This semester has unexpectedly offered many good opportunities for pleasure reading. My class load feels a whole lot lighter, for one. I have had fewer assignments due, to date, and most of the assignments I have had felt pretty manageable. But the biggest boon to my reading has been the time I have spent as a commuter. I have a class on the Minneapolis campus but I have a parking contract on the St. Paul campus. Thanks to logistics, I end up riding the Campus Connector from St. Paul to East Bank, which takes about 15 to 20 minutes. And, all that time is spent reading, as long as I don’t get motion sickness, which has happened.
I have been able to make a greater dent in As Always, Julia, the marvelous correspondence between Julia Child and her friend Avis Devoto. I started this book in Princeton over Christmas when my mother-in-law received it as a gift. But since I have been home, I have had to content myself with checking out the book from the library. Numerous times. Because other people want to read it, too. The biggest surprise about this book was learning that I haven’t read everything about Child. Her letters to Avis, which were recently made public, pleasantly fill in the gaps—that I didn’t even know existed—in all the bios I have read.
Gabrielle Hamilton’s long anticipated memoir, Blood, Bones, and Butter, was released last week, and I treated myself to a hardcover copy. The library hasn’t ordered it yet, and, quite frankly, I don’t want to wait. The first 25 pages were richly detailed and well written, but not too well written. Hamilton has an MFA in writing so I feared her book might be overly polished and workshopped to death. But she’s a gritty chick, accustomed to holding her own in the testosterone-driven world of professional kitchens.
Since Tuesday morning, the Morning News’ Tournament of Books has captured my attention. Freedom is the only book in this year’s contest that I’ve come closest to reading. I love reading the judging and the commentary even though it’s all a bit much, and I know that I’ll eventually lose interest. Until then, l am inspired, once again, to pick up Freedom, which is hefty and, in hardcover, is not such a commuter-friendly book.
Spring break began in earnest yesterday. I intend to read a lot in the next week.