State of the Union and Democratic Response -- interesting, frustrating, well done in spots, worth reading, especially if you want to feel like an informed citizen and happened to be working on the night when it was delivered.
1984 by George Orwell -- I'm listening to it while I crochet and it very much gives me things to think about... disturbing in its "this-could-happen-ness". I love his thoughts around language and newspeak. I had to return it before I was finished with it... bummer. I'll pick it up again sometime, I'm sure.
Papal Encyclical given by Pope Benedict XVI -- I was quite impressed both with writing and organization and with his dealings with the subject matter. Some of it is really, really Catholic, and many parts are good challenges for any Christian. I have a much different opinion of this pope now than I did before I read the encylical.
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman -- Excellent! Fantasy / future novel with quite a bit of substance -- theology, sociology, philosophy,... -- as well as entertainment value. The first in a trilogy called His Dark Materials. I love the way he gives people's souls form with daemons (each character has a different animal that "personifies" his or her psyche).
Out of Her Mind: Women Writing on Madness -- a compilation of essays of mental illness and its treatment. It includes pieces by Dorothea Dix, Nellie Blye, Charlotte Perkins Gillman, Kate Millet, Zelda Fitzgerald, and other famous women writers. Interesting fact: madness (hysteria) was originally connected very strongly with women and their wombs (hyster=womb). This book does a good anecdotal history of mental illness as it affects women.
The Hours by Michael Cunningham -- I love his writing style! And the way he interweaves the stories is fascinating. It's one of those that I'm having a hard time putting down (which hasn't happened for a while). I'm going to have to read Mrs. Dalloway next, because The Hours is strongly based on that story, evidently. It does have several hard themes... but deals with them well, I think. (Also, it was made into a movie, which is quite good as well.)
The Odd Sea -- like the jacket says, a good book for a first novel. I wasn't hugely impressed, but it was worth reading. I'm sure that if this author writes more he will find himself quite sucessful. I didn't quite get the connection with the Odyssey, though, or with Hamlet (both of which were invoked).
It's not Easy Being Green -- quotes from Jim Henson and about Jim Henson. Cute little book and extremely quick read.
The Trouble With Poetry by Billy Collins -- great collection of poetry (his newest, I think). He is quite quickly climbing my list of favorite poets!
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh -- I had a really hard time getting through this but read it on Seth's recommendation. Thus, it must be that some people (like Seth) really enjoy the book and find the dialogue witty and fascinating, while others (like me) find it too Jane-Austen-esque to be very interesting... So perhaps you all should try reading it sometime and tell me what you think!
Cheers to you, new year
6 hours ago