Friday, August 20, 2010

What I Did On My Summer Vacation: Reading And More Reading

Oh, how I used to love those essays in elementary school -- the perfect exercise for a dutiful, Type A student who wanted to show off all the academic exercises (reading) she performed during the summer.

We are back from Long Island. It was a lovely break, and we made it to the beach or my father's cousin's pool every single day of the 15 days we were there. YG and I even had a few nights away from the kids, including an overnight in NYC with Korean BBQ, yummy cupcakes and free sangria on the rooftop deck of our hotel.

YG biked almost every day, and I managed to squeeze together a few longer runs. The best part of vacation though, was all of that glorious uninterrupted reading time. I steamed through 6 books including:

* Judith Warner's Perfect Madness:Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety -- I know this is a few years old, but I couldn't put it down. Warner looks at current society's obsession with parenting, and how things came to be out of balance. She makes the argument that the value systems that have traditionally driven the market (a focus on extreme competition and winning at all costs, blah) have filtered into our private value systems. [Tangent: For interesting reading on the values-based marketplace, check out our friend Matt's blog.] There is no difference now between the values that drive enormous corporations and those that drive families, and because people feel out of control and unable to keep up with the Joneses, they focus on the things that they CAN control -- their kids. This leads to extreme helicopter parenting, anxiety, etc. It was a great read and I could certainly relate to that out-of-body experience most of the women interviewed had when they see
how quickly the constraints of traditional gender roles re-emerge once there are kids involved. I wish there had been more on how to work toward political and social reform other than her standard "call your congressman" line, but I can overlook that.

* Megan McCafferty's Sloppy Firsts -- I blame SKB and her Megan McCafferty obsession for this one. I thought this was going to be a YA book and wasn't really interested, but hello, sarcastic braniac teenager from NJ who keeps a diary of her horrendous high school experience? Loved it, and finished it in a day. It reminded me of a John Hughes movie with a little My So Called Life mixed in.

* John Heilemann and Mark Halperin's Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime -- I wondered if this book would live up to the hype, and it totally did. It reads like a novel, and has bits of suspence even though you know the outcome. Most of the candidates appear very human, and I ended up appreciating Hillary a bit more and loving Michelle more (as if that were possible). The chapters on Palin are scary hilarious, in that you still don't understand what the hell is wrong with her, and John Edwards looks like King Douche. Loved it.

* Jennifer Eagan's A Visit From The Goon Squad. I heard this review on NPR a few weeks ago, and immediately went out and bought the book. It's a novel that reads like a short story collection, and the cast of characters is something out of Great Expectations. Loved the powerpoint chapter.

* Monica Ferrel's The Answer is Always Yes -- I don't know when I bought this, but it's been collecting dust for months. It's about an insecure kid from NJ trying to be cool at NYU in the early 90s and the NYC club scene of the same era. Let's just say it was relatable. And the prose is very breezy and whimsical.

* Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies. I can't believe I never read this before. Lovely. And I enjoyed all the references to my neighborhood.

I'm currently in the middle of Joyce Carol Oates' Black Girl White Girl. It's dragging a bit and definitely not her best work, but I'll refrain from offering an opinion until I finish it.

We also read stacks of crappy magazines. Real ones, not ones like those of the Famous 'YG and The Crappy Magazines' Incident 2009, when we sent YG on the errand to pick up crappy beach mags and he came back with Popular Mechanics and Car&Driver. I now know way too much about the Kardashians, Lady Gaga's bad boyfriend, and Jennifer Aniston's baby plans. Sigh. I guess the reading cancels this out, right?

No comments: