So, in the midst of moving and getting married, I haven’t done as much summer reading as I’ve wanted to. And, when I get a free minute, my impulse is to gravitate towards the TV or the magazine stand. Even so, I’ve managed to squeeze a few books out (and with summer still hanging around, I may get another few off my list). I’d actually recommend them all, and a few may even make their way into future scholarly work. I’ll not say too much about each one, but provide in bullets some key thoughts. Without further ado, I present Bonnie’s Summer Books of 2011:
Bossypants, Tina Fey
- If you’ve never seen Saturday Night Live during the mid-2000s, watched Mean Girls or the awesomeness that is 30 Rock, then you have missed out on the glories of Tina Fey. She is self-deprecatingly funny and witty, a true career mom without being too neurotic or bitchy, something I greatly appreciate. Bossypants is a series of hilarious sketches about her life, family, and thoughts. If you’re familiar with her body of work, then you’ll appreciate it even more.
The Mill on the Floss, George Eliot
- Okay, so next to Jane Austen, George is my biggest author lady crush. I’ve already read Silas Marner, Middlemarch, and Daniel Deronda. Of course that meant Mill would come next. It’s achingly wonderful, and really presents the dilemma that Virginia Woolf outlines for the smart woman writer in A Room of One’s Own. Maggie Tulliver is a gloriously human, fragile heroine, and I want to protect her and champion her forever.
The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
- My sister E is a huge fan of Pat Rothfuss and has gone to a few of his signings here in the Midwest. Thus, when she presented me with a signed copy, I was eager to start reading. A year later, I actually began to patiently read the book, and have been richly rewarded since. Rothfuss truly understands what an epic is: he takes his main character on a journey, and the whole point of the book is to let it unfold in the narrative. More than moving from one action sequence to the next, you feel the character developing and understand how he becomes the man of the legends that have followed him. If you at all enjoy good adult fantasy, or fantastic writing, then you MUST read this.
The Monk, Matthew Lewis
- As an 18th-century scholar, it’s actually kind of a shame that I hadn’t read this until now. The only gothic novel I had read up to this point was Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho. Honestly, if you’ve never read a gothic novel, start with The Monk. It’s (from what I’ve heard) the finest artifact from the genre, and it is a complex and entertaining narrative. The monk Ambrosio tries to repress all his faults to no avail. I won’t give anything away (pregnant nuns! Incest! Snake bites! Cross-dressing! Spells!), but I feel that Lewis’s critique of the Catholic Church is actually strangely akin to Philip Pullman’s in the His Dark Materials trilogy. I’m between two dissertation ideas, and The Monk may actually pull one idea into strong favor. Either way, you should read it: it’s finer than any soap opera you’ve ever seen.
Current reading: The Wise Man’s Fear, Patrick Rothfuss
- I’m only about 150 pages into the narrative, and already more quickly engaged. Rothfuss is smartly moving readers directly into the narrative, so we aren’t slogged down by any recaps. I’m impressed by the sophistication of his style, and I am excited about all the future books he will write.