Religion in Human Evolution, Robert N. Bellah
This one is not getting read. It’s a shame, since it seems brilliant or, at the least, magisterial–but it’s a gajillion pages long and Bellah is afflicted with the kind of academese that makes me mentally rewrite every sentence and really bogs down the reading process.
My Long Trip Home, Mark Whitaker
I’m reading this for my research into memoirs, one of my least favorite genres. Biographies of ordinary folks, yes; personal memoirs, no. (Really, who has the necessary distance and introspection to write compellingly about himself?) This one, however, is enjoyable so far. Whitaker is a journalist and reports like one, and his parents’ story has that appealing extraordinary-ordinaries paradox.
The Stranger’s Child, Alan Holinghurst
This one is for my book club and thus will be read one way or another. I tore through the first half before getting derailed; when they said it was Jamesian, they weren’t kidding. Plus, after reading James Wood’s hilariously biting and accurate review in The New Yorker, I don’t feel a pressing need to actually finish the book myself.
One is also strongly reminded of Atonement, a book I like better and better in retrospect. (When I first read it, I didn’t think much of –spoiler alert–unreliable narrators.)
Can you believe I’ve never read it? I haven’t, but I know how it ends. I have the feeling this is the kind of book that rewards extended bouts of reading rather than five minutes here and there while waiting in line at the bank, but such is full-time life. It is, unsurprisingly, brilliant, and makes me fall in love with nineteenth-century literature all over again.
Marmee & Louisa, Eve LaPlante
I just started this today and am settling in to have a great time with it. It showed up randomly when I was browsing for audiobooks at my library website, and, since I basically grew up on Little Women and have an intense dislike of Transcendentalist masculinity, I figured it would be right up my alley. So far it is, although the author–no doubt addressing a different imagined audience–argues a bit tediously for the importance of studying Louisa May Alcott’s mother. Obviously she’s an important figure in her daughter’s life; anyone who’s read Alcott’s books would know how obsessed she was with mothers and mothering. As am I!