Monday, May 02, 2011

Summer Readin'

I'm leaving for my first summer trip on Wednesday. I'm spending a week at Panama City Beach with my parents, driving up to Kalamazoo, Michigan for conference, and then hanging around Berrien Springs and Chicago for general visiting. I'll ending by visiting Tupelo, Mississippi for a high-school graduation. I'll be gone for about two and a half weeks, and log over 2,200 miles of driving.

And, of course, I need reading to bring along. But I don't really want to start the hard-core prelim reading on a trip. I mean, that's just silly, right?

So, instead, I've gotten some more fun reading to bring along. And, like the smart cookie I am, I made everything *sort of* relate to my prelim reading. Sort. Of.

1) Stephen Greenblatt's "Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare." This book is pretty dumb so far. I mean, in the introduction, Greenblatt says that Shakespeare's writing makes him seem more like a god than a mortal. Yikes. Okay, Greenblatt, you and Harold Bloom go stand over there, and the rest of us will have adult conversation.

But Greenblatt is a well respected scholar, even if this particular book is . . . um . . . how to put this . . . imaginative. And I figure, it can't hurt to read some pop scholarship that sort of immerses me in the world of early modern England.

2) Neal Stephenson's "Quicksilver," the first volume of the Baroque Cycle. This is historical fiction, set in late 17th century England, France, and America, focusing on knowledge, communication, cryptography, etc.. Again, immersing myself in a world that, if not Jacobean early modern England, arose from was influenced by those political and cultural contexts. Okay, I know it's a stretch. But it's Stephenson. He's magic. I know my mind will be expanded by this.

3) Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything." Of course it relates. It's history! Of everything! And also, it has a lot of science stuff in it, which, while not directly relevant to my major project, might be helpful later . . . because animals are science, right?

I haven't thought of any other books to bring, but I might get another audio book, if I can find a good one. The library has a two-part series about Dante, who seems like someone I should probably know about, right? But it's only a seven-day rental.

Anyways, I'm proud of myself for getting mostly smart books, and not crap fantasy like I usually do. It's time to buckle down and read serious stuff (no more RoJo, for starters). It is strange to look at the process ahead of me and think about the result at the other end.  I am about to become a learnĂ©d person, a classically well-read person, an expert of sorts. I don't feel that way at all right now, and I probably won't feel that way at the end of it. But it sounds fun, to dedicate myself to reading in one field and to get super-smart in that area. Yay!


The International Chef of Mystery said...

We listened to Bill Bryson's fat book on a trip to Tennessee and back, and I don't think we made it even halfway through the thing. But Jeff said it was better than coffee at keeping him awake on the road.

Funny--right now I am listening to Bill Bryson's little book about Shakespeare as I drive to and from work each day.

Kate Lechler said...

That is funny! Tell me what you think of it. Despite my snarkitude, I like the Greenblatt book. I'm learning a lot. Can't wait to start the Bryson!