Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Sunday Salon - In the Middle

Happy Sunday Salonning, everyone! It's a quiet morning in my house. Greyson is gone to his G-Mama's house for a few days. Chuck and I are trying to catch up with school work and work work. I'll wake him and the kids up for church soon, but for now I'm lounging on the couch watching Rachael Ray's Week in a Day, enjoying a cool breeze from the open patio door. After church, my day will be filled with grading essays and discussion forums for my online classes. The best part about that: I'll be grading at the library! My 'brary recently got a subscription to Overdrive, so now I can download e-books to my Nook and audiobooks, too! I'm really excited about it, and I already have a wishlist of books I want to download. More on that later...

Right now I'm in the middle of several really fantastic books.


Y'all already know about my Affinity Readalong. I'm on page 50ish of this book, and I'm nothing but impressed with Waters thus far. The book is atmospheric and I'm already intrigued by the Millbank prison setting. With my influx of historically-based fiction lately, I'm doing lots of Googling. I was fascinated to read about the history of the now-destroyed Millbank prison. One of my favorite factoids I learned in grad school was about philosopher, Jeremy Bentham's, principles of the Panopticon. A panopticon is a prison just like Millbank: a central tower with surrounding wards. Within each ward there would've also been a central area. The idea is that if prisoners think they're being watched by someone in the central space (even if they aren't really), they're more likely to self-regulate. Same concept behind our contemporary traffic cameras. :D

Next book on the docket is The United States of Arugula, by David Kamp. I've never read anything of Kamp's and only realized his existence when Kim suggested The United States of Arugula for our next BookClubSandwich discussion. Kamp is a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and GQ, and he's quite the funny, passionate guy! I'm not too far in, but so far I like the premise of this book. He plans to cover the "American food revolution" from the 1930s to the present day. He posits that Americans have vastly more choice and variety in their food these days and that we are more sophisticated and informed in our food choices. While he doesn't deny that processed, packaged, and fast foods are a problem, he chooses to focus on the people who have made the food revolution possible: James Beard, Julia Child, Alice Waters, Wolfgang Puck, and a slew of others. I'm still in the Introduction, but I can't wait to dive in some more once  these papers are graded.

Finally, I got back into Siri Hustvedt's new novel, The Summer Without Men because my Nook wasn't charged. :) Some of you may remember that I worship Siri Hustvedt. I absolutely loved her "big three" as I call them: The Blindfold, What I Loved, and A Plea for Eros: Essays. I'm still on the fence about The Summer Without Men. It's about a woman whose husband bails out after many years of marriage, and she returns home to Minnesota to hang out with her mom and her very spunky, aged friends. It's not a new premise, and I'm not sure what Hustvedt will bring to it that's new. We'll see. The writing is still lovely, but the premise of this one concerns me a bit.

What are you reading today? One book or the masses? Required or for pleasure only?

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