Spent time in three different books yesterday. Unfortunately the book I spent the most time with, a book I've been slowly working on for the past couple weeks, was India: A History by John Keay. And I've decided to abandon it. Not because I think it's a "bad" book. It's just not what I was hoping for. I picked it up because we're currently focusing on ancient Indian civilizations in our world history class. It's not that the writing was incomprehensible, even for someone as ignorant as I about the subject, but it was a bit dense for our purposes. And it does assume a knowledge base broader than what either Annie or I have going in, so I was finding myself needing to go look things up fairly regularly just to understand what he was talking about. We're using a lecture series and textbook already, and I was hoping for something a bit more "fun" as supplemental material. This just doesn't fit the bill.
After I have a bit more background on the history of the Indian subcontinent, I may just go pick this book back up. Then again, with so many books I'm dying to read, it may just languish on the shelves indefinitely. Far too many books do that around here.
One of the good things about deciding to abandon India was that I finally picked up Empires of the Indus by Alice Albania. I'd read the preface in the bookstore the day I bought it, so I was able to dive right in with chapter 1. And YES!!! *This* is the book I was looking for! Written in a down-to-earth, almost conversational style. Yet so chock-full of information. I'm ashamed to admit how pitifully little knowledge I have about the history of this area of the world. But in one chapter alone, I feel I've learned so much. While I haven't read far enough to know for sure, I believe that she's going to be talking about history in a non-chronological fashion as she travels the river. She has history intertwined with the real lives of people today. For example, in the first chapter, she talks about the lives of sewer cleaners in Karachi and manages to turn it into a brief history of the Partition. It was fascinating and heartbreaking all at the same time. And as this part of the region's history is still so recent, she was able to find and share the stories of people who had actually lived it.
A line that may forever haunt me: "She ministered to the semi-dead--the refugees who arrived without clothes, without food, without limbs..."
And finally, we all gathered together for another round of Half-Minute Horrors. This book is just so fun! I have to admit that I was afraid it was going to be "too tame." But it definitely is not!!! In fact, a few of the stories have left me with crossed fingers that I'm not going to be woken up during the night with little boys' nightmares. Last night's favorites included "Death Rides a Pink Bicycle" by Stacey Godenir (an author I'm not at all familiar with) and "Inventory" by Jonathan Lethem (funny in a gruesome sort of way) and "I'm Not Afraid" by Dan Gutman (which we all loved, though it was particularly relevant for Gray :D ).
Our next round will be our last, as there's only three stories left. I'll be so sad to have it come to an end...we've been stretching it out as best we could. But you know, I think it might just be the kind of book we could pull out each year and enjoy all over again. Not sure if we'll start another "whole family" book for Halloween after we finish this one or not...but I'm kinda thinking it would be mighty fun to read Bradbury's The Halloween Tree aloud...