As an official member of the summer 2010 doctoral cohort and my new university, I now find myself required to take six hours each semester to stay on track to graduate with the group. Prior to my admission to the program, I had the luxury of taking twelve hours of courses on an ad hoc basis, and I spread those twelve hours over several semesters, taking six hours only once. Overall, the course load is not too daunting, since our program is taught on a condensed class schedule–three weekends consisting of a Thursday evening class and all-day Saturday class. Typically, there’s also a concluding assignment that extends beyond the dates of the actual classes, and the two classes each semester are split so that students take only one course at a time.
I like that I don’t always have something I need to do for school hanging over my head. But when I find myself in the midst of a class, I have little time to spare for anything else…such as pleasure reading.
If you follow this blog at all, you know I’m an avid reader. And, interesting though they may be, the scholarly works I read for my courses don’t quite fit the escapism and/or relaxation bill. Like many addicts, I’ve discovered that I react to a forced withdrawal from my drug of choice by bingeing.
Since I’m on hiatus from coursework for another week or so, I thought it would be nice to do a bit of an update on what I’ve devoured after I hit the send button to deliver my final paper to the professor for this semester’s first course.
- Steig Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. For some reason I’d avoided this hit series, even though I’d actually picked it up more than once during my browsing trips to the bookstore. Once my book club selected the first novel, however, I not only sped through it but also couldn’t wait to download the remaining books to my Kindle. The worst part about this series is the fact that its author died soon after delivering the manuscripts–these characters are ones I’d like to follow through more adventures. The good news is a friend just let me know that the Swedish movie versions will be showing at our local independent theater soon–definitely something that calls for a girls’ night out!
- I left the modern world behind and delved back into one of my favorite genres–historical fiction–for the next book club selection. We read For The King by Catherine Delors as this month’s choice. I was underwhelmed by this story of Napoleonic France. To many confusing characters, to little overall action.
- Chick lit is clearly the cure for all that ails me when I’m powering through my “to read” list. So, I ran through the next installments in quick fashion, enjoying some more than others. The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton, Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner, and The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard all managed to provide the kind of distraction from my own daily life that I’ve needed lately. Who can worry about the little day-to-day details when these characters face things so much more daunting–infidelity, babies switched at birth, infertility and unexpected pregnancies. It’s all there. Of the three books, I have to say I enjoyed The Wednesday Sisters the most for its take on suburban home life in the infancy of the Silicon Valley boom.
- And now, at least until I download some new titles for our upcoming plane trip, I’m taking a break from fiction. Instead I’m enjoying A. J. Jacobs‘ The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life As An Experiment. Jacobs is one of my favorite memoirists–with his The Know-It-All ranking high on my list of funniest books ever. I laughed; I cried; I annoyed my husband by insisting on reading parts of the book aloud to him. So far, this most recent installment is not quite rising to that level of funny, but I’m enjoying it nonetheless.
I have two more weeks before my next self-imposed pleasure-reading ban kicks in. What should I be sure to tackle before then?