Currently Reading

The Man is currently charging through a history of Australia’s founding: The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes. He says it’s fantastic. He stole it off my to-be-read stack so I’m looking forward to diving into it when he’s done.

He also picked upAugustine’s City of God again. Neither of us has read it since college. It’s excellent but also very long and very dense and he’s currently on call in the ICU so you can expect a post-read review in…2025?

I’m suggesting Freakonomics as his next non-fiction book because it’s such a fun text. I’m currently binge-listening through the Freakonomics podcast so I’m back in the mood for Econ chat and need a victim “conversation partner”.

I’m slowly working my way through Plutarch’s Lives (all volumes). Somehow I managed to skip it in high school and college. I’ve set a very small goal of one “life” a day – about 20 pages – to leave room for other reading. Most of my reading happens when I’m nursing the infant right now, so there’s almost never a long chunk of time. This week being an ICU call week I didn’t even meet that low goal. It’s over a thousand pages of small print so this will take a while. It’s refreshing my memory on Greek and Roman history and covering much new-to-me material as well. For example, my grade school lessons on Lycurgus failed to mention the Spartan norm of loaning your wife out to your respected friends so they can beget extra genetically superior children for you. Ack. Plutarch kicks off the first bio by reviewing, as a tertiary historian, how all the secondary sources argue with each other about the primary records. Historians haven’t changed much in 2000 years.

My other current hefty read is Boswell’s Life of Samual Johnson. Like Plutarch, I’m going through it in little nibbles while sprinkling other lighter reads in at will.

The Martian by Andy Weir was fun and addictive.

The Man and I also both loved Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It combines beautiful writing, a tense compelling plot, and a C.S. Lewis-like allegory of Christianity. Evil and sin, life owed for sin’s place in one’s heart, the Trinity, the incarnation, the second coming…it has it all. I was surprised how very few mainstream reviews mention it because to us the allegory didn’t feel subtle at all. While less macabre than some of Gaiman’s other work, it can still be quite dark and disturbing so it’s not for everyone.

We read a lot of books with the kids each day but a few new library favorites stand out. The Thunderstruck Stork by David J. Olson, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger follows Webster the discombobulated stork on the day he accidentally delivers babies to all the wrong families. The whales get an infant hamster, the lions a gosling,the frogs get an elephant, and so on. The hysterically funny illustrations and rhyming text left The Man and I guffawing. Bonus, it’s also a nice light-hearted adoption story where none of the families “match” but the kids and parents love each other, work together, and support one another’s needs.

Kidogo by Anik McGrory has really lovely watercolor illustrations and simple sweet text ideal for 3-5 year olds. Kidogo the baby elephant has to rely on his adult relatives for help and mournfully believes he’s the smallest creature in the world. Eventually, though, he finds someone even tinier who needs help from him.

Museum ABC from The Metropolitan Museum of Art follows a nice concept for an alphabet book. Each letter (upper case only) is paired with four art images matching the letter. E.g., “D is for Dance” pairs with four paintings of dancers from Indian, Japanese, French, and Colombian art. The art covers a wide variety of eras, styles, geographic regions, and mediums.

What’s on your nightstand these days?

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2 thoughts on “Currently Reading

  1. Goodness. Not exactly light reading!

    I enjoyed The Fatal Shore when I read it. Though the brutality of the penal colonies is enough to give you nightmares.

    I am currently enjoying a binge on some of Edward Marston’s railway detective series. Good fun!

    • Oh, don’t be fooled. I’m only just getting back into solid reading after a summer of pleasant fluff. I never have the willpower for anything meaty with a newborn in the house. I’ve never heard of Marston – will have to check him out. Over the summer I binged on Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache books. Read all twelve, and found myself hoping the baby would wake an extra time in the night so I could sneak in a few more chapters. Have you read them? It’s a series where you really want to start with the first book and read in order. Very enjoyable, though the last two books in the series are a bit weak.

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