Summer Reading 2009
If there were such a thing as summer reading, and maybe there is--in moments stolen from the reading and writing for projects there isn't time to accomplish the rest of the year--these would be on my 2009 list:
Frankly, My Dear: Gone With the Wind Revisited by Molly Haskell (Yale) is one of those guilty pleasures appropriate to summer: a book about a frivolous but fascinating subject by a terrific writer with great insight into film. Especially since Haskell began her career writing about women in movies, this is a great choice of subject. My favorite film critic--Mick LaSalle of the SF Chronicle--loved this book, so I am sure I will, too.
The Atmosphere of Heaven: The Unnatural Experiments of Dr. Beddoes and His Sons of Genius by Mike Jay (Yale.) A dip into the first few chapters reveals an absorbing story of late eighteenth and early 19th century science and society, centered on a fascinating character, Thomas Beddoes. This is intellectual adventure, of a kind with another new book, The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes.
The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel (Yale) is a book I'm already reading with great attention and pleasure. And of course I'm reading it in my library at night.
Another book I've started reading that doubtless will be a centerpiece of my summer is Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. I read his Red Mars on my recent multi-hour airplane trips, and I'm sure the last in the trilogy, Blue Mars, is also in my future. If I wasn't already convinced that Robinson is among our best fiction writers of any kind, I would find the first chapters of Green Mars the clinching and convincing evidence.