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W... W... W... Wednesdays

May 29th, 2014 (02:38 pm)

I know, I know, It's Thursday, not Wednesday. I could fake it; I could change the date above to yesterday's date and pretend I posted this yesterday, but in the long run, it doesn't really matter what day of the week it is, does it? So here is my W...W...W...Wednesday. For Thursday.

WWW_Wednesdays4To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

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And here are my answers:

1. What are you currently reading?
Bashkirtseff - I am the most interesting book of allI'm reading TWO books at the moment. One is called I Am the Most Interesting Book of All. It's the actual journal entries of Marie Bashkirtseff, who was a teenage girl in the 1870s when she started writing her journal. The Ukrainian-born Bahkirtseff longed to be accepted by high society, but her upper-class Russian family was out of favor because of her father's scandalous abandonment of her mother and because of the drinking, carousing, and petty crimes of a profligate uncle. Her family lived in various fashionable spots in Europe, on the fringes of but never quite belonging to the in-crowd that so attracted young Marie.

Her journal is fascinating in part because of the glimpses it offers of this life, and of the now-famous people and families whose lives intersected with Marie's; for example, Giuseppe Verdi, the Tolstoys, and the Toulouse-Latrecs, Marie was a talented singer, sculptor, and painter, and in some ways was wise and accomplished beyond her years. At other times, she comes across like a spoiled, shallow, and sometimes lovesick 15-year-old. I'm finding the contrast to be fascinating. Also fascinating is her account of the difficulties of trying to make it as a woman in the 19th-century art world. Knowing from the beginning that Marie died of tuberculosis at the age of 25 makes her words all the more poignant. (The book cover here is for Volume 1. My edition has all the volumes in one book.)

Parris - Heresy
The other book I'm reading now  is also about a real historical figure, in this case 16th-century Italian philosopher, mathematician, poet, and scientist Giordano Bruno. While the protagonist is a real person, the book, Heresy, by S.J. Parris, is a novel.

The story begins when Bruno, a monk in Naples, is caught reading a book in the privy that the Catholic Church considers heretical. Rather than stick around to be tortured and burnt at the stake, he flees. After traveling north through Italy for a time, he eventually ends up in France and then England. At Oxford University, he is supposed to be gathering information for Queen Elizabeth's master of spies about a covert Catholic plot to assassinate the queen. A series of grisly murders at the university distracts him from his spying, and Bruno turns detective to figure out what the heck is going on.

I've only just started reading this one, but I was having enough trouble putting it down this morning to make me a half-hour late to a meeting.

Bova - Cyberbooks
2. What did you recently finish reading?
Yesterday I finished a fun, lightweight sort of science fiction novel, Cyberbooks, by Ben Bova. Written in the 1980s, this one predicts the rise of e-books.

A young computer scientist, Carl Lewis, invents a revolutionary new device that allows you to read books on an electronic screen! This throws the publishing world into an uproar, with various factions, several different publishing companies, and a variety of evil editors or publishers vying to either control Lewis's invention or kill it. This book is heavy on parody of the industry, sometimes bitingly funny. Other times, it's just silly. But it's all in good fun. My biggest criticisms are that the female characters are written in a overly sexualized way, and that it took a long time for me to warm up to any of the characters. In fact, I was tempted for a while to put it down, unfinished. But I persevered, and was finally hooked. It was especially interesting to see which technological developments the author correctly envisioned, and which ones he completely missed.

Bender - The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
3. What do you think you'll read next?
I'm not really sure. I picked up so many new books at Balticon over the weekend, and I heard about so many more that I want to read! AMy book club is reading The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender, for June. Maybe I'll jump right into that one.
Doyle - American Craftsman
On the other hand, I still have several weeks before we're discussing that; I could read several other books before I start on my book-club reading. One possibility is Tom Doyle's new novel, American Craftsman. I attended a book-launch party for this one on Saturday, and it certainly sparked my interest. The book begins like a military thriller, but then it mixes in American history and urban fantasy. The premise is that Poe and Hawthorne were writing thinly disguised nonfiction. It's an intriguing idea, and I enjoyed Tom's reading. Looking forward to reading this one, if not immediately after I finish the others, then certainly soon.

To see more book-related memes and other bookish talk, check out the Shouldbereading website.

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