Saturday, January 26, 2008

Winter reading challenge

I saw a winter reading challenge over at GoMomYouRock, and I thought that maybe this would be a good way to clean off the books that I currently have piled on my nightstand:

I first read Nicholas and Alexandra when I was in eighth grade. I still remember fantasizing that I was related to the Romanovs, some long lost heiress perhaps, and my dad saying something to the extent of, "Just wait till you get to the end!" I credit that book with sparking my interest in Russia, which eventually led me to getting my BA in Russian Studies. I hadn't read it in years though, so I asked for it for Christmas (I read my parents' copy to death ages ago). I'm about a quarter of the way through it and am really savoring every page.
When Fred and I went to Charlottesville last fall, we got to hear a professor from West Point talk to us about Islam. In fact, I heard him twice, as he addressed the spouses' program first, and I found him to be so fascinating that I went back when he talked to the SJA's. He had a list of books for people who wanted to learn more, and I asked which he would recommend to be read first, and this was the one he suggested. I picked it up as well as a Spark's Chart about Islam to help me keep names and places straight.
I started reading Unhooked sometime last year, but I didn't get very far in it. I found it frustrating that the book focuses on the girls in these "hookups" to the exclusion of the boys. Does it not still take 2 to tango?! If it's true that middle school and high school are nothing more than the orgy picture painted by Stepp, that can't be any better for the boys involved than the girls. I think there has to be more to it though than what I was getting from it, and I would like to get back to it, so maybe this challenge will motivate me.
This was another selection from my Christmas list this year. Basically each story is printed with the Russian on the left and the English on the right. I read the English and look at how pretty the Russian is and kick myself for how crappy my Russian is these days (20-plus years after I last studied the language).
I really wanted to read Pollan's previous book, The Omnivore's Dilemma but just didn't think I could handle it, especially the part about the processing of meat. Pollan speaks of orthorexics, "people with an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating." I think I tend towards that myself. It's easy for me to feel like we're all a mouthful away from certain peril, so I don't need anything to push me further in this direction. This book, however, feels empowering: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." I can do this.
Stupid and Contagious is by Caprice Crane. That's all I know about it, but I laughed a lot when I read her book Forget About It, so I'm hoping this one is equally enjoyable. I think I need some lightness in this book list!

So! Those are the books that I currently have that are waiting to be read. If I get through them, here are a few others that intrigue me:

What's on your "to read" list? You can join the challenge too!

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