Monday, May 23, 2011

Blue books by lots and lots of people

I spent the last two semesters reading many hundreds of essays (no exaggeration) written in blue books. It is how I earn my keep as a grad student. Occasionally I read some true the one person who was convinced that MLK helped Emancipation era freedmen gain their civil rights. The top of the books say USE YOUR IMAGINATION, but really, you shouldn't.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Grimm's Fairy Tales by J.L.C. & W.C. Grimm

I suppose it was not completely accurate to include this book in the picture for How to Talk about Books You Haven't Read since I was actually reading it at the time. Some of the stories in this collection were ones I knew well, like Hansel and Gretel, but most were ones that I had never encountered. The last one in the book, Peter the Goatherd, was freakishly similar to Rip Van Winkle. Also, there were a disproportionate number of stories about cats.

Now I feel like I need to go find some Hans Christian Anderson.

The City and the City by China Miéville

I missed political science fiction! I took a self-imposed hiatus from it after my junior year class of the same name, but it felt good to return to an old favorite genre.

It took awhile to get into this book, but when I did it became impossible to put down. The premise is that there are two city-states that exist in the same physical location. The citizens of each city cannot interact or acknowledge citizens of the other without "breaching," which leads to uncertain but serious consequences. So when a murder occurs that involved the crossing of these murky international borders, it causes a slew of unforseen consequences for the dectives involved. Obviously, Miéville takes this idea to an extreme, but how many times have you walked around Memphis and "unseen" what is going on around you? How many cities exist inside of this one?

Diaries and letters from Civil War era West Tennessee by Nannie, Rebecca, Amanda, Belle, Jessie, Sarah, Mattie, and others

One reason I have not been posting as many books this semester is because I haven't been reading as many. Instead, I spent a couple of months on a primary document binge. Sometimes the handwriting could not be deciphered even with the aid of a magnifying glass. Oftentimes I would catch myself day dreaming after a few hours of reading. And then every once in a while I would stumble upon something unexpected. Like the girl who told her friend that she was sorry to hear that she was getting fleshier. Or the girl who "embraced Mother Earth" while trying to play a game of ball (in mixed company). Basically, although research can be truly horrendous at times, it generally leaves me with the feeling that the people of the past weren't all that different. Hopefully my paper about elite women's transcendence of wartime inconvenience came across coherently.