maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets. -arthur miller


Summer Reading: Two Months, a Whoooole Bunch of Books

A few weeks into this summer (once I had more or less recovered from finals), I wrote about what I was planning on reading this summer. At the time I was rereading Sedaris's Naked and reading Sarah Vowell's Partly Cloudy Patriot for the first time. Partly Cloudy Patriot was so unbelieveably awesome-- Vowell is like the smarter more eloquent version of the voice inside my head. I've been lending the book out to anyone and everyone in my life since I finished it in mid-June. Out of five stars, this book gets like seventy-three.

I like rereading, so I went back to Harry Potter books 4 and 5 in anticipation of the upcoming fourth movie and sixth book. I'm glad I went back to four and five; the first time I read books two through five I ran through them at a quite a clip, since my boss was lending me one each week. I timed the re-read pretty well this summer-- by the time I finished rereading book five my brother had finished book six and I didn't have to buy my own copy. I had one major complaint about the latest installment: the first 400 pages were a slow, leisurely path through Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts, and then the last 200 pages had SO much going on that it was almost overwhelming. I guess I liked it overall, but I'm not a Harry Potter nut so meh.

I keep trying to read Loose Change, which was assigned for one of my classes and I never quite finished but had started to enjoy during the semester. Still haven't gotten more than halfway. I think I give up.

Hands down, my favorite book this summer so far has been The Island at the Center of the World. Subtitled "The epic story of Dutch Manhattan and the forgotten colony that shaped America", this book was right up my alley. First of all, Russell Shorto is fucking brilliant. Like Joseph Ellis did in Founding Brothers, Shorto manages to bring history to life so vividly that I practically felt the events happening. The notion of Manhattan as forest crisscrossed by rivers and surrounded by rivers that have never seen a sail has always seemed too distant to be real, and Shorto made me believe it viscerally. I read most of it during my lunch hours in Stuyvesant Square Park, sitting near the oversize, cartoonish statue of peg-legged Peter Stuyvesant while reading about him tromping through the Dutch colony that just south of there. It was so completely awesome. I can't wait to read it again. (Shut up.)

Last weekend I read Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies. It only took me like five hours over a few days. I guess I'm not big in to fiction right now, but I liked The Namesake when I read it for a class, so I read this one. She's got a great, clear voice in her writing that I really enjoy, but I think when I'm reading such phenomenal nonfiction it's hard for me to get in to the fake stuff. (I am shockingly nerdy.)

Right now I'm reading His Excellency, by Joseph Ellis. I read another one of his over Spring break, which, ok, not exactly beach reading. Like I said then: I'm in college, I'm allowed to be an intellectual snob. I've never read much about George Washington so it's good.

The plurality of nerdy nonfiction is a little unsettling, now that I look at it all together. I swear, I actually spend a lot of time reading gossip at perezhilton.com, sending midday emails to my friends about how funky looking Zahara Jolie is, and watching summer reality shows like Kept and Hooking Up. God, I love summer reality tv. And nonfiction, I guess.


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