Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Report

My Current Stack

I’m feeling very organized today, having just renewed all my library book loans.  We have a terrific library on campus here, and I like to visit it often.  The library sits right in the middle of the main campus, where the humanities types hang out.  In my experience, the science buildings, especially the older ones, tend to have an ugly industrial feel to them, and there’s always a lot of traffic from a steady stream of delivery trucks.  Humanities buildings, while not always gorgeous, have at least a few nice aesthetic touches, making them feel less like factories and more like places of higher learning.  In a science building, it’s easy to forget that you are in an academic setting, especially when you encounter the stereotypical scientist who refuses to mutter hello and can’t make eye contact with anyone in the hallway.  Science is a social freakshow, which is why I am grateful to escape to the library side of campus whenever possible.

I’ve been picking out my library books using my reading list.  I finished The Age of Innocence and Trespass, both of which were excellent.  Edith Wharton and Amy Irvine are wonderful writers who know how to spin words into an engaging, lyrical, and sometimes heartbreaking story.

I tried to read The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, but my heart just isn’t in it right now.  Recently, my life has been overwhelmed by work, and reading about science is not appealing.  I need my leisure reading to be a little escape from my work life, so I have veered off the reading list path and into a book I found serendipitously.  I was in the library looking for Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God and could not find it anywhere, even though the library catalog said it was available.  But!  While I was wandering the shelves of India and Indian literature, I found Dreaming in Hindi by Katherine Russell Rich, which is the story of the author’s adventures in learning Hindi.  I just started reading it a few days ago, and the book has sucked me into its pages.  Russell Rich is a talented writer: funny, observant, curious, and introspective.  Because I am spending so much time in one place right now—no trips for me until September!—it’s nice to read a book about something as exotic and faraway as India, with the story told from an American’s viewpoint.

If this Indian theme keeps up, next I’ll be combing the cookbook shelves for a good Indian cookbook.  Too bad my friend Amutha hasn’t written a cookbook because she’s my favorite Indian cook!  Why do all the best cooks in my life store their cookbooks in their brains?  

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