Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A topic-based approach to my reading queue

I'm in a posting slump right now because I'm in the middle of the rather chunky Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier for the World Reading Party's June country-of-choice (Russia), and I'm all caught up on posting about everything else I've read. Well, mostly. I did recently read NYRB's The New York Stories of Elizabeth Hardwick, but I've decided to not post about it because I was bored with it and have NOTHING to say about it. Sorry guys.

No matter how much I'm enjoying the current book I'm reading, my brain is always thinking to the future and deciding what to read next. The greatest thing about books is learning about places and events you'll never get to experience firsthand (duh!). Sometimes, when I'm adding books to my reading queue, I like to think of topics I want to read about and find a good book that will quench my thirst on a time or a place. For example, I wanted to read something about modern-day polygamy and Mormonism, so I hunted down and found David Ebershoff's The 19th Wife. When I wanted to read about everyday life in Alaska (a place with a lifestyle I will never be able to fathom), I picked up Heather Lende's memoir Take Good Care of the Garden and Dogs.

I have lots more examples like this, and the World Reading Party has been a great contributor to this little personal quest for knowledge. Sure, I could read the news or do a Wikipedia search. But sometimes, I just want to learn while reading something with a voice—that little extra something that puts you in the story and makes it more memorable than just a list of facts.

Some topics for which I'm currently hunting down books include:
  1. Homesteaders and the migration west
  2. American Indian experience (past and present)
  3. Israel/Pakistan conflict
  4. Religion (interesting and analytical nonfiction, nothing preachy)

    Right now, my list that will fit into these categories include: (more suggestions are welcome!)
    1. Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinor Pruitt Stewart. I read about this on a book blog long ago, but it doesn't seem to be easily available at any local libraries. Maybe have to just fulfill this wish with Little House on the Prairie books for the JUV FIC Corner.
    2. Anything by Sherman Alexie. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven has been my preference based on reader comments.
    3. Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa. Also read about this on a book blog and have been wanting to read it ever since.
    4. The Case for God by Karen Armstrong or The Evolution of God by Robert Wright. I found the Armstrong book through Goodreads, and Sal has read the Wright book and reviewed it on here.

    Do you have any topics you want to read about? What are your special ways of deciding what goes on your reading queue?


    Amy said...

    For a really good non-preachy religion book dealing with atheism I recommend Sam Harris' The End of Faith. People keep recommending atheism books to me and they are always so preachy and frustrating that I can't get through them! Another great book is Stephen Prothero's God is not One which gives a quick overview of a number of different religions. 

    Kari said...

    Thanks for the suggestions, Amy. I like the idea of discussing multiple religions—forgot to mention that in my post.

    Booklineandsinker said...

    i like this idea--very original and focused.  sadly, i'm not as organized and usually just grab whatever is next in the tower on my nightstand. :) 

    softdrink said...

    Mornings in Jenin is a fabulous book...good choice!

    Aarti said...

    Just so you know, Letters of a Woman Homesteader is easily available as an e-book.  I just reviewed it and linked to the websites it's available (I'd link here, but I admit, I'm lazy), but if you just search for it on Amazon or do "online version - Letters of a Woman Homesteader," I think you'll be good to go!

    I also really, really enjoyed Mornings in Jenin.  A very perspective-shifting, eye-opening book.  Makes me think much more about current events!