Friday, August 17, 2012

Weekly reading, 8/17/12

I'm just back from a week of vacation, during which I fully expected to get to 75 books but ended up falling short because I got bogged down in two books I expected to like but didn't--in one case a nonfiction book where the author gave a fascinating interview on NPR, but his writing turned out to be overly dry and technical, the other a well-reviewed novel whose heroine was just too flaky for my tastes. Also, this was a road trip rather than a flight, so I didn't read while in transit. I did my share of the driving, and when my husband drove, I was enjoying the scenery. It was my first trip to the high desert on the eastern flanks of the Cascades in Washington and Oregon, even though I've lived in Western Washington since 1999.  I wouldn't want to live there--I love the lush forests and mild climate on this side of the mountains too much--but it's a spectacular place.

Anyway, here's what I did finish:

70) American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, by Colin Woodard. Looks at the impacts the founding populations of each American region had on the historical development and current cultures of the areas in question. At first I was dubious, but Woodard makes a convincing case.

71) Doukakis's Apprentice, by Sarah Morgan, won the 2012 Rita for best series contemporary romance, and deservedly so, I believe. A quick, romantic read that left me believing the hero and heroine truly were destined for happily ever after.

72) Colour, Class and the Victorians, by Douglas Lorimer. I read this as research for my WIP, an interracial romance set in 1813, so my chief focus was on the "before" of the book--race relations in late Georgian England.  But it was fascinating, and depressing, to read how British society actually grew more racist in the mid to late Victorian era as part of a general trend in Western thought, and one that took many forms. Religious? You could believe that blacks were descendants of Ham, and thereby condemned to perpetual servility. Secular? Well, it's survival of the fittest, and you get to define "fittest" as "whoever is on top at this precise moment in history, and, whaddya know, that's me!"

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