Inbox/Outbox: March 4, 2016

Spring has sprung, time to go outside and read in the grass!*

*It’s still 40 degrees here, I’m reading inside in my Snuggie from now until the end of time. Let’s get to it:

Inbox (Books Acquired)

macbethNew editions of Pelican Shakespeare plays (March 29, Penguin Classics)— Ah Pelican editions of Shakespeare’s plays, how you’ve kept high school students across the world company in their darkest hours. These new and updated versions are beautiful–I got Macbeth, King Lear, and Romeo and Juliet, all with these fancy new graphic covers– and I wanted to let Shakespeare completists out there know about them!

Grunt by Mary Roach (June 7, W.W. Norton)— Mary Roach is doing for the armed forces what she did for NASA in Packing for Mars here: looking at the science behind what the job. How does exhaustion affect soldiers? How does diarrhea affect national security? What aquatic being is most dangerous to sailors (hint: not sharks)? Mary Roach is my very favorite writer of topical nonfiction, and I’m happy to get to her latest.

Outbox (Books Finished)

french perfume coverFrench Perfume by Amir Tag Elsir, translated by William Hutchins — Ali is the town gossip in a poor Sudanese town, and he’s given the task of introducing the area to a fancy French woman who is coming to visit. She delays her visit again and again, and the tone of the book goes from comic to tragic to creepy/weird/WTF is happening. A dark read you’ll get through in one sitting, after which you’ll wander around feeling very unsettled.

Sex Object by Jessica Valenti (Dey Street Books, June 7th) — Valenti’s memoir of her use of and by men (both strangers and not) and their affects on her blossoming feminism is not an easy read, and made me examine the more Puritanical and anti-feminist ideas I still have about sex, but didn’t know it. Readers’ reactions to this book will be an interesting barometer for their sex positivity.

In the Queue (What I’m Reading Next)

THE STORY OF A NEW NAME by Elena FerranteThe Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein — #FerranteFever, I haz it. I’m barreling through the second book in her Neapolitan series, I’m obsessed with it, everyone on the internet is correct about it, just read it already. When I get excited I write run-on sentences, apparently.

The Four Books by Yan Lianke, translated by Carlos Rojas — A novel of life inside a “rehabilitation” work camp for intellectual prisoners during Mao’s Great Leap Forward (an economic program designed to increase China’s output to that of the UK, which ultimately led to the starvation of 15-20 million people). The Cultural Revolution in China gets lots of fictional air time, but I’ve never read a novel of the Great Leap Forward and I’m eager to get to this one (from one of China’s most often censored writers).