What I'm reading *

I've always read. While growing up, reading was a refuge when I found life too unpleasant or stressful. Consequently I've bought a lot of books over time as well.

Now that I'm no longer in the rich corporate phase of my life I've rediscovered the library. Dayton's library may be maligned by some but is still a great resource. One type of book I like to read is gay fiction and I was surprised to see a lot of it in the Dayton library's catalog. Plus you can even ask them to buy particular titles, and they will!

Below you can see the five most recent books either that I'm reading or that I've acquired. You can search my books, or you can see all my books. Also my classes page has links back to this page for the books for each class.

Title Author
2011-05-29 1608202348 Foxe Tail (A Skyler Foxe Mystery) Walsh, Haley  

Foxe Tail I enjoyed Foxe Tail quite a bit. I like gay fiction and I like mysteries and this was a good combination of the two, although much stronger on the gay aspect and a bit light on the mystery aspect, which was fine for what this book is, a good story about young gay adults and youth dealing with their sexuality. Although set in California, the book’s locale, a small city in the Inland Empire (called in the book “California’s Bible Belt”) is a bit more like the rest of middle America, albeit still in a state with non-discrimination laws and domestic partnerships.

The book’s protagonist, Skyler Foxe, is a gay high school teacher only about a decade older than his students, and although Skyler does get involved in a murder mystery, the book’s really more about Skyler’s coming to terms with who he wants to be as a young gay man. He didn’t come out himself in high school and, at 25, is still going through his gay adolescence, going out clubbing and hooking up, but he wants more in life.

The mystery aspect of the book is entertaining but probably a bit unrealistic, but the part of the story dealing with Skyler’s teaching rang true, including his passion for English literature and his desire to teach and mentor his students. Though the kids he teaches aren’t much younger than he is, times are changing quickly and despite Skyler’s not having come out himself in high school, now teenagers are, and Skyler has to think about choices in his own life he might want to make if he really wants to be a role model for his students.

The book is frank about what it’s like to be a young gay man (gay guys, including gay teachers, do hook up) and includes a graphic and hot sex scene. That shouldn’t prevent it from being suitable for older gay teens to read, though. As Skyler himself finds out in the book, teenagers aren’t as innocent as adults might like to think, and this book, because it’s entertaining and fun to read but still fairly true to life, would be a great resource for gay teens who are discovering what it means to be gay.

2010-09-02 B002LLNOY0 Light of Eidon (Legends of the Guardian-King, Book 1) Hancock, Karen  
  Light of Eidon

Light of Eidon was an entertaining diversion, if a bit predictable.

Christians may find this book quite inspiring—even on a fantasy world there exists God the Father, with His Will for our lives from which we can run but not hide, and his Son come to dwell amongst us in human form so that we may know Him and so that He can Atone for the great debt we owe His Father (debt incurred by trying to deny Him and His Will).

Hancock adds a twist to Christian allegory that C.S. Lewis left out of his Chronicles of Narnia, namely the idea that there are multiple peoples of faith who share some beliefs and scriptures in common. The existence of these multiple faiths can make it difficult to discern the truth faith from false ones, but Light of Eidon is surprisingly ecumenical for a Christian allegory in that a theme it raises is that people from different faith traditions can nevertheless come together, in part because of the commonalities of their divergent backgrounds.

After reading this book, however, Christians on Earth might come to wish that the Christian God offered such visible signs of his existence as does Eidon.

Readers of this review might be interested to know that I came to read Light of Eidon not because I heard about it and found it interesting enough to purchase but rather because it was available for free in Kindle format. Despite having found Light of Eidon enjoyable enough to read it through completely, I was not hooked so much as to want to purchase subsequent volumes in the Guardian-King series.

2009-10-29 0553242946 The Persian Boy Renault, Mary  
  I’m reading this book for my gay mens book group.
2009-08-19 1906413045 The Enemy of the Good Arditti, Michael  
  The Enemy of the Good

A book group I’m in is going to read Arditti’s The Celibate, but when I went to purchase that book I saw his book The Enemy of the Good had just come out in paperback, so I purchased it as well. (By the way, Amazon.com dicked me around for a couple weeks on getting The Enemy of the Good, not mentioning that they didn’t have it in stock when I ordered it and taking a few weeks to say they were still trying to get it, upon which time I canceled my order with Amazon and bought a used copy via half.com—that’ll teach me to violate the #amazonfail boycott.)

At any rate, back to the subject at hand, The Enemy of the Good, I really enjoyed this book. It has four parts, each told in third person but from the point of view of a member of the Granville family, the father of which, Edwin, is a retired Anglican bishop who retained his office despite revealing publically his loss of faith. The first part is told from the point of view of Edwin’s son Clement, a gay painter who, despite his father’s agnosticism or atheism, is still a believer and considers himself Christian, although in the same liberal kind of way that I consider myself Christian. The second part focuses on Clement’s sister Susannah who decides to convert to Chassidic Judaism. The third part of the book deals with Clement’s and Susannah’s mother Marta, who was the sole member of her Polish Jewish family to survive the Holocaust, as she struggles with the illness of her husband and their father (Edwin). The fourth part returns to Clement.

In some ways The Enemy of the Good is kind of soap opera-ish, dealing with family drama and with spectacular cliff hanger-ish endings to each part (although, unlike actual cliff hangers, you can simply start reading the next section right away if you like), but I found the writing quite enjoyable and most of the situations depicted not too contrived as to be unbearable. I did find myself not liking the situation that ended the third part and started the fourth part of the book, but as I got into the fourth part of the book, I understood why Arditti set the situation up, so it was okay. Of the four parts, the first part, focusing on Clement’s completion of a work commissioned by a cathedral and the controversial reception his work receives, was my favorite.

Despite the family drama, or perhaps because of it, Arditti is able to incorporate quite a bit of theological and philosophical thought and debate into the book, giving voice to many viewpoints. Whether you think there’s nothing worthwhile to be gained these days from religion and you think people who believe in God and the “literal truth” of the Bible to be fools, or whether you’re one of those paradoxical people who’ve combined Christianity and liberalism to make up your world view, I think you’ll find the perspectives contained in The Enemy of the Good make for good reading and good thought.

2008-11-30 0670888087 The Danish Girl Eberschoff, David  
  This fictionalized account of the first transgendered MTF to undergo surgery, Einar Wegener AKA Lili Elbe, was quite interesting. Eberschoff retains the core of Einar's/Lili's story although he makes significant changes in the account of Einar's wife, named Greta in this book. The pace of the book's first two parts is better than that of its third part, which I thought dragged a bit. Still, the whole book's worth a read.

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