Saturday, April 18, 2015
April 18-19, 2015: Crowd-sourced Reading List
[This week I’ve offered another entry in my biannual series on interesting and impressive new releases in AmericanStudies. This reading list is drawn from the responses and recommendations of fellow AmericanStudiers—add yours in comments, please!]
First, an addendum to the series: here’s my review of Allyson Hobbs’ wonderful A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in America in the current issue of the American Book Review!
Nancy Caronia writes, “Although not brand new, my students are LOVING Adichie’s Americanah. They find it smart, funny, and incisive with regards to the critique of American culture. Memoir—Daisy Hernandez’s A Cup of Water Under My Bed for its third wave feminist intersectionality. The memoir is a poignant look at gender fluidity, immigraition, bilingual education (or not).”
DeMisty Bellinger-Delfeld agrees with Nancy about Hernandez, noting, “I just read with Daisy last weekend! It was such a wonder to meet her and yes, A Cup is great. I am reading Mr. and Mrs. Doctor by Julie Iromuanya. So far, so good.” Later DeMisty does double duty, Tweeting out another rec, Seedlip and Sweet Apple by Arra Ross.
Emily Lauer Tweets that she’s “talking about the graphic novel Americus at a conference this week. It’s YA, about a small town book banning.”
Patricia Ringle Vandever notes that she “just finished Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and loved it!”
Erin Fay writes, “My favorites this year have been I Am Malala, The Grapes of Wrath, and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”
Grace Connor shares, “I’m working on the truly massive (14 and counting, all 900ish pages…) Realm of the Elderlings series by Robin Hobb. I almost hoped starting out that it wouldn’t be worth committing to the full series, but it has some of the most innovative fantasy characters ever!”
My student Andrew DaSilva highlights, “Although not new by any means, might I suggest The Jesuit Relations, or The New American Economy if one might have an interest in the US and its economic policy shapers. And for fun novels that take place in America Trauma by Patrick McGrath or the slightly older novel The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. I almost forgot to include Coolidge by Amity Shales and True Compass by Ted Kennedy along with Pat & Dick by Will Swift if you're into memoirs and biographies. I've read or plan to read all the suggested above if ya have any questions or comments. All cover a variety of topics and genres.”
Sam Southworth writes, “Seems that Mr. Kissinger's last tome and that French income inequality economist guy are the ones that pop up most often in written sources. I personally have been drawn into David Rothkopf's 2014 volume entitled National Insecurity: American Leadership in an Age of Fear, particularly Chapter 7 ("Eyeball to Eyeball Again") concerning the nefarious machinations of Mr. Putin. These sorts of books can be stunningly dull with a rare pearl among the analytical chowder, but this guy has some insight due to his research on the NSC, and a fairly good writing style, which blessed scholarly trait seems to grow more rare with each passing season. Almost one hundred pages of notes invites wing-nuttery source-checking, and I am inclined to agree with him when he says we cannot entirely turn our backs from dismal and strife-torn areas, whatever our weariness and incomprehension of the essential underlying forces at work in the Middle East and elsewhere, but, dear God, who among us would wish for more foreign adventure and warfare as the over-riding motif of the Twenty-First Century? The very best of these sorts of strategic thinkers can help us shift our thoughts beyond mere tawdry political considerations, wherever we find ourselves on the spectrum, and introduce welcome reference points in the past that can perhaps, by dint of herculean heavy lifting and good leadership, point the way to some future worth the having, and not the zombie apocalypse that our culture seems fascinated with.”
Next series starts Monday,
PS. What books would you add to this list?