I picked up three books that I've been lusting after for ages...
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, by A.J. Jacobs. I actually first discovered Jacobs when I happened upon The Know-It-All in North Carolina while I was browsing one day. I put it on my wishlist and before I'd even gotten around to it, this book hit the market and blew up! I'm excited to finally have my hands on a copy because I feel a non-fiction urge coming on soon (as evidenced by this and my other purchases today).
The Partly Cloudy Patriot, by Sarah Vowell. I'll just give you a blurb for this one since there's no way I can describe it as well as Publishers Weekly:
Looking for insight into why she prefers Little Bighorn and Gettysburg to Martha's Vineyard, Vowell (author of the witty Take the Cannoli) calls her friend Kate, who works as a counselor for survivors of torture, who says, "That's how we try to make sense of the worst horrors. We use humor to manage anxiety." If Kate's right, then Vowell is managing her anxiety very well. Her best short, personal essays (anywhere from about two to 12 pages) focus on her ambivalent relationship to American history and citizenship: no one in recent memory has been as insightful on the direct pleasures and perils of voting, the misuse of Rosa Parks as a metaphor, the appeal of Canadians (who "ha[ve] this weird knack for loving their country in public without resorting to swagger or hate") and the relative merits of presidential libraries. Further undone, perhaps, by her devotion to such topics, Vowell also offers an eloquent defense of being a nerd...
While I find it grating and damn near impossible to listen to Vowell on Chicago Public Radio's This American Life, I do find her quite funny and insightful, so I hope beyond hope that I can get her voice out of my head as I read this collection. With America (myself included) embroiled in political hoo-hah, this sounds like the perfect humorous fix. I voted last week, by the way. Absentee is a wonderful thing. Now I've really got to get my car inspected and my Texas license back!
Finally, and I've probably wanted this book the longest, is I Was Told There'd Be Cake, a book of essays by Sloane Crosley, Associated Director of Publicity at Vintage/Anchor books. Another pre-fab blurb for ya:
Wry, hilarious, and profoundly genuine, this debut collection of literary essays is a celebration of fallibility and haplessness in all their glory. From despoiling an exhibit at the Natural History Museum to provoking the ire of her first boss to siccing the cops on her mysterious neighbor, Crosley can do no right despite the best of intentions-or perhaps because of them. Together, these essays create a startlingly funny and revealing portrait of a complex and utterly recognizable character that's aiming for the stars but hits the ceiling, and the inimitable city that has helped shape who she is.
I've heard every imaginable comment about this book, from "Crosley is mean!" to "Crosley is hilarious and honest!" I became interested when I heard her interview on The Bat Segundo Show, and I knew I had to have it.
It's been a long day, so for now I'm off to settle in with Jennie Shortridge's Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe. Hopefully my eyes won't get droopy too fast.