Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Where Have I Been, You Ask?

Covering my head in shame, dear reader. This whole Personal Library Renaissance--which was supposed to begin in December--is going so, so poorly.

Between reserve books that come in from the library--I've been waiting for months, and I only get three weeks with it; what am I supposed to do?--and the books that are sitting there RIGHT UNDER MY NOSE at the Storefront Library (which is closing in a week, so I have a time limit here, people!), I have not begun this long overdue plunge into my own books. And it's not getting much better--I brought home three new books from the Storefront last week.

But I'm here today to tell you, my loyal readers, that I have a new plan. I'm doing a tandem thing, wherein I read one of my books and one of the outside world's books at the same time. So far it's even working! So hopefully, my goal list of personal books to read might be winnowed down.

Right now, the pairing is all nonfiction. I picked up Covering, by Kenji Yoshino, at the library last week. It was just sitting there on the counter, so I read the chapter that sounded most interesting, and then I had to bring it home to finish it. It's a book by a gay Japanese law professor at Yale, about how, even though our society no longer expects outsiders to convert or pass, there are more insidious demands that you assimilate, or "cover" your unusual identity. That minorities are asked to "act white" to succeed, and that gay people can be out of the closet but can't kiss on the street. Women in high-powered careers who want to stay off the mommy-track need to downplay their kids, and even their nurturing sides.

It's really interesting, and if it's a little overwritten (the author was a poet before he was a lawyer), it's also very clear and analytical (he is a lawyer, after all). A lot of the analysis talks about being gay, but mostly as an example that's both visible and invisible--gay people have been expected to not be gay, or to pretend not to be gay, and now to not be too gay. Few of the other groups he addresses have historically had all three experiences.

The book I own that I'm reading is Candyfreak, by Steve Almond. It was a birthday gift, and I have to say that six months is not a bad lead time for me to pick something up, so I feel that I'm growing. It's not profound or anything, it's just about all the different, crazy kinds of candy we have in the US, by a guy who loves them all. I'm surprised by how much I like it already--he's a good writer.

I just finished a great book, The Checklist Manifesto, that I want to talk about more, but I'm going to save that for another post. I'm back, and I really hope to get back to posting three times a week. Thanks for sticking around and reading!

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