Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Read Much?

Like most voracious readers, I'm always working on 2 or 3 books simultaneously, with a smattering of magazines and cereal boxes thrown in as well. Here's a handful of recent reads worth looking at:

The Tummy Trilogy - Calvin Trillin. The common man's gourmand originally published these three volumes between 1974 and 1983, helping to popularize unpretentious American eats and eateries. Cincinnati-style chili, however, remains an enigma to the rest of the world.

Queenan Country - Joe Queenan. Subtitled A Reluctant Anglophile's Pilgrimage to the Mother Country, the brilliantly funny Queenan crisscrosses Great Britain in hopes of defining the country's unique character. I've always been a great admirer of Queenan's work, this being the 5th book of his that I've read.

Sunday Money - Jeff MacGregor. MacGregor and wife spend 40 weeks in an RV following the insane grind of a season of NASCAR. Never being one of the reported 75 million fans of stock car racing, I still found this book highly entertaining and informative. MacGregor is a talented writer, reminding me of Tom Wolfe and George Plimpton.

Eichmann In Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt. This is political theorist Arendt's controversial first-hand account of Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann's 1961 trial. With this work, Arendt explored her notion of the "banality of evil", an often misunderstood idea that is still debated today. Light reading this ain't, but Arendt's prose is brisk and direct, making this work accessible to most anyone.

In the same vein, I've just started The Coming of the Third Reich by historian Richard J. Evans. The first volume of a proposed three-volume study, Evans looks at the radical changes that turned, in less than a generation, the progressive and vital Germany of 1900 into the aggressive and murderously racist predator nation of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime.

I'm also planning on rereading Neil Postman's media study Amusing Ourselves to Death. First published in 1985, I first read this critical attack of television (among other ideas) about ten years ago. It was reissued with a new introduction in 2005. I happened to look at it again recently and found it still quite relevant. I've been slowly killing myself by means of amusement for years!

Lastly, I've been glancing at my copy of issue #17 of The Baffler, the (very) sporadically published periodical out of Chicago that examines modern consumer culture. Heady stuff sometimes, but fun.

Okay, youngsters! Got your library card?

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