The Spectacle Blog

What We’re Reading: May Edition

By on 5.19.14 | 1:47PM

After a short hiatus, we're back with what we're reading:

Matthew Walther, Assistant Editor and Book Reviewer

John Lahr, Tennessee Williams. This very readable life of the playwright, with whose work I have never had much sympathy, by an old New Yorker drama hand has an interesting pre-history. It is, technically, the second volume of an earlier biography whose publication was delayed by Williams's estate. Still in galley, but something to look forward to in September.

Lord Macaulay, The History of England. "Who now reads Macaulay?" Gertrude Himmelfarb once asked, echoing Burke on Bolingbroke. Terrible as history, as everyone knows, but a masterpiece of style.

Matt Purple, Assistant Managing Editor

Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Fifty-one years after its publication, Kesey's debut novel still never fails to entrance, taking everyone's preconceived notions about caring nurses and loony inmates and flipping them on their heads. What a shame that Kesey became better known for his acid antics than his writing, and that the former eventually crowded out the latter in his life.

Benjamin Brophy, Director of New Media

D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation. Carson writes with the goal of refocusing Christians on prayer by examining the Apostle Paul's prayers throughout the New Testament. He exhorts as he teaches. 

Ron Chernow, Washington: A Life.  Chernow has produced a thorough work on our most famous founding father in a readable, almost populist style akin to David McCullough, but not quite as good. Chernow does, however, produce countless fascinating insights into Washington's life. 

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology. Grudem's Systematic Theology proves imminently readable and is drenched in scripture. 

Lucy Schouten, Editorial Intern

E.M. Forster, A Room with a View. It's an Edwardian social satire about an English young woman, Lucy Honeychurch, who visits Florence, Italy, with her proper cousin as a chaperone, where she meets a number of rather interesting people who challenge her cousin's views of society. The style is quite witty and delightful, and my favorite quote is, "The only perfect view is the view of the sky over our heads."

Malcolm Gladwell, David and GoliathSo far, it appears to be about how coming from a place of disadvantage can actually help teach a person the skills for success that can be learned in no other way. 

Cameron Mahoney, Editorial Intern

Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. McCullers populates her small-town Georgia with ragged and desperate characters orbiting a shared fascination: John Singer, a mysterious deaf-mute radiating understanding and grace. A startling first novel published in 1940 when McCullers was only twenty-three, it is a broken song bellowing the missed connections and hopeless idealism of everyday life.

Patrick Ryan, New Media and Marketing Manager 

James Michener, The CovenantIn preparation for a South African safari this summer, I am reading this historical fiction about the development of South Africa by African tribes, Dutch merchants, French Huguenots, German workers, and British settlers. 

Anne Hobson, New Media Associate

H.L. Mencken, A Mencken ChrestomathyA self-selected compilation of sections of H.L. Mencken's writings on every imaginable subject. Well-written and saturated with the wisdom of a lifelong writer and answer seeker.

Patrick Rothfuss, A Wise Man's Fear. Book two of an epic fantasy series wherein a hyper-intelligent man recounts the story of his life as an interdisciplinary adventurer. The power of curiosity, creativity, and dedication in the face of poverty, doubt, and evil.

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