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In which I do not admit that I sometimes read trash

January 9, 2011

Once upon a time annajcook told me that her girlfriend, Hanna, refers to the books she (anna) reads about the religious right, conservative politics, etc., as “scary books.”  This came to my mind while I was reading Anna’s review of Jill Lepore’s The White’s of Their Eyes over at The Pursuit of Harpyness.

You see, I had heard of this book, dutifully added it to my Goodreads “to-read” queue, and was pleased when I saw that Anna had reviewed it.

Wellsir.  With the very best of intentions…I read Anna’s review and I think to myself (as ya do), this is great.  I should read this book and edjicate myself about these things so I’ll have stuff to say when people are being all ultra-conservative around me instead of freezing up and becoming simultaneously horrified and very, very upset.

I think about it.  Then I might even request it from the library.  But I just can’t.  And I begin to wonder why.

It’s not that the books make me angry (though they do).  It’s not that they’re to long/complex/serious/grown-up (having gone through many cultural studies and history classes, I’ve read my share of revelatory books that make me want to throw up and die).

It occurs to me that my phobia is quite precise: books about the current political climate.  I am a cultural studies junkie, I cannot deny it.  But the throught of actually reading these books makes me rock catatonically underneath my desk.

It’s a puzzling reaction.  I mean, it’s puzzling to me.  There is something about them that just hits me square in my emotional solar plexus.  These books make me unbearably sad.  Not sad like my grisly and graphic history books do, but sad as if someone I love has dissapointed me in a very profound way.

So I rely on people like Anna and Minerva to read them for me, and tell me about them, thus protecting my delicate sensibilities.

Books I Want to Read but Probably Never Will

  • The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, Jane Mayer
  • Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do, Andrew Gelman
  • The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, Andrew Bacevich
  • Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture, Naomi Cahn and June Carbone
  • From the New Deal to the New Right: Race and the Southern Origins of Modern Conservatism, Joseph E. Lowndes
  • Republican Like Me: Infiltrating Red-State, White-Ass, and Blue-Suit America, Harmon Leon
  • The Third Space of Sovereignty: The Postcolonial Politics of U.S.-Indigenous Relations, Kevin Bruyneel
  • The Anti-Intellectual Presidency: The Decline of Presidential Rhetoric from George Washington to George W. Bush, Elvin T. Lim

They look great, don’t they?  You should read them.

Meanwhile, I’ll be returning to A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book and looking into Valdimir Nabokov’s obsession with butterflies.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2011 9:32 pm

    Thanks for the link love!

    Even though I read the books, I still think of them (at times) as “scary books” so you won’t get an argument from me there! My own personal failing is movies … there are documentaries and even fictional films I really would love to see but will never have the strength to watch (i.e. “Sophie Scholl: The Last Days”).

    I’d actually recommend Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage by Nancy Polikoff before the Red Families vs. Blue Families book, which frustrated me deeply. Polikoff, I think, is much more embracing of diversity and less reactionary and class-biased than the RF/BF authors. Their treatment of class issues, particularly, I found frustrating. And I know you’re even better than I am at teasing out the wrong in that department :).

    (and may I say “yay for more regular blogging from The Archivist!)

  2. January 10, 2011 12:24 am

    I’m going to try and blog more regularly… we shall see.

    If I can bring myself to read some of the scary books, I’ll keep “Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage” in mind and keep an eye out for the class issues! Can’t wait to see your post about work in the upcoming weeks!

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