After many laborious weeks, I have finished reading Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. It was a long book. There was a lot of information in it. He assimilates it very thoroughly--despite its scholarly air, he simplifies his means of arguing by repeating connections he's made over and over again. This gets a little repetitious (yes, Mr. Diamond, I understand that the east-west axis of Eurasia made it easier to spread agricultural advancements quickly across the continent), but on the other hand, I would never have been able to read it if he'd gone with underkill instead of over.
I'm now full of cocktail party tidbits that I suspect I'm going to be boring people about for months to come. Almost all crops native to the Americas are actually native to South America. One of the reasons Europe and Asia developed so quickly compared to other continents was simply that they had a lot of good crops and animals to start with, when it came to farming. If you can't farm, you can't increase your population as fast, and you can't feed yourselves fast enough to have leisure times to develop things like microchips. For example, one factoid I liked was this: a nomadic hunter-gatherer can only have one baby ever 4 years--basically, you can't have a new baby till the old one can walk, otherwise you're not mobile enough. So even if you have enough food for everyone, you still can't increase your population as fast.
Anyway, it was a really interesting book. Well designed, too--because of the repetition I mentioned before, even if you put it down for a while, you can come back to it later and details or conclusions that slipped your mind will be reiterated. This is why I was able to take over a month to read it and yet still retain a lot.
Besides this, I've been reading a LOT of young adult material. I'm running low on steam for it, actually. Now that I've finished The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in time for the movie that will be out in about six months, I can get back to other things. Oh, except that my turn with Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood just came up at the library. I swear that's it, though--after that, I'm reading only serious adult tomes for at least a month.
Well, maybe not serious. I'm eyeing Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency.