50 book challenge

#11. Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards.

The professor leading my introductory drawing class is more interested in providing us a place to draw and giving us enthusiastic praise than in teaching us techniques, so I turned to this classic for help, sure that it would contain novel tips and exercises to expand my range. Eh.

For the total novice, this book would be a boon. For a moderately experienced or moderately talented artist, the exercises are a reminder, not an awakening. That can certainly be valuable, but I have already internalized truisms like draw what you see, not what you know, and am ready to move on to, for example, the formulas by which we create three-point perspective. Any suggestions?

#12. The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton.

As always, Wharton is dry, witty, and displays a masterful economy of language. The book itself is beautifully balanced, with the playful manipulations of Book I echoed more darkly in Book II. This deeply angry book is written with remarkable restrain.

#13. The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett.

The dialogue makes me a bit dizzy: because the 1941 film adaptation is faithfully lifted from Hammett’s prose (although necessarily shortened and edited), I cannot read it without hearing Bogey, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Sidney Greenstreet. It is charming, dark, romantic, and brutal in turns.

#14. Pornography, Sex, and Feminism, by Alan Soble.

I tried, I really did, to give Soble a fair reading, even after he declared (only 23 pages in) that female scholars researching pornography have historically recoiled in disgust and fear from the prospect of procuring it. I’m not sure why I tried, but I assure you that I did.

Perhaps more damning to Soble’s work, and emblematic of the simplistic nature of his reasoning, is his misreading of what constitutes the current literature on pornography, sex, and feminism. He takes several swipes, for example, at Andrea Dworkin, as if she is the current figurehead of modern feminism. As if, indeed, there is a figurehead of contemporary feminism, as if feminism were monolithic.

#15. The Repatriation Reader, edited by Devon A. Mihesuah

This text is essential reading for the serious student of the archaeology of North America. Mihesuah has collected a wide range of articles about the legal, ideological, and political issues surrounding repatriation of Native American remains and ceremonial artifacts, allowing the reader to explore the gulf between academic and Indian activist, and possibly paving the way for reconciliation between them. The unnecessary animosity that occasionally surfaces reaffirms my desire to work in museum outreach programs. With patience and hard work, we can bridge that chasm.

Yeah, yeah, the idealism. Read the book.

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