While looking for full-time employment is a time-consuming task, now that the monster called college has been dealt with, time flows a little more freely now. Which is a good and bad thing; it’s good because I’m less stressed, less tired, and actually get to do things I enjoy. It’s bad because now that I don’t have concrete deadlines for anything, I tend to procrastinate on everything, including the job hunt.
Putting depressing thoughts about perpetual unemployment aside, I have actually had the time to finally read some books for fun, something I have not had the pleasure of doing for a long time. Which, as an English major, you’d think would be frequent, or at the very least, the books I’m assigned would be books I enjoy reading. False. I have read plenty of books that I appreciate for their historical/aesthetic/cultural value but on a personal level, reading every page was a chore. Maybe for some English majors, every book is a treasure, but I guess I’m picky. I’d forgotten the feeling of sitting down and getting completely lost in the pages, of craving to know what happens next every time I’m forced to put the book down- it’s nice to get them back.
Three books that I’ve managed to read this summer:
1. Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne (link)
A really excellent read; I read it all in one sitting on the plane flight back from Spain last month. It’s a fascinating book about the rise and fall of the Comanche tribe, a topic I normally wouldn’t think I’d be interested in. But my dad had bought it in the airport (he’s a Civil War-era buff), and recommended it so I gave it a whirl and got sucked in. Though some of the descriptions of the cruelties and sheer brutality dished out by both the Native American tribes and the white settlers was sometimes a stomach-turner for wimpy me, the history was fascinating and Gywnne’s writing style made all those battle dates and statistical data interesting.
2. Alexander and Alestria by Shan Sha (link)
I read Sha’s novel Empress, a fictionalized account about the only female to reign as Emperor of Imperial China. I really enjoyed the book and Sha’s slightly archaic writing style (you know, the style that is very popular with fantasy writers too- “You are a peony, blossoming in the darkness of my heart.” etc etc) but it didn’t really work as well for this story. An imagined retelling of Alexander the Great’s conquest across Asia and Alestria, Queen of the Amazons.
3. Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel García Márquez (link)
Another beautifully written novel as always, with enough tortured romance to satiate a die hard romantic like me. Set in a Spanish colony some centuries ago, a girl who may-or-not be infected by rabies and who may-or-not be possessed by the devil is sent to be exorcised by a righteous priest who secretly reads forbidden texts and love poetry. The story almost makes me forget that she’s only 14 and he’s in his mid-30’s. Almost.
I also discovered Keel’s Simple Diary (link), which is a really quirky, cute little journal that asks random questions and offers random thoughts, including the one that is today’s title. They’re provocative, interesting little nuggets that get you thinking. Like this one:
What’s to get when people play hard to get?