The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I now know more about corn than I ever thought possible (a little hint: it's in almost everything we eat). Pollan poses the seemingly simple question--"What should we have for dinner?"--with a staggeringly complicated answer about where our food really comes from. Eye-opening, riveting, and incredibly timely, Pollan's book should be read by anyone hungry (weak pun intended) to learn about what we're really eating and how to break the long-established habit of favoring what's convenient (McDonald's chicken McNuggets or a pre-packed meal) over what is infinitely healthier and more sustainable: frequenting your local farmers' markets, dining at restaurants who support said local farmers, tending a garden patch of your own. It's an eater's manifesto and seriously life-changing.
Emma by Jane Austen. It had been years since I last read this book and I had forgotten how insufferable Emma could be. Snobbish, presumptuous, pig-headed, and utterly deluded, Emma unconcernedly busies herself with fixing the lives of her small social circle while quietly wreaking havoc on them. Yet even though her misguided attempts at creating happiness for others goes woefully wrong, I can't help but feel smitten with Emma, for it is her flawed nature that makes her truly human, and therefore, relatable. Austen herself admitted that Emma is "a heroine whom no one but myself will much like." That makes two of us, Jane. And did I mention how funny this book is? It's the only one of Austen's that I remember making me laugh out loud.
Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee. Disgrace tells the story of an aging, Casanova-esque professor who, after resigning from his university post following a scandalous affair with a student, seeks refuge at his daughter's South African farm. Father and daughter struggle to understand one another, especially when an act of terrible violence is inflicted on both. There is an underlying hostility that pervades this novel between humans and animals, natives and interlopers, black and white. One of the characters makes a life choice that I simply cannot understand nor reconcile, which left me feeling very uncomfortable, yet completely enthralled. A gripping read which won the Booker Prize and earned the author a Nobel prize in Literature in 2003.
On the reading horizon: an Obama-endorsed book, a dystopian Britain, and ghost story compilations to celebrate the spooky month of October.