The Secret Literary Lives of the eNotes Staff: What We’re Reading Now
They have dedicated their days to making Hamlet survivable. To making calculus doable and those funky little greek letter things decipherable. They maintain the complex virtual temple of learning that is the website. What is this pantheon, you ask? Who are these noble masters of learning, these repositories of wisdom and knowledge? This is the eNotes staff. And they are reading only great literature, all the time.
Okay. Some of them are reading great literature all of the time. Some of the time. A couple of us. Once in a while. Meet the eNotes staff.
I just finished reading Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge by Evan S. Connell. The two books are a study of a husband and wife living in Kansas City in the 1930s. The chapters could stand alone as short stories or serve as snapshots of the characters’ values and points of view. You realize that it’s the small moments that really define who we are. I both frowned upon these characters and sympathized with them. Their existence is limited and, at times, rather shallow. The writing, however, is marvelous and subtle. It’s also fascinating to compare these two characters and see how they complement one another as a couple.
Heather, Customer Service/HR Supervisor
East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
I am currently working through Steinbeck’s East of Eden because I feel the need to keep that classic lit and eNotes cred in check. Aaaaaand the last book I read was Fifty Shades of Grey. I did, however, read it before seeing the movie. Wait no. I totally did not see the movie! Okay, yes maybe I did see the movie too. #keepingitreal
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
So, I’m in love with every modern iteration of Sherlock Holmes: Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr., BBC’s Sherlock, and of course Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective. I thought it tragic that I, being an employee of eNotes, hadn’t given the original iteration a solid go. Nancy Drew and Hercule Poirot were pretty instrumental in my adolescent-reading years (and goldfish names), and I’m pretty excited to properly add Holmes to my list of favorite literary detectives. Also, I can now visualize some sort of audaciously handsome and arrogant combination of Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr., which is more than okay.
Scott, Managing Editor
Cinema Raw (Kurt Lancaster)
I wish I could say this was a book about ‘70s-era creature-feature exploitation movies, but it’s really just a primer on how to get the best footage out of your “raw” shooting video camera. If you know what that means, then you already own the book, have suffered sufficiently, and deserve a treat. For everyone else: nothing to see here; move on down to Nick’s suggestion.
Frozen (the comic book) and Mass Effect: Revelation
I refuse to let it go. Just when you thought last year’s craze was finally over, I present to you the Frozen comic book! While shopping at Midtown Comics in NYC I saw this comic while in line to check out. And for the first time in forever I made a spontaneous purchase. There is no new content in this story—it’s the movie adaptation. But whenever I want to build a snowman, all I have to do is open the pages and get lost in the story. Sometimes while working I get stressed, but my love for this comic is an open door that can thaw my frozen heart.
I have also been reading Mass Effect: Revelation, a book based on the video game trilogy. Last fall I took a break from the other games I usually play (LoL, hearthstone) and I completely immersed myself in the Mass Effect games. Besides being fun and action packed, these games have an amazing story and really developed characters. I fell in love the entire Mass Effect universe, so I decided to go beyond the games and purchase the books. The book I am currently reading goes over the events prior to the first game, so I know pretty much how it will end, but I am still loving it anyway. It is a solid sci-fi novel, but I don’t know if someone who has not played the games would enjoy the book as much as I am.
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania (Erik Larson)
I’m reading Erik Larson’s latest book, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania. I’m a big fan of narrative history, and thought his two previous books, Devil in the White City, and In the Garden of Beasts, were outstanding. This newest one is no exception. He’s a meticulous researcher, and brings historical events to life through vivid descriptions of the people who shaped them. This is a tragic story of the many souls who lost their lives on the Lusitania, but also of human heroism.
Perfidia (James Ellroy)
I am reading Perfidia by James Ellroy. I recently went on a crazy Ellroy tear and read five of his books in the last month or two. I loved watching his style develop from pretty straight-forward noir to something chopped up, stripped of anything superfluous, and pure plot after plot. So far Perfidia doesn’t rate with his best, which is probably American Tabloid, but I’m hoping it will pick up, dust off the cliches, and go for the jugular.
Katie, Editorial Intern
All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr)
As an English major, it’s my job to love reading. I’ve read medieval manuscripts, post-modern poetry, and pretty much everything in between, but this hasn’t stopped me from reading books that fall outside the realm of the “classics” I’m used to. This past week I dove into this strikingly beautiful and detail driven novel based on the lives of two children growing up during World War II, Marie-Laure and Werner. Marie-Laure is blind, but her father sees to it that she learns their neighborhood in Paris, and instills in her a true curiosity that cannot be squelched by her disability and the difficulties it brings. Werner, an orphan raised in Germany, is enlisted into the Hitler Youth for his skills in science and engineering. Though these two seem to have nothing in common, their stories converge into something strangely weblike, and as a reader you get the sense you’ve fallen into the trap of a true mastermind with this story. There is a deep, haunting sadness that permeates the pages of this book and it truly sits on the cusp of what is ethereal and what is earthly. 10/10 would recommend.
Stephanie, Editorial Intern
Toll the Hounds (Steven Erikson)
This is book eight of a ten book series called The Malazan Book of the Fallen. It’s one of the best series I’ve ever read, and that is saying a lot. My boyfriend introduced me to these books when he found out I love fantasy novels, and being able to discuss the series with him as I go along has been so much fun. They are not happy books, but the story is so amazing it’s totally worth crying like a little girl!
Will in the World (Stephen Greenblatt)
I am super lucky. Had this been posted at really any other moment in the last two months, I would have had to name some fairly embarrassing urban fantasy titles with even more embarrassing covers. Instead, I get to say I’m reading Will in the World, Stephen Greenblatt’s biography of Shakespeare, and discovering what everyone else discovered ten years ago: it’s really good.
Nick C., Developer
Last Argument of Kings (Joe Abercrombie) and The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism (David D. Friedman)
Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie is the third book in the First Law series. Abercrombie propels the reader into a dark world torn apart by war, politics, petty jealousies and magic. Basically my average Tuesday night. I’m a sucker for distinct characters with mixed motives and plots that make me utter “just one more chapter…” in the dark hours of the morning. This more than satiates my appetite for swords and sorcery while I await George R. R. Martin’s next tome.
The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism by David D. Friedman explores the nature of rights, property, and market capitalism as fundamental ideas in a voluntary society. Friedman is a proponent of market anarchism, or the idea that order can arise through voluntary actions and requires no special, fictitious, violent authoritarian entity to enforce. He is also a big nerd who publishes Medieval cookbooks and fantasy novels, so I feel that he and I have a special, spiritual kinship.
Nose deep in your own novel? Let us know what you’re reading in the comments below!