Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Monday, December 29, 2014

It's (the last)Monday (in 2014): What Are You Reading?

It's the last Monday of 2014, and I have the luxury of immersing myself in reading for the next week. Most of my reading recently has been somehow school-related. I'm teaching American literature this year, with a focus on Civil Rights and social justice. Since I've been off from school it has been wonderful to be able to fully submerge my thinking in some of my favorite books. Here's what I read over the last week, and what I'm planning to read next:

Walden and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau
Walden, Civil Disobedience, and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau
(Norton Critical Edition, edited by William Rossi)

Reading Thoreau is like an intellectual deep cleaning: his writing and ideas challenge an unthinking, automatic existence. What would Thoreau think of today's consumer society? Surely he would think we are all frittering our lives away. I've read Walden before, or at least big chunks of it. But it is in essays like "Civil Disobedience" and "Slavery in Massachusetts" that I am discovering what an original and independent thinker Thoreau was.

Other books I've read (for school and for pleasure):
Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln by John Stauffer
Frederick Douglass: A Noble Life by David A. Adler
Frederick and Anna Douglass in Rochester by Rose O'Keefe

Since I'm preparing to teach The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, I decided to do a little research...

Then, for fun, I read Maira Kalman's delightful My Favorite Things (a sort of picture book for grown-ups).

Finally, I read Nathaniel Philbrick's brief Why Read Moby Dick? which convinced me that I need to reread this American classic soon.

What's up next? Definitely Judith Starkston's Hand of Fire, which has been in my TBR pile for far too long. Judith's blog is Reader in the Wilderness. Hand of Fire is the story of Briseis, a captive woman who sparked the conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon in The Illiad. This is my best chance to read for pleasure before school starts up again.

All the other books on my list for this week are somehow related to school. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (maybe) or The Good Lord Bird by James McBride are both on my list. And I've borrowed a copy of Mortality by Christopher Hitchens, which I hope to read before the end of the week.

Looking over that list, I might be overly optimistic!

It's Monday? What are you reading as 2014 comes to a close?


westmetromommy said...

You know, I've never read Walden. My husband has and says he breaks out in hives whenever he thinks about it--which makes me want to read it just to torment him! :-D

I have actually been to Walden Pond, so I kind of feel like I am obligated to read Walden sooner or later!

Brona said...

I read the invention of wings earlier in the year and surprised myself by how much I enjoyed it. I thought it might be a little too light & fluffy, burnout was very engaging & thoughtful.

bibliophiliac said...

@Melinda Ott-Walden is definitely not for everyone. And being forced to read Walden might be counterproductive! But I love the idea of you tormenting your hubby by reading Walden!

bibliophiliac said...

@Brona Joy-Everyone who I know who has read Invention of Wings raves about it. But I probably won't read it this year...time is running out for that!