So most of my reading, besides the essays/stories/poems I read for class, consists of audio books these days. Since I’m in the car about two hours a day at least (there is one good thing about commuting), I can manage to finish a fairly lengthy book in a week or so.
Recently, I finished listening to Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood. It’s another post-apocalyptic novel (not sure if there are more book with this setting or if I’m just subconsciously drawn to them for some reason) set in a time when most of the humans have been killed by a plague of some sort. The story centers around a group of people called “The Gardeners,” who want to return earth to its natural state before we started using up our resources and genetically modifying everything (including animals who we genetically mate to create creatures like the “Liobam,” half lion, half lamb – it was an attempt to bring about the Biblical promise of the lion laying down with the lamb). As in most of these novels, the outlook is grim, but hope resides in a few survivors who persevere and begin to find hope in their own abilities and in each other. I really enjoyed it and recommend it fully, although it is long and might be a little tedious on the page.
At present, I’m listening to Matthew Pearl’s The Poe Shadow and finding it quite intriguing, if subtle. The basic premise is that Quentin Clark, a lawyer from Baltimore, is trying to solve the mystery of Edgar A. Poe’s (he refuses to use the name Allan because Poe’s father “Mr. Allan” disowned him when Poe got into debt) death at a pub in Baltimore City. To do so, he seeks out the infamous C. Auguste Dupin, the Holmes-inspiring detective from several of Poe’s stories, who he believes to be based on a real person. The novel is a mix of mystery and quasi-historical fiction where Pearl’s massive research skills really come to life. Plus, since I still (for the next 8 days) live in Baltimore, I love hearing street names that I recognize.
Finally, I am reading – on actual paper – Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth. Roth’s fundamental idea is that women overeat or constantly diet because we believe that somehow our ability to control our weight will give us control over our lives. This idea is one I can wholly agree with. I know that when my stress level goes up I will eat most things in site, especially if I don’t have time each day to wind down and think through my feelings. Perhaps the strongest thing I’ve taken from the book is that I need to face what I feel and not run away from it with food, TV, alcohol, or whatever other escape I want. I need to stare it in the face and move through the feeling instead of avoiding it. The book itself gets a little repetitive towards the end, but overall, I really appreciated what it taught me.