Friday, May 31, 2013

An English Major Begs for Book Recommendations

I set a goal this year of reading one nonfiction and one fiction book each month.

So far, I think it's going quite well. The goal reminds me to sprinkle all my detective novels and science fiction with the occasional serious read, and I've learned something about a number of interesting topics so far.

However, I'm already looking ahead to next year, and I think I know what my next reading goal needs to be: to read some of those Classics that I've never read.

I don't mean re-reading books I like or that I maybe read not-so-closely in a rush to get them done for school, though that would be another good list. I mean ones that I really have never read before.

My reading history is pretty erratic, and there are some somewhat surprising holes that deserve filling.

So, I'm taking suggestions. What classics do you think are Must Reads?

Here's a brief survey of some of what I have and haven't read:


I feel like I'm fairly well-read here. I've read two or three novels and myriad short stories by both Fitzgerald and Hemingway. My college adviser was a Faulkner scholar, so I've read almost everything he's written. I've read Walden and both Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn (though nothing else of Twain's save some short stories). I've read a fair amount of Poe.

For being an avid science fiction and fantasy reader, I've read very little of the classic authors--Asimov, Heinlein. Any speculative fiction fans out there who suggest I catch up on any of these?

Who else am I missing on this list? Clearly it's a very short one. Who are your favorite (North) American authors?


Ok, the big guns: I have most of Shakespeare under my belt, with the notable exception of the histories. Should I remedy that? I've read The Canterbury Tales and The Green Knight and most of what's in the Norton Anthology.

I've got a pretty good grounding in the twentieth century playwrights: Beckett, Stoppard, Orton. I've read Joyce though not Ulysses (my alma mater has a big Joyce collection, for some unknown reason).

This may shock you: the only Jane Austen I've read is Pride and Prejudice. What of her others should I read (choosing just one for the purpose of this challenge).

I've read Defoe's Moll Flanders but not Robinson Crusoe. I've read Jane Eyre but not Wuthering Heights. I've read a number of things by Dickens, though I'll admit that when I think of A Tale of Two Cities I mostly think of the Wishbone episode, even though I  had to memorize that famous first paragraph in the ninth grade.

Who are your favorite Brits? What do I neeeeeeed to read?


Maybe I'll lose most of you here, and anyway, I think my German major hit most of the highlights. Though admittedly I never did finish Mann's Joseph und seinen Bruedern, and I really have no excuse because my copy is an English translation.

Would anyone be interested in a German Greatest Hits list? Most things can be found auf Englisch, especially the older stuff. I could do a list on Filme, too, if anyone wanted.


I'll admit it. I've read pretty much none of those people. Tolstoy and his kin. I got halfway through Anna Karenina and abandoned it because my holds on the Twilight novels came in. *ducks and hides from thrown stones*

What of these should I really really read? Should I go back and finish Anna (I would have to start over from the beginning as this was several years ago).

Rest of World

Kafka is Czech but wrote auf Deutsch, so I've read most of his stuff. I even saw a stageplay of Metamorphosis which was the weirdest freaking thing I ever did see. (This is partly because the Freiburg theater company was weird weird weird).

I've read Kundera's Unbearable Lightness of Being (and loved it). I've read Inferno but not the rest of the Divine Comedy. I've never read The Three Musketeers or Don Quixote (again, do Wishbone episodes count?).

I'd especially like it if anyone has any suggestions of classics from some of the other parts of the world: Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America. I've read a few things here and there but definitely would enjoy more.

Ok. Paring this down to just twelve could be pretty difficult. Which is why I need your help. What are  your favorites, your Must Reads? I know you're a well-read bunch out there. Help!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Six Months

Baby Rex is six months old now. What. It's hard to believe but at the same time it's not.

When my sister was born, I was four and my brother was two. We were duly excited for the new baby, and there is grainy home video of us running around excitedly and begging to hold her and watching her get her first bath.

But after a few weeks, we approached our mother, hand and hand, and said, "It's time for Baby to go home now. Her real mommy is missing her."

Mom tried to explain to us that no, Baby wasn't going anywhere, that she was Baby's real mommy and this was Baby's real home. But we were insistent. "No, you're our mommy. She has a different mommy and it's time for her to go to her real home."

Sometimes I feel like that about T-Rex. I'm wondering when his real mommy is going to show up, and if it's time for him to go to his real home yet. Even after six months, it's hard to wrap my mind around the fact that this is his home, that I am his mother, that he's not going to just go away, that having him around is not going to end (or not for a good eighteen or so years, anyway).

I love him fiercely. He's a funny little guy and a joy to have around most of the time. But I love a number of people--my husband, my parents, my siblings. This is different. Not because the love is greater (maybe it is, I don't know), but because it's less...independent, or something. Maybe that will change as he grows. But right now he's his own person but also kind of an extension of me, all at once.

It's perplexing. That's how I feel about him most of the time. Just sort of confused, like I'm not exactly sure how to feel about him.

He just started crying and I guess no one else is going to come and pick him up, so I will. Because I am his mother and maybe someday I'll feel like I am.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Talk Derby to Me

Did I ever tell you about my Insane Multi-Cultural German Cinco de Derby party?

Let me tell you.

When I studied in Germany, I had a friend also studying there who was from Louisville. I'm from New Mexico. That year, the Kentucky Derby fell on May 5th, aka Cinco de Mayo. We started planning an Epic Party well in advance.

Louisville's father sent a box filled with awesome Derby/Southern Party supplies: white gravy mix, Derby themed toys and shirts, and a bunch of other odds and ends. We raided the local German grocery store for Kentucky bourbon and tequila, and tried to figure out what sort of German cheese most closely resembled the cheese one uses for queso (because Germans don't eat Velveeta, natch).

I'm the one in blue.
We cooked all day, making biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, tacos, and Spanish rice. We made mint juleps and margaritas. We made salsa, to enjoy with the surprisingly tasty German tortilla chips.We also concocted a strange (but delicious) approximation of queso.

We set the table with the Derby party supplies and some random Mexicanish items we found at the Euro Store, which is like the Dollar Store, only weirder as only Europeans can be (there was a large and prominent display of one Euro dildos at this particular store, right next to a bunch of cheap kids' toys. Not even kidding).

The Run for the Mango Salsa.

Our party guests consisted of two other Americans (from Minnesota and Pennsylvania), our septilingual Finnish friend, and a variety of Germans.

We printed off some articles about the race, with lists of the horses running, and everyone bet on a horse. Big stakes here--dishes duty.

The only hitch to the day was that we couldn't find the race streamed live from anywhere. Clearly German tv was too busy airing things like this to air an American sporting event.

Toasting a party well hosted.
We eventually found a replay of the race on My horse won, because clearly I'm a horse-picking genius.