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March Reading List

Not such an exciting month, but the first to feature audio books since two interstate trips necessitated something to help me keep my eyes on the road.

The Partly Cloudy Patriot, Sarah Vowell, read by the author and famous pals
I know everyone thinks Sarah Vowell’s voice is the hottest thing ever, but it definitely took some time to grow on me, though grow it did to some degree. I like the authorial intent side of hearing a writer read her own work, but it can be unsettling too. I don’t want to know that Vowell says “R. E.” for “Re:” any more than I wanted to know that William Gibson says “ock-TAYVE” or pronounces “Jean” the same way whether it refers to a boy or a girl. Though since I’m a heretic and hadn’t read much of Sarah Vowell’s writing anyway, it won’t hurt me much to hear her voice subvocalizing next time I come to it. I’m still on the lookout for the audio version of Assassination Vacation, at least part of which should be perfect preparation for another trip to Buffalo.

Where Girls Come First: The Rise, Fall, and Surprising Revival of Girls’ Schools, Ilana DeBare
I went to an all-girls high school, although the Catholic sort that only warrants a chapter here, so I have strong feelings about the potentials for success in all-female environments. DeBare, in working to found a non-religious independent and progressive school for girls, began researching the history of girls’ schools and realized there was a lot more of that independent mindset in the schools that had come before her than many people would assume. There’s not a lot of depth here, but it covers a lot of ground and I found it entertaining and interesting reading. I’ve been thinking a lot about education recently and reading a lot of parent blogs and educator blogs where such things are discussed. I sure am glad to be able to think about this more as theory than practice.

Stiffs: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers, Mary Roach, read by Shelly Frasier
As a road book, this was more than tolerable, though I found the reading boring. It’s painful to listen to a slow reader and I keep wanting to push ahead to a comfortable pace the way I would if I were in control. Also I was horrified that they didn’t get someone who knew the difference between “cavalry” and “Calvary” or how to pronounce “Turin” since that kept cropping up. I’m still not sold on audio books mostly because I prefer to read idiosyncratically, but this was an engaging enough book that made the miles and miles of Ohio pass more pleasantly.

The Telling, Ursula Le Guin
Indeed, I reread it. Still beautiful and haunting and true.

Confessions of a Cineplex Heckler: Celluloid Tirades and Escapades, Joe Queenan
I got this because it was cheap, knowing nothing about it. Queenan has a collection of anecdotes about movies he’s seen and reviewed, the sort of thing that nowadays you’d find on a blog. I don’t know if he and I share a ton of common ground in terms of aesthetic preferences (except a mutual dislike for the near-mandatory scenes where some guy gets kicked in the crotch) but I decided to not really argue with anything and just see how much entertainment I could get out of it, which was enough for the tiny amount of time it took to work my way through each article.

Holidays on Ice, David Sedaris, read by the author
Another car trip. Maybe this shouldn’t count because I had Steven shut off the cd with the one about the tv producer at the Southern church, especially because I didn’t want to hear that horrible Christmas letter. But I’ve read the book before, which is how I knew what to skip. I’d wanted to actually hear The SantaLand Diaries and that was worth it, but ooooooh does the fictiony fiction hurt.

I’m reading other books but I didn’t finish any of them. I was aiming for a lot of non-fiction this time around but only managed a little bit, or perhaps lots of little bits.