vacation reading

Today, Hanna and I are setting out on a road trip to visit my parents in Michigan. We're driving because Hanna's ears have painful trouble with flying. Which means we'll be on the road for two days there and two days back, and we're staying about  a week in between.*

I'm gonna give myself the option of Not Blogging While On Vacation, so things might be lighter than normal around here until after Memorial Day. I already have a ficnote in mind for the Tuesday after the long weekend, so you can have that to look forward to.

I've been planning this vacation for a few months now which, by my way of planning, involves stockpiling books in a major way. Here are the titles I'm packing in the suitcase and hope to make time to read while we're gone.

Best Sex Writing 2010 edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. None of the libraries around here had a copy and I finally had to resort to buying my own ... not that I'm sorry. The 2009 anthology rocked. I used a gift certificate from my friend Minerva to Trident Booksellers to buy this one and I'm really looking forward to checking out the roster of essays by Diana Joseph ("The Girl Who Only Sometimes Said No"), Brian Alexander ("Sex Surrogates Put Personal Touch On Therapy") and Betty Dodson ("Sexual Outlaws"), Violet Blue ("The Future of Sex Ed") and many more.

Feel Bad Education: And Other Contrarian Essays On Schooling by Alfie Kohn. Education and parenting activist Alfie Kohn is definitely one of my "auto read" authors, ever since I devoured his Punished By Rewards as a teenager (yes, I was that nerdy). This latest I ordered with a Christmas gift card from my uncle and aunt and I've been keeping it as a treat for after my thesis was finished.

A friend of ours recently lent Hanna and I the first six volumes in Naomi Novik's Temeraire series described to us as "Napoleon ... with dragons." Although we've been told Napoleon doesn't actually ever ride a dragon. I will report back and let you know whether this is true, or whether one gets to actually glimpse the military leader aloft. Stay tuned!

LibraryThing's April Early Reviewer batch yielded a memoir by Patricia Harman, Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's Journey. As I was saying to friends this past weekend, I'm at a point in my life where I honestly don't see myself becoming a parent, and I'm not only okay with that but more than a little relieved. I think I'd be a damn good parent -- just like I think I'd be a damn good educator -- but neither of those life paths are something I'm passionate about choosing. (The dissonance between what one is "good" at and what one is passionate about is a whole separate blog post). But being a non-parent has not lessened my interest in the lives of children and families, or in how we as a society can better accommodate children and their families at the very beginning of their lives. Hence my pleasure at being offered an advance review copy of Harman's book. If I'm lucky, it'll arrive before I hit the road and I'll be able to take it with me. Regardless, look for a review of this one in the future.

Garden of Iden by Kage Baker. Yes, I'm still working my way through this one, the first in Baker's "Company" novels. Hanna assures me 1) that the first one is a slog and 2) that it's absolutely necessary to reading the rest of the novels, novellas, and short stories set in the 'verse. So ... yes. This one will be in my bag. And it's time travel, so I'm committed on principle.

Also Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. Who writes books that are amazing and difficult and trascendent and messily corporeal all at once. Made it halfway through this one last summer before I had to put it down. Maybe I'll have more luck this time around. I'd really like to, 'cause god it was good.

To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 by Adam Hochschild. Ever since reading Hochschild's King Leopold's Ghost for a class on modern imperialism in undergrad I've been a fan. (He's also on my auto-read list). I particularly admire the way this activist journalist blends detailed primary source historical research with a passion for human rights and nonviolence. This latest work looks at peace activism during the war to end all wars. I have it on old at the library and, again, it might not come in 'til after we're gone but a girl can hope, yeah?

And finally, I have been sent a PDF advance review copy of Jessica Yee's much-discussed anthology Feminism For Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism which has the honor of being the latest work in a long tradition of dissident feminist voices speaking from the margin of what is (still today) a far from mainstream movement. I've been avoiding full reviews of the work since I plan to review it myself, but am excited to discover new voices and new perspectives on the activism I hold near and dear to my heart.

*If you're reading this and you're in Michigan and I haven't been in touch with you, please don't feel hurt. A week, I've learned, is a really really short time to spend in one's hometown and there just isn't enough time to do everything and see everyone and stay sane. At least if you're me and you're also bringing your girlfriend to visit your childhood home for the First Time Ever. (She's met the parental units, but not been to Michigan). So we're trying to take it slow and not over-schedule and burn out spectacularly.  If you're reading this and you want to see me, email and maybe we can work out coffee or something.

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