Often people ask others about what they are reading. We’re all looking for good books to read. And although it would be rare for everyone to agree about the merits of a particular work, most of us want to know more about what others chose to read. Recently I interviewed Dr. Paul Hanstedt, Professor of English at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia and asked him what he was reading. Like most of us he has a number of books that he’s reading at any given time. In case you missed his interview, you can check out Entry # 94 and Entry # 96 – on my September blog. Here is his response.
1) Rory Nugent’s The Search for the Pink-Headed Duck. It’s such an event-filled journey through India that I sometimes wonder if it’s all true. But it’s funny and beautiful and powerfully written. He’s got one passage where he talks about the power of the Brahmaputra River, and how it’s so strong that you can actually hear the river changing the shape of the islands as you drift by. Great stuff.
2) Chris Gavaler’s School For Tricksters,about the Carlisle School for Indians, and a pair of students, Ivy Miller and Sylvester Long, who pretended to be native Americans in order to get an education there. It’s set during the time of Jim Thorpe, “Pop” Warner, and Marianne Moore, who taught typing there. It’s just so well imagined, so authoritative, so well researched, so powerfully written on the sentence level—just so accomplished. It makes me feel like I should be handing out milk and cookies with my book.
3) Paul Theroux’s Dark Star Safari. Theroux is obviously one of the best travel writers alive today. I’m not sure I’d like to hang out with him—and I’m positive he wouldn’t want to hang out with me—but he does a great job of bringing hidden corners to the page. It’s slow going sometimes, so I pick this book up and set it down again, but I always come back to it happily.
4) M.C. Beaton’s Death of a Maid. Pure cotton candy, but damn I do love her Hamish Macbeth series. Just quirky, funny, lightly told but compelling. You can see the world she’s describing, you get her characters, but you never get bogged down. I have a 50-mile commute to and from work every day, so I usually listen to her books in the car.
Paul Hanstedt is a Professor of English at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, a father of three, a writer, an educator, and a traveler. Besides his text book, GENERAL EDUCATION ESSENTIALS, his academic work has been published in MLA’s The Profession, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Liberal Education. He regularly travels throughout the country and around the globe working with faculty and administrators on general education/liberal education reform, curricular design and development, course design and development, and assignment and assessment design.
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Write a couple of paragraphs if you would like to talk about a book. Don’t worry about being particularly academic. This is not intended to be a formal review, unless you really long to write one, and in any case – write what you wish from your own impressions and reactions.
Then send an email to me. I will collect these, edit a bit, if necessary, before posting your comments on the first Tuesday of the month under the title: READERS TALK. Send to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan Bowman’s work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Big Muddy, Broadkill Review, Trajectory, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97), Folio, The Potomac Review, Musings, Potato Eyes, and others. She won the 2011 Roanoke Review Prize for Fiction. Her stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best American Short Stories and a story was a finalist in the “So To Speak” Fiction Contest. She is working on two collections of short stories and currently shopping for a publisher for a completed story collection. She has nonfiction work pending publication in Spring 2013 Issues of Trajectory and Pen-in-Hand. She writes a weekly blog of “Reflections” on the writing life and posts regular interviews with writers and publishers. Learn more at: