The End of Term approacheth

For the US academics and for me (last class this week, one set of long essays to mark), at least, even if most Brits have a few weeks to go. But whether it’s next week or next month for you, here are the burning questions of the week:

a) tell me which of those books that you’ve been dying to read (and just been too busy for) you plan to be picking up as soon as you’ve offloaded the last essays/exam papers (like Ancarett)

b) give us your summer book recommendations. Both fiction and non-fiction, good reads to relax with and/or make you think.

I have heavy Neal Stephenson plans, and I think I might get around to JS and Mr N, but I wouldn’t mind more ideas for book orders especially on the non-fiction front.

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13 Responses to The End of Term approacheth

  1. rob says:

    (a) Bob Dylan, Chronicles I; Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore; William Faulkner, The Reivers (my aim to read every Faulkner novel before my memory goes needs to get back on track); R.J.C. Young, Colonial Desire; Alex Owen, The Darkened Room… all I think about is summer these days!

    (b) For fun, intelligent history books (if you really want to read more of the latter) I can’t say better than Wolfgang Schivelbusch’s The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of Time and Space in the 19th Century, which is one of my fave little volumes, although I get the impression few other people have heard of it. So here is my chance to evangelise! It’s filled with juicy nuggets about the way railway travel was lived and thought through novels, murder scandals, conceptions of time, cities and well, everything, and takes the kind of leisurely wander through context that would harmonise perfectly with those lazy summer afternoons. For the nights, I just love Alison Winter’s Mesmerized: Powers of Mind in Victorian Britain, a brilliant tour through the worlds and spaces of Victorian mesmerists–wonderfully written and intertwined, illustrated with a generous sample of the Wellcome Library’s print library, and with a fair few intelligent points to make along the way: it’s as mysterious as history itself.

  2. Claire says:

    A book not associated with my work? What’s that? It’s been so long. :(

  3. Simon says:

    I think I will be reading Kristin Lavransdatter all summer. I’m already 1/3 of the way through, but it is a long, slow, though thoroughly enjoyable, haul.

    If I happen to finish, I’ve got a copy of Harry Stephen Keeler’s Man with the Crimson Box on its way; I’ll read that.

  4. Sharon says:

    Claire, you’re nearly there! And we’re thinking of you!

    (So I’ll add a special request for books to cheer up Claire when she’s finished her PhD.)

  5. JS and Mr N is on the top of my list for non-academic reading. Also planning to re-read a couple of the Darkover books. But I have weeks left, and am really more looking forward to trying to be a real academic again … in my own place …ulp!

  6. Claire says:

    I’ve been sucked into the internet again. Helpppppp.

  7. wolfangel says:

    Wrong order! Wrong order! JS&MN is way better than the BC. (I might not have said the same had their lengths been comparable, but they’re not.) Kate Atkinson, Jeanette Winterson — usual suspects for me. I rather liked China Mieville’s stuff.

    NF: Do you like disasters at sea? I suggest “In the heart of the sea”.

  8. Jeremy says:

    Like Claire, I’ve also forgotten what it was like to read books on things other than my work. Luckily this semester the books have been really good. I used to have a rule: Once a month I would read a book having absolutely nothing to do with my research, but I quickly broke that rule when I started my PhD program.

    a.) I’ve been planning to read Joan Bolker’s Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day and Davis and Parker’s Writing the Doctoral Dissertation. If you hadn’t guessed, I’m fast approaching the dissertation hurdle in my PhD program. I’m not sure these are great books on dissertation stuff, so if anyone has any other suggestions I’d love to hear them.
    Another book I’m planning to read include James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds.

    b.) Like Sharon, I’d also recommend some Neal Stephenson stuff. And I have to do my annual reading of Catch-22 sometime this year. And for those of you with an interest in history and new media, I’d suggest David Staley’s Computers, Visualization, and History.

  9. Matt says:

    I’ve just picked up The Known World by Edward P. Jones. It is an amazingly good book about the complexities of lives lived in the American South during and after the slave holding period.

  10. Sharon says:

    I have ordered both The Confusion and JS & Mr N. Perhaps I’ll toss a coin over which to read first.

    And I think I might try Mesmerized. That sounds just the kind of thing I’d enjoy…

    But keep your suggestions coming, folks.

  11. Damn! just picked up JS & MN at the library. It is a great honking book. I will not read it before finishing marking midterms (yes, I am teaching on the appallingly evil, screw up my plans to schedule vacations with friends, mark papers at weird times, quarter system. When you are all happily into your summers, I will be giving finals. Oh. and then I will be teaching summer courses — online, so I can teach them from anywhere!!

    But I think I can justify bedtime reading!

  12. Ancarett says:

    I loved JS and Mr. N. Read that on my sabbatical. (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone!) After the first, what?, 150 pages, it becomes a real pageturner and perfect for zipping through another chapter before bedtime.

    I just picked up and zipped through a fun little cozy mystery by M.C. Beaton: The Skeleton in the Closet (2002). Quite amusing and a bit off the usual mystery round as there’s no dead body at the outset, but quite a series of gothic moments in a small village, nonetheless.

    I love “Alias Grace” by Margaret Atwood and will be re-reading that this summer, having just uncovered it from a buried bookshelf. That’ll probably lead me back to Handmaid’s Tale and so forth.

    Anything by Robin McKinley — officially she writes mostly YA fantasy but it’s got a very dark, mature streak to it that I adore.

  13. Sharon says:

    Nice connections that sets up: I’ve re-read Alias Grace quite recently (love it too), but immediately thought, mmm, I should read Instance of the Fingerpost (Restoration politics, multiple narratives, and murder of course) again…

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