'Triburbia,' 'Bernadette' and 'HHhH'

I've been racking my brain trying to come up with a way to discuss these three books with you. The deal is that we meet in this space to discuss the intersection of education and technology. Where does fiction fit in?

September 9, 2012

I've been racking my brain trying to come up with a way to discuss these three books with you. The deal is that we meet in this space to discuss the intersection of education and technology. Where does fiction fit in?

We could always go with a discussion of the technology of reading. The platform of reading.   

I could say how I read these three books as audiobooks, purchased from Amazon's Audible, and once again lament the divide between consume reading and curricular reading choices. How if the only option available to me were to read these books in paper then I simply would not have read them (or at least finished them this summer), as I need to multitask while reading. (You know, reading while driving or mowing or laundry folding or dish washing or running or whatever).

But what I really want to do is ask if any of you have read any of these three books, or has any plans to do so?   

I want to tell you that Triburbia is my favorite book of the summer. That Greenfeld's interlocking stories of life in Tribeca amongst a bunch of upper-middle class creative type fortyish Dads with irregular schedules and confusing marriages to smart women set right before the Great Recession is wonderful and funny and feels way too close to home in so many more ways then this one over-long sentence could ever capture.

That anyone who has ever lived or thought about living in Seattle or worked or thought about working at Microsoft should read Where'd You Go, Bernadette. That while Semple may lose the narrative thread in some places, the author's intermittent lack of plot consistency is a small price to pay for her ability to construct fascinating characters and to place these people (Bernadette, her MS husband, his MS admin, and the 15 year old daughter of the title character) into a series of impossible surreal situations within the Emerald City.

While we're together I'm also hoping to hear what you make of HHhH, Binet's genre bending novel on the historical circumstances surrounding the attempted assassination in 1942 of the vile Nazi Heydrich. HHhH, the title drawn from "“Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich”, or “Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich”, in unlike any historical fiction that I've ever read, as Binet constantly breaks the fourth wall to speak directly to the reader about his research, the writing process, his girlfriends (Binet's that is), and anything else that seems to come to his mind.  This technique is simultaneously effective and wearying, and while I hope that this style does not catch on in the world of historical fiction (or maybe it has?), I could see some great discussions of HHhH in any number of graduate humanities seminars.

So there it is. I've managed to write a few sentences about some fiction, without resorting (mostly) to the trick of making some tenuous connection back to the edtech world. Perhaps I should just give up the pretense and continue to initiate discussions about fiction, as I know doing so will cause me to read more of it. What do you think?

Each time I write about what I'm reading I end with a question, "what are you reading?" I ask because I really want to know. I'm hoping that we are reading the same things, or that you will have a book to recommend that I should read.  I ask because I'm curious about what you are reading and how you reading it (paper, e-book, audio?). I wonder how your reading habits are changing, and how we can do what we can in the higher ed world to turn today's college students into tomorrow's readers.   

Few people ever take me up on my offer to share what they are reading. Maybe that will change, I hope so. So I'll take myself up on the invitation.  I'm now reading The Financial Lives of Poets by Jess Walter. I've had the paperback for a few months now, but did not really get into it until the audiobook came on sale at Audible for $5 bucks - and now I'm going back and forth between formats.  

What are you reading?

Books discussed in this post:

Triburbia: A Novel by Karl Taro Greenfeld

Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel by Maria Semple

HHhH: A Novel by Laurent Binet and Sam Taylor

The Financial Lives of the Poets: A Novel by Jess Walter


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