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?


  1. I'm currently reading Affinity too. Sarah Waters is just amazing! Though I still think Fingersmith is her best, I am loving Affinity too.

  2. I'm finished all the books I started this week. So now I'm ready for a new one!

  3. I haven't started The United States of Arugula yet, but I'm glad the intro is good. I have it for my nook, so I will finally start using my ereader more!

  4. I CANNOT wait for my copy of Affinity to come in at the library. I'm so looking forward to reading it. It sounds like you've got three great reads going...hope you enjoy!

  5. I just finished Stephen King's "Desperation" last night (it was ok - not my fave of his). Now I'm finally starting "The Passage" and I'm so excited about it!

  6. I've been such a slacker with grading so far this semester. Yesterday I had to sit down and grade two stacks from the same class because I had gotten two and a half weeks behind. Tomorrow I have two other classes that need grading. Today though I am taking a break.

  7. Uh, I think The United States of Arugula sounds like something right up my alley. Like, really. I can't believe I've never heard of it.

    I'm still reading Any Human Heart, hopefully I'll finish that this week.

  8. I'm doing a mass of rereading right now. I found myself unable to decide between A Candle for St. Jude, The Chosen, and Tamsin, so I've been carrying all three of them around with me. Luckily I finished one of them last night and I'm coming up on the end of The Chosen, so my handbag should be lighter soon.

  9. Affinity, The United States of Arugla, and Siri Hustedvt?! It sounds like you have an exciting week of reading ahead of you!

    Today I'm reading Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. I'm loving it! I'm also re-reading Mary Oliver's Red Bird.

  10. Misha, she is pretty frackin' awesome, isn't she?! I'm so glad I decided to take the plunge and read something of hers.

    Chris, I'm jealous! You're zipping right through. Can't wait to find out what you're reading next!

    Kim, I read it for a couple of short stints in the car today, and I'll be reading it when I get settled at home tonight. Really good! Excellent choice thus far. Enjoy Nooking it!

    Thanks, Samantha! I'm so excited you're joining in!

    JEN!!! OHMYGOSH!!! I hope you like The Passage as much as I did. Looooved it. Still love it. Still think about it often. *sigh*

    Trisha, I'm just glad someone is as behind as I am. My course evaluations will probably tank this semester because of my slowness. lol

    Ash, from what I've read so far, I think you would *heart* The United States of Arugula. I had never heard of it until Kim mentioned it. It hasn't had much buzz, and so far I would say that's a shame!

    Jenny, I need to do a good bit of re-reading. This year I've sort of challenged myself to read books that have been on my stacks forever. Wouldn't know it from what I'm reading now since they're all new to my stacks, BUT I'll get back to the backlog soon.

    Natasha, is this your first time reading The Knife of Never Letting Go? For some reason I thought you'd read it already. I've heard a few comments that are keeping me away from it (sad stuff!), but I'm sure I'll buckle and try it one day. Heather (Capricious Reader) may beat me about the head with a rubber chicken if I don't.

  11. I bet G-Mama's happy! I'm reading The Long Road Home by Mary Alice Monroe, but haven't gotten much reading done this weekend.

  12. I've been catching up on The Good Earth :) I so want to participate in the United States of Arugula as has been on my TBR list for quite a while and I am a HUGE fan of ReadAlongs!!

  13. Affinity was my first Sarah Waters book and perhaps because of that it's my favorite. Hope you are having a great weekend Andi!

  14. How nice for you to have a quiet Sunday where you are able to read. I've been cleaning house and doing laundry all day but hope to crack open my book very, very soon!

  15. Kathy, G-Mama is super happy. They're having a blast. Good luck finishing up the Monroe book. I've never read her stuff.

    Patti, I'm becoming more of a fan of readalongs the more I participate! I hope you can join us for The United States of Arugula. I haven't heard much buzz about it, so it might just be Kim and I talking to ourselves. :D It's really a great book so far--not quite what I expected at first, but that's not a bad thing at all! I feel like I'm really getting an education about who has impacted food in America. There are so many great facts, too. I have tons of bookmarks in my e-reading copy.

    Thanks, Iliana! Quite a few people have told me that their first Sarah Waters was their fave. I hope so!

    Kathleen, it was a nice day. Didn't get to read as much as I would've liked last night (thanks, Oscars!). I caught up this morning, though. :)

  16. I am in the midst of a bunch of books but it is mainly because I can't make up my mind. I really must read some Sarah Waters...


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