ANS 2009 Books

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Unlike last year’s teaching book blitz, this spring and summer saw my return to the novel (after warming up with some David Foster Wallace essays). I got a chance to read classics that I’ve been meaning to read for a long time (such as The Handmaid’s Tale and Giovanni’s Room) as well as some newer works… that I’ve been meaning to read for a long time (such as Special Topics in Calamity Physics and The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears). I don’t think I read a single thing I didn’t like. I was particularly impressed with The Handmaid’s Tale for two reasons: 1) the writing was so simple and spare yet so effective (in painting a picture and in being emotionally devastating and hopeful, by turns), and 2) its politics were richer and characters more multi-dimensional than I expected. Late in summer, a 700-page book in the Harvard Book Store's used section caught my eye. I sat right there on the ground, completely engaged and fascinated by this true crime memoir. Unfortunately, it turned out that the parts I was reading – around page 300 – were where the book finally took off. What an exercise in patience! And if I never hear the words “juniper and sage” again I will leave this earth happy.

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