Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What I'm Reading Right Now

I always read half a dozen books at the same time. There are books for all kinds of moods and purposes among them. This is what I'm reading right now and why:

1.  Almudena Grandes, a well-known Spanish writer once wrote a hugely famous pornographic novel The Ages of Lulu. Since then, she has been trying very hard to show that she can do something other than pornography. (I do not recommend The Ages of Lulu as pornographic reading because it's really unappetizing kind of pornography. Although there is no accounting for tastes. I analyzed the novel in my doctoral dissertation and feel beyond fed up with its inept porn scenes.)

The main reason why I decided to read this author's El Corazon Helado/ The Frozen Heart is that it is 1200 pages long. I love endlessly long novels. Even though it's a mild form of exercise to keep this volume in your hands. (saly, it's not available on Kindle yet).

This novel about the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath turned out to be pretty good. It even made me cry twice. And I'm only on page 537.

2.  This is my mystery novel du jour. I picked it up because the main character is a psychoanalyst who is being pursued by a deranged former patient. Or a deranged child of a deranged former patient.

I have to say this is the weirdest mystery novel I have read for a while (and I read detective novels all the time.) Not only does the psychoanalyst have a pretty poor command of the English language, he is also a pretty freaky individual. You go into therapy with somebody this weird, you'll come out a lot more messed up.

I've been reading this book in bits and snatches for the past week and it always puts me to sleep in ten minutes or less. So I feel very rested.

It isn't a really bad book or anything. It's just very weird.

3. This book by a Canadian professor is brilliant. It discusses many of the important issues that the higher education system faces today in North America.

As somebody who was worked both for Ivy league schools and a public university, I can appreciate the truth of what Giroux is saying.

How can we talk of a higher education if the system is under the growing control of corporate entities? Should the purpose of higher education be to create obedient zombi-like robots, willing to sacrifice their lives in the service of their employers? Or should we remember that the purpose of higher education is to educate students as thinking individuals, capable of being responsible citizens, aware of the world around them?

Great book, even though it is sadly unavailable on Kindle.

4. Howard Zinn died recently and among the flurry of obituaries dedicated to him, I suddenly realized that - to my great shame - I never read any of his books. So I bought this one.

I only just started reading it, so my impressions for now are minimal. At this point, I can say that even though he is not as good as Eric Hobsbawm  (my favorite historian), his writing style is clear and precise.

I will share my impressions when I'm done.

5. This is another detective novel I'm reading. But this one is actually work-related.
I am preparing a talk based on this novel for a conference in my field. I really wanted to attend this conference for personal reasons (it will take place in Montreal, my home and my favorite city in the world!). There were no sessions of even remote interest to me, though, except a session on detective novel in Spain.

So I thought that since I spend so much time (and money) reading (and buying) detective novels, I could put all this effort to good use by turning the detective genre into my new research. And then the university will pay for the mystery novels I buy.

This novel is really good. It is written so well and the language is so delicious that you even forget to care who the killer is. And that is no easy feat to accomplish for a mystery author.

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