to be the perfect sort of thing, and just what I like to read. I fear that I've renewed this from the library about as many times as I can. Might be time to just pick up a used copy online.

Boston's Abolitionists by Kerri Greenidge. I've taken the African American Freedom Trail tour around Beacon Hill three or four times. The author of this book used to give those tours, and she's also the sister of one of the writers in Rhombus, my playwright's group. I have a feeling that once I read this, I'll have a few ideas for a few new plays.

Mind Performance Hacks (Tips & Tools for Overclocking Your Brain) by Ron Hale-Evans. Tracy read this and liked it (as if she wasn't smart enough already). If I don't read it, I'll never have a chance of keeping up with her.

The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde. This is actually not in the pile, since my father-in-law has it in Connecticut. I want to read it soon, but the argument was made that perhaps he, and an entire army of other readers, might finish it before I'm able to get to it. Jasper is always good for a laugh, and I loved the first book in this series, The Big Over Easy.

Ah, it's almost a new year, and I'll have plenty of new resolve to read my way through the pile.

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