Wednesday, January 18, 2017

President Obama's Reading List and My Latest Pick

Late in the afternoon yesterday, a colleague made microwave popcorn, and the smell wafted through the halls.  I thought about the popcorn that I didn't buy on Saturday when we went to see Hidden Figures.  I thought about my evening ahead, with my spouse out teaching.  I thought, I could have popcorn for dinner and spend the night reading.

And I did!

It was healthier popcorn than I would have purchased on Saturday, as I popped it in a pan with olive oil.  I drank iced tea instead of the gallon of soda I would have drunk on Saturday.

I read Zadie Smith's Swing Time, which is due back at the library soon--since it's just been nominated for the National Book Award, I won't likely be allowed to renew it.  With the first chapter, I thought about stopping--I found the constant comma splices to be disconcerting.  But the subject matter intrigued me, so I continued.  I read half of the book last night; it is good, although I like the parts that tell the story of the two main characters as young girls best.  I'm talking about the parts that show them as very young girls, not the material that comes later.

There's a passage about the sexual play of boys and girls, sexual play that's very close to rape, and it's quite an extended chunk of text.  So far, I can't figure out why it was necessary.  I'll be interested to see if I ever do as I finish the book.

On a more minor note, I'm also distracted by some of the very long paragraphs that go on for pages.  It's a stylistic trait of Smith's that has always bothered me.  I don't remember the constant comma splices from past books.

So far, I like On Beauty best of all her books.  I never made it through NW.  I will finish Swing Time, and I suspect I'll have similar feelings about it that I did with White Teeth:  overall, I liked it, but although parts were compelling, I won't read it again.

I came across this article which tells which fiction books Obama has read during his presidency.  I'm linking to it here so that I'll remember it the next time I'm casting about for books to read.  It's an interesting collection.

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