Book round-up


I've been doing a lot of reading and audiobook listening lately, and haven't posted about much of it. I don't really feel like doing full reviews, but here are some briefs:

double_crossed.jpgDouble Crossed: Uncovering the Catholic Church's Betrayal of American Nuns
by Kenneth Briggs
Doubleday, 2006

This is an interesting little book about the post-Vatican II changes in the lives of American nuns, the ways in which many orders changed and wished to change, and the barriers that were put in their way by Catholic officials. It's all very interesting stuff to me, as I know almost nothing about Catholicism. I wanted more information about the specifics of the nuns lives in and outside convents, but I suppose that would be already known by most people interested in this book. Another interesting thing it went into was the retirement problem American nuns are facing--there are not nearly enough young working nuns to support all of the elderly retired nuns. In part this is due to lack of interest in entering the convent in recent decades, and in part it's due to the pittance nuns have traditionally been paid for their work. I had never even considered how nuns are funded (or not funded, as seems to be the case), so that was really interesting. All in all, this is a quick and fascinating read.

mother_jones.jpgMother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America
by Elliott J. Gorn
Hill and Wang, 2002

This is another good read, though not as quick. It busts up a lot of the myths about Mother Jones that those of us who are fairly romantic and non-critical in our idealization of labor history (me) might be guilty of, which still giving Mother Jones credit for everything she did. Gorn is a good historian, the book is very well researched, and if you can get past his critical eye (which took me some time to re-adapt to, as I haven't read any "real" history in quite a while), the book is really interesting.

history_of_love.jpgThe History of Love
by Nicole Krauss
Norton, 2006

This is, to my mind, a mediocre novel. I know a lot of people really loved it, but it didn't hold my attention at all. In fact, I don't think I even finished listening to it. I started before Christmas, but when I got back I switched to something else.

close_range.jpgClose Range: Wyoming Stories
by Annie Proulx
Scribner, 2000

I'd read some, but not all, of these stories before, but listening to them was a whole different thing. The narrators of the audio book are fantastic, with perfect, Western accented voices for the stories Proulx tells. The stories are, on the whole, incredibly depressing ("Brokeback Mountain" is, I swear, one of the happier stories in the book), but also really good. If you like Annie Proulx, I'd definitely recommend trying her short stories on audio book.

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