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November booklist

(I have to read only 12 more books to reach my second sekret reading goal! w00t! I can totally do this.)

So for last month, we have:

1. Slouching Toward Adulthood, Sally Koslow

(as an aside, ahhhhh, this title kind of bothers me because I strongly prefer the non-American-English "towards" instead of "toward." But both are correct, so I will deal with it.)

Could alternately be titled: Why Kids These Days Just Can't Seem To Grow Up. Rather than trying to sum up, I leave you with several quotes:

With choice, entitlement, and specialness topping off the lexicon of a generation, wanderers frequently seem to seek seeking. The search may span continents - or penetrate inward  with sincere, even reverential, attempts to feel whole or fill a void.

One thing's certain: here's the church, here's the steeple, open the church, and, excuse me, you'll see not many adultescents. A joke circulates among theologians that people in their twenties and thirties view God as a divine butler and cosmic therapist, on call 24/7, helping them feel better about themselves but demanding little in return. You hear a lot about being "spiritual" without being "religious," with adultescents admiring belief systems untainted by intolerant theological judgments.

Most relationship pundits conclude that the reality of more and more young men delaying marriage is because of a latent adolescence, an inability or lack of desire to be responsible, resulting in 30-something men who are content to play video games and hang out at bars with their friends rather than to grow up and invest their time and money in family pursuits.


2. The FitzOsbornes At War, Michelle Cooper

I positively loved A Brief History of Montmoray, but The FitzOsbornes in Exile was kind of meh and I wasn't sure whether to bother with the third one. Well, I'm so glad I did. For one thing ... London during the Blitz, yes please, sign me up (not literally, just to read about, duh.) And then, as Mark says, I found myself SO NOT PREPARED for a certain plot point and that's all I can say about that.

3. Sutton, JR Moehringer

Told mostly in flashbacks, as a just-released-from-prison former bank robber takes a tour of the city he knew (and robbed) as a young man. Mostly I read this because NYC is the other main character, AND it included maps. I'm working on getting as familiar with the city as I can before I go, so I have a better chance of getting around without spending hours staring at maps/gps (hint: I am not known for my navigation skillz.) It's not the type of book I'd normally seek out, and it's not exactly cheerful, but it was beautifully written if you like that sort of thing. (I liked it more than I expected to, which is something.)

4. The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart

Really excellent, clever kid lit of the type that I wish I'd had when I was a kid, but which I have a hard time seeing most kids today reading (please please let me be underestimating the youth of today.) This is worthy stuff, guys.

5. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairland and Led the Revels There, Catherynne M. Valente

As is this. Again, I'm afraid this won't appeal to a broad range of today's kids, and I want to be wrong about this. It's Alice in Wonderland, but with heart and soul and Deep Important Stuff about who we are and who we want to be and how to take our dark scary parts of ourselves and deal with them. That is, that's what I got out of it, YMMV. As I did with her first book, at first I was put off by the episodic nature of the story and the ever-changing cast of characters (it reminds me a bit of The Wizard of Oz in that respect - new improbable creatures in every chapter), but after a certain point I couldn't put it down.

6. Agent Garbo, Stephan Talty

Fascinating real-life espionage and deception - Agent Garbo mounted an incredibly successful deception campaign that completely fooled the German's during WWII. (His personal story is pretty incredible as well.)

7. The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, Jessica Fellows & Matthew Sturgis

A beautiful coffee table style book filled with gorgeous pictures not only of the Downton cast, but also great closeups of period objects - the sorts of things real-life Downtoners would have been surrounded with. It's equal parts actual historical information and fluff, spoiler-free preview of the 3rd season, and I loved it.

8. New York: 15 Walking Tours, an architectural guide to the metropolis, Gerard Wolfe

So much great information! The only sad thing is that I got all excited about New York Unearthed, an archeology museum, only to find out that it's since closed.

9. Winter of the World, Ken Follett

Boo hoo, I just don't like the way Follett writes. =\ I really enjoyed Pillars of the Earth, and while I didn't like Fall of Giants at first (because of the writing) I was soon invested enough with the characters that I powered through it. By the time I got to Winter of the World, I had forgotten a lot about what happened to the characters in Fall of Giants, and I never really got back *into* them. And so I never got beyond how horribly stark and bare the writing is. All these horrible, horrible things happen to these characters and there is just NO emotional punch to it at all.

10. Little Black Book of New York, Ben Gibbard

More trip prep.

11. The Art of Choosing, Sheena Lyengar

This is the lady from the famous jam study, the one that showed that people choose more easily (and buy more) when they have limited choices. Everything in me rebels against that idea (want ALL the choices, dangit), but you can't argue with science.

A few quotes:

A common view of freedom is that it means "freedom from the political, economic, and spiritual shackles that have bound men," which defines it has the absence of others forcible interfering with the pursuit of our goals. In contrast,  to this "freedom from," Fromm identifies an alternate sense of freedom as an ability: the "freedom to" attain certain outcomes and realize our full potential. "Freedom from and "freedom to" don't always go together, but one must be free in both senses to obtain full benefit from choice. A child may be allowed to have a  cookie, but he won't get it if he can't reach the cookie jar high on the shelf.

Insisting on more when one already has a great deal is usually considered a sign of greed. In the case of choice, it is also a a sign of failed imagination, which we must avoid or overcome if we wish to solve our multiple choice problem.


ebooks: 0
audio books: 0
From the stack: 0

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Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
elanortheeldest
Dec. 4th, 2012 05:28 pm (UTC)
ooh! I very much like the sound of the latter one!
patrick___
Dec. 4th, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC)
Interesting quotes from that first book there. I think one of the problems with adultescents in the church is that we've raised people with a narrative that you're either a young single person free of responsibility, or you're a married person following the responsible path of family life. Unfortunately we've completely missed out on the fact that you're supposed to live a mature, responsible life as a single person as well. It's not just a "parentheses" between childhood and family life. It's a true vocation in its own right, with responsibilities all its own. After all Jesus was single and didn't spend his time just enjoying himself. Likewise Christian 20-somethings need to realize that this time (as much as any other time in their life) is a time to dedicate to God and other responsible things, and not just a time to entertain oneself before eventually "settling down".

Or at least, that's how I see it. :-) I think a lot of churches have really dropped the ball when it comes to teaching people how to live a Christian single life. They pretty much think the answer to all this is to just get people married to other Christians ASAP, and then the maturity will magically happen. Churches are too family driven and forget that it's not the only lifestyle, and that they are neglecting a whole range of people when they do so. (And not just young people, but also older singles as well.)
eattheolives
Dec. 5th, 2012 09:43 pm (UTC)
That's very true. Fortunately I've never felt pushed (by myself or others) to get married - I'm a fully functioning adult all on my own, thankyouverymuch - but I do see that mindset a LOT, especially in conservative circles.
onetravelsfar
Dec. 5th, 2012 07:15 am (UTC)
One of my third graders read The Mysterious Benedict Society last year. There's hope!
eattheolives
Dec. 5th, 2012 09:40 pm (UTC)
Yay! Several of the series have already been checked out (I just bought a set for the library) so I'm being proven wrong already. :)
joy_unspeakable
Dec. 5th, 2012 11:04 am (UTC)
Agent Garbo is on my to-read list. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it! Oh, and every time I come across The Mysterious Benedict Society when shelving, I consider checking it out; the cover and title are really intriguing. It's been a long time (too long, really) since I've read juv. lit.

I prefer "towards," too.

eattheolives
Dec. 5th, 2012 09:40 pm (UTC)
I'm hoping the rest of the series lives up to the first book!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )