December 13, 2012
The holidays are the perfect time to catch up on some leisure reading. Here’s what the staff at Doherty Library will be reading over the Christmas Break.
The book I choose to take on my road trip this holiday season is The Caged Virgin: an Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. A couple of years ago I came across her book Infidel and it gave me a glimpse into her life as Muslim women. In reading The Caged Virgin I hope to refresh my memory about the author’s personal history and get a better understanding of the issues faced by all middle eastern women.
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien’s prelude to The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
With the movie coming out this holiday, I am sure I will want to re-read the book, the adventure of Biblo Baggins as he accompanies the wizard Gandalf and the dwarves, meets a dangerous dragon & the infamous Gollum, and finds that magic ring. It should be fun reading.
A Thousand Mornings, the newest book of poetry by the poet Mary Oliver noted for her sensitive and charming poems as she wanders through nature near her home in Cape Cod. Reading her poetry is always a peaceful, serene, yet exciting, experience for me. We have many of her books in our collection. I recommend them all.
A Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His Journals -I’ve been reading this one on and off for awhile. I feel like reading it again. As a bonus it includes drawings and photos by Merton. It’s a lovely book.
Over the holidays I look forward to reading The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje. Ondaatje’s been one of my favorite writers for years (my favorites are The Collected Works of Billy the Kid and In the Skin of a Lion), and I gave this book to my dad and he really liked it. Then if I get some time before classes start again, I’ll try Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, which I know has a great first chapter, or Gish Jen’s World and Town, bestowed with my wife’s sterling recommendation.
Fr. George Hosko
I plan to read the insightful articles found in First things: a monthly journal of religion and public life.
The Futurological Congress by Stanislaw Lem – A book I have been meaning to read for a while, The Futurological Congress tells the story of Ijon Tichy and his experiences in a utopian future that may not be as wonderful as it first appears. This satirical work uses this old sci-fi trope to explore larger societal issues such as economics, language, and science. I am expecting Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World meets Woody Allen’s Sleeper.
The Hawk in the Rain by Ted Hughes – British Poet Laureate until his death, Hughes may be my favorite 20th century poet (just ahead of Philip Larkin). Rejecting much from the Modernism that dominated the first half of the 20th century, Hughes wrote poems in clear, precise language. In The hawk…, Hughes writes about animals, love, and war – often merging his beautiful poetry with a natural savageness.
I personally think this may be his best collection and can never re-read it enough.
How late it was, how late by James Kelman- Another reread for me, How late it was, how late won the prestigious Booker Prize in 1994, much to the chagrin of many in the literary establishment. Derided as “literary vandalism”, this decidedly Scottish novel tells the story of Sammy, a hard luck Glaswegian plagued by police, doctors, and bureaucrats as he blindly tries to survive in an ambivalent, dying city. As a stream of consciousness novel written in an underclass barroom patter, How late… is not for everyone, though if it is your type of thing, you’ll enjoy it immensely.
I’m currently reading Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. This book provides a fascinating explanation of why some nations prosper while others are mired in poverty. The historical analysis summarizing the experiences of many nations and cultures will keep the reader engaged. Many thought provoking insights and viewpoints are developed in this outstanding book. This is a book that I will come back to again after the first read through.
Over the holidays I plan to keep working on Anna Karenina. I am determined to finish it before seeing the new Joe Wright movie! I am also looking forward to catching up on the most recent National Book Award Winners (Louise Erdrich’s The Round House and Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers).