Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

Current Reading

Posted by Gerald on May 31, 2007

 I am writing this while enjoying the product of my brand new pod coffee maker.  Mmmm…

I have no idea if anyone else in the world is interested in my reading habits, but I thought I’d share them anyway.  As usual these days I am working on one fiction and one non-fiction book at the moment.  I really admire folks who can slash through books and retain something.  I read s-l-o-w-l-y.  I’m somewhat faster with novels, unless they really get me thinking.  Most of my non-fiction is history or modern political-social-economic stuff.  My taste in fiction tends to science fiction and fantasy.

I’m reading a fascinating book called “The Troubador’s Song” by David Boyle.  He is examining the legend of Blondel, Richard the Lionheart’s minstrel.  According to legend, when Richard was imprisoned during his return from the Third Crusade, Blondel travelled from castle to castle and sang the lyrics to a song he had written with Richard.  When he heard a voice singing along, he knew he had found Richard.  Boyle is using this story as a way to talk about Europe in the 12th century.  He examines things like gender, intellectual life, aristocratic culture, and the figures involved in this story.  This isn’t written with a specialist audience in mind.  It is well-written and fascinating in its treatment of Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Courts of Love.  As a non-specialist in this period, I’ve found a lot of interesting things that I can use in my freshman survey courses.

The fiction I am reading at the moment is a novel entitled “Grave Peril” by Jim Butcher.  It is one of a series of novels about Harry Dresden, a modern-day wizard living in Chicago.  These novels have inspired a TV series on the SciFi Channel called “The Dresden Files.”  Frankly, I had avoided these like the plague until I saw the TV show and discovered I liked it.  The cover art on the books gave me a very wrong impression – an unfortunately frequent problem with SF and Fantasy novels.  This is one of the many examples of a book series that is better than the TV/movie version – and I like the TV show.  The best description I can give of the books is that it is like Harry Potter as written by Raymond Chandler.  You get the same idea of a magical world surrounding the everyday one, but with a very dark and very adult take on the idea.  Dresden is a wizard who gets involved in a series of fairly noir-ish situations.  In this one, dangerous ghosts are arising across the Chicago area, and it isn’t even election time (I crack myself up.)  Butcher gives Dresden (who, in good detective-novel fashion, narrates the novels in first-person) a sarcastic sense of humor that I enjoy.  These novels will not change your life, but they are fun.

I was just interrupted by the freakin’ Baptists.  Man that irks me.

Read the books.  They are good.

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3 Responses to “Current Reading”

  1. bridgett said

    Victimized by a prayer drive-by? My cousin’s youth group used to run up to doors and tape little targets on them after they stood in the driveway in the dark praying for the old folks inside. The whole thing was creepy as hell, but that’s West Virginia for you.

    I’ve been redoing my US survey syllabus to amp it up from a “everybody and her sister” course to a “majors-only prerequisite for everything else you’re going to do in the program” course. Not only will I have more course time, but we’re also switching from the weirdest ineffectual periodization (to 1800, 19th c, 20th c — choose 2) to a more sensible to/from format like most places where majors take both. Must….control….urge….to…overassign….reading……

  2. bridgett said

    Do you realize that your blog’s name is pronounced “He-sus”? I see much potential here….

  3. Gerald said

    Hmmm… Simply the chaos of the universe at work, or is this A Sign?

    I overhaul my courses every summer, and every time I fight the same battle. “But WHY can’t I assign an additional 1500 pages of reading to my freshmen non-majors? It’d be good for ’em! Oh, all right Better Sense, just be that way!”

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